Tim Allen is both the exception and rule when it comes to being conservative in Hollywood.
Allen’s mega-fame began with 1991’s “Home Improvement,” one of the decade’s biggest sitcoms. His right-leaning views couldn’t stop his career ascent. He bounced from a beloved Christmas movie franchise to a second, openly conservative sitcom that ran for nine years. And his work voicing a beloved children’s toy helped change the face of movie animation.
The comic’s ideology, though, may have cost him even more fame and fortune over the years. Industry observers suspect it negatively impacted two career pivots.
Allen seemed an unlikely choice to even have a Hollywood career in the first place. The Denver native got arrested in 1978 for cocaine possession and spent two years in a Federal Correctional Institution for drug trafficking. After doing time, Allen started hitting stand-up stages, making a name for himself with his uber-masculine shtick. Those appearances, under his real name Tim Dick, pointed to a more creative future. And, certainly, a more lucrative one.
Allen forged his own Hollywood ticket by snagging a CableACE Award for his appearance in the “Just for Laughs International Comedy Festival.” His 1990 Showtime special, “Men Are Pigs,” continued his career ascent. Seen today, Allen’s pro-male shtick would be considered problematic for acknowledging gender differences. At the time, however, both male and female fans howled at his observations. They certainly caught Disney’s attention.
The Mouse House figured Allen’s act was a perfect fit for the small screen. The vehicle in question? A sweet, sincere sitcom called “Home Improvement.” The series, and its show-within-a-show (“Tool Time”), made Allen a star.
The actor may have been a conservative at the time, but most celebrities kept their political views private back then. Allen more or less did the same.
He deepened his Disney ties with 1994’s “The Santa Clause,” a sleeper hit casting him as a dad who stumbles into a new side hustle — delivering toys the world over as ol’ St. Nick. The next year found him voicing a plastic astronaut figure in “Toy Story,” the debut feature for the CGI animation company called Pixar. Allen’s boastful Buzz Lightyear, sweetened by his bond with fellow toys like Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and Mr. Potato Head (voiced by Don Rickles), connected with crowds and critics alike.
Allen had yet another franchise on his hands, voicing Buzz in three more “Toy Story” smashes. Those family-friendly hits made him a bona fide movie star, and he spent the next decade-plus headlining a string of screen comedies.
“Galaxy Quest” (1999) didn’t wow audiences at the time of its release, but it quickly found cult status for its “Star Trek”-style parody. Movies like “Jungle 2 Jungle” (1997) and “Christmas with the Kranks” (2004) left critics cold but scored with Allen’s core audience.
Lesser fare, like “For Richer or Poorer” (1997) and “Joe Somebody” (2001) showed the superstar’s fame had its limits.
He remained a popular presence on large and small screens. By 2011, ABC cast him as an openly conservative father and grandfather in a female-dominated home in “Last Man Standing.” The show leaned on who Allen was in his private life, a conservative dad raising girls.
Allen started vocalizing his right-leaning views, mirroring elements from his fictional Mike Baxter character. The public soon realized he was one of the rare Hollywood conservatives, but his fame made any pre-cancel culture efforts futile.
He was too big to fail … until ABC unexpectedly canceled “Last Man Standing,” despite its ratings success on a night known for smaller crowds. According to The Hollywood Reporter:
“For the uninitiated, Fridays are typically earmarked for programming with reduced viewership expectations, where a comedy like ”Last Man Standing” and its 1.7 rating among adults 18-49 and 8.3 million viewers is seen as impressive.”
The shocking move made many wonder if the show’s conservative leanings, and that of its star, made it ripe for cancellation. Allen had recently quipped that being a conservative in Hollywood was like being Jewish in 1930s Germany. That comment generated sizable heat in the media, even though nastier Nazi comparisons were ignored by the same outraged souls … or praised.
Allen had the last laugh, though.
Fox swooped in and added “Last Man Standing” to its existing lineup. The show thrived for three more seasons.
Allen remains steadily employed despite his right-leaning views. And, to be fair, he’s far less vocal, and political, than hard-left peers like Sean Penn, Alyssa Milano, Mark Ruffalo and Samuel L. Jackson.
He explained his approach to Marc Maron during a podcast interview in 2021, stating:
“I literally don’t preach anything. What I’ve done is just not joined into — as I call it — the ‘we culture.’ I’m not telling anybody else how to live. I don’t like that. ‘We should do this,’ ‘We should do that.’”
He’s willing to put his celebrity cachet on the line when it counts, though. Allen shared his free speech support via “No Safe Spaces,” the 2019 docudrama detailing the First Amendment’s assault on college campuses.
He recently wrapped production on Disney+’s “The Santa Clause,” a small-screen extension of the popular film series debuting in late 2022.
Yet Disney, which has a long-standing and fruitful relationship with Allen, snubbed the star with its summer 2022 tentpole film. Pixar, now owned by Disney, created a “Toy Story” spin-off dubbed “Lightyear” but neglected to hire Allen to voice the character again.
The studio explained that the “Lightyear” character in question was from a movie that inspired the “Toy Story” figurine, and so another actor’s voice made more sense. That meta explanation didn’t appease Allen’s fans, who once again suspected it was a political decision.
The new voice of Buzz Lightyear, actor Chris Evans, is one of Hollywood’s most vocal progressives. Ditching Allen for Evans made little sense and reminded many of the “Last Man Standing” debacle. Allen didn’t cry foul over the casting switch, perhaps not wanting to rock the Disney boat while a possible “Santa Clause” extension loomed before him.
Still, Allen came out on top once again.
“Lightyear” proved a box office disappointment with Evans in command, and Allen’s star continues to shine.
Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, movie critic and editor of HollywoodInToto.com. He previously served as associate editor with Breitbart News’ Big Hollywood. Follow him at @HollywoodInToto.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.