NEW YORK - Larry the Cable Guy's signature accent helped make him a comedy star, and now, he is back on the big screen as one of the voices behind the new movie "Cars 3."
The franchise has already grossed a billion dollars worldwide and raked in $10 billion in merchandise, meaning the third film has big shoes to fill.
The success of the movies isn't lost on Larry the Cable Guy, who voices Mater, the lovable tow-truck that provides the comic relief. And the actor relates the character's humorous disposition to his own personality.
"Mater's kinda like me," he said. "Mater knows when to make a joke to lighten a mood, and that's kinda what Mater does in the movie."
Although kids may recognize Larry the Cable Guy's voice, most adults know him as a comedian.
"They don't know it's me," he said. "The parents always know it's me."
Mater's famous tagline is, "Hey my name's Mater like Ta-mater but without the tuh," but the tow-truck was originally supposed to have another name.
"Zeb," he said. "I'm glad they changed it to Mater, because it's a lot cuter. 'My name's Zeb, like web, only without the wa.' You know, it wouldn't have had the same ring to it."
Mater's "Cars 3" role isn't as large as in the previous movie, where the story revolved around his character. Instead, Mater stays back in Radiator Springs while Lightning McQueen, voiced by Owen Wilson, faces new challenges from young drivers.
Fans of the late Paul Newman will be delighted to hear his voice, once again as "Doc Hudson." Outtakes from the first movie were able to be reused for the current film.
"This movie is about mentorship, and so Owen is mentoring someone in this movie," Larry the Cable Guy said. "And he was mentored by Paul Newman's character in the first."
While Larry the Cable Guy makes his living as a stand-up comedian, his role in the "Cars" movies is more of a permanent legacy.
"That's something I did that my kids will always be able to listen to and say, 'Hey that's our dad,'" he said.
"Cars 3" is from Pixar and distributed by Walt Disney Studios, which are owned by the same parent company as WABC-TV.