LOS ANGELES — The key to the success of the enormously popular Pixar "Cars" franchise is … Larry the Cable Guy?

The argument can be made. The comedian has now been a part of all three films. While Owen Wilson's Lightning McQueen is the dazzling star, and younger stars like Cristela Alonzo have added some spunk to this installment, it's clear that Larry's Mater — McQueen's loyal best friend — is the heart of the trilogy.

"I'm at the point in my career where I don't care anymore," he jokes. "No, seriously, I think it's awesome being part of the Pixar family. It's a dream come true and a true blessing. I think they're incredible and a lot of fun."

"The first [film] will always be close to my heart because I remember when I got it and met John Lasseter and the whole experience, so that will always be my favorite.

"The second film was amazing, because I didn't know they were going to make Mater the main character," he added. "When it rolled and I got top bill, I told John thanks, because I had no idea they were going to do that."

The second film — and franchise in general — seem to be dismissed by many who seem to feel it doesn't measure up to the standards set by other huge Pixar franchises, like Toy Story and The Incredibles.

"I think sometimes people watching this movie forget that it's an effing cartoon," he said. "I think it was for kids and kids loved it, and so the feeling was that we can make another Cars movie that will be more involved, but back then, we took a little detour … I always said that even if I wasn't part of  Cars 2, I'd watch Cars 2, because that's the kind of movie that I like."

With the latest — and possibly final — picture in the franchise, he feels everyone will be happy.

"Cars 3 has got kids' humor and adult humor and everyone will be excited."

He said there is a reason he keeps doing Cars films when he has turned down other movies.

"Because Mater is not a character I play. Mater is me," he said. " My wife sees the character as me, also. Plus, so many kids love Mater."

"I get to call kids at places like St. Jude's Children's Hospital … and just call kids as Mater. That's fun for me. I enjoy that — and it's possible for me to do that because of these movies. That's why I'll do Cars 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 … .you know? It's not just for the money. The money's good, but it's for that other stuff too."