Hey hank! Thanks for doing this AMA! I was wondering at what age did you realize your vocal talents? Also, what was it like to be phoebes boyfriend on friends? Thanks again! P.S. Happy birthday!
i was mimicking things as early as i can remember. i thought everyone could do it. i didn't realize it was a special skill until i was about 10 or 12. it was fun being on the friends set. it was sort of like seeing some weird 90s version of beatlemania. thanks!
How did you get into voice acting? Was it a chance meeting, or simply sending a demo tape?
Edit: my daughter loved you as Gargamel in the Smurfs.
it was a chance meeting. i very early in my career did the voice of a cartoon dog called Hollywood Dog for a Fox pilot that failed miserably but i got the audition for the simpsons based on that. and the rest is history.
im a huge fan of the show Huff. Was that your favorite role? and also why did it end only after 2 seasons?
it was not my favorite role, although i loved the show. it was a very difficult role to play because it was so emotionally wrenching all the time. also i felt like all the other characters in the show were so colorful, and i was mostly just listening to them and reacting to their insanity. it ended because the ratings weren't great and les moonves took over showtime and i don't think he liked the show.
Hi Hank; thanks for doing this AMA! I'm a lifelong Simpson's fan and still watch every episode as soon as I can. Who is your favorite character to voice? Are any of your characters just your 'regular' voice?
Do people recognize your voice if you're out in public?
my favorite character to voice is Professor Frink just because I enjoy how silly it sounds. they really have to stop me from doing it once I get started. I just want to do more and more takes that get sillier and sillier. no running characters are my regular voice but i use my regular voice a lot in the show, mostly for straight man voices. people don't usually recognize my voice in public unless i'm running around screaming like moe or ordering a coffee as apu, which I don't.
What was the absolute best parts of working on Mystery Men? One of my favorite movies, btw
that was a surprisingly difficult and not that fun movie to make. i loved hanging around with ben, janeane and bill, but we should have had more fun than we did making that movie. i'm much more fond of it now than i was at the time.
Loved you in Run Fat Boy, Run. How was it working with Simon Pegg?
Simon Pegg is literally my hero. He is absolutely as sweet and hilarious in person as he is on screen. and i really admire his creativity in front of and behind the camera.
Is it true that in the locker room scene you didn't use one of the skin patches to cover up just to get a reaction of pure shock from Simon? How could anyone possibly keep a straight face during shooting if that's the case?!
that is true. be careful how you use the term "straight" face
In episode 2F09 when Itchy plays Scratchy's skeleton like a xylophone, he strikes the same rib twice in succession, yet he produces two clearly different tones. I mean, what are we to believe, that this is some sort of a magic xylophone or something? Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder.
worst. question. ever.
Agador Sparticus, how much of that character was your creation?
that role was originally not supposed to be latin. once they decided to make him spanish, they pretty much let me transpose the dialogue into "guatemalan-ness," for lack of a better term. most of that dialogue was scripted. we rehearsed very intensely for two weeks and all the adlibs that mike nichols and elaine may liked got put in the script, and then we were encouraged to stick to those when we were shooting. i managed to sneak in a few weird touches though like saying "come on, gloria" when i picked up my boombox and things like that.
Are you up for le scooba?
Yes, I'm looking for Hugh Jass, please.
hold on, i'll check
hold on, i'll check
wait a minute, if i ever find you, i'm gonna (insert violent Moe joke here)
Huff was one of the best shows on TV (at the time), so my questions is when, when, when if ever will Season 2 come out on DVD? I NEED to know what happens!
you can get season 2 on amazon, thanks
Who is your favorite Simpsons character you voice over? Also, who is your favorite Simpsons character you don't voice over?
When voicing a character for the first time, how much input do you get for how they will sound? How do you decide how they sound?
that's a good question. early on, i would really spend hours trying different voices out loud for different characters. then over the years i got quicker and quicker at just instinctively assigning a voice to a character. if i'm really not sure, i'll ask the writer how he hears it, who it sounds like to them, etc. sometimes they'll tell you in the stage direction "should sound like robert stack" or whatever. and then, if they don't like what i'm doing, they're not shy and they'll tell me and we'll adjust it.
Are you allowed to use the voices in interviews or in public etc, or are they "copyrighted" or subject to some contractual terms where you can't use them?
i can definitely use them in public on talk shows and appearances, etc. i can't go on another show as moe or apu doing scripted stuff, getting animated, unless we get approval from 99 lawyers which we will never get.
Thanks for the reply! Just wanted to let you know your contribution to the show will go down in history. I like to think you'll be remembered as the Mel Blanc of our generation. You may need to murder Billy West to get there, but I've no doubt in your abilities.
i have actually taken out a contract on the life of billy west, so it's funny you said that
Hank! Thanks for the AMA. I fall asleep to the Simpsons, and have been every night for the past 5 years. How does it feel to know that there are people like me out there that seriously can't fall asleep without you talking?
why should you be any different than my wife?
Massive fan of your work, can't decide which character is my favourite. Is it hard for a voice actor to transfer his skills to the screen, and vice versa? I imagine when you do the Simpsons voices your face is all sort of contorted into strange expressions that wouldn't look good on the big screen. . no offence. .
some voices require weirder faces than others. wiggum and frink are particularly goofy. you can't do a good vocal performance without committing to it physically so you pretty much look insane no matter what voice you are doing.
Outstanding work! Big fan.
Do you find it hard to keep all the voices separated? Do you find yourself 'in-between' voices sometimes?
no, that has never come up. i think you can either do this or you can't, so for me it's kind of the easiest thing in the world to do. but if you can't do it, it's impossible.
How was it being Kahmunrah in Night at the Museum 2? Is it easy for you to slip in and out of character when playing roles in movies and TV shows? Any tips on training your voice to play different roles?
again, changing my voices is just really easy for me. it always was, and then year after year of doing the simpsons has made me even more of a savant at that skill. sometimes i think all my talent is just centered in 1 cubic inch in my throat. that said, some voices or accents require a little bit of work especially if i'm trying to do like an authentic french or polish accent etc. once i hit on imitating boris karloff for night at the museum, which started off as a joke by the way, it was certainly easy to remain in that character. then once i have the voice, the physicality tends to follow naturally.
Hi, Hank! Have you ever gotten your own jokes included in the show?
yes, many times. i'll always do 2 takes exactly as written and then i start to play around and they use what they like in editing
Thank you Mr. Azaria for doing this AMA!
In the Simpsons, there was an episode where Moe pulled a shotgun on Homer for Homer's $600 pants, and Moe said, "Yeah, I rob now." I believe it was a DVD commentary where it was mentioned you had reservations about Moe doing and saying this. As the seasons have continued, do you feel there are still things that are too extreme for Moe? Or has it progressed to a point where you'll let anything go?
i'm surprised i expressed any reservation at that. it's an interesting question because you don't want to commit "character assassination" and do something you feel your character would never do; however, a lot of the fun of Moe and many of the simpsons characters is that over time they get more and more outrageous. i think as long as it's funny it's ok.
Happy early Birthday! Mr. Azaria!! Like everyone else, I love your work in the Simpsons. However, I wanted to ask you about your role in Spamalot. I had the pleasure of seeing your performance on Broadway.
How did it feel to work with Tim Curry?
How would you explain the feeling you got when you walked up on stage?
What was your inspiration for Sir Lancelot?
And will you be trying for an EGOT?
Thank you so much for doing this AMA! I look forward to seeing you on the Broadway stage again if you're ever in another show.
Tim Curry was an idol of mine. in fact i showed him a picture of me at age 15 in a rocky horror tshirt. doing spamalot was the closest i'll get to being a rockstar. there was such an insane response and love for that show. i was such a crazy python fan growing up that i wasn't kidding when i said i was off-book (meaning i had my lines memorized) from the time i was 12. and my inspiration for sir lancelot was john cleese, who else? as i am not philip michael thomas, i will not be trying for an EGOT. who gets that reference?
If you weren't already married, would you consider being THE Bachelor?
absolutely not, but i would try to live out some real life version if i could.
Hank, which Simpsons character would you say closely reflects your true personality? (Ten bucks Professor Frink)
that's a really interesting question that i've never been asked before. i would say i'm a cross between carl and comic book guy.
Hi Hank, thanks for this. Are there any roles you been in the running for but missed out on?
i desperately wanted to be joey on friends and even auditioned twice for it after they had already rejected me once.
How do you feel about Seth MacFarlane?
i'm a tremendous fan of seth macfarlane. both his vocal work and his writing. i'd look up to him if he wasn't so much younger than me. damn him.
Are you planning on reprising your role as Jim Brockmire for The Rich Eisen Podcast this season?
i'm certain i will be back with rich eisen soon, and we are very close on making a funny or die jim brockmire movie as well.
-What's yor favorite episode?
-What's your favorite recording moment?
-favorite non-Simpsons television show?
-Favorite joke on the Simpsons?
Thank you very much!!
Long time fan!
Are you going to be in the new Godzilla movie?
seeing as the first one very nearly killed my career, i would say no.
Of all the lines you've read, what's your favorite?
it's hard to pick. it would probably be a moe line, but it would be like sophie's choice to single one out.
Would you rather fight one horse sized duck or one hundred duck sized horses?
But in all seriousness, you are one of my favorite voice actors (way better than Seth MacFarlane). Do you ever get tired of doing your voices? Do you frequently get asked in your everyday life to do your voices?
edit: p.s. Happy birthday!
i'm going to really hope i never encounter any of these animals. i do get tired of doing some voices, especially the ones that hurt like duffman and bumblebee guy. for some reason, i don't really like doing luigi. i don't know why, but i've told the writers i feel this way. i more often get asked to stop doing so many voices than to break in to them. my son barely tolerates them.
Hank, how much do you make, roughly, per episode of the simpsons? Love your work, thanks for the AMA
i actually don't mind answering this question, but i probably shouldn't answer this question for legal and other reasons.
Hank, how much do you make, roughly, per episode of the simpsons? Love your work, thanks for the AMA
that said, you can probably google a pretty close approximation of what we all make...
Hi Hank! Which of the Simpsons characters voiced by your fellow cast do you most wish you had been given to act?
this is a good question because there are times when, especially with celebrity impressions, i'll feel like they made a mistake assigning it to somebody else. harry, dan and i all do a lot of impressions and it kind of broke my heart that i didn't get to do johnny carson and woody allen. and count dracula, for some odd reason. that said, harry's and dan's versions are brilliant.
then there are times that i get assigned ones that i feel harry or dan would do better than i would. like they gave me yogi bear, but my yogi bear sucks so dan ended up doing it.
Can I get an all-syrup Super Squishy?
if you sign a waiver releasing me from any responsibility for any medical consequences
Hi Hank. I know you like to play poker, do you come to Vegas to play often? Or do you normally just play at celebrity tournaments and the like? If you do come to Vegas to play, whats your favorite poker room?
i have hosted a weekly game at my house for many years now. mostly with the same 20 or 30 guys who come in and out. i play more cash game than tournament poker. i've played in vegas often over the years. i like the room at the wynn and the venetian, but pretty much any poker table in any room makes me happy.
I know Dan has written a few episodes of "The Simpsons." Do you have any interest in writing an episode before it's all over?
i think if it hasn't happened by now, it probably will not. on occasion, i sit in on the writers' session and pitch jokes, but mostly i prefer to do that as i'm recording. they do such an unbelievable job on the show, that i feel i really can't improve upon it. so i focus my writing elsewhere.
If you ever became a cop, how often do you think you'd be doing wiggums voice when pulling people over?
probably a lot. it would probably either get me killed or save my life.
Any great Robin Williams or Nathan Lane stories from filming The Birdcage? Thanks for doing this!
everyone knows how witty and spontaneous robin is and he was certainly hilarious during the birdcage. not many people know just how clever nathan lane is off the top of his head. the two of them together was truly like watching some amazing comedy team that had worked together for years. robin is also one of the kindest, most genuine actors i've ever worked with. and when he's not making everyone laugh, he genuinely listens to people and cares about them and takes the time to get to know everyone. mostly i remember fighting not to laugh during takes and ruining the movie. i didn't want to leave the set even when i was done working because it was so funny all the time, on camera and off.
Hey Hank! My office mate and your friend Myra wants to know if your summers at Camp Towanda really were the happiest times of your life? Thanks for the AMA!!
hi myra! and i would say that yes they were.
What's the scoop on "Herman's head" Are they ever going to bring it back??
i'm always a little surprised that people liked that show. i guess it was fun, and i certainly loved making it and learned a lot, and was grateful for the job, and loved all the people involved with it...but to be honest, the show was never my cup of tea. i feel bad saying that because i'm glad you liked it, but it is the truth.
What is one role you wish you got at the time, but looking back glad you didn't?
almost every role that you lose out on, especially early in your career, you're kind of devastated by. my ex-wife once, when i was particularly heartbroken over a role i lost, took me by hand to the video store (when they still existed) and pointed out how many roles in many many different movies she didn't get that she was sure, at the time, would have made her a huge star. and i swear that 99% of those movies and roles were all silly, and major disappointments. after that, i really put that kind of thing in perspective and didn't worry about it too much.
Your organization is a great thing man. I live in Washington, DC and have many friends who are teachers who would love this and would certainly relate. How did you get involved with it?
a woman who worked for me left my employ to become a teacher. then a few years later came to me with the idea and i was in immediately...and it's worked out great.
Who's your favorite person ever?
my son...and dana carvey.
When you first started the Simpsons did you think it would take off like it did? Did you find yourself laughing at the jokes while doing their voices or more so after watching the finished episode?
no one could have ever predicted the success of the simpsons. anyone who says they did, is lying. we laughed a lot making the show and still do. i often have to run away from the mic so as not to ruin takes by giggling like an idiot.
The first film I've seen you in was Along Came Polly & what was it like working with Ben Stiller? Also, who's idea was it to use a French accent?
that was about the 3rd or 4th time i had worked with ben. i enjoy him personally and professionally. that role was written to be french...in fact probably 98% of what i say in that movie was scripted even though it seems like it was being made up.
Happy (early) birthday. Loved you in Shattered Glass. That was a great movie. Tell me about your most awkward encounter with a fan who recognized you.
there was a really stoned guy in vegas who shook my hand and wouldn't let it go and kept complimenting my shirt. there was a really creepy guy in manhattan who came up behind me and whispered in my ear, "you think because you're carrying a red backpack that no one will recognize you?" took me a while to shake that one off.
Is Friends the only time you and Paul Rudd fought over a girl?
no, if by "girl" you mean "donut at the craft service table." that's right, paul and i call donuts "girls."
Hi Hank, What is your exercise regime these days? Is it mostly cardio or weights? I'm on my way to a spin class and I bet you thought I was going to ask a Smurf question ;-) Have a great day tomorrow!
it's the same as it's been for many years. i run and lift weights. sometimes i chase smurfs.
Do you ever crank call people in Moe's voice?
that's a really good idea. what's your number?
Hi Hank! Thanks for doing this, you consistently provided some of the funniest characters and lines on the Simpsons for years...Do you have a favorite line that would be your "go to" to tell your grandkids one day?
i'm sure the show will still be running in syndication then, so i'll let them decide. mostly i'll be saying "you see that yellow guy? that was me!"
Hi! Thanks for doing the AMA. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
this is going to sound sappy, but it is by far the raising of my son.
Who was your favourite celebrity to work with during The Simpsons?
we often don't record with the guest stars. i definitely remember laughing really hard hearing mel gibson have to say "glaven!" recording with tom petty, elvis costello, david byrne, mick jagger, and aerosmith really freaked me out. i didn't realize until i met those guys what a rock and roll geek i was. i was amazingly impressed watching steve carrell work.
cold. lonely. also i've never been.
Have you ever seen Dan Castellaneta choke Nancy Cartwright on set to get the sound effect right?
i have never witnessed it, but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence to prove that it has happened.
Do you think you'll actually look like Rip Torn in your old age?
i'll probably sound like him. that question made me giggle.
Hi Hank! I've been a fan of yours ever since you were walking Murray on Mad About You. I've never heard of Determined to Succeed. What is it, and why should I support it?
DTS is a local LA educational non profit. We take at-risk socio-economically challenged kids in 6th grade who show a willingness to learn and are quite literally Determined to Succeed. we mentor and tutor them through junior high and high school, help keep them off the streets and out of gangs in the summertime, and help them with their college admissions. our first group of students had 100% college acceptance rate. You can help by donating to my Birthday Wish: http://www.causes.com/actions/1744700-hank-azarias-birthday-wish-raise-10-000-for-determined-to-succeed
Hank you are awesome! How does it feel knowing that you are such an essential part of the greatest animated show in history?
i experience it as a tingling in my midsection, and it really is quite an honor and remains tremendously fun to do.
Has Matt Groening ever offered you a guest spot on Futurama?
I have done a guest spot. I was zoidberg's uncle harold zoid.
Hi Hank, I'm sure you get this question a lot, but as an aspiring voice actor what is the best way to get auditions? Thank you! (My favorite role of yours was Venom)
the best thing to do is to find a good voice teacher. most of them are in new york or la, but they certainly exist elsewhere...and create, with their guidance, an audition reel once you've honed your skills. then, get impossibly and unbelievably lucky. that is my advice.
What was your experience like working on Shattered Glass? Did you ever meet Stephen Glass?
i never did meet stephen glass. i really loved working on that movie. billy ray is a great writer and a passionate filmmaker. i really enjoyed playing a role so low-key and interesting in a movie that was so fascinating. i don't get to do it that much.
Hey Hank, loved you in Workaholics, how was it filming with those dudes?
not quite sure how to break this to you my friend, but i was never in workaholics. now i'm very curious who you thought i was, or if you even know who i am. you must have me mistaken for some other devastatingly handsome, vocally gifted individual.
not if you can control the volume, but otherwise kind of. that scene was shot on our mutual birthday, april 25.
If you could meet any character from the simpsons in real life, who would it be and why?
another good question...i think i'd like to hang out with moe and tell him that everything is going to be alright.
Which of the other voice actors is the best cuddler?
My money is on Dan Castellaneta.
i haven't cuddled with anyone. i've only made out with matt groening, but that was just that one time.
Hey hank! Love your work! I was wondering what is your favorite MOEment? There are so many good ones. Which is your favorite?
i really like when he's taking the lie detector test and the thing keeps beeping because he's lying about what he's going to do with his evening.
How do you feel preforming the same roles for 25 years? How do you keep it from getting stale after so long? Have you ever turned down a role in something else due to your commitment with The Simpsons, that you later regretted passing up on?
one of the amazing things about doing the simpsons is that i can literally record it from anywhere in the world, and have...new york, paris, vienna, czechoslovakia, so i have never had to turn down anything because of my simpsons commitment. i never get tired of doing the show. it remains a true joy.
If you could get any celebrity quest star on The Simpsons, who would that be? And if you could quest star in any TV show (physical acting or just voice), what would that show be?
it would be cool to have bruce springsteen do the simpsons. i'm really in to game of thrones right now, i wouldn't mind jumping in on that insanity. also love american horror story. i love family guy, but i actually just recorded a voice for that show.
how do you feel the quality of the simpsons has gone from the the beginning of the show to now? do you think the jokes got better or worse? if they got worse, when do you think that the show went downhill? also im a huge fan of yours.
mostly i'm too close to the show and love doing it so much to have an objective opinion. i do what i've always done, which is show up and enjoy making what they've written come to life. the show still really makes me laugh. i've certainly seen online over the years, and elsewhere, people criticizing the show. it reminds me of the beatles anthology. there's this section where people are talking about how the white album isn't so good...that it was too long and that a lot of the tracks didn't work, and you see various people saying it wasn't up to snuff. and then, they cut to paul mccartney who says "yeah, i've heard people don't like the white album, but i say it's the bloody beatles white album. it's fucking great." that's kind of how i feel about the show.
Your performance in The Birdcage is one of my favourite acted anythings ever. Thanks for that, and for the many years of Simpsonian amusement. You're just all-around neato.
What's your favourite breakfast food?
i eat healthily to an almost annoying degree and i pretty much only eat fruit in the morning
Are you really as nice as you seem?
what the fuck is that supposed to mean?
How close were you to Phil Hartman and if you could bring back one of his Simpsons Characters who would it be?
we recorded with phil many times, and i had many a pleasant chat with phil, but i can't say that i was close to him. it's either lionel hutz or troy mcclure. and it always struck me as hilarious that a man who could pretty much do anything with his voice did the exact same voice for both those characters. i'm sure he did that on purpose.
Do you actually like Jay Thomas or is it just a tolerance for him.
i have fond memories of jay thomas on the radio in new york when i was a lad. i don't know him personally. why, is he intolerable?
tons. i think that my hero is johnny depp or maybe robert downey jr. i really admire what amazing character actors these guys are. not to mention that they are giant movie stars. i would love to be able to be in the center of movies like these guys are. that said, i love being a supporting actor in films and love doing voice work, but it's always great to have a goal and to shoot for it.
No question just wanted to say that the goal of your charity is really awesome! I'm donating right now, best of luck!
Hi there! Two questions;
i'm a classic rock guy, so everything you'd imagine that would be on that playlist is on it. also a lot of the music from the 80s that i hated at the time i now have tremendous nostalgic affection for because it brings back so many good memories. god, i eat so healthy that there is so much to choose from for my last meal from cheeseburgers to pizza to fettuccine alfredo. these are all meals i dream about quite literally.
Is your dick really bigger than Simon Pegg's?
i haven't seen simon pegg's dick in so long i can't remember
I saw you in The Farnsworth Invention and I have to say it was one of my favorite theatrical performances I've seen to date.
What was it like to work on that production?
i really loved working with jimmi simpson. it's always a genuine privilege to say words that aaron sorkin has written down. i was kind of going through a tough time personally during the run of that play, so it was not as much fun as it should have been...but i loved that show as well.
Your work is unparalleled in the voice acting industry. Other than yourself, who is your favourite voice actor? Simpsons or no?
i really only like me. no no, my hero growing up was bugs bunny. then when i learned that was mel blanc, my hero became and remains mel blanc.
Actually probably the simplest question, how does one correctly pronounce your last name? Is is Eh-zaria or Ah-zaria, or strictly just confined to regional preference?
as i get older, i think i might have to just accept a cabinet post.
For as long as I can remember, the Simpsons has been a part of my life. It is my favorite show of all time and I can't imagine life without it. How much longer do you see the series going on for?
at least another couple of years. and hopefully beyond that.
One thing that separates The Simpsons from most cartoons is the fact that it has the ability to be both absurd and sentimental. What was your favorite sentimental moment in Simpsons history?
i find all the lisa episodes particularly moving. it's hard to pick one.
hey hank, can i get an upvote for no reason?
sure, but in the future i would prefer a reason.
Will Mystery Men 2 ever get made? One of the most underrated genre comedy gems of our time!
if it hasn't happened yet, i would seriously doubt it. plus that movie is a cult favorite but it really didn't make a lot of money.
Hey Hank, you do such a great job on voice acting. How do you prepare before voice acting? Like when you switch between Moe and Apu? Do you do them on separate days or do you do all in one if they appear in an episode?
all in one, my friend. sometimes i even talk to myself as 4 different people. occasionally, i will go through the scene one time as moe, and then on another take do it as apu if they are talking to each other. but usually we just let it rip.
Why is Moe's voice so different now from how it was in the 1990s? Link for reference.
that's very observant and correct. partially it's because my voice has gotten deeper over the years as the character became more real and gained more layers and depth, i felt it should be less squeaky and more "human sounding." i didn't notice it was happening while it was happening, but i prefer the current moe voice. which do you like?
Hey Hank! :) Thanks for being a big part of my childhood! :) Have you ever been to germany and if yes? What cities have you visited?
greetings from Schwerin, Germany! :)
i have only been to vienna, austria. i'm such a big beatles fan that i feel like i've been to germany because i've seen so much documentary stuff from the mersey beat era. i would love to go some day.
If you could have any meal made by the best chef in the world on that meal, what would you have?
do you know something that i don't know? am i about to have my last meal or something? my tastes run much less fancy than that. i'd probably have pizza, but really good pizza from lombardis in downtown manhattan or sicilian pizza from ben's of soho.
First off, Happy Birthday! Any big plans?
You seem to only get bigger (stronger) and healthier looking throughout the years. What is your workout/diet routine like?
I loved Herman's Head by the way. Any funny stories involved in filming Grosse Point Blank?
i don't know about getting bigger and stronger looking. i can tell that i'm definitely not as strong as i was 20 years ago. if i don't work out, i really get antsy and crazy so i do it regularly.
i really loved grosse point blank and i loved how creative john cusack and his partners pink and devincentis were with the writing and conceiving of that movie. i remember that i liked to rehearse and i was working with an actor who hated rehearsing and refused to do it so a lot of the stuff we said on camera was for the first time and i especially had no idea what this guy was gonna say or do. it was kind of fun.
Hi Hank, My name is Brenda and I'm 19 years old and my question is: what do you think about movies with CG characters mixed with real persons?, and about the movie "Smurfs 2", do you like be acting again as Gargamel?
if you're asking me if i believe that the smurfs are real, the answer is no. that said, there are real live actors voicing them while i'm shooting those scenes and they're very good...so i have real scene partners to bounce off of. it's a little bit insane playing scenes with imaginary blue creatures and fake talking cats, but from years of doing the simpsons i'm well trained in doing scenes in which no one is there and we have to imagine the whole scene, so in a weird way i'm uniquely qualified for this job. i like playing gargamel...i hate the 2 hours/day of makeup i need to become gargamel.
Can you record a Christopher Walken impression and post it to youtube?
Also how well do you know Kevin Pollack (any good stories about him?)?
kevin is a genuine poker buddy of mine. i see him quite a lot at the poker table. no good stories exist about kevin pollack.
i'm kidding of course. when kevin and i get together i think we tend to annoy the people around us because we're like giddy children trading vocal impersonations back and forth. we never get tired of it, but you can imagine that people at a card table, especially when they're losing might not be thrilled with it after a certain point.
I just finished listening to your WTF interview, it was great. You mentioned on there you teach young actors (the section about post audition tips - which I needed) and I wanted to ask if you teach a class? I'd love to take it, but I'm a older character actor.
i only teach actresses aged 18-23. that is a joke. i'm not teaching currently, and i'm moving to new york pretty soon where i well may teach again.
Do you ever fuck with telemarketers or strangers on the phone?
one of my favorite moments in life, and this doesn't happen a lot anymore because technology has moved us past this, but when the call waiting beep clicks in and someone tries to get on another call but it doesn't work and they're still talking to me but they think they're talking to someone else, i really enjoy putting on a stupid voice and seeing how long i can keep them talking.
On one of the season DVD commentaries you mentioned Dr. Nick's voice was your bad impression of Ricky Ricardo from I Love Lucy, which I admire a ton. Do you have any fun inspiration stories for any of the other Simpsons characters you voice?
Also, I fly west to attend San Diego Comic Con every summer and always wondered why you (or any of the other voice actors) aren't present at the big Simpsons panel full of thousands of fans? I love the writers and idolize Matt, but it's the mother of all American cons and you're Comic Book Guy!
i'm dying to go to comic con; i've just literally been busy every year that it's been on. i'm hoping to go this year.
moe = bad al pacino. wiggum = bad edward g. robinson. lou the cop = bad stallone. comic book guy = guy who lived next door to me freshman year. snake = another guy from college who was stoned a lot mixed with jeff spicoli (from fast times). professor frink = jerry lewis / nutty professor. apu = peter sellers from "the party."
Have you ever pulled one of your characters voices during a, shall we say, romantic moment? And if so, how well did it go down?
i have never done that. i did once meet a girl in a bar who suggested that we go home together, but that i should talk as my character from along came polly (in a french accent) and i probably would have done that if her girlfriends hadn't pulled her away. i'm someone who's embarrassed by your average dirty talk, so busting out a character is really not going to happen. although in a way, it might be easier to talk dirty as moe than as myself. maybe i will try it.
How often if ever do you watch Simpsons reruns? Can you separate yourself from the voice work you did and just enjoy the show as a fan?
i rarely watch the show as it's airing; i usually see it in reruns. i go through phases where i don't watch it at all, then other phases where i'll watch a ton of episodes in a row, usually from several years ago. the more time in between when i watch a show and when i've recorded it, the more objective i can be about it. that's true of on camera acting as well. when you've just performed something, you're very aware of what you were trying to do, other takes that they might not have used, better line deliveries etc. But with time you don't remember any of that and just look at the show or the performance for what it is, and usually i enjoy that much more.
What was your favorite role to play and why was it Agador Spartacus? "My Guatemalaness...my heat". I absolutely love The Birdcage and you stole every scene. What ever happened to farce comedies done well anyway?
the most fun i ever had performing was for mike nichols, but not in the birdcage even though that was a hoot. but the year i spent on broadway doing spamalot, it was not only my favorite job, it was my favorite life experience. i'm a huge python fan and working closely with eric idle and recreating all of that nonsense with people i loved so much was beyond unbelievable.
I asked before but I doubt you saw it so I'll try again - Have you ever regretted the voice you committed to a character?
yes. there have been 2 or 3 times where i felt like i either made a mistake or felt like i could've found something more interesting or more believable for a character. even though i felt that it was successful, i've always wondered what if i didn't make my character in mystery men british like that. i had another idea that the director talked me out of that i wish i could've tried that was based on a cousin of mine who has a very nerdy and interesting way of talking.
You voiced Bartok from Bartok the Magnificent and Anastasia. How was the role, and thoughts on the movies? (Big fan by the way) Hope to see you in more roles in the future.
i kind of went out on a limb with that voice. it was also based on a family member of mine. i really had a strong feeling that it would be fun and it would work. i'll never forget the look on the producers and director's face when i did it. i think they really thought i was insane. they encouraged me to try something else, but i really believed that character would work. and i think that after they got in the editing room and starting cutting it together, they really liked it. and it encouraged me to go even farther with it. it must have been so different from what they imagined the character originally, that i must have thought i was just nuts.
Hank Azaria story - My GF and her buddy were dining in LA about 9-10 years ago and saw you. They asked if you were Hank Azaria, and you said no, I get that all the time. A little while later you got up to go to the restroom and they said, "Hank". You turned around, and they said "busted." You came clean, and went and sat down with them for a few minutes. I'm sure that kind of stuff is a pain in the ass, but they said you were so nice and gracious and it made their day. Thanks.
i'm glad i was nice and gracious. there have been phases of my life where i've been less tolerant of things like that. i'm happy to say that as i go on i get more and more happy to accomodate people on that level. i get asked that so much that you kind of gauge whether someone really knows it's you or is not sure, and if i'm feeling private or in a hurry and i can get away with saying it's not me, sometimes i will. but obviously in that case i misjudged it.
Hank! I've been told, its a house legend at this point passed down by the tenants, that I live in your old off-campus house at Tufts. The old falling apart three-story monstrosity. We apparently still have the big brown couch you owned when you lived here.
Many "Hank Azaria boned on this couch" jokes have been made and I thought you'd like to know. Could you confirm or tell a story or two about your old Medfahd home?
that sounds like it was the house i lived it. we were on the 3rd floor. i don't have any specific memories of specific acts on that couch. mostly i stayed up very late, smoking cigarettes and watching movies on cable on that couch. that's probably less legendary behavior.
that couch was out in a common area so i would not have likely been engaging in activities that would have frightened my roommates should they happen upon it. i think that was saved for my futon mattress in my room.
Since you've recorded so many hours of voices for The Simpsons, do you sometimes watch an episode and you're surprised by the words that come out of the mouth of Moe or Wiggum or whoever?
more often than not i have no recollection of what lines i've said or what a scene is about. i think it's because we don't have to memorize any lines of the dialogue. we read it at the microphone, so it doesn't stay in my brain like a role i have to embody would. also, i think we've done approximately 5,742 episodes, so it all kinda blends into one big episode in my mind.
How do you feel about the current Hollywood trend of hiring blockbuster actors for animated movies versus trained voice actors?
What was your favorite movie role?
as long as the actor does a great job, which most of them do, i'm fine with it. a lot of these actors are bringing their specific comedic and dramatic personalities to these roles and that's great. it's also obviously economically driven because it's easier for movie stars to sell animated films as well as live action films.
i really don't have a favorite movie role. i've liked and disliked things about all the jobs i've done.
I always wonder this of voice actors; Do you ever fear you will wake up some day and not remember how to do your various characters?
If Moe could marry anyone in The Simpsons, who do you think would work best for him?
well, he's had a crush on marge for 25 years now. that floozy who's always hanging around with mayor quimby is probably a better match for him though. either her or maybe the crazy cat lady.
Could Jesus microwave a burrito so hot, that even He could not eat it?
Also, what's your all time favorite movie? You've been one of my heroes since I was a kid, Mr. Azaria, right behind Batman.
no and goodfellas.
I can't say enough how much I love the simpsons, and how hilarious you've been in movies like the Birdcage. Who's a one time character you voiced in the Simpsons that you wish the writers would bring back just one more time? P.S. my mom went to Tufts with you, and when she heard about this, she laughed and said you owe her an umbrella you borrowed from her apparently. small world.
who's your mom? and why did i borrow her umbrella?
it's really hard to remember the one-time characters. we've gone on for so long now that most characters worthy of expanding have been expanded.
I'm not sure if you have ever been asked this before but when you do a voice for a random character on the show, do they show you what the character will look like? Or do you not find out until the voice has already been recorded?
they don't show us what the characters will look like, and often they will animate inspired by what we make them sound like.
How do you come up with the voices? Do you come up with a voice first, and then a character, or do you read the description of a character and then decide how they should sound?
Also, have you been contacted to be Patches O'Houlihan in Dogeball 2? Or perhaps a descendant of his? And if not, you should be.
i have not heard about dodgeball 2 yet. i will start nagging ben very soon and i think i gave a pretty long answer about how i assign voices to characters the last time.
Hi Hank! Ever since I was little I've mimicked the voices on tv from cartoons that I loved like the simpsons, animaniacs and looney tunes, and when I found out it was usually just a handful of people doing all the voices, I found that so exciting and it became something I really wanted to do. I really admire and love the work that you do, and you, Tress Macneille, Mel Blanc and so many others have become my heroes. Aside from luck, what's the best way to get into this business?
Also I've always wondered if you do voices when you're just going about your normal day. Like if your making a sandwich for your son, do you make it a sandwich from Moe?
i feel that a sandwich from moe would frighten my son.
and listen, what you just described is exactly how i got into doing voiceovers. i loved cartoons, mimicked them, found out they were all 2 or 3 guys...mel blanc, dawes butler, etc and they became my heroes. i did truly fall into it by accident and get lucky. that said, the only thing i know that you can do is to find a great voiceover teacher, study with them, and create a bunch of character voices with them. in many ways voiceover acting is more competitive than on camera acting because fewer people are doing more of the jobs because their voices are so versatile. here's what i believe about making it in showbusiness of any kind: if you have talent and you work hard at it, you will get opportunities. the business will let you know whether you have what it takes or not. so all you can do is put yourself out there as best you can for as long as you can and see what happens.
Hi Hank, i'm a huge fan, your voice acting is genius. I was wondering, are your live action roles in film and television more satisfying then voice acting? I'd imagine the continuous voice recording for the Simpsons must get somewhat boring at times.
i'm really glad i get to do both. they're like different but related skills. one is like driving a truck and the other is like driving a motorcycle, for lack of a better metaphor. both can be tedious for different reasons. but it's so easy and fun to do the simpsons and really takes so little time, that it's kind of hard to get bored of it. especially when they pay me.
This has to be the best AMA ever! Thank you for coming back. Do you think new episodes will ever stop? Do you hope it lasts forever or do you hope for a big series finally?
i'm pretty sure we'll go on at least a couple of years. the show will probably end eventually and we will do a big series finale when it does. it'll probably be like a 22 part "the entire season is a finale" kind of thing, but i'm happy to do them as long as they want to keep making them.
Did you have fun driving the zamboni in Mystery Alaska?
that was a crazy night. we were shooting in 0 degree weather in the canadaian rockies. i had to be blind throwing up drunk in that scene and i thought it would be a good idea to drink coffee laced with brandy all night, to warm me up and get me in to character. i drink wine in a scene once before when i had to play that i was stoned and it went really well. this went okay too until about 3 or 4 in the morning when we had to keep shooting and i was genuinely way past the point of doing anything effectively--driving a zamboni, acting, all these things became very difficult because i really got too wasted. i learned my lesson there and never drank again on camera or on stage. i decided to just to act those things. i do remember russell crowe looking at me like i was quite insane more than once that evening.
Any memorable stories from your Hollywood poker games you could share with us?
one of my favorite nights was when this gorgeous woman walked into the game, through the garage of my house, oddly. no one had ever seen her before, and she just stood there smiling at us for a while until somebody managed to say "can we help you?" she insisted that she was in the right place, and we kept assuring sure that she was not. it got really weird. we all kept looking at each other like "who called for a stripper and is not owning up to it?" finally, we understood that she was at the wrong address. she was headed to a big mansion a few houses down from me, and we were all pretty certain that she was a call girl. we all marveled at how good looking she was, but the main reason the story has become poker legend in my game is because i kept insisting that her breasts were real while all the guys were positive that they were fake. and since then, it's been a running joke in my game that i can't tell real breasts from fake breasts.
Has anyone ever asked you to record their outgoing message? If not, I am asking and [desperately] interested.
I've done it approximately 468 billion times. that is of course a rough estimate. i'm actually give this away as a prize to 3 people who donate to my birthday wish: http://www.causes.com/actions/1744700-hank-azarias-birthday-wish-raise-10-000-for-determined-to-succeed
Does it bug you that you're an amazing screen actor as well, with a well maintained body, and don't get to show off those talents/attributes as much as your voice acting?
well i get to show those talents off, just not always on camera, if you know what i'm saying. nudge nudge wink wink.
What's your view on the time family guy had that thing where moe had sex with Midge and then kill the whole family?
i didn't see that, so i have no idea.
Hi Hank, do you have any plans to work with Robin Williams again? I really love The Birdcage it just seemed to have the ultimate chemistry. Also I just turned 30 on Sunday so Happy Birthday to us = )
robin and i are starting our own clothing line. that's a joke.
we did voices in happy feet 2 together and i really loved seeing him and working with him again.
every 4 years everyone seems to float out the idea of the birdcage 2, but nothing ever seems to come of it.
How is your Guatemalaness going these days?
(Best Hank Azaria role ever)
my guatemalaness is probably a few quarts low. that kind of thing atrophies if you don't use it.
We're you in schindlers list? I need to settle a bet.
i was in a movie theater where it was playing once. that's about it.
I totally had to start to realize that I was a gay man when I saw you on television and thought you were one of the most handsome creatures that had ever been bestowed to the population of Earth. I just wanted to thank you and the people who gave birth to you and your career for starting on my path to loving men.
glad i could be of service. to quote richard dreyfuss from the movie once around, "i wish you a life of great sex and joy."
Where's John Swartzwelder?
I noticed George Takei recently took his role as Akira back. How did you feel about that? Have you two been able to make peace since the 'Howard Stern incident'?
don't know where john swartzwelder is, but wherever he is i'm sure he's being brilliant.
i actually arranged for george takei to return to the show after the howard stern incident, and i always wish that i had more of a chance to address all of that...either on the howard stern show or off. i was so bummed that i upset george and even more terrified that i pissed off howard. that was my way of trying to make amends.
Are there any lost episodes or unaired episodes from the Simpsons? If you can't tell us, could you hint at us? ;)
as far as i know, there are no lost simpsons episodes. they always hold 4 or 5 from previous seasons to air when they want to, to fill holes in the television schedule. but i have less than no clue what those episodes are.