Phil LaMarr Breaks Down His Most Famous Character Voices | Vanity Fair

Phil LaMarr Breaks Down His Most Famous Character Voices | Vanity Fair


we walk in south to go hey how you doing feels like good good REO it’s like alright here we go it’s rainin sideways okay one more angrier it’s rainin sideways cool thank you [Music] you will not best me this day violin wasn’t cut out to be a bureaucrat Jamie no blue no this is ko Kali let’s go away I am confident you will make the right choice hi I’m Phil Lamarr I’m a voice actor known for the voice of Samurai Jack characters on Futurama Family Guy star wars the clone wars mad tv Justice League or anything else he watched 15 years ago and today we’re gonna be doing a little cartoon breakdown on the show Futurama which is set in the year 3000 every company will have a certified bureaucrat and my character homies Conrad is the certified bureaucrat of Planet Express Wow you look happy is someone fired bit the central bureaucracy is conducting an inspection tomorrow I first got involved a Futurama just auditioning I think I was still working on MADtv at Fox came in along with hundreds of other people to audition for the guy who created the Simpsons it’s a little intimidating it was tough trying to figure out where the character might because it was a brand-new show we knew it wasn’t The Simpsons but that’s all we knew and I’m looking at the character and they’re telling me he’s you know a bureaucrat an accountant so I think I was doing just sort of you know this kind of voice yes fry professor I’d like you to meet someone this is dr. Zoidberg then about three episodes in the writers sort of realized that the hermes character was fine but they didn’t really have anything that was working working and I remember Matt Groening coming up to me in the hallway and said well we just want to try something with Hermes can you do a Jamaican accent and I said sure I can do that I auditioned for Cool Runnings just like every other black man in 1980 whatever adding the accent gave the character another dimension to death because all of a sudden instead of just writing accountant jokes they were writing Jamaican jokes and then laying accountants stuff on top of them like okay so what if he sort of laid back but not laid back at all I think actually had Matt not suggested that I probably wouldn’t be sitting here I probably would have made a past episode four this isn’t supposed to be fun we’ve got a job to do and we will do it better without distractions understood this was really a powerful special moment for me because I grew up as a comic book fan it was wild to be the Green Lantern I had seen Bruce Tim’s work on Batman Beyond and knew the character designs and all that and in terms of finding the voice that was sort of easy to do because the way he draws men he’s got they got these little tiny legs and he’s great big chests so you feel like everybody’s got to have a deep voice they talked about the characters like well you know he was a marine he was from Detroit and I’m like oh well my dad’s from Detroit so I added a little bit of a level sort of an homage to my dad’s my my dad was like you know I sort of this yoke smoky voice and so I wanted to put a little of that in there so it wasn’t just you know I’m big hero it was also a little bit of this you know the guy has he’s been so he’s been somewhere he’s done some things you know my name is Jon Stewart Green Lantern of sector to eight one four now here’s Williams with the Blackie weather forecast ally let’s go away I also play the part of Ollie Williams the black G weather forecast weatherman on Family Guy that’s about the easiest job in show business because he’s got one line let’s go rain that’s it I would come in to record and Seth would be directing and it would basically be a thirty second work day we walk in seventh ago hey how you doing it feels like good good are you it’s like alright here we go it’s raining sideways okay one more angrier it’s right in sideways cool thank you let’s go live to Ollie Williams with the black u weather report ollie is raining sounds rough Olli there been a few times where you stretch it out a little bit the time they cut to Olli and he was hi how’s the weather look Ali not too bad but generally speaking it’s it’s a very nicely self-contained joke I’ve been really lucky to work with some of the most creative people of the last 20 years Seth MacFarlane Bruce Timm Quentin Tarantino I remember asking you a goddamn thing and genndy tartakovsky is definitely among that pantheon he did something with that cartoon that had never been seen in American animation the first episode has nine and a half minutes of silence which was unheard of in children’s animation on Cartoon Network Nickelodeon all those shows everything was about having am I wrong talking about document no he said I want to show that has action he also tells a story with everything at our disposal not just words music sound color and was also I think groundbreaking in that the characters had no black outlines which at the time nobody did we sat down in the booth and Jenny was there and just sort of you work back and forth with the Creator to try to find the voice that he’s hearing in his head the only reason he had an accent was to tie him to his roots and to honor that he was coming from ancient Japan and it was interesting because a few years before I was part of a comedy group that was predominantly Japanese called cold tofu a lot of the folks in the group were you know first or second generation Japanese Americans who had grown up hearing Japanese and I noticed that they had not an accent so much it’s just a way of speaking which is like oh this is how you speak English if you’re hearing Japanese at the same time you’re hearing English so instead we had a little bit of the accent there were just simply words that he would say in a way that he had heard something differently growing up than you had come home I’m alive Virgil was a fourteen-year-old boy in the city of Dakota who accidentally gets superpowers and then becomes a hero but at the same time he’s also a fourteen-year-old boy so he’s got to go to school he’s got to finish his homework he’s got to deal with his annoying sister thanks wind is your narrow behind play football at all who asked you miss nosey and fight for what’s right that was actually my very first show where I was the main character and it was the first time that teenage african-american superhero was the star of his own cartoon as a comic-book person you know growing up reading mostly stories that didn’t reflect my life it was so amazing to actually be part of something that did and Denis Cowan and Alan Burnett and Dwayne McDuffie all of the creators were so great about making it good stories first and also dealing with things that actually mattered the show one Humanitas award for an episode we did about guns in school they did these great stories that were fun and exciting but somehow grounded in something that felt real so it wasn’t like first there’s a very special episode no it was just Virgil dealing with the stuff in his life you know cuz you know I’m a city kid and this is sort of things that happen but you had electrical powers please welcome Bobby stroganoff skink hello fellas taught me Bobby I also did the voice of Bowlby stroganoff ski on the Jimmy Neutron cartoon which is weird beyond weird it’s a great show and they’ve been going for a while before they brought me in to play that character I think I played maybe a couple other characters but that’s the one that people still remember to this day what B is just strange and weird and that’s all that’s really basically my whole point was to try to make Jed and the producers on the other side of glass crack up cuz we didn’t all they knew is just like well he’s just he’s the weird kid at the school and he’s from like a weird foreign country oh you mean that bond is from a country where they worship giant space rocks I just went as goofy and as crazy as I could and it worked and many Atlanteans were injured but it could have been far worse in playing the part of Aquaman on Young Justice that was a really sort of interesting path because originally I auditioned for Aqualad because that was one of the main heroes in Young Justice and and get it then of course I heard what my buddy Khary Payton did I was like oh dang no that’s it if I had heard my and his I would have fired me and hired him Greg Weisman the creator threw me a bone said okay we’re gonna make you Aquaman like oh I get to be black out come in nope nope regular Aquaman oh okay tire a cauldre on Young Justice they managed to do something that nobody had been able to do for 40 years honest okay echo oh League re-themed on deep non peo men get this better which was make aquaman cool he was always the afterthought until this they sort of recast him as regal he was the king of Atlantis and it’s like oh right if you had a king of the ocean you’re kind of the king of 75% of the world that’s power and you saw from that point on that versions of Aquaman suddenly were grounded and cool and then you get to Jason Momoa like oh now he’s sexy that is Duchess she thinks she’s the best idea ever thought of I also played the part of wilt from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and wilt was the sweet character that whole show was about little kids imaginary friends and where they go when the kids grow too old for them so is this whole house and we all were created by little kids and wilts creator was basically Michael Jordan as a little boy and he created a basketball-playing imaginary friend but then once you know he started getting scouted he’d have room for that so you know wilt was just sorry is that okay so much fun playing a sweet sweet character and such a great just heartfelt shows created by craig mccracken who did Powerpuff Girls and Lauren Faust before she went on to do my little pony so they are no slackers you must bring this ship if the only way we can to be part of the Star Wars universe for the first time playing the role of the Jedi Kit Fisto which was and not a new character had been introduced in the attack of the clones but never spoke in the live-action movie and so when they brought the character into the animated world he had to voice and I guess George Lucas had the idea that the aquatic aliens should all have some sort of Island Caribbean flavor so that’s where the idea of kid Fisto having this sort of Island accent came from and to me he’s great because he’s the Jedi who smiles you know he is not afraid to take off his shirt you’d never see obi-wan Kenobi do that but I’m in the water so it makes sense as anybody who grew up in the 70s to be a Jedi is so cool even though I’m just a voice of one one of the interesting things about voice acting is different from on camera acting as movie acting is from stage acting what you’re doing at the core is all the same you’re taking some imaginary circumstance and trying to make it real for an audience you have to look at those words on the page and instantly make it come to life you know I’m Phil Lamarr and this has been my cartoon breakdown

100 thoughts on “Phil LaMarr Breaks Down His Most Famous Character Voices | Vanity Fair”

  1. finding out that Phil voiced Bolbi was the biggest shocker to me, mostly cuz that character is such an entity. Amazing that he could leave that kind of impression that still shakes me to this day xD

  2. Green Lantern in Justice League was one of my favorite characters ever. When I was a kid it threw me for a loop when Green Lantern was all the sudden black on Cartoon Network, when years prior he was some background character on some 70's show Justice (Friends) League that kept changing all the time
    Love me some Phil LeMarr, such a talented voice actor!!!

  3. This guy was the voice of samurai Jack man I loved that show to the death too know that a African American did the voice man this why I love being african descendant so many qualities in our people.

  4. At a convention my dad told him to say what he had for breakfast as angry Samurai Jack.
    "An omelette! With peppers, onions and tomatoes! ACKUUUUUU!!!"

  5. Why can't we get quality dubbers like this for anime dubs? Like guys with real personality and feel like they've actually read the script

  6. He mentioned that "it was cool to be a Jedi, even though it was just the voice". Darth Vader too, is just a voice over. May the force be with you Phil…

  7. LITERALLY. Never knew. That he was bolbi. Already have mountains of respect for Phil, but this stacks on a few more peaks.

  8. Not only was he recently on supergirl, but now I've learned Phil Lamar played these other great characters as well

  9. I wonder how many samurai jack episodes he didn’t speak on? Cause I swear jacks word count for the entire series is like one hundred lol

  10. I've been saying since 2001 that Phil LaMarr is possibly THE most underappreciated man in hollywood… The dude's just pure talent..

  11. This man is a modern Black history figure. Jon Stewart on JL and Virgil on Static Shock were notable figures in my childhood. I'm happy to see him getting his props–and to see his vocal & acting range. It's insane!!! I still get excited when I see him in shows today. I salute you sir!!!👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

  12. Its crazy on how some of his roles he had some form of experience or knowledge to help him voice the character so talented

  13. Why was this only 13 minutes. This man is an iconic voice. I would have listened to 30 minutes and still want to have heard more.

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