IamA face & voice actor Phil LaMarr, AMA!
My short bio:I am a native of LA, a graduate of Yale, an alumnus of The Groundlings Theater. I was one of the original cast members of "MadTV", appeared in PULP FICTION and voiced characters in the animated shows "Samurai Jack" "Futurama" "Justice League" "Static Shock," video games "Metal Gear Solid" "Dead Island" & "Shadow of Mordor" & "Mortal Kombat X." Currently, I'm appearing in "The Weekly Show" Aug. 25 on Tv One (http://www.weeklyshow.tv/) THE BLACK VERSION monthly at Largo (http://theblackversion.com/) and at Fan Expo Toronto in Sept.(http://fanexpocanada.com/) and NYCC in Oct. (http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/)
My Proof: www.phillamarr.com
EDIT:Must...get... food... Thanks everyone for all the great questions and all the crappy ones too. For an actor, love is simply being seen. If there are any I missed I will try to come back and answer them later after my tank is refueled. - Phil
Really? Y'all gave this question upvotes? Um, no, because I am not animated
Now lets go to Ollie Williams with the blaccuweather forecast, Ollie?
IT'S GON RAIN!!
Hi Phil! What was the description of Hermes's voice you got for the creation of his voice? Or how was it created?
He was originally just a heavy-set accountant type, named Dexter. The name changed because Matt Groening realized he had too many characters who's names ended in "-er." He didn't become Jamaican until the 3rd or 4th episode.
Bender. Professor ?
did Marvin know what was in the briefcase?
He did not. The boys didn't have the combination. They had no idea what they were mixed up in.
Has anyone asked you to speak in your everyday voice and you've hesitated and had to think about what it was? If so, how did it go?
I hate it when people ask me to "just do your natural voice." They don't understand that I'm an alien in a human skin and getting those weird earth sounds out is the hardest part! Seriously, though it is hard
What kind of nugget of information can you spare to film directors about Quentin Tarantino and how he works on set?
The best thing about the Pulp Fiction set was that Quentin treated everyone with respect. The intern was just as important to him as the cinematographer and that attitude trickled from the top down.
Do you often voice-act alone or is it more often that there's more of you? What was it in the case of Futurama?
Animation used to be all group recordings because it's actually faster. But more & more are being recorded solo, which I like less. Video games are almost always recorded alone, except for the Metal Gear games. There was agroup of us on MGS2 and Quinton Flynn and I recorded together on MGS4
I found it weird that you were credited as Phil La Marr, I always thought it was because you were embarrassed to be associated with a video game.
Huh? Because there was a space? Do you have a gold medal in jumping to conclusions? 'Cause that's quite a leap. I find when trying to hide one's association with something embarrasing, it's better to go for a full pseudonym instead of just a typo.
"No no....put me down as .....Phil LuMurr....nobody can know."
Do you guys ever talk about the Futurama future? What are the chances for its comeback?
We've come back from the dead twice. To wish out loud now would just seem greedy. That said, if we got another chance, I'm sure we'd all be there with bells on. Which we'd then have to take off because sound.
The original cast of Mad TV produced absolute gold. What was your favourite/funniest sketch?
If by gold you mean 70% pyrite, sure. Sketch comedy is like baseball, if you hit one out of three, you're doing great. Fortunately, people tend to forget the mediocre ones. There were a bunch I loved the Terminator Saves Jesus and "Insanely Disappointed" I think part of that is one my website.
Hey Phill, huge fan of Futurama. Do you have any favorite moments from the show?
I'm a sucker for the Fry-Leela romance episodes. I welled up almost every time.
Every moment was a joy that I treasure. Seriously, probably the first show back from cancellation and having the show be just as good or better than it was on Fox. That was a good feeling.
What do you make of all this?
Man, I don't even have an opinion.
See above and below
What roll did you turn down, that you now regret?
Actors who are not major movie stars RARELY turn down anything. Our job is trying to get work. Working is the reward.
If they were ever to reboot Samurai Jack, and offer you the role to do Jack's voice again, would you take the offer?
Hm, would I turn down a chance to get paid to work on a show that I not only loved but consider a work of art... let me think about it... YES! (sarcasm emoticon)
Have you ever worked with Keith David, if so what on? If not would you?
I love Keith David. One of the coolest cats around. We worked together on Spectacular Spider-man
Do you watch/play the stuff you're in?
When I can but that's not that often. Which is a bummer because I work on some really cool stuff!
Would you rather fight 100 Nibbler sized Amazonian Women or 1 Amazonian Women sized Nibbler?
Nibbler has powers we don't even know about. I'll take the petites
What's Keegan-Michael Key really like?
Amazing. As both a performer and a person.
Was really touched and moved by what you said about the late/great writer Dwayne McDuffie on the JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM "League of One" documentary on him. Do you have a particular favorite McDuffie project/script or moment working with him?
My best moments with Dwayne were when there would be some obscure silver age character or continuity point in a JL script. I'd look up and see him smiling because he knew I caught it. A little nerd bonding in the wilds of Hollywood
We met briefly at Salami Studios last year, and you blatantly hit on my girlfriend in front of me. It made our day, thank you!
Thank you for all the work you do, you're one of the greats. Did you ever have a time when you first started where you weren't booking anything? And any advice on how to get through that in one piece?
You misinterpreted. I'm gay as a three dollar bill in heels. I was trying to get you through her! There are always ups & downs. Sadly that never stops. I think the inconsistency weeds out people more than the rejection. Just keep in motion. Keep creating in some way.
Woah!!! So how does it feel to know you have voiced the childhood of so many people? How awesome is that kind of factoid?
It's weird when people say that. But I appreciate that people enjoyed things I've been a part of
Nowadays it seems there are a lot more celebrity actors trying their hand at voicing video games.
With how competitive the voice acting world already is, do you welcome this transition, or do you feel like some who may already have the "A-List" status should stay in their realm?
What do you think is on the horizon for voice actors these days and coming in the future?
Last question is, have you thought about anime voice acting?
I welcome all the Kevin Spaceys and Kiefer Sutherlands they want to hire because the more game makers acknowledge that professional performances are key to the best games being as good as they are, the more likely they are to let us non-stars share in the billion$ we help them make
Anime dubbing is a totally different skill than voicing western animation. I haven't had any of those jobs come my way.
A lot of MADtv cast members seem to have varying opinions about their time on the show. What was your experience like?
Also, you're one of my all time favorite alunmi, along with Key, Peele, and Mo Collins. Thanks for being awesome!
Some enormously talented people came through that show, most of them deserved better treatment than they got.
Your role as Black Vulcan on Harvey Birdman still one of my faves, especially the bit with him complaining about how his superhero name was Aquaman's idea. I find it even more hilarious since you later played Aquaman on Young Justice. Curious if that moment was ever in your head when voicing Aquaman?
Wow, I don't even remember that line. So, no.
I absolutely love your work and Static Shock was one of my favorite cartoons growing up.
Across all of your shows and all of your video games, is there a voice performance that you liked doing the most? Was there any particular moment that stood out as your favorite?
nope. Sorry, but I've been acting professionally for over 20 years and I've worked with icons I grew up with like George Carlin and Carol Burnett, and some amazingly good movies/shows. To narrow that to one or even two is impossible.
Favorite film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
I really liked Ant-Man and Avengers 1 but I haven't seen Winter Soldier
Hey man love your work in MGS. How was it voicing Vamp and working with Hideo Kojima and his team?
I very proud to have been part of a series that continually set the bar for what video games could be
I just so happen to be sitting here wearing a Green Lantern tshirt and a ring that my wife got me at comic-con when I sign on to reddit and find the man himself.
Were you a fan of Green Lantern or the Justice League before signing on to do the show?
Were you very familiar with Batman TAS or Superman TAS, the two shows that came before JL and JLU?
GL4LIFE! I was always a big DC guy but more Batman than anything else. And not as familiar as I should have been.
Which Futurama character, other than Hermes, is your favourite to voice?
The Robot Preacher
hello mr. Lamarr,
big fan here. I met you back in megan con in 2014, you were the first autograph i got and made sure to get. I was the lil guy with all the tattoos(don't know if i showed you my simpsons and futrama tattoos). unfortunately I lost the picture we took together. Can we expect anything from futrama or mad tv reunion in the future?just wanted to say Thank you
You're welcome. As far as I know, Mad & Futurama have been laid to rest.
What is the story on your extra role in spiderman 2? Did you get a scene cut? Did you just ask to be involved in any capacity and you got that extra job? I've always been curious.
I auditioned for the guy in the elevator part that Hal Sparks got. And a month or two later they called and said they wanted to hire me but wouldn't say what for! I asked "will I be working with Sam Raimi?" They said yes, I showed up. Sam wanted actors among the extras for the train sequence so he could be sure he had people to cut to for reactions. He told us that we might wind up with lines or we might not but that he felt it was important that the scene work emotionally not just on an action level and we were the key to that.
Big fan of your work! I'm an actor/improvisor/audio engineer currently improving my craft to eventually be in the voice-over business. Do you have any advice or things to keep in mind while pursuing a career in the voice-over/entertainment business? I live in SoCal so I'm fairly close to where the work actually is.
Thank you in advance and thank you for this AMA!
Go to iwanttobeavoiceactor.com Dee Bradley Baker set up the site and it's a great place to start
Huge fan of yours, particularly Hermes from Futurama! You have an impressive repertoire under your belt, but is there a type of character you would like to voice that you haven't before?
I respond to the storytelling more than any particular character type. If it's a great script, I'm happy playing whatever I'm right for.
What was it like getting shot in the face by John Travolta?
I was not there. That is what prosthetic dummies are for. I try never to be around when my head is being blown off
Phil, I can't wait to see you at Toronto Fan Expo soon! I was wondering what your opinion is of all the big, animated movies always choosing famous actors rather than pulling from the pool of talented voice actors available. Would you rather see voice talent in Hollywood animated movies or is this just the Hollywood machine made to sell tickets?
There are some on-camera celebs who are actually great voice actors, Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy, for example but a lot of the time it seems like a marketing decision. I think if they used more Kevin Michael Richardsons and Tress MacNeilles, more of these movies would be better
See you in Toronto!
Hi Phil! Thanks for the AMA. So many great Q&A.
I was wondering: who is your favorite author, screenplay or comedy writer?
What was your favorite part and favorite moment voicing Green Lantern?
There were so many good moments in Justice League - I was on trial for galactic murder, I got to say the GL oath, be in love with Hawkgirl, be in love with Vixen. It's kind of all wins.
What are your favourite video games?
Right now, MLB The Show (I replay any game the Dodgers lose with the exact same lineup until history is corrected) and INJUSTICE
If somehow you find your way back here in the coming days for any followups...
I'm not a Dodgers fan, but how do you feel about the Dodgers and security banning Dodger Films from filming at the home games any more?
I have no idea what you're talking about. What's "Dodger Films?"
How many more series finales will Futurama fit in?
It would be nice if we could get at least one more!
What are Will Sasso and Bryan Callen like in person?
Just like they are on http://tenminutepodcast.com/ but slightly less stupid
Phil! What is your favorite thing(s) about Improv? and what were your experiences like with Groundlings? (been to a few of their shows in LA, and just recently saw the show at the Outside Lands festival!)
Improv combines the childlike joy of playing pretend with the excitement of a sporting event. The audience is invested in seeing how it turns out
Do you still keep into contact with your fellow MadTV alumni?
I do. I see folks around town which is always nice. And I'll be with Orlando at New York Comic-Con
Do you practice your voices daily?
Auditioning is my practice. If I were to sit around just doing random voices not saying anything in particular, I might be practicing sounds but I wouldn't be acting.
PHIL! Pee-Wee Herman Show, best part? And most interesting fact from the show?
Best part being in the orbit of a character that's almost on Mickey Mouse level. The people that came backstage! Paul Simon, Lou Reed, David Bowie!!
Hi Phil, what aspects or processes of voicing a game character would you like to have improved, to better provide you with the tools and emotional range to portray these characters?
I hope someday to be able to make punching sounds without having to actually move my body. But it hasn't happened yet. if you don't move, it just doesn't sound right
Also, from an acting standpoint, I think having a full script or at least a story summary of a game would make it easier to make emotional sense of the character and come up with more interesting and unique performances
Do you prefer live-action work or voice acting?
I prefer things that are good. Pulp Fiction has more in common with Samurai Jack than it does with a Transformers movie because of the quality of the storytelling. That's what I prefer but I'll do "Handy Manny" in a heartbeat if the check clears!
Hi Mr. LaMarr! Can I ask; what is the best thing a director can do for you? Thank you :~)
Guide you to a better performance without making you feel that what you were doing before was bad.
If you could do a voice on any show that you haven't done yet, which one would you do and why?
I really wanted to play the part of Morgan on the WALKING DEAD. But the guy who does it is better for than part :/
Do you have any screenwriting advice?
Do u enjoy voice acting or face acting more?
Whichever has a better script.
What are some tips for someone who wants to become a voice actor?
Any new voice work on the future? And what about doing cameos in superhero movies?
Doing some fun stuff on Avengers Assemble & Ult. Spider-man, more Ninja turtles as well as stage and on camera comedy (links above)
Hi Phil! I'm a huge fan of your work and I'm looking forward to listening to your episode of 'I Was There Too' that came out today. What's your process like preparing for a role? Also, how was your experience working on the Simpsons with the Futurama crossover episode?
Gourley's the bomb! Process? I read, then feel. Simpsons episiode was intimidating.
Love watching you Live! What is it that you most enjoy about doing "The Black Version" ?
The best thing about THE BLACK VERSION www.theblackversion.com is the group of people. Everybody is so talented that even when I feel unfunny, I have a good time just watching them. So it's a no-lose scenario!
What was it like working on MadTv? Also, favorite sketch?
Any hour long show is a lot of work. Trying to be funny for an hour is REALLY hard. I listed a couple in another reply.
Are you good at Mortal Kombat X? Also what was the very first Mortal Kombat you've played?
The first one I played was the first one there was! In an arcade! I'm very old.
You, Nolan North, Troy Baker, Tara Strong, Billy West, Grey DeLisle, and J.K. Simmons are placed in a Hunger Games style arena. Who, between you seven do you consider the most apt to survive by fighting one another?
I think it (embarrassingly quickly) comes down to Nolan & JK, then Tara seduces the winner
If you were an action hero, what would be your tagline?
"I'll buy that for a dollar!"
What was it like working with Mako Iwamatsu? And what role are you most proud of?
Mako was amazing. enormously talented and completely without pretension.
Can I help you make a better website?
I know. it's a relic from the 90's. There's a new one under construction.
Hello Phil! My finance's father is a voice-over actor for Commercials (his only CARTOON-related gig is being the Bounty Hunter on "Star Wars:The Old Republic" the game) - What should she do if she wants to prepare for a career in cartoon voiceovers? (note: she already has her Bachelor's Degree in Vocal Performance from California State University, Long Beach)
She should be an actor. I don't believe there is such thing as a "career in cartoon voiceovers." It's a byproduct of striving to perform in whatever capacity is available. To start out with an aim towards a single kind of performance in a field that is defined by scarcity seems, to me, needlessly limiting and a bad business approach. Also, go to iwanttobeavoiceactor.com
Hi Phil, you did an Q&A over skype at my local comic shop a few months ago. Sadly I was unable to attend. I wanted to ask you then and have the chance now... what is your favorite quote from Hermes?
I always liked the insults aimed at Zoidberg "ya stinkin' crab!"
I have to say, I am a huge fan, and my question is simple: What is your least favorite voice to do, whether it be because you don't like the character or because the voice is hard to do?
I guarantee you if there was a voice I didn't like doing, I probably didn't get that job
Are you still involved with Sacred Fools at all?
Sadly, I have not been over there in way too long. But I did get to see the theater win a few awards at last years LA Weekly Awards. I felt warm inside.
Hi Phil, Gordon here, big fan. What could we do as fans to get in touch with you to say thanks for the many characters you've done over the years, From Mad TV to Samurai Jack, and Futurama?
Also any pointers how we'd go about getting more Futurama? :)
I love that people think you can just ask for entertainment. (old man voice) "In my day, there were two channels and if you didn't like what was on, you just sat there and waited until the show you did like came on!"
SNL celenrated its 40th anniversary this year, Madtv's 20th is anniversary is coming up in October; are there any plans for a 20th anniversary special?
Not that i know of. We did a mini-reunion at Stan lee's Comikaze last year
How do you feel about getting shot in the face by John Travolta?
Who is your favorite character to voice? Doesn't matter how small the part . . .
And, you are just awesome, grew up with MadTV, Futurama is my favorite show, just spilling my fan love for you!
Aw, thanks. Hard to pick favorites but I always had fun doing "Dracula" on BILLY & MANDY
What was playing Vamp like? Are you a MGS fan?
Also thank you for being a part of futurama! Bit part of my life.
I'll take any bit part I can! ;) Yes, I loved MGS and begged the casting director to audition me for ANYTHING in MGS2. I got lucky.
Thanks for being here! I can always spot your voice in shows. Been a long time fan.
Voice acting looks like a lot of fun. As a 28 year old with no experience, what would my chances be of breaking in? I've always been interested. What steps would I need to take?
The main thing is you have to learn to act. Most people can talk, so it's the performance that sets voice actors apart. go to iwanttobeavoiceactor.com
Why do you pick voice-acting over regular acting so much more? Is it more fun for you?
Middle-class actors don't pick their jobs, we are picked for the jobs. Also, I do all kinds of acting, check out links above to stage and TV work I'm doing THIS WEEK!
That's my White Momma was my favorite Mad TV Sketch, what was yours?
That was def. my favorite theme song (Debra Wilson, FTW)
Was it sad seeing MadTV end after getting it off the ground? I thought the show was fantastic, and deserved a longer run.
Longer than 14 years? Seriously? That was long enough.
I hear a lot of generalizations about how jokes are made (e.g. "you gotta look deep in yourself when creating material"), but once you have a premise or a topic to work with, how exactly do you create a joke? I mean, are there certain tropes or timeless formulas that most jokes fall into?
I wonder if there are any kinds of good books about this stuff.
Well, first, you should ask that question of someone who tells/writes jokes. I don't. When I used to write sketches, the rule of thumb was write what makes you laugh. I'm pretty sure that's true for stand-ups as well.
How often are you asked to ad-lib in character and how do you like it? Is that particularly different between animation and video games?
Definitely more in games, because with so much gameplay to cover they can always use more lines. I come from an improv background so I like it.
Hello Phil, I've been a big fan ever since Futurama and Pulp Fiction. With all the great voice talent on Futurama, which one do you think stood out to you the most?
"Stood out?" You mean who was the hottest? Billy West - because there's nothing sexier than a sense of humor. ;)
What are the highlights / lowlights of conventions and expos for you?
Highlights of Cons are meeting fans, meeting other guests like Ron Glass & John Rhys-Davies as well as comics legends like Neal Adams & George Perez. Lowlights are having to talk over convention hall din for 3 days straight then trying to work on Monday.
In which order would you rank your preference for stage, screen, and voice acting?
What first drew you to voice work?
From above > I prefer things that are good. The medium is secondary to the quality
Hey Phil, Thanks for doing this AMA.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Read any good comic books lately?
I am loving Greg Rucka's LAZARUS! Best book since SAGA!
Were you a fan of any of the previous incarnations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before working on the current cartoon?
Did they tell you and/or did you hope/know Baxter Stockman would be mutated into a fly mutant in 2nd Season like in the 80's/90's cartoon?
I read the comics when they were first out but I was too old for the cartoon. I had no idea!
Hey Phil! First of I'd like to extend my thanks in doing this AMA, and for being so humble when I met you at MCM. Now onto my question; What do you do to remain actively acting when you do not have any auditions or roles lined up for a while?
Hm. Well, we don't usually know how long a dry spell is until it's over, so it's kind of hard to plan for them. In general I find its good to stay busy. Write, take classes, work on projects with friends - these are all things that can keep the juices flowing during down times
Your proof (site) is blocked at my work. For proof, I am going to need to hear you say 'My manwich!'. So I guess that's my question, can you say 'My manwich!' for us?
My site is blocked? Where do you work? KKK.com "no negro web activity allowed!" Okay, I'll periscope that in a minute!
In my country's version of Futurama Hermes uses a voice with the accent from my city. What do you think it says about my city?
That you are either a land of officious bureaucrats or you get high a lot
Will there ever be a Mad TV reboot? Please?
Also, do you ever have a recurring dream of a movie you've acted in or voiced?
Thanks Phil! You rock!
No, Mad TV had a long full life that has now ended. No, I don't remember my dreams. No, thank YOU!
Can you limbo as well as Hermes?
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