Hi, I'm Yeardley Smith - Actress, Producer, and voice of Lisa Simpson!

I also co-host the true crime podcast "Small Town Dicks" with my best friend, Zibby Allen, and twin detectives Dan and Dave. Each of our cases is told by the detective who investigated it in their Small Town, USA.

Next week my production company, Paperclip Ltd., along with Mill House Motion Pictures and Vertical Entertainment will release the film "All Square" Starring Michael Kelly from “House of Cards” and Pamela Adlon from “Better Things.”

I’m so excited to do my first AMA with you guys! So send me your questions and let’s talk.

Proof: https://twitter.com/YeardleySmith/status/1047612930752053249

EDIT

Reddit, thank you so much for hosting this AMA for me. To all the fans who sent in questions, You rock! I gotta go do some other stuff but I will check back this weekend to see how you all are doing. Besides which I can't possibly compete with the bird lawyer. See his AMA.

EDIT

OK, Reddit, I'm out! So happy I could spend some of my Sunday with you. Thank you again for hosting.

To the best fans in the world, thank you for participating. There is no AMA without you.

Until next time.....

Comments: 695 • Responses: 74  • Date: 

TheInitialGod510 karma

Is Lisa's voice your actual voice? Like how Brian Griffin is essentially Seth MacFarlane's actual voice?

Yeardley_Smith888 karma

It's close. We're not that far apart mostly because I don't know what I'm doing :)

TheFirstAndrew446 karma

I always enjoy your commentary on the DVDs, but it seems like you're the only cast member who is a regular through most of them. Do you just enjoy doing them or did you lose some kind of bet?

Yeardley_Smith567 karma

HAHA. I like to do what I can to support the show that has given me so much. Plus I really enjoy them because I always learn a lot from the writers and animators.

ataeafNHC393 karma

Have you noticed that Lisa seems to have an addictive personality; like when she collected Olympic pics, or almost became a smoker, or got addicted to playing Crash Bandicoot... and of course, the Corey Hotline?

Yeardley_Smith419 karma

She's definitely Type A. We have that in common.

wangdingus362 karma

What was it like working on Maximum Overdrive? How was Stephen King as a director?

Yeardley_Smith380 karma

I loved working on that movie! Especially because it was going to be directed by Stephen King. And while he was out of his depth in terms of directing (by his own admission) he was humble and willing and welcoming.

reverber8338 karma

Does anyone ever ask you about Herman’s Head? That was a neat show.

Yeardley_Smith344 karma

Yes, all the time. People really loved that show. I'm always grateful.

ThatTransMuffin290 karma

What's it been like working on a show like the Simpsons for so many years? Do you have a favorite episode?

Yeardley_Smith643 karma

It's been amazing!! It's the best job in the world. NO JOKE!

I have a running list of about 5-10 favorite episodes that changes regularly. My top 5 today would have to be, in no particular order:

  • The Man Who Grew Too Much
  • Lisa on Ice
  • Bart Sells His Soul
  • Treehouse of Horror I
  • Lisa Substitute

aliassadyahya288 karma

How often are you recognized in public?

Yeardley_Smith409 karma

Almost everyday :)

Therealeggplant264 karma

Hi Yeardley,

Out of all the celebrities to guest star on the Simpsons, who was the most fun to work with?

Yeardley_Smith573 karma

Lady Gaga was awesome! Eric Idle was really fun. Ricky Gervais wrote his own episode that had a song in it that he also wrote. Ludacris was a ball.

_Wartoaster_264 karma

Have you ever worn braces? (Sorry. I had to ask)

Yeardley_Smith363 karma

Yes. I sure did. And I had headgear.

GoodSamaritan_201 karma

Do you feel that the Simpsons has declined in quality with time?

Yeardley_Smith737 karma

When your churning out 22 shows per season it's impossible for every show to be stellar. There will always be an ebb and flow. I think what sticks with me more is the fact that we still have such a huge enthusiastic fan base. We still make top 10 lists regularly, and I'm just enormously proud to be part of something that is an iconic part of pop-culture. That's rare air and I never take it for granted.

cobaltcollapse166 karma

In Portland we had a new bridge erected a few years back and we were floating around the idea of calling it the Lisa Simpson Bridge. Did you hear about this?

Yeardley_Smith179 karma

I did not!! But I think that's a fantastic idea!

UberTag155 karma

Hey there, Yeardley! With Nancy writing an episode script for a Lisa-centric ep that will air later this season (Girl’s in the Band), any chance you’d return the favor and write a script for Bart?

Yeardley_Smith241 karma

Oh no, that's way above my pay grade :)

FakeRegDunlop139 karma

Why do think The Legend of Billie Jean was so unfairly snubbed by Oscar voters in 1985?

Yeardley_Smith164 karma

Because it's not that good. LOL.... Which doesn't mean it's not entertaining but I wouldn't say it was Oscar worthy.

RunDNA135 karma

Which one is better? Herman's Head or Inside Out?

Yeardley_Smith229 karma

I don't know about better but Herman's Head was first. :)

ImRichieDagger121 karma

With the new Treehouse of Horror coming up, do you have a favorite segment from a Treehouse episode?

Yeardley_Smith224 karma

There is a segment in the trilogy where Lisa falls victim to multiple personalities. That was pretty fun.

paullovestommy121 karma

What is the creepiest crime you have profiled on Small Town Dicks? What inspired you to pursue true crime as a topic for a podcast?

Yeardley_Smith183 karma

Crimes with children are particularly hard to listen to but every time I hear another case about the horrible things that people do to each other, I'm stunned.

As for starting the podcast, I've always been interested in people who didn't value the rules most of us live by. Like trust.

EscalatorToKnowhere108 karma

Hi, Yeardley!! Thank you helping to give Lisa her voice, literally & figuratively for 30 seasons ♥️♥️. I'd like to know if there are any particular moments as Lisa where you feel proudest of your work? Also, I see how your personality helps inform Lisa as a character over the years. Has Lisa, either as a character or any certain script that was centered on her, taught you something you treasure in your life?

If I can also ask do you have any people -- victims or criminals -- or cases from Small Town Dicks that you continue to think about more than the others?

Yeardley_Smith190 karma

Great questions:

1) I try to do something that I'm proud of in every episode and that's not just a bullshit answer. It's true.

2) The funny thing is when Lisa Simpsons received the note from Mr. Bergstrom in "Lisa's Substitute" that read "You are Lisa Simpson," I didn't get it. haha. I was 24-years-old and I remember feeling like the writers had cheated Lisa Simpson out of something she really needed in that moment. Now that I'm 54 and a little wiser, I totally get it. #BetterLateThanNever

3) I think about the victims families who are left behind to deal with the tragedy. I can't imagine how you recover from some of their losses.

GoodSamaritan_92 karma

As someone who (I assume) has met and conversed with him before, what's John Swartzwelder like? To outsiders he's notoriously reclusive and many Simpsons fans have even debated his existence.

Yeardley_Smith131 karma

I can assure you he exists. He's just very private. Even with those of us he worked with all those years.

Porkchops_on_My_Face85 karma

Hey!

What's the weirdest/funniest thing that's happened while in production of The Simpsons?

Yeardley_Smith301 karma

When Bono from U2 guest starred on The Simpsons and our music supervisor told him he was a bit "pitchy" he mooned us.

SlimChiply76 karma

Because you have such an iconic voice, do you ever disguise your voice when out in public?

Yeardley_Smith157 karma

It's impossible. I always sound exactly like myself.

medicatedmonkey70 karma

Do you feel the animation change through the years has added or taken away from the heart of the Simpsons? The old style animation gave a lot more feeling to the characters vs the new animation being so clean and crisp it's almost robotic. I feel like the Simpsons really benefited from the old style.

Yeardley_Smith174 karma

We were one of the last animated shows to switch to computer animation. I think we did it in season 12. But they literally stopped making the cellophane that animators would paint on, so we had no choice. That said, I believe you're bound to lose some texture when you go from all hand drawn to computer animation. But we gained over a million colors.

stevenmane62 karma

I have so many questions I would love to ask you, but I'll stick to just a few.

1) You've done the voice of Lisa Simpson for all sorts of media. How would you compare voicing lines for the show vs voicing lines for a video game?

2) How often do you work in-studio with the other voice actors, like Dan Castellaneta and Nancy Cartwright, and how are your interactions with them outside of the studio?

3) Outside of true crime and acting, what are some of your favorite hobbies?

4) Open auditions don't normally happen for The Simpsons, so what advice would you give someone who isn't famous who wanted to do voice work on the show?

Yeardley_Smith126 karma

Ok. Here we go!

1) It's the same. There's no difference because for me the character is the character.

2) We record The Simpsons all together like an old radio play. So I see my colleagues all the time in-studio. But we don't socialize outside of work.

3) Cooking, sleeping, did I mention cooking? idk...I'm kind of boring when it comes to hobbies.

4) Sadly, there are never open auditions for The Simpsons and in terms of doing voice over work in general I'm not a very good resource since I always regard these questions of advice as though you're asking me to solve you're calculus problem with an abacus. :(

StardustSapien62 karma

Do you have much of a recollection doing the guest spot on "Dead Like Me"? Your episode was significant for Mandy's character in giving Rube a closure of sort. But your character was pivotal in facilitating that. Both of you were great in that one. I was wondering if there were any plans to explore/expand the reaper's community with more guest spots of characters like yours.

P.S. I first saw you in an installment of Square One TV's Dragnet "spoof". Remember the gorilla thing? What was it like for you early in your career? Any memories to share?

Yeardley_Smith57 karma

I don't know of any plans for "Dead Like Me" to come back but I enjoyed doing it.

Yup, I remember the gorilla. To be honest I was and am very ambitious and I love to work so I was all about it.

skelebone60 karma

Did Daniel Stern ever do right by you after he got you pregnant in City Slickers?

Yeardley_Smith39 karma

What do you mean by that? Haha.

NoelLiamsson50 karma

Can i get a hi from the actual Lisa Simpson?

Yeardley_Smith86 karma

Hi! :)

ataeafNHC47 karma

Favorite outfit (other than the classic lampshade dress) Lisa wears?

Yeardley_Smith94 karma

I love Lisa's "Sunday Best" outfit and I love her one-piece swimsuit.

ThisSilenceIsMine45 karma

I grew up with the Québécois dub of the Simpsons.

I'd like to ask you if you like her québécois voice actress and do you feel she captures the essence of the character

Here's a link to her performance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6N2sj_QaT4w

Yeardley_Smith99 karma

Well, my French isn't good enough to fairly judge her performance. But the interesting thing about The Simpsons being dubbed into other languages is that the people in those countries learn to love the voice they hear all the time and aren't attached to mine or any of the other American Simpsons voices. So vive la Québécois Lisa Simpson!

wags8342 karma

Which episode of "Small Town Dicks" should I listen to first to get me hooked?

Any other podcasts that you'd recommend? You mentioned listening to them in the car and so forth in another answer.

Yeardley_Smith50 karma

It's hard to pick a favorite because I think they're all really well told. If you're looking for one I'd start with "Don't Go!" which is Season One, Episode One. If you're up for a 4-parter, go straight to "The Sociopath & The Whistle Blower" also in season one.

Spaghettisaurus37 karma

Did you and Pamela Adlon ever bond over having voiced beloved, animated child characters for over a decade? Did Lisa Simpson ever get to talk to Bobby Hill?

Yeardley_Smith58 karma

No, but Pamela and I used to audition together for live action TV way back in the day when we were both starting out. And Lisa Simpson has never met Bobby Hill.

SatanMaster36 karma

What is the weirdest fan encounter you’ve ever had? I assume you’ve been propositioned for dinner, sex, etc.

Yeardley_Smith113 karma

Honestly, my fans are mostly really lovely and respectful and excited to see me. But sometimes I get freaked out when people know what flight I'm on when I haven't told anyone. That can be unsettling. Like how did they know I was on that flight? But moving on, I'm also always surprised, but also amused by people who are eager to show me their full body tattoos of Simpsons characters or art.

Stonecutter90829 karma

Lisa Simpson is often considered the moral center or compass of the show. How does that make you feel? Was there ever a moment that you felt went against this character trait?

What was your favorite role other than Lisa Simpson?

How many centuries until the Simpsons are no longer on television (assuming some sort of TV still exists)? Three? Four?

Yeardley_Smith66 karma

That's a lot of questions. I'll do my best here.

1) Lisa being the moral compass is just one of many fantastic elements of that character. So I don't feel a responsibility to uphold that. At the same time once in a great while, the writers have Lisa Simpson doing or saying something I don't think she would do and I always speak up about that. But it happens so rarely that it's not an ongoing battle or anything.

2) I have a few but one that comes to mind is "Marlene" on Dharma & Greg.

3) I think we're about half way done.

anonymous54321028 karma

Have you ever been told you lost a role because of your voice being so identifiable as Lisa?

Yeardley_Smith63 karma

People aren't usually that forthcoming. But I have no doubt I've lost roles because I do this iconic character.

davidholanda128 karma

Hey, how is Lisa Simpson acting for 25 years?

Yeardley_Smith40 karma

I'm going on 30+ years and I love it. She's one of my favorite characters of all time.

twogunsalute26 karma

Why do you think true crime podcasts are so popular?

Why did you decide to get into production?

Yeardley_Smith55 karma

I think people like the good guys to win because if they don't society crumbles into chaos. Also when the good guys win I believe we feel safer and like there's order in the world.

I decided to get into production because I can't wait around for people to give me jobs other than The Simpsons so I decided to create my own :)

ataeafNHC24 karma

Favorite Simpsons characters other than Lisa?

Yeardley_Smith79 karma

I have several: Moe the bartender, Barney, the one-eyebrowed baby, Nelson. I also love Maggie Simpson.

MrScary66623 karma

What's your favorite band to listen to when you're just hanging around the house or driving around town?

Yeardley_Smith90 karma

I actually listen to a lot of podcasts when driving, cooking or just hanging around the house. But when I workout I listen to a mix of 80s hair bands and classic rewind (Journey, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Boston....You get the picture.)

satan66422 karma

When is the Simpsons going to end?

Yeardley_Smith155 karma

I think we're about halfway done :)

BEANandCHEE20 karma

Who was the funniest guest star on Simpson’s?

Yeardley_Smith47 karma

Eric Idle had us in stitches but to be honest it's hard top the talent of Tress, Hank, Dan and Harry who all do multiple voices.

IT_guys_rule19 karma

Do you have any good stories from Herman's Head? I loved that show so much. You were just fantastic :)

Yeardley_Smith46 karma

In one episode they had me smoke a cigar. I was sick for two full days after that. HAHA. YUCK!

ataeafNHC19 karma

Do you play The Simpsons: Tapped Out? (not asking for your username)

Yeardley_Smith26 karma

I don't but I heard it's great.

ataeafNHC18 karma

Do you have any Simpsons toys?

Yeardley_Smith58 karma

I don't have a lot of Simpsons toys, because I don't like clutter. But I do have quite a few framed Simpsons cels that I've hung floor to ceiling in the guest bedroom. They're gorgeous!

tmnsam17 karma

Who has been your favorite guest to appear on the Simpsons? Anyone you've been particularly starstruck by?

Yeardley_Smith52 karma

I was starstruck by Lady Gaga and Benedict Cumberbatch.

smartandfunk17 karma

Hi Yeardley!

I seem to remember the original Simpsons as a part of the old 'Tracey Ullmam Show', and a lot of the voice actors were part of that cast. Did you appear on that show? And if not, how did you end up with Lisa?

Yeardley_Smith27 karma

Yes, I did. All the original actors are still the original actors. Except Hank, who replaced another actor as "Moe" after one episode.

ataeafNHC13 karma

What are your thoughts on Das Bus (the Lord of the Flies episode)?

Yeardley_Smith22 karma

I think it's a good one. Can't say I have any strong feeling about it one way or another. I take it from your question that you have some thoughts about that episode.

durpdog12312 karma

What is your favorite thing about Lisa Simpson ?

Yeardley_Smith28 karma

Her sense of humor and her resilience.

hardspank91611 karma

If they made Herman’s Head into a movie who would you want to play your character?

Yeardley_Smith32 karma

Are you suggesting it wouldn't be me? Haha.

rolnaack1911 karma

Looking forward to All Square! What first drew you to the script?

Yeardley_Smith13 karma

Michael Kelly brought us the script. I'm such a huge fan of his! I was excited to see him do a comedy and smile for once. Although he still plays a grumpy asshole.

realjoeydood7 karma

Will you call me for my birthday this weekend (and do Lisa)?

Yeardley_Smith17 karma

Haha, no, but I'll wish you a happy birthday right now.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! (maybe save this for tomorrow?? :) )

nostalgiababs6 karma

What was your favourite song growing up? Do you still like that kind of music today?

Yeardley_Smith5 karma

I think my favorite song growing up was "I Think I Love You" by David Cassidy (yes, I'm old) and once in a great while I'll still hear it on the radio and I still love it :) .

batmansdeadmomanddad5 karma

I really enjoyed dead like me. Is Mandy patinkin fun to work with? Is he a sweetheart?

Yeardley_Smith5 karma

We had a great time together. He was really generous as an actor in our scenes.

ataeafNHC4 karma

Any Simpsons ships? (As in which characters would make the best romantic pairs?)

Yeardley_Smith8 karma

How about Shauna and Groundskeeper Willie? I think they'd be an entertaining pair :)

Pepster123454 karma

What is like being not noticed by the general public by looks. But when you speak, everyone goes ‘’hang on?’’, ‘’are you like from the Simpsons?’’.

It must be an interesting experience.

Yeardley_Smith10 karma

I actually get recognized by "my looks" quite regularly. I would say I actually have the best of both worlds where everywhere I go if people recognize me they welcome me warmly, but I'm not so famous that I can't also have a life.

SmallLabGroup3 karma

Do you ever get to record with guest stars nowadays? And who has been your favourite guest star?

Yeardley_Smith4 karma

Yes, sometimes if their schedules permit it. I threw some names out earlier if you wanna take a gander :)

frogstein3 karma

Are there any excuses for Lisa Goes Gaga?

Yeardley_Smith5 karma

I don't understand the question.

EonOst2 karma

How do you sound on helium?

Yeardley_Smith8 karma

Like I sucked helium.

ataeafNHC2 karma

Do you think Lisa Simpson is gay/bi/pan?

Yeardley_Smith9 karma

That's a good question. So far she's had a lot of crushes on boys so that makes me think she's straight but she has a lot of life ahead of her so who knows?

UHeardAboutPluto2 karma

Remember Herman's Head?

Yeardley_Smith5 karma

Of course!

Ronaldeaux2 karma

What cool things have fans done for you over the years? Any nice gifts you've received?

Yeardley_Smith8 karma

The best thing that fans do for me is tell me how happy they are to meet me when I'm in their hometown, for instance. They don't really give me gifts which I'm good with because, I don't need more stuff.

minipiemix2 karma

I love seeing you pop up in random movies and TV shows when I least expect it because you always bring the right amount of sass! Do you have any favorite memories of Mad Men or (my personal favorite) The Legend of Billie Jean? Have a great day!

Yeardley_Smith7 karma

I wish my part on Mad Men had been bigger but nevertheless I was inspired to buy the period girdle that all the women had to wear on the show. I was just sure The Legend of Billie Jean was going to make me a mega-star when it released. And then it was a bomb, haha. It has since become a huge cult classic. Hooray!

Darkchyylde2 karma

How do you handle being so awesome and hot at the same time? :P

(But in all seriousness) Have you ever had a situation that being the voice of Lisa made you ridiculously happy/touched?

Yeardley_Smith11 karma

Haha. Thank you. It takes a village.

All the time! I love watching Lisa on TV. She never fails to make me smile and make me proud.

ataeafNHC2 karma

What do you think about Lisa’s relationship with Janey?

Yeardley_Smith3 karma

They don't have much of a relationship. But Janey seems like a fair-weather friend, anyway so perhaps it's for the best.

Convenient_Amnesia1 karma

You've worked with Julie Kavner for many years now. What's she like? She's always intrigued Simpsons fans such as myself as she's really private and no one knows much about her.

On that subject, you've worked with Julie, Dan, Harry, Hank, Nancy, etc. for over a quarter of a century now. Having worked with them for so long, have you guys grown close and become friends in real life like the cast of Friends? What's the dynamic like, and do you guys ever hang out outside of table reads and Simpsons stuff?

Yeardley_Smith1 karma

Julie is lovely and warm and incredibly funny on the show and in real life. She's also very private without being in any way standoffish (has anyone ever used the word "standoffish in an AMA...probably not, heehee).

We all have the utmost respect for each other and enjoy what each person brings to their characters but we don't socialize outside of the show.

SteamrollerAssault1 karma

Both you and Zibby have a real knack for asking the right questions to let a story develop from beginning to end. How much prep do the two of you do for a show in terms of research or pre-interviews? How much and what typically gets edited out for the sake of pace?

Yeardley_Smith4 karma

We used to do a lot of prep and that just became too cumbersome. So then we went in the opposite direction and started doing no prep so that we could hear the stories for the first time just like our audience. And now that's how we do it.

In terms of editing, we never edit anything out that changes the story. But because we're interviewing people who aren't professional story tellers, sometimes we have to rearrange bits of the narrative so they're in chronological order.

Ronaldeaux1 karma

What are your thoughts on the episode "The Principal and the Pauper" and the revelation that Principal Skinner is actually a fraud who's real name is Armin Tamzarian? Both Matt Groening and Harry Shearer have gone on record over the years expressing their anger and disgust over that episode. Groening called it "a mistake" and Shearer said "That's so wrong. You're taking something that an audience has built eight years or nine years of investment in and just tossed it in the trash can for no good reason, for a story we've done before with other characters. It's so arbitrary and gratuitous, and it's disrespectful to the audience," as well as "Now, [the writers] refuse to talk about it. They realize it was a horrible mistake. They never mention it. It's like they're punishing [the audience] for paying attention."

Do the Simpsons staff really not talk about the episode? Do you consider it canon?

Yeardley_Smith4 karma

I'm gonna have to defer to Matt and Harry on this one since they're closest to the character. But I will say, we never want our fans to feel "punished" for paying attention. We love that you pay such close attention and even so sometimes mistakes are made.

UberTag1 karma

Because you brought up the Multiplisaty segment from the upcoming Treehouse of Horror (can't wait to see it!), how difficult was it to change-up your delivery for Lisa with her personality fragmented into extreme variants while still keeping them distinctly "Lisa"?

Yeardley_Smith3 karma

It was really hard! It stretched my talents to the limit. Kidding not kidding

RaChernobyl0 karma

Hi Yeardley!

Have you ever been in a situation where your very distinguishing voice worked against you?

Yeardley_Smith3 karma

I'm sure it has, but as I said earlier people usually make up some other excuse as to why you didn't get the job.

ataeafNHC0 karma

Do you still hate Marge vs. the Monorail? :P

Yeardley_Smith5 karma

I don't remember saying that I "hated it." If I did then I don't feel that strongly about it now. Maybe because Conan O'Brien sang the Monorail song live when we were at the Hollywood Bowl 4 years ago and he was magnificent.

GoodSamaritan_0 karma

Hi Yeardley! Big fan of yours from Asia. Four years ago I was going to LA for the first time in my life and I sent an email to Marchez Vous, your old shoe business, asking if I could meet you. I acknowledged in the email that it was a odd request and I was completely expecting to be denied and have the door shut on me. This is what I sent:

Hi,

I'm an international student from Macau currently living in San Francisco and tomorrow I will be going to Los Angeles for the first time in my life. I know this is a bit of a strange request, but is there any way I can drop by the Marchez Vous offices and meet Yeardley? I have been truly touched by her performances as Lisa Simpson over the years and I credit the endless hours of watching The Simpsons as reason why I am fluent in English now. Meeting Yeardley would mean the world to me.

Like I said previously, I know this email may come off as odd. But as I have read in Yeardley's interviews, her life motto is "Screw it, let's do it!" so I thought it'd be worth a try.

All my best, GoodSamaritan_

What I didn't expect though was that your business partner, Ben, replied back saying that he'd forwarded my email to the company's legal team. I thought that it was a bit much, and it really put me off. His exact words were "I’m sure there is no nefarious context to your inquiry, note that this e-mail has been forwarded to our legal team."

As proof, here is a screenshot of the emails: https://i.imgur.com/Fv9jXVY.png

I'm still a fan of yours and always will be, but I think a simple "no" could have really sufficed.

Yeardley_Smith6 karma

I'm sorry you were put off. I'm sure Ben was being protective. I appreciate you being a fan.