[Exclusive] During this past weekend’s Lethbridge Entertainment Expo, I got to speak with actor Phil Lamarr about the potential of a mystery project reuniting the Futurama cast, a possibility of Baxter Stockman’s return this season on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and why his Green Lantern character was so important.
The Lethbridge Entertainment Expo was held November 14/15th, 2015 at the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge Alberta. Guests included Jason Mewes (Jay & Silent Bob), Billy West (Futurama), Phil LaMarr (MAD TV) and Lee Arenberg (Once Upon a Time). Check out their official site HERE!
Phil Lamarr is one of the finest voice actors on the planet and when he isn’t getting bugged about the 100th revival of Futurama at conventions, he’s out putting in the work as some of the coolest animated voices today. Hermes from Futurama, Green Lantern, Baxter Stockman, Samurai Jack, Jetstorm from Transformers Animated all the way to Jedi Master Kit Fisto on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. That’s just a few by the way…
Keven: When I was talking with Billy West, he mentioned that Matt Groening at said “we’re gonna be working together again”, referencing the Futurama cast and as it turns out – it’s not a Futurama revival, but something else entirely – were you aware of that?
Phil: Oh? I have no idea..
Keven: Billy seemed really giddy about the whole thing, saying “I have a secret” so I don’t know – it sounds exciting though right?
Phil: (laughing) Oh for sure At this point… I think that’s wild speculation.
Keven: You’re of course a big part of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, and it’s my favorite incarnation in franchise history. What’s it like being part of this revitalization of the turtles?
Phil: It’s definitely cool being part of something that’s got that longevity. Meeting Kevin Eastman, I was like “wow dude, do you have any idea,” (laughing) and he’s like “no!” But the best thing about it, is that it’s good. I did a very small part on Avatar: The Last Airbender and it doesn’t have 20 years of that but the show is great. Ultimately that’s the thing you hope for cause that’s what makes the work day fly by – just being able to do some good work with really good people.
Keven: So this new season of TMNT has taken this completely different turn and all of the old characters, including yours of course – Baxter Stockman – are gone. Can we expect to see Stockman’s return down the road?
Phil: About the stuff that hasn’t aired yet, I’m not at liberty to say.
Keven: But there’s a possibility?
Phil: Always a possibility.
Keven: Is that a wink? Come on – I mean they went back in time this season, it’s a cartoon. You know what – yeah he’s coming back. It’s gonna happen.
Phil: Anything can happen….
Keven: I’ve recently started my kids into the Justice League series which you are a massive and integral part of, being of course John Stewart – Green Lantern, what is it about that character that resonates with not only fans so much, but with you to this day?
Phil: It’s complex because I’m a comic book person and wasn’t really a big Green Lantern fan. But the writers and conception of the character was so unique to me that it was the first time that a Green Lantern made sense. And the fact that he was not tied to the old continuity, on the show that character had the greatest breadth of storylines to play. From the love triangle with Shayera (Hawkgirl), which doesn’t appear anywhere, I feel like because he wasn’t Superman or Batman that the writers had greater latitude to create. So that’s what I liked.
Keven: The new era of voice acting in big feature films has changed so much since the 90’s where studios are now casting animated roles for the name more-so than the talent, which is just adding to the glorification of the celebrity. Is it disheartening to you or do you have to just work through it?
Phil: To me it all comes down to quality. There are some celebrities who are funny or bring character to the parts. Robin Williams was cast because he was famous but he was also a fantastic voice actor. Chris Rock is a really good voice actor because he brings his thing to a character. To me it’s similar to Will Ferrell on camera – they have a signature style and something they can bring. If you cast wrong, something won’t be good.
Keven: Isn’t it disingenuous to cast someone just because they’re famous to play Bugs as opposed to getting someone that can actually do Bugs?
Phil: You see, that’s not new. When they did A Goofy Movie, they were gonna cast Bruce Willis as Goofy and replace Bill Farmer so none of this is new.
Keven: For me the best talent when it comes to voice performing is on television as opposed to the features anyway.
Phil: The thing that people aren’t looking at is what’s changed is the corporatization of entertainment. The reason you see more good work in television is because it’s cheaper. It’s all very much bottom line and when you have bottom line decision making, driving creative decisions it’s a mismatch. They can’t quantify what makes something funny.
They have no idea so what they do is make the decision on what they can quantity. “How’d they do in China?” “Let’s put a Chinese person in it.” “This person has 1.4 million Twitter followers” “Maybe that’ll be 1.4 million people who show up.” It’s not. If they actually would think three steps instead of two they’d go “How different is the act of following someone on Twitter than actually going to a feature film?” Incredibly different. Entertainment has been built on a foundation of disillusionment for forever.
Follow Phil Lamarr on Twitter HERE