Sean Astin Talks ‘Special Agent Oso’

07.09.2009

The Star Online has an article on Playhouse Disney’s Special Agent Oso which includes an interview (via press release) with Sean Astin discussing his role as the title character:

Actor Astin practically jumped at the opportunity of lending his voice for Agent Oso. He not only loves the concept of doing voice-acting as it frees him of all the hassles that come with appearing on the screen including make-up, hair and trying out different clothes, but also because he grew up with Disney as well.

Astin reasoned why he was chosen to provide Oso’s voice: “I know they wanted to find somebody to do the voice that they thought emulated the striking physical features of the character.”

When asked just how much of Special Agent Oso’s personality he to take on, Astin replied, “Probably more than it should. I should probably be embarrassed by the fact that I think, by some extension, secret agent status has been conferred upon me now. I definitely have a little swagger when I mention that to my friends.”

Astin had a secret weapon in finding his connection with his character — [he] read the scripts to his then five-year-old daughter, Elizabeth.

“I wanted to see what she thought of it. I could tell when I was losing her attention, and when I wasn’t. The more I read to her, the more I connected with her … And she’s into it. What was really fun was seeing how she liked it. It reinforced the fact that the format for the show had been well thought out, well-constructed and would likely be appealing for the kids that it’s aimed at.”

Following recent announcement (via Animation Magazine) of Disney Channel picking the show up for a second season, Astin said, “I’m so proud of this show, especially because my kids have connected with it and that makes me cool in their book. I can’t wait to start recording Oso’s new missions…with our fantastic technical team and my incredibly talented castmates.”

Astin’s Oso “castmates” include Meghan Strange (voice of Ruby in The Land Before Time TV series) as Paw Pilot, Gary Anthony Williams (The Goode Family, The Boondocks), as Mr. Dos, Phill Lewis (Kim Possible, American Dad) as Special Agent Wolfie, and Amber Hood (Grim and Evil, Everquest II) as Special Agent Dotty.


Happy Birthday, Billy West!

04.16.2009

Wishing a very happy birthday to voice actor/musician Billy West, born today in 1950.

If you watch cartoons at all, chances are you’ve heard Billy on one or most of them. He’s performed in many of TV’s most popular cartoons since the early 90’s when he landed his first lead roles as the title characters on Doug (when it was produced by Nickelodeon) and Ren and Stimpy. In recent years, he’s become famous with Futurama fans for voicing most of the primary cast of characters: Philip J. Fry, Prof. Hubert J. Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan, and President Richard Nixon’s Head.

Billy is also the creator of Billy Bastard, a “semi-autobiographical” adult comedy live-action/puppetry show he’s been developing since 2005 with former Ren and Stimpy animators Jim Gomez and Bill Wray. Originally produced as a TV show pilot, Billy said in a July 2008 interview with SCI FI Wire that he was attempting to turn it into a feature film: “We had a few false starts with big-name producers interested and working on it and then dropping out, and now we have a guy who gets it and wants to see it made into a feature film, so we’re working on the script for that right now.”

The official trailer from the Billy Bastard pilot is available on YouTube.com (narrated by Jim Cummings), although I must caution in advance that it contains strong adult language.

Billy also has a supporting role in the indie comedy Demoted, starring Michael Vartan, Sean Astin, David Cross, and comedian Ron White. The film does not yet have a release date although Billy said in a February 2009 interview with CosmicBookNews.com that it was “coming out soon.” When asked if being on camera was a “new venture” for him, Billy replied, “You know, I never wanted to be in movies and to tell the truth there’s nothing about me that said ‘You gotta get into movies!’ I was really hesitant to do it and I have done a couple of other things on camera in the past. But I had to audition for this and I got it and I had a couple of parts with David Cross and Sean Astin in it. They were funny and sharp as they come.”

For further reading on Billy’s background and career, check out these interviews on MLive.com, Movieweb.com, ArravistePress.com, CNBC’s The Big Idea (via YouTube.com), SCIFI TV Australia, ShavedNeck.com (radio interview), and Hippojuice.com (audio interview).

And naturally, you’ll want to visit Billy’s official site: BillyWest.com.