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Castellaneta, Dan

By Dominick A. Miserandino,
Besides being the voice of Homer Simpson, Dan has acted in dozens of plays, movies and television shows ranging from Tracey Ullman to being the voice of the Genie in television's Aladdin to being a member of Chicago's Second City. The list of voices and characters he's done goes on and on, but the man who created them all is always down to earth.

DM) I received the newest album called, "I'm not Homer". Why did you choose that title?

DC) I just thought it would be a funny parody of the famous Leonard Nimoy book, "I Am Not Spock", plus most of the comedy is not the typical Homer comedy.

DM) Do you find that most people seem to forget your other career now that Homer has entered your life? For example, the Tracey Ulman show among other things?

DC) I think that most people don't forget, they don't even know that I do other things. (laughs) They think that Homer is all that I do.

DM) Is that something that you're okay with?

DC) I think you have to be okay with it. I mean, that's the reality of it. The nice thing is that, at least in Los Angeles, I'm known as a character actor and I do auditions for other things besides just cartoon shows.

DM) What do you enjoy doing more?

DC) I've made a kind of pact with myself where I said, "It doesn't matter what it is as long as I'm acting". The thing of it is, is that the Simpsons take up so little time that I'm able to do other things as well.

DM) In that sense it sound like a dream job.

DC) It is... while the Simpsons are being animated, I can do my vocal parts in almost any studio that can do a phone batch. For example, I was in New York in a play a few years ago and I was able to record my lines from there.

DM) How much expression as an actor, do you have when you're just doing the voice of a character like on the Simpsons or on your CD?

DC) It's like radio acting in some ways, when you're there, there's no picture so you have to invoke the picture with your voice. You need to express, what the character's doing, their facial expressions, all with your voice. I wouldn't say its not subtle but it's a different way of getting across an emotion. You're trying to get it across to the animator because the animator is inspired by the voicetrack in terms of how to animate the character.

DM) Speaking of acting with only the voice, how did the current project with the CD come about?

DC) Well, my wife and I worked together a long time ago in Chicago, where we wrote plays and sketches together. We even did radio bits for local radio in Chicago. I would say about ten years ago, we did a show with a bunch of sketches and some of those pieces on the CD are from that show. I just thought it would be great to preserve them since we don't perform them much anymore.

DM) Did you find that you enjoyed working together more because she was your wife or because you enjoyed her comedic talents?

DC) I think we had the same kind of taste in comedy and writing and so, even though we've worked with other people, we find that we collaborate pretty well together. We're able to come up with material that we like, and of course because we're husband and wife we're able to be more honest with each other.

DM) Can you be that honest with her or are you going to hear it later in the day?

DC) After years of doing it, you learn the difference between your ego and your opinion. You change from, "I'm fighting for this because it's mine, as opposed to, I'm fighting for this because it's good." When you're married you have to cut through that.

DM) The Simpson's job has gone on for so long, do you feel that it also has developed into as good of a relationship with the fellow actors? One where you're able to say your opinions amongst each other for the betterment of the show?

DC) We've worked together a long time and I think that we feed off of each other's timing and style and comedy because everybody influences each other. Even though we don't see each other like a regular sitcom cast, five days a week, I think because of the duration of the show, we've probably seen each other as long as other casts have.

DM) Over the years of The Simpsons, the characters have gone through a degree of change and development. Has that been your doing, the writers doing or a combination of both?

DC) I think that it's been a combination of both. I think that when the show started the voice of Homer changed and I don't know if that was because the writer's were changing the character or if I was... I'm not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg, because I think I changed it as Homer had more to do. I think I was trying to find a place for the voice where it was comfortable to do it for a longer period of time. I think the tone of the show has certainly changed over the years too, but I think that's just the writer's trying to top themselves, because it's really, really hard to do something different when you have a show going on as long as this has.

DM) Considering the show is over 13 seasons now, how much longer do you feel the show can still go on and be creative?

DC) I think it can... it's certainly populated with enough characters that you can always go onto the peripheral characters in the show. And because it's an animated show it's certainly not limited in it's possibility... the Simpsons can go anywhere in the world and not worry about any budgetary issues. However, even when the show has had it's run, I think the characters can go on in perpetuity.

DM) How does that make you feel knowing you've created one of the all time cartoon icons of American Pop Culture?

DC) A lot of times I just go on oblivious to its, but yeah, it's pretty cool to be a part of something like that. I often say, if I wasn't part of the show I'd be a huge fan of it.

 

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