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Billy West on the Return of “Futurama,” Trolls and Jurassic Bark

By 06.23.11

You probably don’t recognize Billy West but if you’ve watched cartoons in the last 15 years you almost certainly know his voice. He’s voiced everyone from Ren and Stimpy to Bugs Bunny. Earlier this week we spoke with Billy over the phone about Internet trolls, prank phone calls and the return of Futurama on Thursday, June 23 on Comedy Central.

Gamma Squad: Have you gotten a chance to see the new episodes? What did you think?

Billy West: I saw the first two episodes today. I loved them! I thought they were great, then you go to read the blogs and already there are people hammering away at it. Jeepers creepers, critics man. When we go to Comic-Con there are 5,000 people sitting right in front of us in those halls and we’re talking to them and everything and there ain’t one critic in there. They just love the show.

I think a lot of people just try to make a name for themselves. You’ve got to say disparaging things. It’s like school. The teacher never knew the good kid’s name, she always knows the troublemakers name.

GS: How did you adjust to doing female versions of Fry and the Professor?

BW: They were really pouring it on like the sillying it up like we were girly girls. We were playing it way girlier-girl than the female characters in the show. We were overdoing it and the women were overdoing it. No one ever complained. None of the men ever complained about stubble, you know. It’s just really weird. I just get such a big kick out of it.

 

GS: I noticed in the episode Benderama there was a joke centered around an equation. You guys have to deal with a lot of science based humor, as an actor when you’re delivering a  joke based on an equation you might not have heard of, how do you approach it.

BW: Sometimes it is self-explanatory because there is exposition around it so it gives me an idea of what that thing could be and how it’s treated by scientific people. Sometimes it works in my favor to know absolutely nothing about math. It makes Fry convincingly stupid because I am when it comes to that stuff, like science and math. It sounds too real.

GS: You play both sides of that because you’re playing the most scientifically knowledgeable character [Professor Farnsworth] and the most scientifically illiterate character [Fry] and sometimes you are voicing them both in the same conversation.

BW: Yes, that is always such a favorite thing of mine to do, to have two distinct personalities or three or four and get them in a room together when we’ve got to read right through that script, like at table readings. Once I screwed up and the wrong voice came out of me and the room just stopped dead. And I was like, “You?” It was like that day I’d lost my mind. It’s only happened once that I can think of, but the it was like the clocks on the wall stopped.


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