Interview with voice legend Maurice LaMarche

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When you see Maurice LaMarche, you may not recognize him, but you’ve heard him almost every day during your childhood. LaMarche has one of the most recognizable voices in the industry today.

He played Chief Quimby in the 1985’s Inspector Gadget. He was the voice of George Wilson, Henry Mitchell, and Ruff in the 1988 cartoon, “Dennis the Menace“. He voiced Destro in the GI Joe cartoons in the 1990s. He voiced various characters in Tiny Toons, Captain Planet, Taz-Mania, The Tick, Freakazoid, Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man, Dexter’s Laboratory, and Animaniacs.

But he was most famous for voicing a maniacal genius lab mouse plotting to TAKE OVER THE WORLD. Yes, he was Brain from Pinky and the Brain.

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He has continued his voice legacy with other shows such as King of the Hill,  Futurama, Sonic Underground, Dilbert, The Oblongs, House of Mouse, Hey Arnold!, Sabrina’s Secret Life, Jackie Chan Adventures, Kim Possible, Trasnsformers: Rescue Bots and a lot more! LaMarche is a voice legend and we got to talk to him!

NR: Please tell me more about your character [on Transformers Rescue Bots].

LaMarche: I play Chief Charlie Burns on Transformers Rescue Bots, I am the patriot of a family of first responders. I am a police chief. Kade [Jason Marsden] is my son who is a firemen. My daughter [Lacey Chavert] is a helicoptor pilot. My son [Shannon McKain] is a civil engineer. I’ve also been entrusted by Optimus Prime with the identity of our family of rescue bots. They have taken on the forms of various rescue vehicles. So, I’m kind of the guy who is the emotional roundings and teaches the lessons. My son Cody [Élan Garfias] is the youngest and always comes up with the solution for that week’s episode.

NR: Did you grow up watching Transformers?

LaMarche: Not a Transformers watcher because I’m a little out of that generation. I was probably in my 30s when the original Transformers came on. I have the dubious honor of being in the very last episode in the original series. I played a character named Six Gun, but I was not a watcher of the show. As a result of that, I come into this kinda fresh. And really, in awe of the fanbase and the love people have for this show genre. It’s amazing.

NR: Would you be an Autobot or a Decepticon?

LaMarche: I would probably be – even though I’m playing the ultimate human good guy on the show – a Decepticon. I do villains well. I do irritation well. I am usually the irritated genius. So I’d probably be a Decepticon. I’d take form of a gigantic mechanical lab mouse planning to take over the world! [LaMarche did voice the evil mouse “Brain” of the infamous Pinky and the Brain]. Yes, my friends! Yes!

NR: Did you draw in your previous voice characters for this character [Charlie Burns]?

LaMarche: I don’t know where the voice for the Chief came from. Judy McSweeden worked with me for decades and said, “I’ve never heard that voice come out of you.” I just saw the log line and saw “honest, strong and the patriot” and I just went to this sort of Sam Elliot kind of place and became Chief Burns. It’s the most comforting voice I could come up with.

NR: You’re famous for many voices. Who is your favorite character you have voiced?

LaMarche: I have a special place in my heart for the Brain of course. Getting to do six seasons and working with talent like Rob Paulsen and really just be the two of us in most episodes playing off each other. Just found different places to go with these two guys and never got tired of it ever. Of course, all the characters I get to play on Futurama. I passed 70 characters this year – off, recurring and regular.

There are just so many to choose from. But I’m really loving my time on this show [Transformers Rescue Bots]. One of the reasons is that the story, while they’re geared towards a younger audience – we got a family feeling and some humor that the parents could enjoy as well. Not raunchy. The dynamics that the family get into – we have two families becoming one in this show. The Transformers are a family of their own and we’re assimilating them into our human family and we become one big family. What’s happen is, this cast has become a family. We hang out together. All of us go out for dinner after the show and pretty much every other week at least. We gather in each others’ homes – Jason, Steve, Imari, Shannon and Lacey – we’re this group that likes to hang out with each other.

NR: Are you like the father figure of this group like your character on the show?

LaMarche: I am a bit that to them as well. I’m the oldest. But, yeah, there’s a generational feel to it.

NR: You have the most experience as a voice actor than all of them. What advice would you give to other voice actors?

LaMarche: One thing I always say is show up to be of service. Show up to help. This is part of the business especially where there’s no room for ego, because your ego is not going to get fed. You’re behind the scenes. They never know what you look like. But now with the internet, that’s changing. I’ve been getting stopped at restaurants and shopping malls because people have looked up my picture. You know, anonymity was part of the whole deal with voice over work. I tell them, show up because you love to do the work and love to play multiple parts. Show up with an eye to help out the production. Don’t look at it as “I’m going to become a star with this” because it’s about the characters and the actors and the project. Go everywhere inside. Find characters from the people in your life. Don’t just do impressions. Find people who are hot for you in your personal life. I used a best friend of mine who has since passed away, Bruce MccCullouch [not the actor] as the voice as Big Bob Pataki from Hey Arnold. He’s a big bustery guy like my pal Bruce was, and Bruce McCullough became Big Bob Pataki with a slightly meaner edge to it. That’s what I tell other voice actors.

NR: I’m a huge fan of you and your voice growing up.

LaMarche: You don’t know this, but you hear my voice every day on the radio and television doing this: The 2013 Lexus GS… there’s no going back. I’m the voice of Lexus. Greatest gig in show business. Great

NR: How do you create different voices? Do you practice every day?

LaMarche: I’ve always had this ability to stretch. I don’t know how. If I hear something and I like it or if I hear something and I want to do it. I can go there. I could mush this around [vocal cords] and makes the sounds. But there is no way to describe it. I ask my writer friends where do they get their ideas from and they say “My brain.” There’s no way to describe the process. It just comes. I’m very lucky. It’s a skill I honed in detention in school and now it’s paying the bills.

NR: Thank you so much for the chat.

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Yes…Mr. LaMarche, everybody:

http://youtu.be/2yNc9XRcjjw

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