Mouse Clubhouse exclusive interview
from 2007
talks about some odd voice jobs he's had

by Scott Wolf

Bill Farmer

I had seen Bill quite a few times when I worked for Disney, but I never really had a chance to talk with him or get to know him before.

While I'm certainly familiar with his work as Goofy, I was blown away by how talented he is. A master of voices and impersonations, a standup comic and a down-to-Earth, kind person as well.

It gives me great pleasure to be able to bring you my interviews with Bill Farmer.

Scott Wolf: I’ve noticed your name in the credits in several Pixar movies.

Bill Farmer: Yeah, I've done looping.... background voices. Like crowd scenes... there are voices that fill in like a stadium and incidental little characters that don't have a name, or have one line. For example, in "Toy Story" I was "Mission Command" when they went to Pizza Planet. I was in the background doing space things like, "T minus 29, 28, 27..." In "Monster's, Inc." I was some of the little yellow CDA guys running around. "Hunchback of Notre Dame" I was some of the village people. In "Beauty and the Beast" I did some background voices and "Cars," all of those. They're not all Disney. I did "Horton Hears a Who" starring Jim Carrey.

SW: What did you do in that?

BF: I'm a lot of the people in Whoville and a lot of the animals in the jungle with Horton. Just various little incidental characters.

SW: How did you get involved with Pixar? They weren't part of Disney when you started working with them.

BF: No, but I work for a lot of the other studios as well. I got involved with a loop group which is a group that comes in and specializes in adding the background noises and sounds and everything so they're a group of actors that do this. A lady named Mickie McGowan runs the loop group. I forgot exactly how I got in touch with her for "Toy Story." That was the first Pixar movie but I don't know if it was the first movie I did with her. I've been with that loop group for a long time... I was in "Shrek 2" and I was in "Iron Giant," a bunch of other movies.

SW: What are some of the other non-Disney films you've had parts in?

BF: None are as big as Disney but in the movie "Space Jam" I got to do Foghorn Leghorn, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam. I did Bugs and Daffy on an episode of "Robot Chicken." I got to voice some of the old things over the years, too.

SW: You also did "Astro Boy," right?

BF: Yeah, I did like fifty of those. "Astro Boy" was actually the first Japanese series that was dubbed and brought into America back in the early '60s I believe and this is a remake of it. So I did a lot of characters on that. I was always bad, evil robots, and one of my main characters was Detective Tawashi... I think that was it (chuckles), and various bad guys. We did fifty some episodes of that but that was more looping because it was done in Japanese first, so we were doing it to picture, replacing dialogue, like looping. Normally, you do the soundtrack first and it's animated to you. In that instance it was already an existing product, we just had to make into English. It's interesting because if you see the old Godzilla movies they always sound like (very succinct pronunciation), "God-zilla is a-ttacking the city." You do get into that staccato kind of read. I don't know why, it just kind of lends itself and you get into that. So I would find that I'd be speaking like that.

SW: Do you watch it on a big screen when you read?

BF: No, just like a video monitor, more like a TV set.

SW: I imagine there's times even as Goofy when you have to go in and redo things like that. Is that common?

BF: Oh sure. Like when I did "A Goofy Movie," which is certainly one of the biggest things Goofy got to do, I went in many times and I would redo a line or pickup a line or do it to picture as well. So yeah, there's a lot of looping involved.

SW: Is there any consistency to your work or is it always a surprise?

BF: Every month is different. The only thing kind of steady right now while we're doing a series is on Thursdays I go in and do the series (“Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”), but other than that I have no idea.

Bill FarmerSW: Do they just call you and say we need you to do blank...

BF: Yeah, and my agent will call and say, "They need you on Monday, be there at ten AM for..." some show like "Goofy Goes Hawaiian" or whatever it is, or an album or a toy or whatever. Sometimes it's just going in and going (Goofy laugh) and then going home...

SW: Really? Do you really just have things that simple?

BF: Yeah, two or three lines sometimes.

SW: Can they just tack it on to a show and have you just do it during a different project?

BF: They can. There's been a lot of times where they'll just use something from the library that I'd done before and I get paid and I didn't have to go in and do it.

There's other ones that are very difficult like we just did one where it will be like a kiosk where you can get a CD with your kids name and we're singing like "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and stuff but I had to do it with like 2,800 names. Like, "Andy, Adele, Abigail..." Every name. There's a big, thick name book so I had to do the same speech with maybe one sentence of it with a kids name in it.

SW: Is that the most tedious job you've done?

BF: That probably is there. Once I did a talking watch where I had to do every "time." That was boring. But, yeah, the name one, that was probably the most I had to do... just like 2,800 names I think it was.

SW: How long did that take to do?

BF: I went in for probably ten different days, a couple of weeks worth of doing it. I was doing it for like four hour sessions. You get batty after that and my voice was shot after that, so it's very difficult. I had to do it also in the same cadence so it would fit in the sentence. I would say, "Gawrsh, howdy... this is your old pal Goofy." So I'd have to do Andy, Adele, Jessica, whatever, Bill, Eddie, Slim, whatever.

More from Bill:
How he became the Goofy

See other interviews

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