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Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor
for Radio Free Entertainment

December 12, 2005

After getting noticed as David Puddy, Elaine's on-again/off-again boyfriend on TV's megahit Seinfeld, Patrick Warburton has lent his distinctive voice to a slew of animated roles, including Family Guy, The Emperor's New Groove, the Disney Channel's Kim Possible, and the Toy Story TV spinoff Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. He supplies the voice of the Wolf in his latest film, Hoodwinked, a sly retelling of the story of Little Red Riding Hood that envisions the Big Bad Lobo as an investigative reporter out to solve a local crime.

The computer animated Hoodwinked features an ensemble voice cast that also includes Anne Hathaway, Glenn Close, James Belushi, Anthony Anderson, David Ogden Stiers, Xzibit, and Andy Dick. In this interview, Patrick Warburton talks about his role as the Wolf, as well as his work on other projects like Family Guy and The Tick.

The Interview

MEDIA: Did you always want to make a career out of voiceover work, or is this something you fell into after Seinfeld?

PATRICK: I always thought it'd be fun to do cartoon stuff, voice stuff. And certain opportunities presented themselves at that point. Because of the success of Toy Story, you've got the Buzz Lightyear TV series. Tim Allen's not going to do that, right? So you need your poor man's Buzz. "Hey, here I am! I'll do it!" And then around the same period of time, I read for The Emperor's New Groove, and that was fun. I felt fortunate just to have that opportunity at that point. I always wanted to do a Disney movie. They said, "This character's name's Kronk." And I really didn't know what it was. What's a Kronk? An alien? I didn't realize it was just a big, dumb guy. A little irony there.

When did you realize this cartoon stuff was lucrative?

Well, I wouldn't say lucrative. I really wouldn't. There's not a fortune to be made doing voiceover work unless you're one of the main voices on The Simpsons. See, there's The Simpsons, and then there's everything else. That's sort of understood in the voiceover world. You can make a lot more money doing the corporate stuff. If you're a voice of a big company doing ads on radio, you're going to make money. But doing the cartoons, you really don't. You're usually making somewhere between scale or triple scale, or somewhere in that range. You don't make a fortune doing cartoons. It's a lot of fun, it keeps you busy, and it's better than a kick in the pants, absolutely. But doing voiceover work doesn't make you rich. It just doesn't.

So teaming up with Jerry Seinfeld and being the voice of Superman for American Express...Does that fall under "corporate stuff"?

That fell like somewhere right in the middle. But that was fun. I'll work with Jerry Seinfeld any day of the week. Get a nice little paycheck there, but you do it for free. It's just good to be associated with that man. He's a great guy.

What did you like about your character in Hoodwinked?

I love the idea that the Wolf is an investigative reporter who fancies himself as like Fletch, you know? That just was funny to me.

What did you do to find your "inner wolf"?

Well, I know a lot about wolves now. I know that they're pack animals. They carry packs around with them. I went to Orange Coast College for a year and a half, so I did study. [laughs] I watch a lot of nature shows. Wolves are fascinating. They're actually not that large of an animal. They're smaller than a coyote--they're like a schnauzer--but people are intimidated by them. My inner wolf...Fletch was very dry, right? So the Wolf is going to be dry. It's like a lot of voices I do. I'm not really a chameleon, am I? But I wasn't really thinking dangerous or mean. He's not that dark of a wolf. He's just sort of an inquisitive wolf, so I sort of went with that angle.

Do you do any particular vocal exercises to prepare yourself for recording?

No, but sometimes I drink tea when I have to scream a lot.

How did you feel about Family Guy getting to make a comeback to network television?

Well, my participation's minimal on Family Guy. It's fun to be around there, because everybody plays a lot of ping-pong over at Family Guy. They have a big ping-pong set up, and we go in there and we play ping-pong and then record for about five minutes. But now I'm creating the impression that they don't work hard. [Seth MacFarlane has] got to be like the hardest working guy in town, but he loves what he does. It was great to see them get some vindication, or see that network kind of get bullied to have to bring back a show. I was part of a show that suffered a different fate. We seemed to have our fans, and we didn't get to come back. It was called The Tick. Do you remember that? That was my favorite show. I loved being the Tick.

Any talk of bringing it back?

I've heard encouragement from people and whatnot, but I haven't been approached about that. But whether I do it or somebody else does it, they'll bring the Tick back. The Tick is just a great concept, and I think [show creator] Ben Edlund is a genius. And today's a wonderful time and place for the Tick, as it was, I thought, five years ago. But whatever. Anyway, back to Family Guy! It's fun to be a part of it, but I have a 13-year-old son who's been begging to watch it for a couple of years. I just started letting him watch it because I didn't want him to be the only guy in his school who wasn't allowed to watch it. It kind of bothers me because I find the show, at times, absolutely horrible. And as a parent, I'm very conflicted.

Horrible in terms of the taste of the humor?


For you, or just for your kids?

Well, I think for my kids or for anybody. I think there are times when they really cross the lines, where it's like it's so bad. There was stuff the other night...I had to turn it off because it was really bad and I didn't think it was funny either. You got the bachelor episode, and [Quagmire] drops a pill in this girl's drink, and she passes out. I'm sorry, but that's when the TV goes off. That's not funny. That's happening every day. I mean, we laugh out of discomfort, right? I don't know, it's so weird. You know, there's a pedophile on the show...There's just too much weird crap on there, and kids shouldn't be watching it. When we all turned 13, would I have been allowed to watch that show? Not in a million f-in' years. But the times have changed. The media's all around them, and we can't shelter them, so we just have to have much better communication with our kids these days.

Are there times when you have refused to record something for Family Guy because of the material?

Well, I haven't gotten to that point yet...I have to believe that there's a certain line that I wouldn't cross, but it hasn't been really put there yet.

Didn't The Emperor's New Groove also face some behind-the-scenes obstacles? It suffered a severe overhaul during production, yes?

Originally it was Kingdom of the Sun, and it was supposed to be a big epic like The Lion King or whatnot. And I don't think anybody was probably more disappointed than Sting, because he was doing all the music for all this, and then it turned into a comedy. And then one musical number after another, I guess, got nixed, and it became the farcical sort of movie that it is.

Between your roles of Kronk in The Emperor's New Groove and the Wolf in Hoodwinked, who is your favorite?

Oh, I don't know. They're both very different. You can't make me choose...

Well, who would win in a steel cage death match?

Wow! In a steel cage death match, I would have to say that Kronk would probably get scratched and scarred up a bit, but he would ultimately end up beating the Wolf, because the Wolf is a bit wiry and sinewy. But if you look a Kronk, he's got to be benching 900 pounds. I think that he'd probably just choke the Wolf right out.

At one point, the Wolf talks about being a movie reviewer. What is your own take on the guys and gals who write about films for a living?

I'm glad that they're out there. Most of what I glean about movies these days are from the reviews I read, because I haven't been getting out and seeing anything. When you have four kids and you live in Ventura County, and you're driving to and from LA--that's what I do every day--and you get a chance to go out and see a film, it's usually something with the kids. There's just a lot of great movies that are out there right now I'd love to see. And hopefully I will over the holidays. But I certainly read a lot more reviews than I do actually see the films.

Thanks for your time.

Thank you very much, everybody.

Related Material

Interview: Anthony Anderson on Hoodwinked
Movie Coverage: Hoodwinked


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