Harry Shearer

AOL Live - June 11, 1998
© Entertainment Asylum & America Online 1998

Host: Welcome to Harry Shearer, it is a pleasure to have you with us.

Harry: Thank you so much.

Host: Well we are happy to have you here, especially since you are so busy.

Question: What voices do you enjoy doing the best?

Harry: I enjoy doing all the voices on the Simpsons, but the one I get the most response from is Mr. Burns. We've all have worked for bad bosses, some of us still do!

Question: What inspired you to start doing voices?

Harry: I don't know if it was that something inspired me, it's just something that sort of happened. I would listen to the radio and shut if off before going to sleep at night, I'd do voices in the dark, when I was a little kid.

Question: Which do you like more voicework or on-camera?

Harry: Voice stuff is easier, because you don't have to wait for cameras to be in the right place, or to put on makeup. But it's more satisfying to do something more complete, in front of the camera.

Question: How have you enjoyed the hype around Godzilla?

Harry: I didn't see Lost World or Jurassic Park, and I know there's so much blood and guts in the movies these days, and that this was this summer's big hype movie, but I loved working on the movie. I think it's a good movie and goes beyond all the hype.

Question: What do you consider your best work so far?

Harry: It's hard not to mention Spinal Tap, the idea that that thing is still alive and when a bad band comes to town - we're the measurement of how low the bar is set...I'm happy about that.

Question: Is there going to be another "Spinal Tap" movie?

Harry: No. There isn't. They did a video of our concert in the Royal Albert Hall, and Mel Torme does a great version of our single Sex Farm...So we live on. We'll go to our home towns sometimes and perform.

Question: Do you play bass guitar in real life?

Harry: Of course, with Spinal Tap, we recorded everything ourselves, and I played some bass with my wife who is a singer/songwriter, and I also play keyboards, a little bit.

Question: I love your radio show "Le Show." What's your favorite medium? TV, animation, film, radio or cyberspace?

Harry: "Le Show" is a particular favorite of mine, it's a place where I can do very personal comedy and political stuff. I'm developing something with HBO which is going to be an animated version of the radio thing. It's a good forum for me, I've never done standup.

Question: What will become of Phil Hartman's characters? I personally feel they should be retired. Your thoughts?

Harry: Yeah. I don't think they're going to exist anymore, I don't think anyone would want to do them. It's very sad.

Question: Did you have a good time on Saturday Night Live?

Harry: No. Anyone who said they did is lying, no one had a good time, it's miserable. First of all, nobody in showbiz has a right to complain because we're doing a job that isn't a real job, so getting that out of the way - it's just the attitude that actors are cattle, we'll get the most control out of them if we keep them worried. I mean look at Norm McDonald.

Question: Were you on the Simpsons from the beginning? How do you feel?

Harry: I'm sure I did 8 or 9 on the first show, I can't even remember. I didn't do any of those one minute bumpers, that was on Tracey Ullman.

Question: I share the same talent of doing character voices, and I want to know how to break into the field. How did you do it?

Harry: Not a chance, tough ******* man. Nooch? Still there? It's rough. It's a really closed in world, I only do the Simpsons and now Small Soldiers, the people that do voice overs do a million shows. I mean, there was a story out about the one guy who does 85 sessions a day, because he does all the movie trailers. He's taking a limo all over town. I mean there are other people that could do that voice, but they want that one guy. It's a tough gig.

Question: How does it feel to be involved in two of the summers most popular movies?

Harry: Well, it's two different things, when you're doing the movie, you're not aware of the hoopla and the hype. A year later all this publicity stuff starts up. It's definitely exciting. Often what you do gets cut out on the cutting room floor. Spinal Tap almost never got released, so if you've survived the finished product and it looks like it's going to be seen by a lot of's gotta be great.

Question: Was it difficult working on Godzilla because you never got to see the monster during filming?

Harry: Fortunately, I never had to do a lot of "AUGH!" reactions at anything, I almost never see the monster. The other actors would trick themselves or imagine what it was they were seeing.

Question: How did you get picked for your role on Godzilla?

Harry: I went in and auditioned in a crappy little building in Culver City, at 8 o'clock at night. The director and the producer weren't there, they just had me do the audition on tape. Did it, then drove home. A few days later I got the call that I was in the movie.

Question: Do you have any creative input to what goes on in the Simpsons?

Harry: Not since my last contract negotiation, They just get my voice.

Question: Did you have a hero as a kid, if you did who was it?

Harry: Not really a hero. I had people I loved to listen to or watch and maybe it rubbed off on me. Dave Freberg, he did takeoffs and satirical things hit songs. Also Bob and Ray, Chris Elliot is Ray's son. Jack Benny too, who I started my career working for. I was born and raised in LA. I know those names aren't well known to people now, but radio is what drew me in this direction.

Question: How long do you think the Simpsons will last?

Harry: There's going to be at least a tenth season, and there's an option for two more. It's totally up to Fox. So, it could potentially be on for three more seasons. But they're moving King of the Hill to Tuesday night, and that might hurt both shows. The TV execs know they need to come up with something new - they said so in this NY times article.

Question: What was the review for the Spinal Tap album Shark Sandwich?

Harry: Who can forget? S*** sandwich.

Question: Where do you get the inspiration for the voices you do?

Harry: We don't see the characters drawn, we just see the script and I have to have something occur to me at the last minute, so I pray for inspiration. Usually, it works out, and they'll stop me if it doesn't.

Host: Harry, thank you for joining us this evening, we are glad you stopped by to talk about your career.

Harry: Thanks a lot. It's a pleasure.

Submitted by Villimucho.

Search The Simpsons Archive:    Search Help

[ FAQs, Guides & Lists | Capsules | Upcoming | Miscellaneous | News | Contacts & Links | Home ]

Last updated on July 8, 1998 by Jouni Paakkinen (