Comedy Central Interview with Yeardley Smith

Posted by Raymond Chen
From: (Raymond Chen)
Subject: [interview.ys] An interview with Yeardley Smith
Message-ID: []
Date: 29 Mar 93 00:17:14 GMT
Organization: Smartline!  With your host, Kent Brockman.
Lines: 259

Unfortunately, *I* wasn't the interviewer...

An interview with Yeardley Smith

4 September 1992, "Night After Night" with Alan Havey, Comedy Central.

Yeardley Smith: (Dressed in a black skirt, white blouse, and red blazer.
    You can't go wrong with high-contrast solids.)
Alan Havey: Yeardley Smith co-stars in the FOX sit-com "Herman's Head",
    and she is the voice of Lisa Simpson.
    How are you?  (extends his hand)
YS: (shakes it)  (quietly)  Very well, thank you.
AH: Nice to meet you.  Great, firm handshake you have.
YS: Thank you.  I think it's important.
AH: Really?
YS: Yeah.
AH: I think so, too.
YS: Because anybody who greets you like this (extends her hand limply)
    is probably someone you don't want to know.
AH: Or an agent.
YS: (laughs)
AH: Um, congratulations on your Emmy.
YS: Thank you [thank you]!
AH: That must've been very exciting.
YS: Swell, isn't it?
AH: It [is] swell.
YS: (chuckles)
AH: That's not the word I was thinking of, but...
YS: (laughs)
AH: Jeepers and swell.  Um, and uh...
    You looked good.  It was great to see you in a dress.
    The only time I had actually seen you was in "City Slickers".
YS: Oh.
AH: With your little cashier...
YS: My apron and my...
AH: Yeah.
YS: Do you know about that dress?  This is the dress...
    The dress I wore on Sunday?  The white with the blue and the...?
    This is the dress that Lana Turner wore in a movie
    called "Imitation of Life".
AH: The same dress?
YS: Yes, well, not the same, because she's rather taller than I am...
AH: Oh.
YS: I took this video and I took it to the woman who does costumes
    on "Herman's Head", and I said, "Let's make this dress."
HA: Wow!
YS: And she did, and it was... It [was] spectacular.
    I felt like a princess. I think maybe I missed my calling. (cute smile)
AH: Yes, I do, I think you'd make a great princess.
YS: (giggles)
AH: Um, how much'd it cost you?
YS: Plenty.
AH: Plenty.  Okay.
YS: Yeah.  But I get to keep it.
AH: Yes, well, you paid for it...
YS: But I can never wear it again.  So...
AH: Sure you can!
YS: (giggle)  Well, I can alter it, maybe.  In another version I could
    wear it.
AH: Was it fun to be there at the Emmys?
YS: It [was] fun...
AH: It's a long show.
YS: [Very] long...
AH: Kinda like goin' to Viet-nam, wasn't it?
YS: Well, I wouldn't know, but probably.
AH: Yeah.
YS: Something like that.  And it was uh...
    We didn't have very good seats.  We couldn't see the stage very well...
    but we had a great traffic pattern.  We sat right on the aisle, and
    everybody who had to go backstage had to go by us.
    So I saw everyone up close.
AH: Us...
YS: It was kind of surreal.
AH: Us, being...
YS: William Ragsdale and I.
    And um... and um... it was... it was fun.
    But [incredibly] nerve-wracking to actually present.
    My God, it was like, "Can I go now?"
AH: It's gotta be a tough house, too...
YS: Such a tough house!
AH: Yeah.
YS: I mean...  And our paragraph, our opening paragraph was kind of an
    inauspicious beginning.  It starts out "In case you've never seen
    `Herman's Head'..." (sarcastically) Thank-you...  Thank you so much...
    [It was indeed a truly awful paragraph. --rjc]
AH: (laughs) Yeah, I had one of those...
YS: (sarcastically) Thank you for that vote of confidence.
AH: Yeah, I had one of those in `Comic Relief'.
    "We apologize; you may have never seen this creature before."
YS: That's right!
AH: You know, it's a real drag.
YS: Yes, it's a real drag.
AH: Yeah.
    But now, let's get back to the Lana Turner dress. Are you a movie buff?
YS: Oh, I [love] old movies.
AH: Yeah?
YS: Yeah, yeah.
AH: Those actresses from that era.
YS: Yeah.
AH: I'd love to meet Rita Hayworth...
YS: (as if she'd found a long-lost soulmate) Oh, me too!
    I mean, "Gilda" [?], does she like kill you?
AH: (joining the rapture) Oh!  Oh!  Stop it!
YS: (losing her balance in ecstasy) Oh, my God!
AH: I went nuts.
YS: (cupping an invisible grapefruit)
    That woman is the essence of sex, I mean (clutching her heart) (*gasp*)
AH: And that scene where he walks in, and she's combing her hair...
YS: Oh!  Oh!  And she... (tosses an invisible tress of hair) (*whoosh*)
AH: Yeah, yeah.
YS: What an entrance!
AH: Just thinking about it, I had to go outside and play in the sprinkler.
YS: (chuckle)
AH: (shiver)  Drove me crazy.
    Now, uh, you do the voice of Lisa Simpson.
YS: I do.
AH: And uh how did that audition go?
    Did you just go in and say hello, and they said you got the job?
YS: (proto-chuckle)
AH: You have a great voice.
YS: Thank you, thank you.
    Uh, no, actually, the woman,
    although it [was] one of the easier jobs I ever got,
    the woman who casts "The Simpsons" remembered me from plays,
    and remembered I had sort of an interesting voice, so
    she brought me in to read for Bart, actually.
    Because they always have women do the voices of young boys
    because our voices...
AH: Why is that?
YS: Because our voices don't change.
AH: Uh huh...
YS: Sometimes they get actual nine- and ten-year-olds, but then, of course,
    you run into the problem of them reaching puberty and stuff;
    we've already reached puberty at the ripe old age of twenty-eight,
    so... or you can only hope...
AH: In Los Angeles, you never know.
YS: Well, this is true... (giggle)
AH: Won't Bart go through puberty someday, and then Ernest Borgnine
    could come in and do the voice...
YS: (laughs)  I've actually already turned eight twice on "The Simpsons",
    so I'd rather hope not.  I hope we don't age.
AH: Now...
YS: I think we're better off that way.
AH: What's the process like?  Do you watch the cartoon and try to sync...
YS: Oh, no, no no.  Oh, God, it would be impossible; we um...
AH: Sorry.
YS: (laughs)
AH: It's a good thing I'm not producing the show...
YS: No, it's actually...
    If you ever looped anything in a film or television,
    it so much harder to loop animation.
    ["Yeardley Smith" appears as a caption, briefly.]
AH: Explain `loop', for people at home.
YS: Looping is when you go in and drop you lines after you've done the
    stuff.  Like, you want to go and fix something, you wanna make a
    tweak, you wanna change a line, and the picture is already there,
    and you have to go and match your words to your lips, basically.
    It's like lip-sync'ing.
AH: Right.
YS: And it's really hard to do with animation because the mouth movements
    are so ambivalent, they're sort of nebulous, so we do the voice before  
    the animation.  It takes about six months...
AH: Six months.  So, how many teams of animators are there?
YS: About a billion.
AH: A bill--- (precisely)  One billion!
YS: Approximately one billion, yes.
AH: So, do you go in by yourself, run over your dialogue, and split?
YS: No, no, um, that's actually uh... I think we're rather unique in that
    We---Are these for me?
    [Yeardley points at a plate of donuts which are sitting on the desk
    next to her, barely 30cm away.  They've been there since the start
    of the interview, nay, since the start of the [show]!]
AH: Well, you...
YS: I'm sorry, I don't mean to digress...
AH: (reaches over and pushes plate of donuts towards her as he explains)
    This is "Donut Friday".  [Mmm.... sprinkles... --rjc]
YS: I thought maybe they weren't real or something.
AH: No, they are real.
YS: That's okay.
AH: Would you like one?
YS: No, I don't like to eat in front of people I don't know.
AH: Okay.  (laughter from the production crew)
    That must be a really tough first date.
YS: (loses her balance laughing)
AH: You go to a restaurant, "No, you go ahead and eat, I..."
YS: And it's hard on location, too.  I just get reed-thin.
    (holds her thumb and forefinger "this far" apart)
AH: I like to eat alone, myself.
YS: (giggle)
AH: Well, let's go back to the...
YS: Anyway.  So, um... What was the question?
AH: We were talking about the beginnings of the earth, whether you
    thought the dinosaurs...
YS: (tosses her head back laughing)
AH: No, we were talking about doing "The Simpsons".
YS: Oh, yeah.  So what we do is stand around in a half-circle in front
    of our microphones and go scene-by-scene like an old radio show.
    And they give us the rewrites all throughout the day.  It takes one day
    basically from ten to about seven to record an episode, and then we do
    it over and over again, scene-by-scene, until they get it right, until
    they get what they want, then they cut it together.
AH: Do you enjoy the work?
YS: Very much.  It's such a well-written show, you know.
    And Lisa Simpson is truly one of my favorite, favorite characters.
AH: Do you ever talk to the writers because you are the voice?
    Maybe Lisa could do this or do that...
YS: Yes, always.  More than that, perhaps,
    if they give you something that you really feel is incongruous
    with the character.  You know, something that doesn't quite fit.
    There was a scene about a year ago when Lisa was having basically hot
    flashes over this young stable boy.
AH: (laughs)
YS: And I really felt like, you know, when [I] was eight, it wasn't like
    that.  You don't, it, my, I as an eight-year-old was not such a sexual
    being, and so I said, "You know, I really feel funny about this."
    I think... Lisa loves horses, and I think that she would admire that
    more about him than his physique.
AH: Hot flashes is kind of extreme.
YS: Well, but it was truly like, she was you know shuddering and
    groaning, and I just thought, you know, this doesn't ring true with me.
AH: So that's good.  Doesn't Albert Brooks come in and...
YS: Yes, he's done stuff.  We've had a lot of people come.
    Mostly now they don't come and record with us, which we always regret.
AH: Yeah.
YS: But it's sort of schedule-permitting.  And sometimes, like in the
    case of Aerosmith, Hank Azaria, who does voices on "The Simpsons"
    and also plays Jay on "Herman's Head", went to Boston to record
    with them.  So if we can go, we go to them, because you always get
    a better performance, obviously, if you can make a connection with
    somebody than if you're isolated in a room.
AH: This is great.  You're in "Herman's Head", so you're on camera,
    and you're behind it with Lisa Simpson.  You have like a golden career.
YS: I do.  I always have.  I really have been one of the lucky ones.
    Right from the start.  I mean, my start was like, it took off like a
    shot. [Lying through her teeth here.]
AH: Have you ever had a regular job?
YS: No, no.  (Makes a funny face.  Words cannot do it justice.)
AH: What?  What was that face?  What? ...
YS: Because there are lots of people who go,
    (trying to sound tough and arrogant)
    "Ah, you don't deserve it.  You never worked a day in your life.
    You didn't go school, you never paid your dues!"
AH: To hell with 'em.  Tell them, Yeardley.  You're doin' it.
    Thanks for coming on the show today.  (offers his hand)
YS: (shakes it)  Thank you.
AH: And it's `Donut Friday', so if you... (pushes them even closer)
YS: Uh no, I'm trying to quit, thanks.
AH: No, we'll put it in a Zip-loc bag, and you can eat it on the subway...
YS: (sweetly) That's so kind of you!
AH: Well...  I'm a kind guy.
YS: (laughs)
AH: We'll be back after this with `Phone Sex'.
    (Cue exit music)
YS: (just sits there and looks cute until commercial break)

Raymond "Denise!? She was my lab partner!" [HH] Chen

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