Our multipart exclusive interview with 8-time Emmy-Winner/40-plus-Emmy nominee, Andrea Romano continues! If you missed any of the previous segments with this fascinating woman, click here or on the links at the bottom of this column.
Romano was Casting Director and Voice Director to several animated series including STEVEN SPIELBERG PRESENTS PINKY AND THE BRAIN, its parent show, STEVEN SPIELBERG PRESENTS ANIMANIACS and STEVEN SPEILBERG PRESENTS TINY TOON ADVENTURES. This column focuses on the lengths to which Romano will go to get the perfect voice and the perfect performance for a particular part.
THE TV ADDICT: One of my favorite ANIMANIACS segments ever was GOODFEATHERS, the parody of Martin Scorsese’s feature film, GOODFELLAS. Can you tell us a bit about those wacky mobbed-up pigeons?
ANDREA ROMANO: We were so very fortunate that the crew was able to turn those witty ideas into funny characters and situations. A prime example of that ability was the recurring segment called GOODFEATHERS.
As you said, GOODFEATHERS was a parody of the Martin Scorsese feature film, GOODFELLAS. I found some wonderful voice actors who were able to sound like the main characters in that movie.
Pesto, modeled after Joe Pesci’s character in the movie was voiced brilliantly by Chick Vennera (above).
Maurice LaMarche did the voice of Squit, which was based on Ray Liotta’s character in the movie (above).
We were fortunate to get John Mariano (above) to do “Bobby” since he is one of the best Robert DeNiro impressionists ever. He was stunning at it and still does one of the best DeNiro impressions anywhere.
We put those three guys in a room and they became a family, too. Those sessions were such classics. I spent my four hours in the morning sessions just laughing.
How can you not love starting the day off with a smile? It was the same for SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS. I always liked to schedule them in the morning for no other reason than they made me laugh and for my personal enjoyment. They would do each take differently and they would do it funnier. It was remarkable!
TVA: You also had a familiar voice that people may have recognized but did not make the connection. You know who I mean?
AR: Of course I do! The fabulous Tom Bodett! There was a sequence on ANIMANIACS called “Good Idea/Bad Idea.” [Producer] Tom Ruegger came to me and asked me if Tom Bodett would do it.
People may not know who Tom Bodett is by name, but he is as an American humorist who is best known for the voice of the “Motel 6” commercials. The commercials’ tagline was “We’ll leave the light on for you.”
Tom Bodett (above) has that natural homespun, comfortable voice, which actually sounded more mature in years than the actor really was. He was living in Homer, Alaska, at the time, and you can’t get much more remote than that.
But, we figured out a way to record him because he had done a lot of other gigs from there. Every once in awhile, he would make it down to Los Angeles, and it was such a joy to record with him in the room because he is such a funny man!
TVA: I would imagine that having him in the room would be much easier than directing him from Homer, Alaska. That being said, I have seen you get great performances out of actors who are thousands of miles away.
AR: It is certainly more convenient to direct an actor in the space, but not always possible. Occasionally, there can be a “disconnect” when trying to direct an actor remotely.
Technology makes it “sound” like they are in front of you, but I am such a physical voice director that I often act a part out for the actor so they can watch me perform the character for them.
That way, I can give them the physical inspiration, the physical impetus, for their lines, and they can adjust their voice performance.
Without that close proximity, I still can get a good performance from them, but it is one-step removed from doing it “in person.” When they’re in the studio, I can help them “see” what the character is doing…for instance, to pick up something with rubber gloves on in a funny way.
We can still do it, but I like for them to be able to see it, and to “feel” what they are performing, as well.
Stay tooned for more with Andrea Romano. If you missed any part of this interview series with the Emmy-winner, click here!