Hank Azaria Talks About Injuring His Voice, His Favorite Simpsons Character To Play
The Simpsons actor also talks about having his vocal chords insured and his former Mario Kart obsession.
Hank Azaria has spent 30 years playing some of The Simpsons' most beloved characters, from Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, and Apu to Dr. Nick, Superintendent Chalmers, and the Comic Book Guy. In a new interview with Conan O'Brien, Azaria discussed the strain some of these roles have taken on his vocal chords, explaining that he feels a sense of "dread" over the pain caused from performing characters like Duffman.
O'Brien, who was a writer and producer on The Simpsons between 1991 and '93, asked Azaria how "tough" some of the characters are to voice. The actor mentions (in Duffman's voice) that playing the buff, sunglasses-wearing beer spokesman "will blow me out in a second" and that Azaria has "to save Duffman for the end" of a recording session because "it actually does hurt." He says he's "not complaining" about the work but goes on to mention that it's easy for him to lose his voice.
"I got in a screaming match with someone," Azaria recalls when mentioning a past accident that led him to insure his vocal chords. "I was in my car afterwards, and I was so upset, and I totally blew out my voice … and it didn't come back for almost two weeks, and I got really scared."
As the interview continues, O'Brien asks if Azaria has any favorites from the many characters he voices on the show. The actor says "the one I love the most" is Moe, but that "the one I enjoy the most is Professor Frink," who he calls "the vocal equivalent of a peanut." It probably doesn't hurt that neither of these characters, unlike Duffman, force Azaria to worry about losing his voice.
Azaria's comments are a good reminder of the physical strain voice actors undergo in their work--an issue that was an important point in the negotiations between video game companies and voice actors that escalated into the 2016-2017 SAG-AFTRA strike. His interview also touches directly on video games. Toward the end of his chat with O'Brien, Azaria discusses a time when he would play Mario Kart online every night, "screaming in rage" at other players he claims were cheating until he stopped playing by smashing his console outside.
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