The Simpsons: Nancy Cartwright On How She Came Up With Nelson's Voice And Famous Laugh

Both Nelson's voice and his laugh were not pre-planned.


As the voice of Bart Simpson and numerous other characters on The Simpsons, Nancy Cartwright is one of the most famous voice actors on the planet. She's now revealed more insight into how she came up with voice of the bully Nelson Muntz and specifically his iconic "haw-haw" laughing insult.

Nelson made his debut in the Season 1 episode "Bart the General." Cartwright said on Twitter that she was assigned the part of Nelson for the episode and wondered, "Who is he? What does he sound like?" There was no audition process for Nelson--Cartwright had to make it all up on her own.

"All of a sudden, I'm assigned this part. OK, I've got to come up with the sound. So I'm thinking, 'What does a bully sound like?' That's really all I thought of. What does a bully sound like?" she said.

With that idea in mind, Cartwright created Nelson's voice. It's a low-register, gruffly kind of voice that doesn't really make you feel happy or supported--fitting for a bully.

Cartwright also said that Nelson's famous "haw-haw" line was similarly improvisational in its origin. It was written in the script as "haw haw," and Cartwright put a voice to it that is now incredibly famous and memorable. She didn't really explain how the specific intonation came to her, but it's now cemented in media history and pop culture as a popular refrain when making fun of someone.

In addition to Bart and Nelson, Cartwright voices Nelson's bully pal Kearney, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and Database, in addition to Maggie the baby.

Season 33 of The Simpsons kicks off in September with the long-running show's first-ever all-musical episode. Outside of the TV show, writer Matt Selman recently discussed how he would love to see a remaster of The Simpsons: Hit & Run.

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