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THE BIG INTERVIEW: FTN interviews Phil LaMarr

March 22nd, 2017 by Dave Bowling Comments

Phil LaMarr is a bit of a legend. You might not know it but you’re a big fan of LaMarr’s. 

The 50-year-old is the voice of so many of your favourite characters, from Hermes in Futurama to Ollie in Family Guy that, if you’ve seen a cartoon or played a video game in the last fifteen years then there’s a good chance you’ve heard LaMarr’s work.

He has worked on as Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Futurama, Samurai Jack, Static Shock, and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends to name but a few but today our man Dave is talking to him about his return to an iconic character that many thought we’d never see again.

LaMarr is the voice of Samurai Jack and, to coin a phrase, Jack’s back.

FTN: So, Jack’s back! After only 12 years… What was it like coming back to the role after a decade? Was it like going back to voicing Hermes after Futurama’s reprieve?

PLM: It’s a joy. Any time I get to work on a project this good, it’s a pleasure. And getting back together with Genndy and so many of the creative folks from the original run, makes it even better.

FTN: I’ve seen the first couple of episodes and I must admit, I’m impressed. It does seem like you’ve got more lines this time around, though. Does this mean Jack won’t be the strong and silent type all the time now?

PLM: Well, he’s still pretty quiet – except inside his head.

FTN: Considering the new season is being broadcast at 11pm and has a lot more fights that aren’t against beetle droids, how do you feel about the more adult tone? Does this mean that there won’t be any of the more surreal comedic episodes this season?

PLM: There’s this misperception that because the show is on Adult Swim now, that Jack’s going to be cutting people’s heads off every episode. That’s not the case. The show has always had and will continue to have kick-ass action. I think the difference in tone has less to do with the time slot than a shift in the storytelling. In the first four seasons, each episode was a standalone story. This time around, we’re using the ten episodes to tell basically one big story.

“In the first four seasons, each episode was a standalone story. This time around, we’re using the ten episodes to tell basically one big story.”

FTN: Of course we sadly lost Mako in 2006. Greg Baldwin seems to be doing a good impression, but was it difficult for the cast and voice crew not to be working with him this time around?

PLM: No one else could ever be Mako. His talent, his experience and his professionalism were one-of-a-kind. But we’re all coming at this new season from a slightly different angle. 50 years of this conflict has changed both Jack and Aku and Greg has done a fantastic job taking over the role.

FTN: Genndy Tartakovsky’s cinematic direction style has been likened to directors such as Quentin Tarantino in the past. Since you’ve worked with both of them, would you say it’s a valid comparison?

PLM: Absolutely, they’re both wonderfully creative and open collaborators who have a keen sense of history of their medium that they marry really effectively to their individual and unique vision.

“My favourite Futurama character is Hermes”

FTN: At the request of a friend of mine who’s a massive Futurama fan, who was your favourite character you’ve portrayed and why?

PLM: My favourite Futurama character is Hermes, because I got to play so many different storylines with him over the years.

FTN: Phil, it’s been a pleasure chatting and we will always be big fans. Take care.

PLM: You too, Dave.

You can check out our review of the first two episodes of the all-new Samurai Jack right here

Dave was born at an early age to parents of both sexes. He has been a self-confessed geek for as long as he can remember, having been raised through the 80s on a steady diet of Doctor Who, Star Trek, Red Dwarf and (sigh) Knight Rider. Throw the usual assortment of Saturday morning cartoons into the mix and we have something quite exceptional: someone with an encyclopaedic knowledge of utter tosh; a love of giant robots and spaceships fighting; and the strange desire to leap tall buildings in a single bound while wearing his underpants over his trousers. The death ray is currently in the works and one day you shall all bow to him, his giant space station and fleet of funky orange space shuttles...