The Washington Post

From Doug to Futurama: Meet the voice behind your favorite characters

Jul 29, 2011

Voice actor Billy West hosted a video chat Friday, July 29 at 11 a.m. EST. He talked about his career, Doug, Ren and Stimpy, Futurama and more.

I am Billy West. 

Hi Billy, I've heard so many different voices of yours on various shows -- Looney Tunes, Futurama, etc. --  how many can you do in total? Hope to hear plenty more of your awesome voice acting!

Hey Billy! I met you in Chicago a few years ago, but I've been a major fan for quite a long time. While I respect and admire your voice work and singing, I was wondering if you would consider doing any live action acting?

Tell me what it was like to voice Ren and Stimpy and how it changed (if at all) as the seasons progressed -- but most of all, do your Stimpy voice for me. I will cry happy tears.

How do you learn to create character voices? I can use a funny voice to say a word or phrase, but have never tried to make it a full character with a consistent style.

How did you get your start in voice acting?

Some nice guitars there buddy, do you play in any bands?

When you were selected to do Zapp Brannigan's voice, were you intimidated knowing you had to fill Phill Hartman's shoes, per se? (I read the character was supposed to go to Hartman before his death.)

How was it working for John K?

Is there any way we can get Doug back on the air -- not reruns, but new episodes like you did for Futurama?

I know, I'm weird, but: Do you ever talk to yourself in character? Do you ever do it on purpose, and then watch people looking around trying to figure out where the voices are coming from?

When Disney got a hold of Doug, it was definitely not the Doug I grew up with. What were your feelings toward their revamp?

Which character, out of all the characters you've voiced, has been your favorite to voice and why?

What cartoon did you love watching when you were growing up? Can you do any of the voices?

Can you please introduce us to Zoidberg? By the way, I am a huge fan of your work!

Whose idea was it for Dr. Zoidberg to pronouce the word "robot" as "robut"? Comes off hilarious.

Would you ever appear again on the Stern Show?

What was your favorite line ever from Doug and why?

Do Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth please -- it is great!

A lot of the dialogue in Futurama is very witty and fast paced. Do you ever have trouble delivering your lines without laughing, especially considering you voice most of the show's funniest characters?

When do you know you're onto a really good voice/character?

I have always wondered what it's like basically arguing with yourself, such as in scenes of Doug and Roger, Ren and Stimpy (when you did both), and the various opportunities with Futurama. And thank you for being a major part of my childhood and adulthood!

Could you perform a Dylan song as Zoidberg?

Which Toonsylvania characters did you voice?

When asked to do a voice of a cartoon character that's iconic, like Popeye or Woody Woodpecker, how long does it take you to get it down pat? Is it the same for doing celebrity impersonations?

Which character that you voice most resembles yourself?

That's all, folks

In This Chat
Billy West
Billy West’s stint on the Stern show, from 1989 through 1995, served as a springboard that launched the very animated West into cartoon superstardom. West has voiced such luminaries as Popeye; Nickelodeon’s Doug; Futurama’s Fry, Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth, Zapp Brannigan and Dr. Zoidberg; Ren and Stimpy; and the new Woody Woodpecker. In short, he’s taken the place of the governor of voice-over specialists — the late Mel Blanc. N
Recent Chats
  • Next: