To conclude our discussion of Invader Zim, we have another special interview! This time is actor/voice actor/Batman fan Wally Wingert. In Invader Zim, he was the voice of Allmighty Tallest Red, one of the leaders from the planet Irk. Wingert has voiced in many TV shows, cartoons, and video games such as Jon Arbuckle in The Garfield Show, The Riddler in the video games Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, the announcer on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, over 100 small roles in Family Guy, and more.
Kevin and I had the opportunity to interview Wally so I hope you enjoy
Patricia- Who were your influences growing up?
Wally- Definitely Adam West in Batman. Also Don Messick, Daws Butler, Howard
Morris, and many other voice actors. Can cartoon characters be influences? If
so, Popeye for sure. I also drew great inspiration from Henry Winkler and Paul
Kevin- Who are your favorite cartoon characters?
Wally- I think my first word was “Pipe-eye.” (As a babe I became a huge Popeye fan)
I also loved The Archies, Groovie Ghoulies, The Impossibles, Space Ghost,
Frankenstein Jr., Roger Ramjet, Jungle Book, and more.
Patricia- How did you get started on voicing acting?
Wally- I started as a radio DJ when I was 16. I had always loved doing voices
and playing radio at home, but now that I had a public forum on the AM radio
waves. I would write bits using some of my characters and impressions, and
interweave them into my radio shows. It was great training!
Kevin- How did you get the part on Allmighty Tallest Red?
Wally- As I recall I went into Nickelodeon to read for a variety of characters for
Casting Director Donna Grillo. Apparently I was the second choice for Red and
got the role when the guy who was the first choice decided to move out of the
L.A. area. Lucky me!
Kevin- What was it like working with the cast of Invader Zim?
Wally- It was some of the most fun I’ve ever had! Richard Horvitz and I had
previously worked together on a series of Popeye CD-Roms and had a
great time. So we went into it with a lot of our own inside jokes. But then
getting to work with the great Kevin McDonald, and of course working under
Jhonen were also real treats!
Patricia- How did you get to be Jon Arbuckle in the new Garfield show?
Wally- There were auditions for a new Garfield CGI direct-to-DVD film that
was in the works, and I think I auditioned for every character other than
Garfield, Jon and Odie. But unlike other auditions, which are just recorded on
audio files, they had a video camera running at this session. I guess Mr. Jim
Davis saw something in me on-camera that gave him the impression that I would
make a good Jon. (I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or an insult come to think
of it.:) I guess I had the same dorky sensibilities that Jon does. And for that
I’m eternally grateful.
Kevin- Did you speak to Tom Huge about voicing Jon Arbuckle before starting
on voicing for the Garfield cartoon?
Wally- No, but I asked the director Mark A.Z. Dippe if I should watch old
Garfield cartoons and try to approximate what Tom did. He said it wasn’t
necessary, so I just basically copped the same attitude and voice I used when I
talked to my own dog and cat.
Patricia- Who is your favorite Batman villain?
Wally- Whyyyyy….The Riddler… of course!
Patricia- What is your favorite/least favorite Batman show, both live action
Wally- Without a doubt my absolute favorite is the 1966 Batman TV series
starring Adam West and Burt Ward, followed closely by the animated series from
the early 90’s. My least favorite would be the current Dark Knight
series of films.
Patricia- What is your favorite/least favorite Batman movie?
Wally- My favorite Batman film is the 1966 feature film based on the TV
series, followed closely by the film Val Kilmer was in. My least favorite was
Patricia- What was it like voicing the Riddler on Batman: Arkham
Asylum and Arkham City?
Wally- It was an absolute dream come true! To be in the history books as
anything related to Batman was a lifelong fantasy fulfilled! And it’s always fun
to work with the amazing Collette Sunderman!
Kevin- What Batman action figures do you have?
Wally- I have many of the old Mego figures, with the actual cloth clothes. I
wasn’t so much a fan of the 3” plastic figures. I like action figures that have
actual fabric costumes. I used to adore the old Captain Action line!
Kevin- You did the documentary for the show Groovie Ghoulies. Who is
your favorite characters and why?
Wally- I like Frankie best, because he’s just so darn cuddly and loveable!
(And a little bit slow)
Kevin- What it is about Groovie Ghoulies that you liked? As a kid,
that show was everything I wanted in a Saturday morning cartoon. It was
animation, monsters and rock and roll! All balled up into one!
Wally- Did you see the Daffy Duck and Porky Pig meets the Groovie
Ghoulies? Yeah, I saw a bootleg of it awhile back. It was…uh…odd.
Patricia- What is it like doing the voice announcement for The Jay Leno
Wally- After two years of announcing The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,
it’s still a gigantic thrill! Just as much today as it was the day I started!
It’s a great group of professionals and I’m proud to be on the staff with
Patricia- How is Jay like in person?
Wally- Imagine the coolest guy you’ve ever known, and then times it by 1000.
He’s one of the most famous people I’ve ever met (known worldwide!) but yet one
of the most down-to-earth and likeable. If the world was more like Jay, the
world would be a better place.
Kevin- What was it like being the alien in Can of Worms?
Wally- Since it was one of my first big VO jobs, it was a real thrill. In
fact, I just bought an original conceptual sketch of the Loafer Alien on eBay
recently and had it framed.
Patricia- What's it like voicing over 100 characters on Family Guy?
Wally- It’s almost as fun as being one of the regular characters. In some
episodes I was 4 or 5 different characters. And you can always count on the
crazy writers of Family Guy to come up with wacky and challenging
characters to voice!
Patricia- What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a voice
Wally- First and foremost, become a REALLY good actor. Voice acting at its
core is acting, but with your voice. You must have acting chops to be good in
this business, but so many people believe it’s simply all about the voice. True,
you need a good instrument. But you need talent behind it to drive it
Patricia- Do you have to take frequent breaks to rest your voice?
Wally- Since I’ve started working on The Tonight Show, I’ve had to
pass on any videogame jobs that require vocally stressful work. Other than that,
I don’t take any conscious voice breaks.
Patricia- How is it that you became a versatile voice actor?
I realized the key to success in any acting venue is versatility. That goes
for on-camera as well as voice acting. I aspire to be the voice acting version
of Lon Chaney. He had so many great characters, all diverse. I figured that if I
can come close to what he did with my voice, I’d be very satisfied.
Kevin- What are your favorite Nickelodeon shows?
Wally- I’m not currently familiar with many TV shows on any channel.
Patricia- You voiced a lot of video games as well. Do you play video games?
If so, what are your favorites?
Wally- I lack the fundamental hand-to-eye coordination necessary for
successful videogame play. But I love watching others play!
Patricia- When you walk down the street, do people notice you and compliment
on your work?
Wally- One of the things about the voice acting world is that it’s fairly
anonymous. That can be good and bad. Once in a great while I’ll get recognized,
but it’s very rare. Of course that all changes when I go to a convention,
because con folks are a little more hip and enlightened than your average
Patricia- Alright then. Wally, thank you so much for taking the time to
Wally- Thank you! Cheers!
To know more about Wally Wingert, check out his website at wallywingert.com.
That’s all for now. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for
-Patricia and Kevin