The animated series "Dan Vs." focuses on a man who's sure that the universe is against him, and in turn, is given to fits of extreme rage. A typical episode sees Dan exacting revenge against his dentist or hatching a scheme to take down the entire state of New Mexico.
Though the character typically goes over the top, it's safe to say there is a little Dan in all of us.
"I have a temper. It's not something that shows that often, but I do have a temper," actor Curtis Armstrong admitted when reached by telephone. "It's one of the things that spoke to me about Dan once we started to do the show and how relatively easy I was able to access my inner rage about various things."
"It is something that is probably healthy for me to be able to do. To blow off steam in a recording studio is better than doing it behind the wheel of a car. Everybody knows I am okay doing it there whereas if I am in public, people draw erroneous conclusions," he said.
Dave Foley and Paget Brewster round out the core voice cast as Chris, Dan's best friend, and Elise, Chris's wife. Chris usually helps with the revenge schemes while Elise gets annoyed with Dan's behavior.
"The three of us -- Paget, Dave, and I -- do these [recording sessions] usually on Wednesday afternoons. It's difficult to arrange because everybody's working. To work out a four-hour block in the middle of the week is sometimes hard," Armstrong said. "Sometimes we wind up doing it together. Sometimes I wind up doing it myself."
Though the actor finds it somewhat cathartic to do that much screaming, he finds that even faked rage after a few hours can be toxic.
"I can wind up at the end of a recording session I've done by myself sort of slightly depressed because all I've done for four hours is screaming and being mean to people," Armstrong explained. "The thing about rage is that it's all coming from the same place. If it's actual rage or faked rage, physiologically it still is what it is. Even if you are not angry, you are still having to exercise all those muscles, if you like. When you are in a room with a couple of people with very good senses of humor and we are enjoying ourselves, it keeps you a little more tethered to reality."
Armstrong points out that the show benefits from inspired guest stars. Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross from the classic 1980s sitcom "Family Ties" have recurring roles as Elise's parents. Kurtwood Smith, who worked with Armstrong on "The Terrible Thunderlizards" and "Robot & Monster," also did a guest stint during Season 3 of "Dan Vs."
The one guest voice that almost killed him (figuratively), Armstrong said, was Jenna Fischer from "The Office."
"I love Jenna Fischer, but unfortunately, because of our recording schedule, we usually will record on a Wednesday afternoon. It's hard for our guest stars to block this amount of time in the middle of the week," he said.
Guest stars come in to record voices for "Dan Vs.," but the main cast sometimes never gets the chance to meet them.
"We only find out after the fact. We had a party just last week to celebrate the new season. Somebody casually mentioned that Jenna Fischer did this episode and I felt like Dan for a moment. I wanted to break something because I would have given anything (anything!) to have been there to do those scenes with her," he said.
New episodes of "Dan Vs." can be seen Saturday afternoons at 4 PM EST on The Hub.
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