Known for his voice work on such animated hits as "Pinky and the Brain" and "The Simpsons," Maurice LaMarche recently became a triple threat for the Hub series "Dan Vs." In the episode entitled "Dan Vs. Vegetables," LaMarche provides the voice of Vegan Vic, the owner of a health-food market.
"Vegan Vic was fun to play because, first of all, I had to find my inner Southern Californian," LaMarche explained when reached by phone. "He's a throwback to [the 1960s], sort of an aging hippie. He was a lot of fun, but you can't play him as the villain."
Getting in touch with his inner broccoli monsterThis time around, the easily excitable Dan (Curtis Armstrong) declares war against vegetables after his favorite fast food place starts serving broccoli instead of French fries. During Dan's crusade, he accidentally creates a hulking broccoli stalk that's voiced by LaMarche.
"The broccoli monster was even more fun to play, because I had to play him at three levels. There's sort of this awakening, this discovery [of who he is]. There's a moment where he turns on Dan, and then this sort of pathetic ending. I had to play a whole arc with him -- keep him monstrous and big, yet a little bit pathetic at the end," the actor explained.
"One must get in touch with their inner broccoli monster if one is going to relieve the gas that comes with that," La Marche added, tongue firmly in cheek.
The actor also provides the voice of a young Army corporal. LaMarche pointed out that the director had him do each character separately until he got them just right.
"The corporal, he was a bit of a challenge because I had to play younger than I am. A young actor makes his voice sound old. I'm 54, which in today's world isn't old, but there's a youthfulness that's left my voice and trying to find it in there is hard," he explained. "Sound younger than you are -- that's like saying, 'Be handsomer than you are.' It's not an easy thing to do."
As series star Curtis Armstrong has pointed out, the "Dan Vs." regulars (including Dave Foley and Paget Brewster) normally don't get to meet their guest stars.
"[Curtis and I] have passed each other in the hall on my way in and his way out. The same with Paget and Dave. They like to work in that sort of Disney-style by recording everyone alone and then cutting it all together, which works on the show," LaMarche said. "We're all aware of each other's performances."
Voicing it old schoolDigital recording technologies have made it somewhat easier for voice actors to do their jobs. LaMarche said, however, he is not one to avail himself to the new home technologies.
"The only thing I've done in changing my approach is --believe it or not -- I've done a couple of auditions on my iPhone," he explained. "I've been able to walk into my closet, plug a mike into my iPhone, and open up [a recording app]. Then I just read the script and make an mp3 of it."
Where other voice actors may have home studios, LaMarche likes the old-school style of going to the studio and interfacing with the director and sound engineer.
"It's more human to me. If I had a home studio, and I did everything over an ISDN line or over the Internet, I would never leave my house. It's a nice house, but I like to get out. I would become a recluse," he said.
LaMarche also believes in doing his best in an audition and then forgetting about it.
"If I dwelled on every audition, I'd go out of my freaking mind. The healthiest thing I do as an actor -- which is kind of oxymoronic to say because there's nothing healthy about the acting profession per se -- is as soon as I audition and leave the audition in the audition booth, I never think about the audition again," he explained.