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Anaheim Comic Con 2010: A Chat with Actor Phil LaMarr

Phil LaMarr is a long-time veteran of animation and acting for the better part of two decades. On the live action end of the spectrum, Phil LaMarr was one of the featured cast members of the sketch comedy series, MADTV, and also appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. In animation, LaMarr has done time in the DC Universe. portraying such characters as Green Lantern John Stewart in the epic Justice League series, to the Marvel Universe playing Gambit and Bolivar Trask in Wolverine and The X-Men, and even Uatu the Watcher in the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance videogame. LaMarr is also Hermes Conrad and the numerous other characters in the excellent sci-fi animated sitcom, Futurama, all of whom are set to return in the new episodes on Comedy Central. LaMarr also plays recurring roles on such hit shows as Family Guy and played the unforgettable title character in the Cartoon Network series Samurai Jack. During the Anaheim Comic-Con, LaMarr graciously set aside some time to speak with Toonzone News for an exclusive interview:

TOONZONE NEWS: Congrats on Futurama getting picked by Comedy Central after the release of the DVD movies. I’m so excited the show is coming back. What is in store for Hermes in the new episodes?

PHIL LaMARR: He keeps his head this season for a change. We’ve got a lot of episodes that are actually really pushing the envelope, not so much like obscenity wise. I mean, we’re on with South Park, so there’s really very little that we can’t do. But it’s a little more extreme and more topical than previous Futurama shows than you might be used to. Really, really funny stuff.

TOONZONE NEWS: Previously the Galaxy Express had to leave through a wormhole. Does it pick up from there?

LaMARR: It picks up exactly where the last movie left off.

TOONZONE NEWS: Are they able to go back to Earth?

LaMARR: I’ve – SPOILER ALERT! I’m not going to tell you that!

TOONZONE NEWS: Will you be playing any other characters besides Hermes in the new episodes?

LaMARR: Well a lot of the old characters come back. The Robot Preacher is back. Bubblegum Tate is back. In fact, most of the old characters are back. Sometimes all at once.

TOONZONE NEWS: Do you have a character you feel most closest to or proudest of, or is it like picking your favorite kid?

LaMARR: You mean of all my characters?

TOONZONE NEWS: Of all your characters.

LaMARR: I dunno. I’d have to say that Green Lantern has probably been my favorite because I got to do so much with the character, be on trial for murder . . .

TOONZONE NEWS: You got to have a kid with Hawkgirl.

LaMARR: Yes, in the future! You know, be in a love triangle. I’ve never got to do that on camera. Part of that must be just because we got to do it for 4 seasons. But I love Samurai Jack as well because that character is such a great character to play. He’s so at peace.

TOONZONE NEWS: Do you know if there’s possibility that you’d ever come back to maybe do an animated Samurai Jack movie if that was in the cards?

LaMARR: For Samurai Jack? Anything Genndy [Tartakovsky, the creator of Samurai Jack] called me for, I would do. As far as I know, he wants to do a Samurai Jack animated feature. It’s just a matter of getting all the ducks to line up in the right way.

TOONZONE NEWS: You also play some recurring characters on Family Guy like Ollie Williams and the Judge. He seems to be only Judge around whenever there’s a trial going on.

LaMARR: *Laughs* Yes.

TOONZONE NEWS: Do you know if there will ever an episode for the Judge or Ollie getting their own episode?

LaMARR: I don’t think so because my work as Ollie is actually getting shorter. I was in yesterday and I recorded a single word. I dunno, it’s that sort of thing where they’re characters that are great as counter-points . . . as small accents. If you end up watching them for the whole episode, they wouldn’t be as funny or as effective.

TOONZONE NEWS: A personal favorite of mine in Futurama was when Hermes got to sing the Bureaucrat song. Do you have a favorite Hermes part from the show?

LaMARR: Yes. The Bureaucrat song was actually a lot of fun, just getting to work with a Ken Keeler and do music. I think my favorite episode was the Titanic episode where he discovered his past as Olympic level limbo athlete.

TOONZONE NEWS: Would it be alright if you gave us one “In Brightest Day . . .” as John Stewart?

LaMARR: (click to listen) “In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night. No Evil Shall Escape My Sight.”

TOONZONE NEWS: Thank you so much sir.

New episodes of Futurama featuring Phil LaMarr debut on Comedy Central in June 2010.

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