First off, thank you so much for your time and for conducting this interview with us. As a thank you I’d like to offer you a personal tour of my base if you are ever in the Florida Panhandle region.
How did you break into the entertainment business? MY FIRST "JOB" IN L.A. WAS AS A STAND-UP COMIC AT "THE COMEDY STORE". I WAS 18 YEARS OLD. I MADE MY NIGHTCLUB DEBUT ON JANUARY 26, 1976. THE MC DID AN IMPRESSION OF ME AFTER I'D FINISHED MY ACT. IT WAS THE FIRST TIME ANYONE HAD EVER DONE AN IMPRESSION OF ME. THERE WAS A HOT BOND IN THE AUDIENCE AND I WAS REALLY HOPING I'D MAKE HER LAUGH. WHEN WE GOT BACK HOME, MY FRIEND TOLD ME: "THIS BLOND LADY IN THE AUDIENCE WAS REALLY LAUGHING". I WAS REAL HAPPY ABOUT THAT.
What kind of preparation do you do prior to an audition? I AM ALWAYS EXTREMELY NERVOUS BEFORE AN AUDITION, I CAN HARDLY EVER EAT. I FEEL LIKE I'M GOING TO THE ELECTRIC CHAIR. IF THE PEOPLE MAKE ME FEEL WELCOME, I LOOSEN UP. IF THEY ARE COLD, IT IS EXTREMELY HARD FOR ME. THIS IS MY CURSE. IT IS JUST SOMETHING I MUST DEAL WITH.
Do you still audition or has it gotten to the point where directors already know your capabilities and just call you? I GET ABOUT 75% OF MY ROLES, ON-CAMERA AND IN VOICE-OVERS, BY MY FRIENDS AND FOLKS WHO ALREADY KNOW ME. I AM NOT A BIG AUDITION-GETTER.
What actors/actresses would you most like to work with? GREAT QUESTION. JERRY LEWIS, OF COURSE. HE'D BE NUMBER ONE ON THE LIST. BARBARA EDEN HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY FANTASY GIRL, SO SHE'D BE THE WOMAN. SADLY, MOST OF MY HEROES AND IDOLS HAVE PASSED AWAY. WOODY ALLEN, I LOVE. I KNOW THIS IS A STRETCH, BUT PAUL MCCARTNEY AND RINGO. I AM THE WORLD'S BIGGEST BEATLES FAN.
Do you have a dream role? I WANTED TO BE IN THE NEW THREE STOOGES MOVIE VERY MUCH, EVEN IN A BIT ROLE. I SENT IN MY PICTURE AND RESUME, BUT IT WAS RETURNED, I'D SENT IT TO THE WRONG PERSON. MY SADDEST LOSS I EVER HAD AS AN ACTOR WAS NOT GETTING THE ROLE OF ROGER RABBIT. I AUDITIONED FOR THAT ONE AND IT WAS JUST A BAD AUDITION. I AUDITIONED FOR THE AFLAC DUCK EARLIER THIS YEAR AND IT WENT GREAT, BUT I NEVER GOT THAT GIG EITHER. I WAS DISAPPOINTED.
For 1941, did you guys have much interaction with Steven Spielberg? If so, what did you take away from that experience? I GOT TO THROW UP IN STEVEN'S DRESSING ROOM. I WAS WHIPPED AROUND ON THE FERRIS WHEEL, I GOT MOTION SICK. STEVEN'S SECRETARY TOOK ME INTO HIS ROOM AND I THREW UP INSTEVEN'S TOILET. IT WAS AN HONOR. I STOLE HIS BICYCLE DURING FILMING, I DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS STEVEN'S. THESE GUYS STOPPED ME PRETTY QUICKLY. I WAS JUST TAKING A RANDOM BIKE OUT FOR A SPIN. I GOT TO HAVE LUNCH IN THE STUDIO COMMISSARY WITH STEVEN, JOHN BELUSHI AND DAN AYKROYD ON DAY. I WAS JUST IN A DAZE. I WAS SO SHY, I HARDLY SAID I WORD. LUCKILY, STEVEN PICKED UP THE TAB.
Of all the people you have worked with, who has been the most fun? TOM HANKS WAS ALWAYS UPBEAT, FRIENDLY. A GREAT GUY. JOHN TRAVOLTA WAS THE KINDEST MAN I EVER WORKED WITH. JOHN BELUSHI WAS ALWAYS FUN, A BIG, FUN GUY. PETER SCHOLARI IS ALWAYS A GREAT GUY.
Who would you like to work with again besides John Travolta and Matthew Broderick? DEFINITELY TOM HANKS. MORGAN FAIRCHILD WAS A DOLL. MICHAEL J. FOX- A GREAT GUY. BOB ZEMECKIS IS, FAR AND AWAY, THE FINEST DIRECTOR I'VE EVER WORKED WITH. HE IS THE ELVIS OF DIRECTORS.
I mentioned to my son that you were a huge Beatles fan and he said to ask you what your favorite Beatles song is. "A HARD DAY'S NIGHT". ALSO IT IS MY #1 ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL-TIME. LEAST FAVORITE: GEORGE'S "LONG, LONG, LONG" ON THE WHITE ALBUM. OH, I HATE THAT ONE. FAVORITE ALBUM IS A TOUGH ONE. MAYBE THE WHITE ALBUM. TWICE AS MUCH BEATLES.
Has anyone claimed the $100 Beatles trivia prize yet? NO, I THINK THAT QUIZ IS GONE, OFF THE WEBSITE. TOO BAD. NO ONE EVER GOT ALL THE QUESTIONS CORRECT.
Were you fan before I Want to Hold Your Hand? After? Or because of? And how awesome is that for a Beatles fan to star in a movie about them? OH YES, I REMEMBER WATCHING THE BEATLES ON "THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW" AS A LITTLE KID, IN 1964. I REMEMBER GOING TO SEE "A HARD DAY'S NIGHT" AND "HELP!". THE GIRLS SCREAMED FROM BEGINNING TO END OF BOTH FILMS. I HAVE NEVER WITNESSED ANYTHING LIKE IT BEFORE OR SINCE. IN THAT FILM, I KIND OF PLAYED MYSELF.
Any personal favorite piece of memorabilia you own of theirs? I HAVE A BOOK SIGNED BY RINGO. I HAVE A BOOK SIGNED BY GEORGE MARTIN. I USED TO HAVE A REAL NICE BOOK SIGNED BY GEORGE, BUT UNFORTUNATELY, I SOLD IT YEARS AGO.
I was watching Rock-a-Doodle a few weeks ago with my daughter, which is when I got the inspiration to contact you. How did that role come about? I THINK I JUST PLAIN AUDITIONED AND GOT THE ROLE. THAT DIRECTOR WAS A REAL NICE GUY.
I know you do a lot of voice over work now, does your preparation for a role differ any from how you prepare for a role in front of the cameras? WELL, I ALWAYS HAD TROUBLE MEMORIZING LINES. FOR WARGAMES", FOR "POLAR EXPRESS", I READ MY ENTIRE ROLE OFF CUE CARDS. I LIKE VOICE-OVERS BECAUSE YOU JUST READ YOUR LINES OFF A SCRIPT. THAT IS WHY I LEFT DOING ON-CAMERA STUFF MAINLY.
WarGames! At one point in my life I think I had your entire scene and everyone lines memorized. How much of your stuff was scripted and how much if any was ad lib? I KEPT SCREWING UP MY SCENE, I JUST COULDN'T REMEMBER MY LINES. FINALLY, THE DIRECTOR, MARTY BREST, TOOK ME ASIDE AND HAD THEM PRINT UP "CUE CARDS" FOR ME. I FELL IN LOVE WITH CUE CARDS AFTER THAT. MAYBE IT HURT ME IN THE LONG RUN THOUGH.
Was your character in WarGames the same one as you played on Punkie Brewster or did they just have the same name? I THINK THEY TOOK THE "MALVIN" FROM "WARGAMES". I HATED DOING THAT SHOW VERY MUCH, BUT THEY PAID ME WELL. NICE PEOPLE, I JUST HATED MEMORIZING THE LINES IS ALL.
I know it’s a cartoon, but I can’t help thinking you are just having a blast behind the microphone as Mandark. Do they let you cut loose with that character? YES. STILL THE BEST CARTOON STUFF I'VE EVER DONE. I LOVED THE CAST VERY MUCH. I REALLY LOVED THAT SHOW AND THAT ROLE.
At the end of the day, do you prefer film or voice over? IN MY HEART, FILMS ARE MY GREATEST LOVE. BUT YOU GET OLDER, HOLLYWOOD, THE BUSINESS MOVES ON. I STILL WORK, BUT NOT NEAR AS MUCH AS IN THE OLD DAYS.
Do you have any projects on the horizon? NOT REALLY, I JUST FREELANCE AND HOP FROM JOB TO JOB. I DO SIGNING SHOWS EVERY YEAR TOO. I LOVE DOING THEM. I MEET SUCH WONDERFUL, NICE FOLKS. IT IS A JOY.
Since this interview will be posted on a site dedicated to Vampire gaming, we have to ask, which are you Vampire, Slayer, Witch, Werewolf or Angel? I'LL BE HONEST, MIKE, I HAVE NO IDEA. I WANT TO WISH YOU AND EVERYONE WHO READS THIS A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS, A HAPPY HANNUKAH, AND A WONDERFUL NEW YEAR IN 2012. MAY THE HAPPIEST DAYS OF YOUR PAST BE EQUAL TO THE SADDEST DAYS OF YOUR FUTURE. THANKS MIKE!!