Roseanne Barr voices Maggie, a cow in Disney’s new animated comedy Home on the Range. In the film, greedy outlaw Alameda Slim (Randy Quaid) schemes to take possession of the “Patch of Heaven” dairy farm. Three determined cows (Roseanne, Dame Judi Dench, and Jennifer Tilly), a karate-kicking stallion named Buck (Cuba Gooding Jr.), and a colorful corral of critters join forces to save the farm in a wild quest full of high-spirited adventure.
Roseanne said it was funny how she landed the role. “My agent called and said, you know, ‘You have the opportunity to read for a Disney cartoon.’ Of course I was like so excited. Because I’d been saying to him for a year, ‘Can’t you get me any work? Can’t you get me voice-over work? Don’t I have a voice that people recognize and can’t you do something with it, for God sake?’ So then they called up and said that I had that opportunity. And he was really scared to tell me. He goes, ‘And it is a cow,’ like really scared like I’d go, ‘How dare you suggest that I would…’ I go, ‘That’s great.’ And he goes, ‘Uh, really.’ And I go, ‘Yeah, this is so exciting.’ And he said, ‘And also, she’s the fattest cow in the world that’s ever lived.’ And I go, ‘That’s great.’ I was very grateful. I was just so excited to be in a Disney movie. I would’ve played a rat or a snake or anything they came up with. I was very happy to portray a cow. I like cows, they’re delicious.”
The animators even gave Maggie some of Roseanne’s features. “It’s amazing,” she said. “The artistry that goes into that person holding that pen and what they create, their talent, it’s just great. They filmed us while we say the lines, and then to see your characteristics in a drawn image. First of all it’s amazing that the drawn image is a human being that they can put all that…just by drawing. She curls her lips and she kind of sneers when she does the punch line and cocks her head like I do. It’s really amazing just the things they see and then draw.”
Voicing animated films usually means that the actors are in a booth without any of the co-stars around. “Well, I kind of got to be with them in a way because they’d play back and I would see their character and hear it speak. It was kind of the same in a way. And the director was standing there with me. He would keep me on track and stuff. They just babied and pampered me so incredibly. They totally spoiled me for any other job now. They were so great to me. And it was so easy. I never had to go to make-up, I never had to hit any mark. It just couldn’t have been any easier and more fun.” Roseanne added that she was always best on the first take. “That’s when I do the best. Most of my stuff was one take. Once I get bored I can’t keep it funny. That’s why, on my ‘Roseanne’ show, I never liked to rehearse because I just like to say the joke while I still think it’s funny. They were nice to me and let me do that.”
She didn’t get to meet her co-star Dame Judi Dench, however. “No I didn’t. I’m so mad. I’m trying to sue people. She never even came over here, I don’t think.” But what did Roseanne think when she heard the Oscar-winning actress was on board? “I totally freaked out. That’s only the greatest actress in the world, and I get to be in her proximity, it’s just great.”
She said that she already knew a lot about cows that helped her get into the role. “I’m from Utah. I have a real western background and I worked on a couple of farms when I was a teenager, milking a couple of cows and all that stuff that you do. So I’d been around cows. I owned 30 cows when I had a farm in Iowa and cows are something that I’d always go sit by and watch, just in real life, for a long time. They’re a deeply spiritual animal. I mean, a lot of people on earth think they’re holy. They kind of are if you really are into watching them. I kind of was because that was part of my whole relaxing in Iowa thing – hanging out in the big field on my motorcycle staring at cows. It’s cool how they do. Cows are cool.”
Roseanne also got her first plush toy for the film. “Yeah, I saw her last night, the plush toy, the cow. I think she’s cute. I wish you could push a button and it’d say things.”
Home on the Range opens in theaters on Friday.