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Animaniacs Interview: Maurice LaMarche & Rob Paulsen on Pinky and the Brain

ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Animaniacs stars Maurice LaMarche and Rob Paulsen about the revival’s final season. The duo spoke about returning to Pinky and the Brain and their hopes for a feature film. Animaniacs Season 3 premieres on Hulu on February 17.

“Yakko, Wakko, and Dot return with an all-new season of laughs, songs, pop culture parodies, and enough zany antics to fill a water tower (or at least 10 episodes!). Pinky and Brain’s never-ending plans to take over the world journey them to the ends of new lands, deserts, and even the space-time continuum,” reads the new season’s synopsis. “And while new friends, Starbox and Cindy continue their play date, the Warner siblings must battle their way out of a video game, learn the secrets of being a teen influencer, and escape a mad scientist’s island all while finding time to teach us about the threat of global warming!”

Spencer Legacy: You’ve done so many wildly different characters throughout both your careers. What makes Pinky and the Brain stand out and what keeps bringing you back?

Rob Paulsen: Well, it’s a job. It’s a job! I owe my soul to the company store. Firstly, thank you for speaking with us. I’m often asked, “What is your favorite character?” And generally, I say, “The next one,” because it means I’m working. But honestly when you have the opportunity to invest so much into such a special character and such a special relationship that connects with — and I don’t think it’s hyperbole — hundreds of millions of people, it’s ridiculous to literally sit back and think, “Oh my God. I really, truly, had no idea of the extent to which these characters connect themselves to people’s souls only because they’re happy and joyful.”

So this is a very unique chemistry. Maurice and I are the best of friends in real life, and, I have to say, I think that energy translates into the characters.

Maurice LaMarche: Yes. I mean, I’m always honored and enamored that these characters resonate with the audience so much. I think it’s a classic comedy formula. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore nailed it as the uninformed idiot and the informed idiot. While Brain has this really high IQ and understands science like infindibulators and that type of thing, he’s not smart enough to figure out that a two-inch tall lab mouse can’t take over the world. So there’s definitely both genius and insanity there. But the formula, it’s Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton.

Rob Paulsen: Abbott and Costello!

Maurice LaMarche: It’s Abbott and Costello! It’s the two-hander, and they go through everything together and one of them is always, “What’s the matter with you?!” Or whatever. It’s truly — Rob has put it well, a love story and it’s just that one of them can’t let the other one know how much he loves him because he’s a curmudgeon

Maurice, something I really wanted to ask was, though Brain’s voice was inspired by Orson Welles, for a couple of generations, that’s Brain’s voice, that’s their first association. What does that association mean to you?

Maurice LaMarche: Well, it means I’ve introduced a lot of young people to the films of Orson Welles, because even though I did the voice, because when I looked at that model sheet, I saw Welles, even though they didn’t intend for it to be Wells. Young people at conventions have said, “Because of Pinky and the Brain and because of Brain’s voice, my dad had Citizen Kane on TV one night and I went … “

Rob Paulsen: “That’s The Brain!”

Maurice LaMarche: And then they suddenly get fascinated, as they must, by Welles and his career, because it’s such a fascinating career and he is such a magnetic actor. So I’m glad through my little parodical tip of the hat to have introduced young people to a wider world of cinema.

Since this is the last season, what do you hope to be parodying in the next reboot in 2040?

Maurice LaMarche: I guess we’d be parodying adult diaper commercials, although they may not be a parody. They may be, in fact how we’re getting by.

Rob Paulsen: We have, as you can imagine, so much gratitude for just this opportunity. But if I would dare to hope, I’ve been really, really keen on the idea of a Pinky and the Brain feature.

Maurice LaMarche: I’m not keen on that at all. I wouldn’t want that! No feature film!

Rob Paulsen: Yeah Mo’s not keen on that. He wants to get back to managing an Ace Hardware, but I want to keep going. Whatever that means, because the folks — firstly, Mr. Spielberg, all the way on down — the creative folks who would take on that sort of challenge … they’re so smart and I just could not wait to see what they would come up with. Because as Mo said, we’ve got a two-hour buddy picture and trying to find out how to take over the world for God’s sake. It’s pretty cool.

Maurice LaMarche: They’ve done other classic cartoon pairings and certainly they brought Bugs Bunny back to life a couple times and Tom and Jerry. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that these characters, especially with the kind of dialogue that occurs between them, would fill out a great quest picture. So who knows, you know? I’m putting in my pitch, but, you know, not with celebrity stunt recasting.

Rob Paulsen: Maurice has always thought they would threaten to have Peter Dinklage —

Maurice LaMarche: Peter Dinklage and Russell Brand! Yeah, that’s my nightmare. I admire them both tremendously, but that’s my nightmare scenario of, “Yeah, the good news is we’re doing a Pinky and the Brain movie. The bad news is it’s Peter Dinklage and Russell Brand,” and it’s like, “Okay, well, where’s the cliff?”


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