Exclusive Interview with Jess Harnell!
If you’re cool you have already checked out our interviews with comic legend Tom Taylor and American Gods star Ricky Whittle. If your cool you might also be Jess Harnell, our next guest! He may look like a rock star…well, he is…but he’s also an awesome voice actor, known for Animaniacs, Doc McStuffins, Crash Bandicoot and many other roles and impersonations. Best check the audio on this one, because he’s a character unto himself.
G-Funk: We’re the House of Geekery, we’re here at Supanova Perth 2017…
Jess Harnell: So am I.
GF: Yes, and you are Jess Harnell.
JH: So they tell me.
GF: Now, the people listening and reading at home…
JH: Are missing out because I’m looking frick’n great and you’re not here and if you saw me you’d be like “wow, that guy looks frick’n amazing!”
GF: Oh, these pants are phenomenal!
JH: I know! This is just the tip of the iceberg, you should see my house!
GF: Does is look like the pants?
JH: Yeah! They look like the pants! I life in a spaceship, I’ve got twelve hundred pairs of pants, I’ve got a weird life.
Jules, Our Photographer: I make pants. I’ll send you a pair.
JH: Really?! Jules, don’t lie to me. Don’t get my hopes up. Make me some frick’n pants, just make sure they’re bell bottoms.
GF: Oh, she will.
JH: Ok, we’re going to talk about this. I’m doing this interview for free – give me the pants.
GF: Ok, we’re sorted, we’re done?
JH: That’s it, give me some pants.
GF: Right, we’re all sorted. You’re a voice actor!
JH: I am, dude!
GF: And you wear pants!
JH: And I wear pants! (In Wakko’s voice) I’m like Wakko but with more pants! (Normal voice) I do voices and I wear pants and I sing in a rock band and it’s great because I get paid for doing all the same stuff I’d do for free if I wasn’t getting paid.
GF: That is so cool.
JH: Ain’t that cool!
GF: That’s a cool life.
JH: Plus I have no qualifications to do anything. If I tried to get a real job they’d be like “what are your qualifications?” And I’d be like “well, I do a really good Christopher Walken impersonation,” and they’d go “well you need to leave the building”.
GF: Christopher Walken impersonation, go.
JH: (Christopher Walken voice) It’s just weird…Gareth…to be here…it’s fun…to be here…doing an interview, and Jules…making pants! It’s exciting!
GF: That’s brilliant!
JH: Thanks, dude, I’m really good at this one.
GF: Yeah, you should get paid for it.
JH: I do get paid for it! You won’t believe it, every time they sent me a check I’m like “no, seriously?” It’s badass.
GF: This is what I’m most excited about, because I’ve got a four year old daughter and I get to go home and say I met Chilly.
JH: Does she like Doc McStuffins?
GF: She loves it!
JH: What’s her name?
JH: Ok, this is for Amelia. Wait, what does she like? She likes horses, she likes bunnies, does she have a pet…?
GF: She does ballet.
JH: She does ballet, and how old is she? She’s four? (Chilly’s voice) Uh, hi Amelia, this is Chilly. I gotta tell ya, I’m so excited to be talking to you because I hear you’re four years old…I’m four years old too! I can’t believe how much we have in common! We’d only have more in common if you liked ballet, because I love ballet. Wait, what’s that? She loves ballet too?! Amelia, this is amazing! I love you, I’ll see you later!
GF: You just made me dad of the year!
JH: I know, dude! And now you have to make sure she gets me the pants!
GF: It’s a deal!
JH: If she doesn’t get me the pants you’ve got to return that to me and not even play it for Amelia.
GF: Aw, dude, you’d kill her!
JH: I know, just make sure she gets the pants!
GF: Let’s talk about your work a little bit. You got your big break in voice acting was working with Steven Spielberg
JH: That’s a pretty good way to start, isn’t it?!
GF: That’s amazing!
JH: Most people start work with a guy named Joe in a basement, I got to work with Steven Spielberg! I mean, Hallelujah, thanks God, I appreciate it! It was great, yeah.
GF: What’s Spielberg like? This will shock you, I haven’t met him yet…
JH: Really? You need to get to it, he’s a very nice guy. He’s totally low key, and he’s chill. In fact, like I said to the last guy (interviewer), when I met him and he said all this nice stuff about being on the show and I said “hey man, I couldn’t pay attention to all the stuff you just said because I’m thinking about how much money you’ve got in your wallet right now”. He thought that was funny and he said we should have a drink. So I went over and sat down and we had a drink and hung out, then he said “you guys should come up to the office and have lunch”. So he invited us up to his office to have lunch, and I’ll give you a bit of Spielberg trivia, his office looks like the world’s nicest Taco Bell, dude. It’s amazing. If they had a drive through you’d be like ‘this is the best Taco Bell’. It’s all Spanish and you just waiting for someone to come out and give you a chalupa.
GF: That sounds so cool.
JH: Yeah, it’s great!
GF: Why haven’t I met him yet?
JH: I don’t know. You know why? It’s because you’re far away. He lives in Los Angeles and you’re in Perth. Perth’s far, bro.
GF: It is.
JH: Do you know how many hours it took to get here?
GF: Uhhhh…from L.A.? Twelve to fifteen.
JH: 96 hours.
GF: 96?! What did you do, stop for a break?
JH: Yeah, everybody was tired. They pulled the plane over for a few days then came back. But now I’m here, so it’s all good.
GF: Now you’re working all weekend, which leads to the question: why are you doing this, doing the con?
JH: Well, you hit it on the head, because it is working because of the amount of energy you put forward, but it’s worthwhile because the cool thing about it is that you come to places like this and you meet people who like your work and that’s awesome. I never think of any of these people as fans. People say they’re fans, I think of them as friends because friends support each other, look out for each other, want what’s best for each other. I don’t believe in any of that, when people say “I’m a celebrity”. I think “no, you’re crazy”, I don’t think anybody is a celebrity, I think people are blessed if they get to do something they like to do. So I get to come out here and I get to meet people who love what I do and they’re willing to wait in line to say ‘hello’ and I’m always gratified and I always try to spend time with each person and get to know them a little bit. It’s a wonderful experience to meet people who like the stuff you try to do.
GF: Well, we love your stuff.
JH: Yeah, thanks bro! You’re not so bad either! And she’s going to make my pants.
GF: She is, I’m definitely going to set that up for you. Now, you’re well known for Wakko and couple of other roles and you’ve done so much work…is there a role or a project that you want people to be more aware of?
JH: Well, that’s a good question. You know…you never know, when these things start how they’re going to go. Sometimes you have every inclination to think a show or a film is going to be huge and then it’s not. Other times you not aware of it going to do anything and then it does. It was down to me and one other guy to be Spongebob Squarepants and my buddy Tom (Kenny) got it and he’s fantastic at it, but it never bothered me and it still doesn’t because when it came up it was like, well, who knows if this thing is going to take off? Who knows what is going to happen?
GF: In this case it did take off…
JH: It did, it did very well! He bought a house too! The good thing is, man, I don’t really spend time worrying about the stuff that people aren’t aware of. I’ve done good things that maybe aren’t as well known as some of the other things that I’ve done. That makes me feel really gratified that they’re aware of what they are aware of. All these people come up to me saying they grew up playing Crash Bandicoot or playing Spyro the Dragon, and I was both of those guys, it’s just a happy thing. It’s a really cool way of life, it’s a really cool occupation.
GF: That’s fantastic, great attitude!
JH: Yeah, thanks man! I’m alright!
GF: Look, thanks for sitting down with us…
JH: Nah, it was a pleasure, man! House of Geekery? Alright, that’s awesome. And Jules – we gotta talk pants.