Bellís acting career has lasted over 40 years. During that time,
he was a voice actor for Hanna-Barbera, Ruby Spears, Marvel,
Warner and Nickelodeon. Some of the many shows he has worked
on include Plastic Man, Super Friends, The
Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, G.I.
Joe, The Transformers, Voltron, Centurions,
The Smurfs, Superman (1988), Rugrats and
many, many more.
In 1991, he first portrayed the roles of
Chuckieís father, Charles Finster Sr (Chas) and Angelicaís
father, Andrew Pickles (Drew) in Nickelodeonís award-winning and
longest-running series, Rugrats. He has remained in these roles
through 10 seasons, 3 feature films, and currently in the new
spin-off, All Grown Up. Since 1990, he has also lent his
considerable voice talents to many video games from studios such
Michael Bell and the many characters he has brought to life
Activision and Insomniac Games. Games he has worked on include
Forgotten Realms: Balderís Gate, Legacy of Kain: Soul
Reaver, Revenant, Sword of the Berserk, Warcraft III: Reign of
the Matrix, Doom III and Ratchet and Clank: Going
He is also a strong supporter of animals rights, and is the head of
'The Coalition for a Humane Los Angeles'.
We recently sat down with Mr. Bell to discuss his amazing career but instead we discovered
a big sense of humor. Promises are promises, so we will not be satisfied
until we have received said picture of him in "nipple clips and
buttered rice". Confused? You won't be. Read
at your own risk:
Q.) How did you come to be cast in the starring role of Bruce Banner?
I read for the role, but had an edge because the director had worked with
me on several previous series at Hanna Barbara and knew I could bring more
than just Bruce to the
table....like muffins and cheese to each session.
Q). Were you given much freedom at all to develop your role? (Was
Banner's voice your given voice?)
Michael Bell: I was a young studly at that time and did not need any props...except for tight pants and a cod piece.
Q). The Hulk's co-creator, Stan Lee, was the narrator of the show.
Were you able to work with him?
Michael Bell: Met him once and that was it. I called
his office years later for something but never heard back. His
lack of response caused me to go into therapy...I'm better now but
not allowed to have pets.
Q). The role of Bruce Banner was a fairly atypical and emotional
character for an animated network show, since he hated being the Hulk.
Did you find that the part required a little more emoting than compared
to other animated shows?
Michael Bell: NAWWW. Us voice sluts will do
anything! Besides, I was born in Brooklyn, New York where
emoting found its roots. NOYELLING, SOBBING AND THREATENING.......NO CAB!
Q). Since some of your other 1980s voice work was produced by Marvel
Productions (G.I. Joe, The Transformers & Inhumanoids), how did you
find them as a studio?
fabulous! The producers, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears (or was that another show?)
Gave us great opportunities to express ourselves and attempt new
approaches to creating the characters. Wally Burr (the
director) was always open to suggestions....EXCEPT when we told him
to go F---K HIMSELF. THAT he refused to do. AH YES, DEM WERE DA DAYS....BEFORE STARS AND CELEBS POLLUTED THE ANIMATION STREAM...DON'T GET ME STARTED!
stunned at the familiarity of Ock's voice.
& Spears were a separate studio than Marvel Productions. It's all
good though. I was expecting a political answer anyway.
As well as voicing Bruce Banner, you gave another memorable
performance as Dr. Octopus in the Hulk's first episode. The following
year, you again voiced the mad doctor (uncredited) in an episode of Spider-Man and his Amazing
Friends. From what I remember you did ALL the additional voices in the Spider-Man episode.
How did these situations come about?!
Michael Bell: I don't remember doing any of those characters.
I think I have
Voiceheimers. I probably auditioned or it was just handed to me because of my magnificent versatility and ability to fool people.
UNCREDITED? DID YOU SAY UNCREDITED? HMMMM, I THINK I SMELL LAWSUIT.
NOW WHERE DID I PUT LEE'S TELEPHONE NUMBER ?
Q). Similarly, you also performed a role on the 1996 Incredible Hulk
cartoon (also featuring another former Hulk actor - Lou Ferrigno). Was
this a deliberate homage to your previous role as Bruce Banner on the
1982 show or an amazing coincidence?
Probably an AMAZING COINCIDENCE.
What you don't know, Mr. Know-it-all, is that the role of the She-Hulk was voiced by my wife, Victoria Carroll, who eventually guest-starred on the TV show
The Hulk for director Bill Bixby. So there!
Riiiiight. Actually I did know that Victoria Carroll voiced
the She-Hulk, but I didn't know she was your wife...so I guess I'll
let you have that one. Speaking of the live-action TV show,
was there any particular pressure to distance your performance
from Bill Bixby's? (Since the Hulk live-action show only finished in
Actually, he was told to distance his interpretation from mine.
To do that, he had six inches cut out of his thighs. Most people don't know that Bill was 6 ft 2" when he started in the
biz. I have always felt guilty about this.
Q). Any memorable stories from the time you worked on the show? Do you
keep in contact with any of your Hulk co-stars?
After several sequences of similar dialogue, Bob looked at me and said, "That's
it..that's all you have to say, 'What happened'? I spend 6 fucking pages ripping out my throat and all you have to say is
'What happened' and you get star billing?"
Michael Bell: I am arch enemies with one member (who shall remain
nameless...the bitch) and yes... one story always gets a laugh amongst those who remember Bob
(voice of the Hulk),
one of the funniest men in the biz.
We were recording the first show and my dialogue consisted of exposition and some angst but nothing you could call real hysterics.
Bob, however (having a great set of pipes) had to growl, howl and gnash his teeth when I turned into the Hulk.
Then I would come back as Banner and say something like "(sigh)...What happened?"
more to Bruce Banner's "dramatic
pauses" than you think.
From then on in it was hard to keep a straight face during my dialogue especially if it preceded a transformation.
I couldn't look at Bob because I knew if I did I would break up.
I could feel his eyes on me, willing me to look at him and so I went into "control overdrive" for fear of losing it.
In between his howling and growling he would look over at me with such mock disgust, I had to muffle my laughter.
I knew if I broke up they would have to re-take his howling and he would have really killed me.
A truly funny man.
Q.) HA! GREAT
story! Honestly, Mr. Holt had the defining Hulk
"roar". To bring up a not so defining point in the
Hulk's history, did you see the 2003 Hulk movie with Eric
Bana and Jennifer Connelly? What did you think? (I HAD to ask...it IS a HULK website!)
Michael Bell: Not a great film.
Bana is a weak actor and Connelly (who is really a marvelous actress....see
House of Sand and Fog) walked through it.
Q). Despite your blaring case of voiceheimers, I still want to toss a
couple of specific characters at you. Included in your many video games
roles are a few parts in some Star Trek games. You were memorably in a
piece of television history, as the devious Groppler Zorn in the pilot
episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. How did you find reacting to
science-fiction concepts in live-action rather than animation?
Michael Bell: Science fiction, fantasy, animation,
mystery, drama, comedy, and slasher ... share the same emotional bed for an actor.
All his/her skills must be in play all the time. Interviews and fans however fall into a different
class. If taken seriously, they can cause peripheral imbalance of the ego.
The remedy is two tequila's and a hot tub with several attractive strangers (excluding fans of course) .
a typical Saturday night.
"Exclusion" accepted. On a Three's Company episode you played a dance instructor who was
quite a jackass to poor sweet Janet. Was there any reasoning that your
character's name was Michael?
Michael Bell: Yes. I played myself. I am a
cad. An attractive cad, but a cad nevertheless. I also
played a Guru on another segment ( loved that braid ) and this time
Crissy was my victim. That wasn't acting.
Q). What work do you find more favorable, voicework, live-action or
Stage is the most rewarding
emotionally. Voicework however provides me with the
opportunity to play all kinds of characters that I have not been offered on
T.V. or Film. When would I ever get the chance to portray a muscular winged hero with more
hair then Lassie and a major puffy place? Also it pays better
than T.V. and film (for
those of us who are not "stars" in the Hollywood sense of the word). However if anyone reading this is producing a well written sitcom about an upstanding Republican
Senator who moonlights as an ugly drag queen and does lip sync as Liza, I'm your guy.
Q). Could you tell us a little about your current projects?
Any more Rugrats in your future?
but I leave that to
those who say they know better then me, and have numb noses to prove
Busy working on All Grown
up...which is Rugrats in puberty. I have no idea if Paramount plans to make another
Rugrats movie. I wonder if any animated film other
than the computerized kind such as those produced by Pixar and Dreamworks voiced by very major celebs (and not those of us who really need the work) will ever be accepted by the public again?
Perhaps "The Rugrats meet Jeffrey Dahmer" might reflect the
Q). As a strong supporter of animal rights, you head the 'Coalition
for a Humane Los Angeles'. Tell us about this and what we can do.
The coalition is made up of Los Angeles Animal Rescue groups.
I founded it when the groups needed to form a coalition to get animal welfare policies
passed by the city and eventually the state.
Spay or Neuter your pets!
Dogs, cats, rabbits whatever. Hundreds of thousands of dogs, cats and rabbits are killed in pounds every year (not to mention those that live miserably and die terrible deaths in our city streets) because people often make lousy choices regarding companion pets, and eventually dump
them. Many lose their animals because they haven't chipped them or even put tags on them.
A pregnant dog or cat is the gift that keeps on giving..........and dying.
Also contribute something to those organizations that really work on Animal Welfare issues.
If you are a teen, instead of committing suicide because she or he didn't call, donate some time at your local shelter and use the tools G-D gave you to make another life besides yours, worth living.
Also VOTE for those candidates that really care about the environment and our wildlife.
Better yet kid, VOTE period! Now back to our regular programming of
"RAZIEL KNOWS BEST!"
and some friends.
Michael, thanks for sharing your time!
Best of luck to you in the future!