November 2004
Michael 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 as Edios 
Michael Bell and the many characters he has brought to life
Interactive, Interplay, 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 Chaos, Enter the Matrix, Doom III and Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando

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?

Michael Bell:  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?

Michael BellThey were 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!
   

Banner, stunned at the familiarity of Ock's voice.

Q).  Ummm....Ruby & 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?

Michael BellProbably 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!

Q).  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 1982.)

Michael BellActually, 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? 
 
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 Holt (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?"

There's more to Bruce Banner's "dramatic
pauses" than you think.

    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?"
     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 BellNot 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 BellScience 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) .
 

Michael...on a typical Saturday night.

Q). "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 the stage?


Michael BellStage 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?
 
Michael Bell:  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 times, 
but I leave that to those who say they know better then me, and have numb noses to prove it.
 
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.

Michael BellThe 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.
Can Do:
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!"

Michael and some friends.

Michael, thanks for sharing your time!  Best of luck to you in the future!

Excelsior!