A few weeks ago while I was in Anaheim, CA I had the chance to interview the cast of Cars 3. You many have already read my interview with Owen Wilson, Kerry Washington, Armie Hammer, and Cristela Alonzo that I posted last week. After that interview we got to speak with Nathan Fillion (voice of “Sterling”), Larry the Cable Guy (voice of “Mater”), Lea DeLaria (voice of “Miss Fritter”) & Isiah Whitlock Jr. (voice of “River Scott”). This was a great group to interview and of course Larry the Cable Guy was making us laugh with his funny sense of humor.
Being that there is a sense of humor in all of the cast we had to ask if there was any improv happening in Cars 3. There were several jokes between the cast that Larry the Cable Guy seemed to be better at improv then the rest of the cast. However it happened it all seemed to fall into place to make one fantastic movie.
Q: When you were recording, did you do any improv, and if you did can you share of your lines that you did?
LARRY: Well, I always do improv on it, from when we did the first one, I remember when I first did it, my opening line that I ever did in Cars was “my name’s Mater, like Tomato, without the To,” and I went — of course, I remember, going, “Hey. My name’s Mater, just like To-mato, without the To!” And he was laughing. And I go, “Well, can I do it another way?” No, he goes, “No, do whatever you want, as long as you’re staying close to the script” and so that’s when all of the “dadgum” and “gee!” — that’s when all of that stuff coming about. So, yeah.
There was a couple of parts in here. I haven’t, obviously, seen it. So, there was a few parts where Mater was supposed to be doing something, but he was supposed to be singing a song, and we had a couple of things, but we didn’t know if he liked it. And they said, “Look, need to come up with something else. Just come up with something else, and next time we tape, we’ll do those,” so I went home and I wrote a bunch of limericks. And so that’s when I actually went home, and actually wrote something. But for the most part, generally, when I’m doing my lines all free from them, I’ll do it just like the line, a couple, or three times, and then I’ll do it “hey, let me try this one.”
NATHAN: It’s so weird. Because when I improv, they always go, “That’s great, stick to the lines.” (laughter)
ISIAH: I always say, just, look, I’m just gonna start talking, cut me off when you’re ready to cut me off. Just tell me. Just tell me to stop, okay?
NATHAN: Stop. We’re at a table.
ISIAH: Yeah, yeah, yeah.(laughter)
Being an actor/actress you get to play different roles and that is the fun part of the job. Some get to jump from a TV Series to voicing a character like Isiah Whitlock Jr. and others get to voice different characters such as Nathan Fillion. We asked them what it is like to play a different role. Even though they had some different answers they both can agree that it’s fun to change-up roles.
Q: Isiah, I’ve watched in The Wire TV series. How did it feel to do something different?
ISIAH: Great. I mean, I always jump at the chance to do, you know, something different. Different characters. And this opportunity came along and I was just thrilled about it. It was totally different. You know, I was in the booth by myself, with my own imagination, and I found it quite liberating. You know? Just laying down the voice, and everything like that. But I mean, to me, that’s kind of what keeps you going, is that you’re not always playing the same thing, over and over and over again. You know. And even when I’m doing that, I can always find something about the character that’s gonna be kind of interesting. So that’s what I try to do.
Q: Nathan, you’ve played some memorable characters on TV. And you’ve also voiced some characters. What do you think your favorite part about Sterling is? What you called you to this?
NATHAN: What called me to this is an opportunity to work with Pixar. I’m not going to lie to you guys. I’ve been to the Pixar facility twice. I’ve seen every Pixar movie. I’ve seen the Pixar documentary four times. I am into Pixar. Nothing happens in a Pixar movie by accident. They tell the story, one pixel at a time. It’s very, very careful filmmaking, and it’s very methodically planned out, and you — to be a part of it, you know you’re going to be a part of a story well told, and it’s going to be beautiful, and it’s going to last. It’s going to be a story that lasts. So, over and above anything else, I will do anything for Pixar. And, point of fact, I actually did some janitorial work for them two weeks ago. I’m not picky.
LARRY: And he was charming while he did it.
ISIAH: And skeevy.
NATHAN: And skeevy.
Of course when you do a movie there has to be a favorite part and we had to ask them what their favorite part of Cars 3 was. They each shared their favorite parts and even talked about it being a little emotional. No matter what their favorite part is of the film they could all agree that they are very proud to have take part in the movie and work with Pixar.
Q: Do you have a favorite part, either your character, or anything in the film, that is your favorite?
NATHAN: Listen. When you do a Pixar movie, right before you do the PR stuff, and all of this publicity stuff, they put you in a beautiful room to watch the movie. There’s a big party. Some people get dressed up as their characters. It’s really, really wonderful. There’s lots of food and drinks. At least, I imagine that’s what happens. I had to work that day, so I missed it.
ISIAH: And I found it very emotional. I found myself tearing up a little bit, you know, and kept saying, “Okay. Think about something else. Think about something else.” Don’t start crying, you know. But you know, when they deal with change and aging and things like that and moving on, you know…[FAKE CRIES], “That’s like my career!” I was glad I brought my sunglasses with me, so I could put those on, and pretend like I was just sitting cool in the movie theater, you know. But I did see it, and I found it just extremely emotional. I think the story’s going to be powerful.
LARRY: I think my favorite scene would probably be Mater trying to figure out Skype. So that’s pretty much it.
Having a mentor takes a huge role in the movie Cars 3 and each cast member was asked who their mentor was. Of course there were some jokes about Larry having the same mentor as Nathan but in all seriousness some of them had a mentor in life that really helped guide them along the way.
Q: Who are some of your mentors, either professionally or personally?
NATHAN: Bob Woods, who played my uncle on One Life to Live. I wouldn’t have moved to Los Angeles without his sage advice.
LARRY: You know what’s crazy? That’s my mine too!
NATHAN: So odd.
LARRY: And in all seriousness, I know I said Bob, but mine would’ve been Jeff Foxworthy. I have known Foxworthy for 30 years, and he really gave me awesome advice about the business, and how to be kind to people, and be kind to your fans, and so he would’ve been my mentor.
ISIAH: I had a mentor in college, and he had seen me in a play in college, and he was kind of like this nutty, crazy professor that everybody kind of stayed away from, but this guy said, he pulled me aside and he says, “look, you know, I saw you in a play last night.” And he says, “I thought you were great. You got to get out of Minnesota, man. You got to go to New York, and you got to start knocking on doors.” And I thought, knocking on doors? What? Just going around to people’s apartments? Just knocking on doors? I took him literally. And then he said, “look at all of these monitors.” He said, “Someday we’re going to be able to talk to people and do our banking ” and I said “This guy is really nuts.” But the one thing that he told me was — and that all came true.
But the one thing he told me, he says, “If you really want to be a great actor, you’ve got to start studying psychology. You’ve got to know the human condition. You’ve got to know how people tick, and how you can figure out all of these characters,” and so I thought, Okay, I’m gonna try that. And I studied psychology for about two years. And I just play a bunch of characters who’ve got problems. But it was some of the best advice I had ever gotten. And when people talk about mentorship, I always think about this one, this guy, because I really did sort of learn about the human condition, and what makes people do what they do, and how they believe that, you know, they’re right in what they do. So, that was some of the best advice I’d ever gotten in my life.
So “Larry the Cable Guy” is not really his name and we were curious to know how Dan Whitney got his nickname and this is what he had to say.
Q: Larry, can you share how you came up with the name “Larry the Cable Guy”?
LARRY: But, how I came up with the name Larry the Cable Guy is, I was doing standup, and you always go on stage, and you’d try new stuff out. And I’m a big rodeo fan, and I used to watch mesquite championship rodeo on Sundays. I’m a country kid, so I grew up in a small town in Southeast Nebraska. And I did this rodeo cowboy, got kind of a laugh. And so the next day I changed it to a cable installer, and it got a big laugh. And I had a buddy of mine who had a morning show, and he said, “you’ve got to call our morning show, that’s funny. You should pretend you’re the cable guy.” And so I called up. And I remember the first thing I ever said on the radio. I called up and I said, “Hey, Ron & Ron, what’s goin’ on, fellers. What’s goin’ on, fellers.” And they go, “Well, who is this?” It’s the cable guy. Y’all said y’all wanted that hookup down there, didn’t you? And they said, “Well, what’s your name?”
And I didn’t really know. And I’m going, “Uh…Larry!” Oh. It’s Larry the Cable Guy? And it just caught on, and I started calling as Larry the Cable Guy, and then I got syndicated over in Orlando, which syndicated me into Tulsa and to Baltimore. And I was a standup. I was still doing standup. But I was doing these calls while I did standup. I ended up getting syndicated, around the country, on 27 radio stations, getting up every morning, doing radio calls.
27 stations. All different times. I think I did 14 was the most I did in a day, but I’d do five days a week, for 13 years every day, doing a commentary in the n — and “get ‘er done” just started getting popular from the radio, and so then I s — everybody just started calling me Larry. And that wasn’t my name, but it was my radio name. And so it just kind of stuck. Kind of a nickname, more than anything else. And that’s how Larry the Cable Guy came to be on stage, when I was doing a show in St Petersburg. A buddy of mine owned a comedy club, I walked in, and it said on the billboard, “Dan Whitney, AKA Larry the Cable Guy,” and both shows sold out.
And I said, “What’s going on, you got a convention here or something? I can’t find a place to park.” And they go, “No. They’re coming to see you.” And I said, “Wow. I didn’t know he was going to do that,” and I went on stage, and people started going, “Get ‘er done, get ‘er done.” And I couldn’t do my regular act. And I went into Larry the Cable Guy, and [FAKE CHEERS]. And then if I came out of the act, and [MAKES A RASPBERRY]. I couldn’t follow it. And I got off stage. And the guy, Lester McCurdy, from McCurdy’s Comedy Club, said, “Can you do your whole show like that?” And I said, “Yeah. You know. I act like a redneck all day long, ’cause I is one.
It’s like what Jeff says — ’cause I is one.” And so he took my name off, and it said “Larry the Cable Guy.” And I took the stage as Larry the Cable Guy, and then I started weeding out all of the other stuff that I had and I started rebooking dates as Larry the Cable Guy. And that’s how I was born. That was it. It was all completely by accident. I never thought it out. It just evolved into what it became, so that’s how it happened.
There’s a new character in Cars 3 and her name is Miss Fritter. She is one tough cookie in the film and somewhat bold in the film. Lea DeLaria is the voice of “Miss Fritter and we had several questions for her and about her new character.
Q: Can you share how you became involved in the project?
LEA: They called me.
Q: And why did you want to do it?
LEA: Why did I want — why would I want to be Miss Fritter? Have we seen her? She’s awesome. I mean, come on. Her stop sign is a buzz saw. She’s terrific. Also, I grew up where they do stock cars. I grew up where demo derby was a big deal. I grew up in a really small town on the very tip of Illinois that’s right by Kentucky. So that was like, a Friday night entertainment for me. So the idea of being the queen of the demolition derby? Awesome.
And they let me say the high school that I went to. A shoutout to that. Written on the side of the bus in the film is the high school that I went to. I mean, the people of Belleville, Illinois, which is a tiny little town, they’re gonna go nuts when they see that. So really it’s kind of awesome. And so when they came at me and said “do you want to do this?” I was like, “Yeah. I have a really good idea of how to play her.” And they were all in and, as was I, so, it was awesome.
Q: Lea, one of my fans wanted to know, who do you like playing more: Miss Fritter or Boo?
LEA: Oh. That’s rough. Well. I’m kind of gender fluid, so I’m going to say both. That was an adult joke. I gotta say, that’s really hard, you know. But Boo pays a whole lot more, so I’m going with Boo.
Q: I noticed you have a lot of interaction with your fans on Twitter. How do you fit that in between all the other things you do?
LEA: I feel the same way these guys feel about engagement with my fans. I mean, I’m not 110 years old, so I’m more over at IG. So, [LAUGHS]. That was a shot. I go on Twitter more as an afterthought, and it totally is, I mean, you can go on social media, and see how it tears down. My fan base, because of Cars and Orange is now a much younger base than I used to have.
I’m a lot older than people realize, so they’re on Instagram. So I reach out a lot on Instagram, I post every day, I try to respond. Especially, when they direct-message you so only you can read it and no one else on Instagram. So, for that, I mean, just in terms, politically for me, as an openly gay activist, I get a lot of people that direct, that DM me, about problems, you know. Which I take very seriously. And I’m the same way. I try to keep up on it. I can’t do it every hour, every half hour. I actually have someone now who helps me with my social media, because it’s just gotten a little out of hand. But I think that it’s the best way to reach people, and also, Twitter is a great way to keep up with the president.
The last question of the interview was asked if they were anything like their characters. Of course, we know that Larry is somewhat similar to Mater with his funny sense of humor and redneck ways. But others felt a connection with their characters as well.
Q: I wanted to see if you guys had any input on your characters, how they looked, the colors, or anything like that.
NATHAN: The eyes are dead on.
LEA: Miss Fritter, if she was here, I would say, she captures my essence. Completely.
ISIAH: I didn’t have any input. And because of that everybody says, “Oh, it looks like you,” and I’m like, “Well, I didn’t design that, and, you know…” but it’s loveable.
LARRY: I had no input. My teeth used to look just like Mater’s, until Pixar made me enough money to make veneers. This was the original inspiration.