CUCKOO FOR THE THING!
By Rob Allstetter
From "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs" to "It's clobberin' time," Chuck McCann has done just about it all.
McCann's role as Ben Grimm and the Thing in the FANTASTIC FOUR animated series, currently in syndication, is the latest in a long show business career, which includes voicing the cereal-loving bird in the Cocoa Puffs commercials the last 20 some years.
McCann began his show business career at the age of 11 and he was a semi-regular on The Steve Allen Show by 19. His many film credits include Silent Movie, Foul Play, Men in Tights and Storyville, and he has appeared on such television shows as Empty Nest, Dream On and St. Elsewhere. His animation credits include Duck Tales, G.I. Joe and Toxic Avengers.
"But of everything I've done in animation, this is my favorite," McCann says of the Thing. "Ben Grimm is a wonderful character to do. I try to keep the warmth to him and bring out the brashness of the character. When he opens his mouth, he'll say just about anything."
McCann even got to rap as the Thing on the song "It's Clobberin' Time!" by Green Jelly, which was incorporated in the "Super Skrull" episode of the first season of FANTASTIC FOUR, when it was part of the MARVEL ACTION HOUR series.
McCann was part of an all-star cast for the MARVEL ACTION HOUR, which included Brian Austin Green (Beverly Hills, 90210) as Johnny Storm and Robert Hayes (Airplane!) as Tony Stark/Iron Man.
"The vocals are much more sophisticated than animation of this type has had," says voice director Tony Pastor. "There's a real sense of feeling and emotion with the characters."
McCann also did the voice of the Thing on an episode of UPN's THE INCREDIBLE HULK, sort of bringing him full circle in the Marvel Universe.
"Stan Lee and I go way back," McCann says. "The first character I ever did for Stan was the Hulk at a recital at Carnegie Hall. So, when they asked me to come in and do the voice for the Thing, I was just tickled. I think the series is great."
McCann also gets to be a Marvel bad guy, doing the voice of Blizzard in IRON MAN.
"That is a lot of fun," McCann says. "I put in all kinds of wintry noises with the voice. It's an entirely different character."
The run of FANTASTIC FOUR ended at 26 episodes -- there has been some talk of restarting the series -- but the episodes will live on next fall in THE INCREDIBLE HULK & FRIENDS, which will air Sunday mornings on UPN.
THE HOBGOBLIN/SKYWALKER CONNECTION
By Rob Allstetter
Don't believe anything you've read over the years. The real, true identity of the Hobgoblin can finally be revealed.
It's ... Mark Hamill?!?!?!
Actually, Hamill, forever linked as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars movies, does the voice of Hobgoblin on Fox's SPIDER-MAN animated series, which moves back to Saturday mornings with SPIDER-MAN'S WEB FILES in June.
The show will also continue to air on weekdays. The Hobgoblin is one of three Marvel villains Hamill is voicing these days. The others are Gargoyle on UPN's THE INCREDIBLE HULK and Maximus on the syndicated FANTASTIC FOUR.
And there are many other animated characters that Hamill provides voices for, including Joker on Batman and Threshold in the upcoming Gen13 movie. Ironically, most of the characters Hamill portrays in animation are bad guys, a far cry from squeaky clean Luke Skywalker.
"You are completely liberated from how you look and that gives you a freedom you don't have in live-action, where people can see you," Hamill says. "People would never guess it's me in some of these roles."
Hamill says he has a lot of fun playing the pint-sized Gargoyle, who's always muttering about how he's mistreated by the Leader, who is voiced by Matt Frewer.
"I find something I like about him. In every character you do, you find something that resonates for you," Hamill says. "None of the villains I play think of themselves as villains. Even the Joker is this genius who is frustrated by the fact that no one recognizes his great genius.
"With Gargoyle, here is a brilliant, brilliant scientist who is trapped in a Quasimodo-like body. There's a poignancy there. It mirrors the story line of Bruce Banner being mutated."
Hamill is a long-time fan of comic books, well versed in the history of the genre. He recently wrote his own comic-book series, The Black Pearl, which he hopes to develop as a live-action movie.
"Anything in pop culture is exciting to me," Hamill says. "It's probably embarrassing if you knew how exciting it was for me to become an action figure. I don't want to let on because that's not cool. But I was like major thrilled (about the comic) -- just to work in a realm I love very much."
Hamill hopes to direct his Black Pearl movie -- and there will definitely be more voice animation work in his future. It's part of an eclectic career since he hung up his light sabre.
"There's nothing more invigorating and exciting to me than trying things that you've never tried before," Hamill says. "People don't really understand that. They want to know why you wouldn't rather be on a TV series about a detective with a talking dog."
This page is a part of DRG4's Marvel Cartoon Pages:
Featuring Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, and the Silver Surfer.