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Interview with Bob Bergen of "Looney
It was certainly an honor to speak with the man who does
the voice of "Porky Pig" as well as so many other great
cartoon voices. He couldn't have been nicer or easier to
interview! He had many exciting stories to tell.
Here is the audio of our interview. I hope you
If the audio is not streaming well, please right-click on
this link and save it to your computer. It should work
better that way!
part 1 Interview
Interview part 3
Here is the transcribed version by
Gisele. - I will be
going through and adding more of it later if need be.
Bob Bergen (Porky the Pig) Wednesday 8.21 between Noon
EST - 2:00 pm EST.
Suzanne: So you've been pretty much THE voice of
Porky Pig since the late Mel Blanc voiced him, is that
Bob: Pretty much. I'd say 95+%. There have been
occasions where there may be a project that's done not in
union that I can't do, because I'm a member of the union,
but I'd say for the most part, yeah! It's been me.
Suzanne: Did you get to meet Mel Blanc?
Bob: I did. When I moved to LA, I was a kid, and
my dad took a job here, and I knew I wanted to be Porky Pig
since I was about 5 years old. So when I moved to LA, I
figured the best thing to do was call the man and say, "Hey,
listen. I don't know if anybody's offered you an opportunity
to retire, but I'd be more than happy to." I didn't think I
was being rude, but I was actually doing him a favor. So, I
looked in the phone book, and I couldn't find his number,
and my dad informed me that Los Angeles is a much bigger
area than where we came from, which was Cincinnati, so he
traveled around the city, and he got every White Pages
phonebook from Malibu to Pasadena. And I just called every
Blanc in the book until I found his number, which was under
his wife's name in Pacific Palisades, and I called him up. I
taped the conversation, which is completely illegal, but I
did it. I didn't know it was illegal at 14, and I got it
posted on my website. Through the course of that
conversation, he mentioned the name of the studio he was
working at that week, so after I was finished talking to
him, I called the studio pretending to be his assistant, and
I didn't know the day or the time he was working. I just
knew the name of the studio, so I said, "Hey, I'm calling to
confirm Mr. Blanc's appointment for this week. Would you
remind me what the date is?" And they gave me the date, and
I told my mom, "I'm skipping school. I'm gonna watch him
work." So, when we got to the studio, I told the
receptionist that we were guests of Mel Blanc, and she
showed me the room he was in. And when we walked into his
recording studio, I told his producer that we were friends
of the receptionist, and she said it was okay to watch, and
I got to watch him work. Well, you know, when you're 14,
anything's possible as long as you just allow it to happen.
I didn't tell him in the conversation on the phone that I
wanted to be Porky Pig. I just told him I wanted to do
voices for cartoons. He was telling me how difficult it is
and how challenging. I asked him, "Do you need agent? How
does it work?" He wasn't discouraging, but he was honest. If
you've got a fire, and it makes you want it even more, then
you're probably right for this industry. He gave me an
autograph, and he sent me on my way. I thought, "Well, okay,
I'm not gonna be doing this today, because he's still
working, so my strategy was to get into the business doing
animation and voice-over, so if an opportunity came up where
I'd be at the right place at the right time, then I'd have a
chance to compete. For Porky Pig, I'd prepared and started
studying voice-over and acting at that point.
Suzanne: You've been doing voices professionally,
according to IMDb, since the 70's. It must have started
before that, though?
Bob: I actually started learning in the 70s. I've
been working professionally since the early 80s. I got my
first cartoon a week out of high school. I took classes from
age 14 to 18 and then secured my first agent right out of
high school, and then it took me another 5 years hit-or-miss
auditioning before I was able to quit day jobs and work as a
full-time actor. So from first day in class to full-time
actor was about a 9-year journey.
Suzanne: So how did you get into doing voices?
Bob: It was no secret that I wanted to be Porky
Pig. When a teacher in school would ask me a question, I
would answer like Porky Pig. It was kind of strange, but I
just liked the character, and I was able to do him, so it
didn't seem strange to me. I don't think it was what my
Jewish mother had in store for me, but after a while, she
realized that I was not just passionate but ambitious about
this dream to play this character, so I was pretty driven.
Suzanne: I see you've voiced Luke Skywalker quite
a bit. How did that happen?
Bob: Just an audition, you know. It was 15-16
years ago. LucasArts called me up, said I have an audition
for you for Luke Skywalker, and I actually turned it down,
because I told my agent I can't mimic Mark Hamill. So she
called the producers and told them I was going to pass, and
they said, "Well, we want to see him anyway," because they'd
heard my demo, because there was something in my demo they
liked. When I walked into the audition, I said, "Look, I
can't do Mark." And they said, "Don't do Mark. Play Luke." I
was like, "Oh, okay. That I can do." So, I thought character
over impersonation, and I've done dozens of games and
various TV specials and whatnot. So, yeah, the character's
been very good to me. For whatever reason, Mark Hamill
wasn't involved doing the games or the projects I was doing,
so I guess, the force was with me.
Suzanne: Does your Luke sound like Mark Hamill at
Bob: To be honest, I don't think so, but I don't
think my Porky sounds like Mel Blanc, either. The first game
I ever did, which was a long time ago. It was a time when
they didn't really give screen credit in the press packs to
the reviewers. I think the LA Times just said the game is
really good, and they went so far as to hire Mark Hamill to
play Luke Skywalker. So, evidently, I sounded enough like
Mark to get that kind of review, but again, I don't even
think Mark Hamill when I'm playing the character. I think
Suzanne: Were you a fan of the Star Wars movies?
Bob: Not really. [Laughs] I mean, I enjoyed them.
I'd seen them, but I wasn't a diehard fan, so honestly,
every time I'd work on a Star Wars project, I'd have to ask
pronunciations of planets and characters and whatnot. But, I
mean, I find it cool that I'm playing Luke Skywalker. I did
3 of the robot chicken Star Wars specials playing Luke.
After the first one, George Lucas invited us up to Skywalker
Ranch and premiered the episode, gave us all light sabers as
parting gifts. So, I don't think you have to be a diehard
fan to go, "That's pretty cool." So, yeah, I do enjoy the
Stars Wars universe, but I must admit that I was not the kid
who had Darth Vader pajamas.
Suzanne: Can you quote some Star Wars for me now
in Luke's voice?
Bob: I absolutely probably could not. [Laughs] But
I did Tom Kane's Yoda, and just for fun we did a scene, a
re-enactment of I think it was "Return of the Jedi" that
they put to the original score and the original sound
effects that I have on an mp3 just for fans, just to hear
it. From what I'm told, we do a darn good job of living up
to the original.
Suzanne: Did they know you were doing Porky and
not just stuttering?
Bob: No, it was very obvious that I was doing the
character, 'cause a kid who actually stutters doesn't have
the voice or the comedic humor of Porky Pig. When I was a
kid, I got a recording of me doing it. I wasn't very good. I
mean, puberty helped an awful lot with perfecting the
character. But I thought I was good. In my head, I sounded
terrific. Then the voice changed, and I was able to get some
of the tones and the adult layer to the character that was
pretty much needed to master the voice.
Suzanne: Does anyone ever give you a hard time for
Bob: I know protests existed when I first started
playing the character. My personal feeling is, "People
there's a lot of bad stuff in the world, lighten up. It's
comedy." There are people who had problems with Laurel &
Hardy and The Three Stooges 'cause they thought that they
were violent. It's called comedy. It seems there was a time
when people were just looking to be insulted without
actually feeling insulted. I did Speedy Gonzales in "Space
Jam" and it was cut from the film, because they thought that
he was gonna be insulting to Hispanics. When the film came
out, the Hispanic population was like, "Where's our
character?" So, I honestly think there are times when the
world really needs to lighten up and enjoy life a little bit
more and the humor and the differences. I'm a fairly
sensitive person, and Porky's stutter has never been made
fun of. It's never been an issue. It's a part of his
personality. It's a part of the humor. I mean, Daffy Duck
lisps. You know, Bugs Bunny walks around without any clothes
and just wears gloves. Why? I don't know. But are people
gonna call that obscene? Of course not. It's a cartoon. So,
the long-winded answer to your question is, I just think
it's really great comedy.
Suzanne: Have you done any other Mel Blanc voices?
Bob: I've done Tweety. I've done Marvin the
Martian, Speedy Gonzales, Sylvester Jr. I'd say Porky is the
majority of what I've done but depending on the project,
there's a handful of us that kind of share the characters.
There have been 5 or 6 Bugs Bunnies over the years. Two or 3
people doing Daffy Duck. It really just depends on the
project and the producer. Everybody's got their favorite.
Suzanne: I see that you were also in "WALL-E" and
"Up"! Loved those movies. I just saw "Up!" last week, in
fact! What voices did you do for those movies?
Bob: For "Up" I did dogs. It's funny because when
you work on an animated feature, you only see the script
that you're in, so you don't know the story. I went to the
premiere with those of us who were in the cast, and we knew
that we were dogs. So we're waiting for the dogs. And we're
like, "Where are the dogs. We know there are dogs in this
film. The house is going up. There are balloons floating up.
Where are the dogs." And all of a sudden, here's the deal, I
mean, you know, we didn't know the dogs were cut, so
throughout the film, you don't get residuals, and that's
what we wanted was our residuals. So, when the dogs finally
appear on the film, two rows of actors started cheering, and
everybody's looking at us like, "What just happened that we
missed in the movie. What did you guys see?" We saw money.
That's why we were happy to see the dogs. I've done a lot of
animated features for Disney and Pixar and Fox and
Universal. Because I'm not Tom Hanks, I'm not the major
celebrity, I'm what you call, a utility player. So, they'll
hire those of us who can do multiple characters to be --
Back then as television is today. They always use major
character actors from film and radio, but Disney did an
animated feature once 5 to 7 years, and they also didn't get
screen credit back then. So, you wouldn't know who was
voicing those characters. Today every major studio has a
thriving animation department and there are animated
features released almost on a weekly basis. They hire the
major celebrities to play the leads. Now, are they taking
work away from us? Well, if you watch the credits, at the
end you'll see additional voices with all our names. Would
we like to play the leads? Sure. Our ego says yes. But we
get the same money, the same residuals, and we get to do
what we love, but the using of celebrities in animated
features has always been there. There's just so much more
product today that it feels like there's more.
Suzanne: Congratulations on being nominated for an
Emmy. What were you doing when you found out you were
Bob: Oh, funny. Well, my morning routine is I wake
up really early, around 5 in the morning, and I pour coffee,
and I go into my home studio, and I start my work and
auditions, 'cause I have an agent in New York, and they need
their stuff in by 6 a.m. my time. So, I turn on the TV, and
they're announcing the Emmy nominations for this year,
'cause they do that every year at 5:45 in the morning. And
they don't mention my category. They talk about the biggies,
you know, the best actor in comedy and drama, etc. And I got
an e-mail from a buddy of mine who is the chair of the
awards committee at the TV academy who said,
"Congratulations." And I said, "For what?" He e-mails me
back. He goes, "You've got a nomination." And I go, "What?"
So I went to their website, and I saw the complete list so
that's how I found out. Then my phone starts ringing. This
is my second nomination. I was nominated two years ago for
the same show. I didn't win that one, so I have another
Suzanne: Do you think you'll win?
Bob: You know that cliché "It's an honor to be
nominated?" It really is true. I happen to be nominated with
some really good friends of mine. I'm good friends with Lily
Tomlin. She my co-governor of the TV academy. I'm friends
with Seth Green, a terrific voice-over actor, and he directs
"Robot Chicken." I've been on that show many times. You know
what? I'm gonna say it's a really amazing honor and I'm
enjoying the ride.
Suzanne: Your bio says you've done soaps. What
role(s) did you play on soaps?
Bob: I stopped doing on-camera, because it got in
the way of my voice-over career, but back in the 80s and
early 90s, I did just minor parts on shows that don't exist
anymore. I did "Capitol." I did "Santa Barbara." I did "Days
of Our Lives," but it wasn't my passion, I've got to be
honest. I've got some friends on "The Young and the
Restless" and I respect the hell out of them, because they
have to memorize so much overnight for the next-day shoot.
I'm not good at memorization, because when you do
voice-over, you read everything, so that muscle in my head
is not well-trained. The people that do daytime drama are
just unbelievable actors. The task ahead of them every day I
envy, so I don't think I have it in me to do daytime drama.
I will be out at dinner with a buddy of mine who's on "Young
and the Restless," and -- like the other night we were at a
party for the Emmy nominees, and he said, "I've got to go.
I've got to memorize my stuff, and I start at 6 a.m.
tomorrow morning." And it's like 9:30 at night. And I'm
like, "How do you do that?" He looked at me and goes, "It's
what I do." He'll say to me, "How do you do Porky Pig?"
"It's what I do." So, you do what you do well. If you're on
a soap for like 5, 10, 15 years, you're just conditioned.
Suzanne: How or why did you decide to be a voice
actor rather than a regular actor?
Bob: I think what we do is regular acting, too. I
don't like to shave. I don't like to memorize. I don't like
what goes into having to be on camera. Now, if I were to do
it again, I would do a sitcom, because I like the process of
a sitcom actor. You know, when you go and you work for 3 or
4 days, and then you get up and you do like a play in front
of an audience. That type of on-camera acting does interest
me, but movies and soaps and things like that I don't know
if I have the patience for it. I love theater. I love doing
theater. I've got a one-man show that I've been touring for
about 12-13 years. That's fun! But again that takes a big
chunk out of your life, because I work during the day doing
voice-over and then at night if I have to go over to the
theater and perform, that's a lot of work during the day.
But absolutely, if I were to get a call saying, "Hey, do you
want to audition for a Broadway show and live in New York
for 6 months?" Oh, yeah! I would do that!
Suzanne: Do you ever get recognized by people, for
your voice, for your work?
Bob: Clearly. I mean, especially, Mel's voice. I'd
say the majority of what I do as a voice actor is my own
voice, because even those of us that do a lot of cartoons,
commercials, promos, and narration, that's my bread and
butter. But people don't recognize my own voice. I don't
have a recognizable voice. The only time I do get recognized
is when I go to fan conventions, like I was at Comic-Con
last month, and you're walking around and people know who
you are. It's an ego-boost, but it's also kind of weird. I'm
not used to that. Many years ago, like right after 9/11, I
went with some friends to Krispy Kream doughnuts late at
night, and we were at the drive-thru, and she said, "Let me
know when you're ready." And I said, "Ooh, you changed your
voice." And she came back and said, "Yes, I did. Now you
change yours." And so I looked at my friends, and I ordered
a dozen glazed doughnuts like Porky Pig, and there was a
hesitation and she said, "Please drive to the second
window." I drove to the second window, and she handed me
three dozen doughnuts. And I said, "I don't think you
understood what I said." And she said, "No, I understood
exactly what you said. That's the first time we've laughed
since 9/11. They're on the house. Have a nice night." So, I
turned to my friends and said, "Ooh, let's go to a Porsche
Suzanne: So, I guess people at Comic-Con must know
your name and your face or on the Internet?
Bob: You know, if you're a fan of anything, you're
pretty well versed as to who people are, even the people
that draw the cartoons. The fans know who you are, and with
the Internet, everybody is Google-able, so I've got a
website, I teach animation and voice-over. I've been doing
that for 26-27 years. I've traveled the country teaching, so
I'm not an unknown, but walking in the mall, no one's gonna
know who I am. I could be a working actor and be able to go
to a restaurant or a men's room and nobody stares. I think
I've kind of an average, run-of-the-mill sort of look, but I
don't walk around necessarily doing Porky all day long, so
no one's gonna really pick me out in a crowd.
Suzanne: Is there any voice that you haven't done,
that you would like to do?
Bob: Oh, that's a very good question. You know
what? I don't know. I won't know until it comes up. Every
day it's auditions. You never know if you're auditioning for
what's going to be the next big SpongeBob SquarePants sort
of thing that becomes this huge franchise. That would be
nice. I won't know that until the opportunity arises. The
majority of my career is creating original characters.
Voicing Porky Pig is probably less than 10% of my annual
income. It's just high profile, and people know the
character. It was a dream of mine, but the majority of my
day-to-day voice-over work is voicing characters and
creating characters that are new. I didn't go into this for
the money. I went into this because I love it, and to get to
make a living at it is icing on the cake. I could be a guy
who does voice-over whose passion is really to open up a
comic book store and didn't do it, because I didn't have the
Suzanne: Anything you'd like to tell your fans
about your work, or upcoming projects, or about being
Bob: Well, first of all, thank you for watching.
Those of us that work in this industry would be completely
lost without the fans. They're the reason why our stuff
continues, so thank you. I have a project that I did that
comes out later this year that I can't talk about. It's like
a top secret thing, but it's really cool, and it's one of
those things where I'm like "Wow, I can't believe I totally
got to do this job." It's not even a high-paying job. It's
not even a high-profile job. It's just one of those, "My
God, I got to do this." I can't talk about it, which is a
bummer, but that will come out later this year. Looney Tunes
show's alive and well and living on Cartoon Network. I have
a whole bunch of stuff, a bunch of games I've done recently
that are coming out later this year. I'm just one of those
lucky guys who makes a living doing what he loves, so it
keeps me busy and it keeps me out of trouble.
Bob Bergen is a 2013 Emmy nominee for Outstanding Voice
Over Performance for “Looney Tunes” for the voice of Porky
Primetime Emmy-nominated actor Bob Bergen has worked in
all aspects of television: from sitcoms, to soaps, to game
show host. His voice is heard in thousands of commercials,
promos, animated series and specials. He has also worked on
dozens of feature films, including Wreck it Ralph, The Lorax,
Tangled, Tinker Bell, Spirited Away, A Bug’s Life, Iron
Giant, The Emperor’s New Groove and Up. He voices Luke
Skywalker in the Robot Chicken: Star Wars specials and is an
Annie Award nominee for playing Cadet in the two-time
Emmy-nominated series Duck Dodgers. He currently stars as
Porky Pig in CN’s hit series The Looney Tunes Show.
He has been an active member of the Television Academy since
1994, serving on the Performers Peer Group Executive
Committee and Daytime Committee. He is on Hollywood’s SAG-AFTRA
board, and is national co-chair of their voice-over
committee. Since 1987 he has been a volunteer Big Brother
for two boys, and was honored as Jewish Big Brother of the
Year in 2007.
Youtube clips with Bob
Bergen/Porky Pig and interviews
More about Bob
Awards & Nominations
Outstanding Voice-Over Performance - 2013
as Porky Pig
The Looney Tunes Show
Warner Bros. Animation
Outstanding Voice-Over Performance - 2011
as Porky Pig
The Looney Tunes Show
Warner Bros. Animation
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