If you’re going to provide the voices for about half the Looney Tunes roster, you’d better be as animated as possible in real life. And during a zippy 6 1/2-minute interview the other week, Canadian Eric Bauza – a seasoned voice actor who performs as Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Marvin the Martian and Foghorn Leghorn in the highly anticipated sequel Space Jam: A New Legacy – was as bouncing-off-the-walls as our non-Looney world allows.
Slipping in and out of Daffy, Porky and his own high-energy tenor, the Scarborough, Ont.-raised Bauza talked with The Globe and Mail about cartoons, kids and, um, Police Academy.
The last time the Looney Tunes were in a feature film was 2003. What do they have to offer for today’s generation of young audiences?
They’re still just as entertaining as they were in 2003 – as they were in 1943. They’ve been with us as long as our oldest relatives. Bugs is eightysomething now? (Editor’s note: He’s 83.) For my parents’ generation, for my generation, for my son’s generation, these guys are the hardest-working actors in Hollywood. There’s a lot of expectation from them and they deliver every time we get to see them.
How old is your son? What’s his impression of the Tunes?
Five. His impression of the Tunes is really good – he’s also an aspiring voice actor! I know you mean “impression” in another way. But he sees what I do for a living, and we have the same agent. He’s a junior voice actor in training.
I’m curious because my kids don’t have the same exposure to the Tunes. They have Paw Patrol, Bakugan, Ninjago. I encounter resistance when I show my seven-year-old the older Looney Tunes.
The only difference I’ve seen with my son is, if it’s not on YouTube, he’s not interested. When we’re watching in a theatre, it’s okay, but watching normal TV? But he’s embraced cartoons across the board, whether it’s classical 2-D animation or modern CGI.
It’s nice to hear that you’re encouraging of your son’s ambitions. Did you have that same kind of support growing up?
I always had the support of my parents, and I’ll always be thankful for that. And I’d encourage all parents to listen to their kids – which is the point of the new movie, too.
Was there any time in your childhood when you had the light bulb moment of, “This is something I want to do … and could do?”
As soon as I could pick up pencil to paper, I knew I wanted to work in animation. I didn’t know what was needed, but I stuck to it and now [adopts Daffy Duck voice] I’m sitting here with you, isn’t that something?
I grew up watching the Police Academy movies, and I remember watching Michael Winslow make all those sound effects, and thinking, wow, that’s something I’d love to do. That was discouraged pretty early, though.
This is now my favourite interview because we have a Police Academy reference. A movie that was shot in Toronto, by the way.
As a Canadian, did you find that the path to get where you are today was a challenge? I know when you did your first internship at an animation studio in L.A., you had family there you could stay with.
If it weren’t for my family being out there, I wouldn’t have been able to afford rent. I can barely afford rent now. But I’m so blessed with the support of my family from the very beginning of this journey. [Adopting Porky Pig voice] Annnd, that, that, that’s all Barry!
Thank you for your help in writing my final line, Porky.
Space Jam: A New Legacy is available on-demand, including on Apple TV/iTunes and the Cineplex Store, starting July 16, the same day it opens in Canadian theatres.
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