Seth Green on Voicing Howard the Duck and Marvel's What If...? - VRGyani News and Media


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Seth Green on Voicing Howard the Duck and Marvel's What If...?

Ever since the final credits scene of the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, Howard the Duck has been a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and since then, he's been voiced by the unabashedly nerdy Seth Green. Green has played the role for projects including the Guardians animated series and Ultimate Spider-Man, and will make his second Marvel's What If...? appearance as the character in Episode 7, premiering Wednesday.

While I wasn't able to screen the new episode in advance, I still had plenty of questions to ask about how he originally came on board to play the character, the process of finding Howard the Duck's voice, what it was like working on extremely secretive projects like this one, and if there were other MCU characters he's expressed interest in voicing. We also talk a little bit about Star Wars Detours, the unseen Star Wars comedy spin-off that more and more fans are obsessed with watching someday.

Collider: To start off, I know that you were originally asked to play Howard the Duck for the end of Guardians by James Gunn, but I want to know more about how that conversation went. Had you ever told him before, "I love that character," that sort of thing?

SETH GREEN: I don't think so. Gunn and I have pretty similar tastes in movies, especially the weirder, more fringe or even grind-house kind of movies, but I don't think we'd ever had a conversation about Howard specifically.

I know they'd already done the CG, and so, they needed somebody to loop the line, but I think he just ... Who knows? Who knows? I've never asked him why. You don't look a gift horse in the mouth and say, "I don't know about these teeth here."

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Well, these days, if you complain about the teeth enough online, they'll do something about them. That was a Sonic the Hedgehog joke.

GREEN: I'm with you. When you see Robot Chicken's Halloween episode, we make an original CGI Sonic-with-off-putting-human-proportions joke.

So when you did that initial dubbing, did you have a take in mind? What was your conception of the character at that point?

GREEN: We had talked about something that felt like Danny DeVito, and I did it ... If you listen to the very first one, it's even more like Harvey Fierstein kind of Jew-y. He's got a lot of like this thing. And then the more that we did it, James was like, "Less of an accent and just more like a guy who's got a gruff voice." Like Danny DeVito in Other People's Money, as opposed to Danny DeVito in... War of the Roses.

I was going to guess you were about to say Batman Returns, but that's very different.

GREEN: What a masterwork. If ever there was a role to aspire to, it's his Oswald Cobblepot.

Absolutely, and both birds. So in terms of, you've gotten to play the character a bunch more times since then, was that something that surprised you, like becoming the go-to guy for Howard the Duck?

GREEN: I'm happy to take that. That's the best thing that anybody can be is like the signature voice for a character in a moment. So yeah, I'm thrilled to get to play it a couple of times. I've gotten to do it on a few of the other cartoons. But getting to do it in What If...? felt very special.

How so?

GREEN: Because it's an animated adaptation that uses almost all of the cinematic performers. And so, getting included amongst the cinematic performers for a particular character is very validating in my performance for me.

Of course. It really cements the fact that you're the go-to guy.

GREEN: I mean, this is a role that's been recast several times. So if I'm lucky enough to carry the torch for a brief period of time, I'll be happy with that. But also, if they let me do it forever, I'd be okay with that too.

You've worked on top secret stuff before. Was What If...? very different, or was it along the same lines of that?

GREEN: It all feels the same. I mean, it's the same lockbox mentality. You sign the same paperwork, and then you adhere to the same limitations of sharing any of the information. I've kept secrets for so many companies for so many years. It's hilarious.

I imagine there's a moment where you're looking at the NDA, and you're like, "Well, I could really read this, or I could just ... but I know full well that I want to do it. So I'll agree to whatever terms they want."

GREEN: Well, the only time the NDA, the only time any of that becomes an issue is in the rights of publicity or the right of exclusive publicity. And that's usually not these kinds of deals. But you're also talking ... Like I said, I'm a nerd, so I'm very thorough with all my contracts.

No, that's an important thing. So in terms of this episode, it sounds like Howard has an expanded role, so anything you want to tease about what to expect from it would be wonderful.

GREEN: This definitely involves a potential alt canon for Howard the Duck.

You mean like a different backstory for the character?

GREEN: I don't think I could say anything as concrete as a different backstory. But the entire idea of What If...? is positing an alternate version of certain circumstances in the Marvel universe and how that ripple would affect everything beyond it. And so, the center point of that question is unrelated to Howard directly, but he becomes tangentially collected in the circumstance, and as a result, has some evolved mythology in this dreamlike, other alternative reality.

I cannot wait to go back and listen to that answer again after actually watching the episode, because it'll make perfect sense. Meanwhile, this is kind of a meta-question, but with Robot Chicken, you get to do so much parody work, but that's not exclusively the kind of stuff you do. Is it weird or strange at all, moving back and forth between something that's meant to be a parody of something else versus something that is actually a story in its own right?

GREEN: No, I love telling stories, and I love performing. And so, to that end, my job as a performer is to be able to adapt quickly between tones or styles, or at least know that before I get to set, I prepared myself well enough that I can jump into whatever it is correctly. But I don't find any difficulty moving between comedic things and sincere things.

Excellent. Even with the extra meta level of knowing this joke is built on something else?

GREEN: That's all the more fun. To execute those kinds of jokes well, they need to be done with such a sincerity, that the people on the surface level still get the emotion, even if they're not getting the extra deep cut that's buried in the pin on my color. You know what I mean? So I won't play that pin on my collar, even though I know full well that the meta joke only works if I make this face with this pin on my collar, in this frame. But the privilege I get from loving this stuff in real life is that when I get to be a part of it, I know how to care for it.

That's a lovely way of putting it. In terms of coming into What If...?, because it's all animated, that does theoretically offer up the opportunity for you to play other characters. Were there people who you came in thinking, "Hey, if you guys don't have anyone for this yet, I can take this character on for you as well"?

GREEN: Right. Like I want to arm wrestle Frank Grillo for Crossbones or something?


GREEN: No, no, no. This felt great. I was so excited to get to play this character. And I'm also not greedy with my performances, especially with Robot — I've gotten the opportunity to really flex as much range as I want to show off. And so, I'm very happy to play one role at a time in somebody else's something.

To wrap things up, you've been asked a lot about Star Wars Detours recently — are you surprised by the new level of interest in the show?

GREEN: No, because Star Wars fans are going to want to see everything that exists. It's why we keep discovering weird remnants of early mimeographed script pages, and you're like, "Oh, but this one says, 'Starkiller Saga.'" So the stuff that's buried always finds its way to the surface, but I don't ever think about Detours as buried. It's just a thing that George [Lucas] wanted to make before he sold the company, or even trusted anybody else with the stewardship of the company. And when you're in a position of trusting someone else with stewardship of your company, you have to trust their thoughts and ideas and direction. And so, that's really all it is. It has not seemed an appropriate time with the directives of Lucasfilm to put this show out under a Lucasfilm banner.

But maybe one day.

GREEN: We'll see. I mean, Star Wars fans are pretty relentless with wanting to see stuff.

New episodes of What If...? premiere Wednesdays on Disney+.

KEEP READING: Here’s the Full Voice Cast for ‘Marvel’s What If…?’ Episode 6

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