The Simpsons Folder
All Their Awful Glory
The Simpsons are television’s most successful dysfunctional family. But while the actors behind the cartoon characters are famous for their voices, few of their fans have any idea what they look like.
So here, for the first time, are the real faces of Springfield’s finest folk.
Dan Castellaneta, who plays Homer Simpson, and Nancy Cartwright, as his spiky-headed under-achieving son Bart, joined other cast members for their first UK visit as a “family”.
And the actors, in town to promote their Simpsons Mania Tour 2000 which is featured at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, didn’t disappoint. In what for avid fans of the Sky One series was an almost surreal experience, they appeared together at a press conference yesterday – slipping in and out of the characters they play.
As well as launching into a few renditions of Homer’s immortal catchphrase, “doh”, Dan revealed its Scottish origins. “A Scottish comedian used it in those old Laurel and Hardy films,” he explained. “Although it was said quite slowly, I speeded it up to achieve an ‘annoyed grunt’ – as the scriptwriters had called for.”
And to show how similar Nancy is to Bart, the actress admitted: “We all have a bit of Bart inside us. He gets away with things we wish we all could. Sure I got expelled from 11th grade for writing something nasty. But to me he provides a great outlet for that side of me.”
She was also joined at the press conference by Tress Macneille, who plays Marge, and Yeardley Smith, who is Lisa – the wise, saxophone-playing, vegetarian member of the Simpson family.
The show’s creator, Matt Groening, admitted that he favoured her most out of all the characters. “I know Homer, Bart and Lisa get most of the laughs but there are lots of other characters that we do try and make sure get in there with some good lines of their own,” he said.
“But at the end of the day, I have to admit that if I had a favourite it would be Lisa. She’s the only one who’ll escape Springfield.”
When asked about the future of the series, he said: “That is a bit like asking a marathon runner if he is tired. The series is now in its 10th year. There is a shared vision and little disagreement about the direction of the show.”While not spelling out what that vision is, it is clear we’ll be hearing Bart telling people to “eat my shorts” for some time yet. And we may even soon be seeing him on the big screen. Groening admitted for the first time yesterday that there is going to be a Simpsons movie. “It’s a little daunting coming up with a half-hour TV episode, let along a full-length feature,” he said. “No deals have been struck, but we will do one.” The cast admitted they will be taking a few extra phrases back to America with them. These include the British policeman’s time-honoured question “What’s all this then?” And Nancy is intrigued by another native quirk. “It’s weird that you guys keep saying ‘sorry,’ all the time,” she said. “I’d like to get that in somewhere.”