If you’re a human who was born anywhere between the years of 1990-2018, and most years outside of that span, you probably have good reason to be amped for The Incredibles 2. Most of the gang’s back, in a new trailer that premiered this Wednesday night: Craig T. Nelson as Mr. Incredible, Holly Hunter as Elastigirl, Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone, and Sarah Vowell as Violet. But one of the major roles, Dash, had to be recast, because, well, puberty...and the original voice actor was probably on tour with his irresistible pop punk band, Charly Bliss, when the cast was recording voiceovers.
Spencer Fox, who tackles guitar and backing vocal duties in Charly Bliss, lined up a number of Disney acting credits during his middle school years, including Dash in The Incredibles, Mudbud in Air Buddies, and twins Tim and Jim Possible on season four of Kim Possible. (The brothers were previously voiced by another indie rocker: Foxygen and Diane Coffee’s Shaun Fleming.)
He gradually grew out of it, as most of us do with our childhood hobbies—he says it was never taken as some serious career. “I guess like as a 14 or 15-year-old, it’s really hard to put that much time and effort into something that is not like immediately and perfectly interesting to you,” he says. “If you’re going out on auditions, you’re not going to be going out to audition for a Pixar movie every week. It’s a real mixed bag, and I think it’s just I didn’t really have the endurance for it at the time.”
It’s easy to understand why he might have mixed feelings about constantly rehashing a brief period from his youth; no one wants to have a few years define their whole life. Fox tells me his experience working on The Incredibles is something he thinks about all the time, and never forgets how lucky he is for being in such a beloved movie, but it’s still kind of weird to talk about it as a 24-year-old. “There’s a lot of dissonance when I’m talking about it with other people because it’s like talking about a choir recital that you did when you were 12, that just so happens to be something people want to bring up all the time,” he says. In other words: let artists grow up!
I brought it up in a big way on Thursday, but he was a great sport about it, dishing on what happened in the voice booth, playing Green Day songs on guitar in the Pixar Studios, and revealing which piece of Charly Bliss merch The Incredibles and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol director Brad Bird owns.
How did you first get into voice acting?
I started when I was eight. I guess as a little kid, I was super animated and really energetic and was always doing wacky voices and jumping around. My mom just started taking note of the fact that I was a fairly theatrical kid and, at some point, I guess this was a bit prior to my turning eight years old, was just like, “Do you want to act? Like is that something you would want to do?” in the same way a parent would be like, “Do you want to get ice skating lessons or go rock climbing?” She noticed a proclivity for theatrics and put the pieces together. And at that time I had Mike Myers and Adam Sandler Best of Saturday Night Live VHS tapes and I was watching those like every day. So in my mind I was like “oh, I could do what Mike Myers does, heck yeah, let’s do that.”
Soon thereafter we just went around the city trying to get me signed to a talent agency. And one stuck. And from that point on I just started going out on auditions on a pretty regular basis.
Did anyone in your family or your parents have Hollywood experience before this?
No. My mom was a theater major in college, but no one actually took it seriously as a profession or anything like that. Both my folks were in advertising at the time, so it just kind of came pretty organically and spontaneously.
So in The Incredibles, you do so much panting, grunting, and other non-speaking sound effects. Did you have one day where you just busted all of those out?
I think towards the end of recording. I definitely remember one, like, 30 minute power round of miscellaneous grunts and pants and spit noises, for sure. [When we had] to film the jungle scene or whatever were I’m like sprinting away through the jungle, [Director] Brad Bird had me run four laps around the entire Pixar Studios so I could sound accurately out of breath.
That makes it sound super menacing. It was super fun, it was just like a very high-energy moment where he was like, “No, no, you need to sound tired, more more more! Alright, come on, come outside!” And he jogged the first lap with me. It was a very fun, wild time, but I was very truthfully out of breath while I recorded those lines.
You were around the Pixar studios a lot, what was it like, sort of top secret?
No, it wasn’t like anything was off limits. There was very much a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory vibe to everything, very wide-eyed, a wonderland [feel] the entire time. Everyone was super duper nice. It’s a really spacious studio, so everybody gets around on like scooters and longboards and stuff. I remember at that time, I was just starting guitar and they had like a little setup of, I think, a drum kit and some guitars and amps and I remember playing “Brain Stew” by Green Day for some of the animators. It was great, definitely no secretive vibes or anything.
Were you recording all your parts alone, or did you sometimes have other actors playing off each other?
It was just me and Brad Bird in the vocal booth the entire time. People have a tendency to interrupt each other when they’re recording voiceovers, so I think that, among a lot of other reasons, they did the majority of the vocal recording isolated and then stitched shit back together.
So it sounds like most of your time around the cast was at premieres and other events. Any good Samuel L. Jackson stories?
I mean to a 10-year-old, I guess an 11-year-old at the time, he is like nine feet tall and the kindest man ever. I remember he complimented my shoes, my Converse Chuck Taylors, which were very normal, very standard shoes but he was kind enough to compliment me on them. I felt like I was about to pass out or something.
Did any of the Disney people reach out to you before or after the sequel was announced?
No, not necessarily. Which is totally fine and makes a lot of sense that they wouldn’t.
However, one of the highlights from this last tour that Charly Bliss did—we played a show in Berkeley, which is not too far from where Pixar Studios is located. Three or four folks from Pixar came to the show and said hi to me after, and we got to talk a little bit about The Incredibles 2. And they picked up a pair of Charly Bliss socks to give to Brad Bird. It was a really, really sweet, very awesome moment.