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Creator / Billy West

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"Not sure if this is a generic voicemail message, or I mistakenly dialed Billy West"
Futurama Promo

William Richard Werstine (born April 16, 1952), known professionally as Billy West, is an American voice actor and comedian born in Detroit, Michigan. Put this guy in a room, give him a script and a mic and you can do a complete show with 20+ individual voices (some of which will sound like they're pitched up or down or autotuned on the track, but aren't).

In Futurama alone, he is slacker delivery boy Philip J. Fry, Mad Scientist Professor Hubert Farnsworth, smarmy space captain Zapp Brannigan,note  Richard Nixon (who is now President of Earth and, like many celebrities from the past, is a head kept alive in a jar), and half of any background/supporting characters you see — oh, and Dr. Zoidberg, the loser lobster-esque alien doctor.

...and all of this after he first came to public attention as the voice of both Doug Funnie and Roger Klotz on Doug and both title characters of Ren & Stimpy after John Kricfalusi (the original voice of Ren) was firednote . He (along with the late Joe Alaskey) became one of few voice actors who can impersonate Mel Blanc in his prime, including characterizations of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and other characters from the Looney Tunes. He's also the Red M&M. Even before he was known for all these roles, West worked in radio, and was actually a cast member of The Howard Stern Show from 1989-1995.

He's also quite adamant about not working on projects that prioritize Stunt Casting over actual voice actors which means that he's all but entirely absent from the filmographies of Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, and Illumination.*

Not to be confused with the guy from the video game The Adventures of Bayou Billy or Bob West, the voice of Barney the Dinosaur.

Notable roles of Billy West include

Billy West and his works provide examples of:

  • Acting for Two: This is very prevalent in the shows he has been a part of.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • He doesn't like talking about his work on The Ren & Stimpy Show because he hated working with John K so much. He's still willing to voice the characters in newer projects, but only when John K isn't involved (which meant he didn't participate in the infamous Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon").
    • He refused to continue to voice Doug and Roger for Disney's Doug, though Doug fans may be disappointed to know that it had more to do with the fact that his pay was significantly decreased than the quality of the new series.
    • He hates Looney Tunes: Back in Action, primarily because he was replaced by Joe Alaskey as Bugs' voice halfway through production (although his work as Elmer Fudd remained), and accused director Joe Dante of being too demanding and indecisive.
  • Creator's Pest: Averted. He once stated on Twitter that there was never a character he voiced that he disliked because he gave them so many varieties.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices:
    • If you gave this man a script for a half-hour animated show and a microphone, he could do the voices for nearly all the characters.note  He can even do things to his voice that would normally require alteration from studio recording equipment (cf. the voice of the pure Energy Being from the Futurama episode "Love Labors Lost in Space," which was initially thought to be technical difficulties). He's that good.
    • He even voices an old lady in one episode of As Told by Ginger. It takes a sharp ear to notice, as she sounds like Fry on helium.
    • He also voiced Popeye in the 2004 Direct-To-Video movie Popeye's Voyage: The Quest For Pappy - whose iconic growl is actually two voices speaking at the same time an octave apart, as demonstrated by West in a Fresh Air interview.
    • He revealed on Talkin' Toons with Rob Paulsen that he was a voice match for Della Reese, of all people, in the video game adaptation of the film Dinosaur.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • A handful of his most memorable voices are some variation on Larry Fine of The Three Stooges (Stimpy is basically Larry, but high-pitched so as not to sound like "a depressed old Jewish man"). He was even hired as a dialect coach for the 2012 Stooges movie.
    • His voice as Zapp Brannigan is based on Phil Hartman, who was originally cast for the role before his death. West comes pretty close to sounding like him, just a bit higher-pitched.
  • Playing Against Type: His voice for Magus in The Scorpion King: Rise of the Akkadian sounds a bit like Zapp Brannigan, but his characterization sounds a lot more evil.
  • Promoted Fanboy: West is a big Mel Blanc fanboy. He stated that one of his biggest career highlights was seeing his name appear next to Blanc's during the credits of Daffy's Rhapsody.
  • Vocal Dissonance: He claims to have based the voice of Philip J. Fry on himself when he was 25 years old. It's barely any different from the way he sounds now. He's in his 70s now and yet the very youthful voices of Fry, Doug, and the Red M&M are the voices he does that are closest to his natural speaking voice.