In his early standup days, before his stint on “Saturday Night Live,” Rob Schneider was known for the diversity of his voices. Occasionally he gets to use that skill. No stranger to voicework in animation, Schneider voices the lead in “Norm of the North”: A polar bear trying to save the Arctic from greedy human developers. This family film comes soon after the debut of “Real Rob,” his fairly R-rated Netflix show about a fictionalized version of himself and his family.
What appeals to you about doing animated voicework?
I remember sitting in the audience watching “Aladdin.” I’m from San Francisco and I was a comedian at the same time Robin Williams was a big star. I’d seen all the characters he’d done and saw how they managed to animate that. They were able to capture in cartoon what that guy was capable of doing. In the back of my mind I hoped for the chance to do that.
Plus, it seems less stressful than acting in person.
You can wear sweats to work for a week. No one gives a s—. You don’t have to put on makeup. It’s not like a regular movie. You can become fat — especially if you’re playing a polar bear.
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You have a 3-year-old daughter. Does that inform some of the work you take?
I’d like to be able to sit with her and watch one of my movies. There’s a couple animated films I did — I call it “emergency trauma surgery animation.” That’s where they bring you in and it’s already animated, and you have to squeeze jokes in. Or it’s in another language. A friend brought me into some films because he knows I can do a lot of voices. So I would do nine different voices for a movie called “The Reef,” which was a blatant ripoff of “Finding Nemo.” You make it as good as you can, but it’s not like this movie, where you start from scratch and really build something. I showed my daughter “The Reef 2” and after 10 minutes she got up and walked out. [Laughs]
You also have “Real Rob,” which, like “Rob,” follows around a version of you. What made you want to return to a fictionalized version of yourself?
I wanted to do something that was entertaining and funny and kind of my version of “Fawlty Towers.” Because where else is entertainment going to go? It has to be more personal. Reality TV is a bore. And it’s not real; they sketch it out. So you take an exaggerated version of yourself and the audiences guess how much is real and how much isn’t.