Still trying to catch those pesky, smurfin’ Smurfs

“The Smurfs” hits Times Square — and theaters — July 29.

Hank Azaria has a talent for making strange sounds. That’s obvious, considering he’s about to record his 500th episode of “The Simpsons,” for which he has voiced 17 regular characters, including Moe Syzslak and Chief Wiggum. That kind of output is not without its consequences.

“For the first 10 years of ‘The Simpsons,’ I would develop a bunch of voices. And then about 10 years ago, I hit a point when I was tapped out,” Azaria explains. “Every noise I can make, I have made. Even characters like Gargamel, I’ve done. Even if it was only two or three lines, at some point I’ve done something similar on ‘The Simpsons,’ at least somewhere along the line.”

Azaria will be appearing as that famed curmudgeonly henchmen, Gargamel, in a remake of the classic 1980s cartoon, “The Smurfs,” which hits theaters this July. While Azaria was hoping to add a new dynamic to the crabby old man with the cat, there were some things about Gargamel that had to remain.

“I wanted him to be more sarcastic and not laid back, but more observational, if you will,” he explains. “He is that a lot, but I discovered that there’s no way to play Gargamel without screaming your head off at certain points — ramping him up and getting him very upset over Smurfs.”

As with any actor, Azaria had to dig into his character’s motivations and understand Gargamel’s untamed wrath for the little blue creatures. He found some rich material.

“The main thing is that he’s very lonely,” Azaria says. “His relationship with the cat is very odd. I wanted to make them a married couple. You can imagine how profoundly lonely it could be if your only companion was this cat. He hates the Smurfs because they’re such a happy family. He wants in really badly. I think he wants to be embraced as a Smurf.”



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