LOS ANGELES — When he’s not keeping night-owls entertained hosting The Late Late Show, Craig Ferguson has been sneaking into recording studios to lend his vocal talents to several animated projects, including last year’s surprise hit, How to Train Your Dragon and next summer’s Pixar release, Brave. This year, Ferguson takes on a classic as Owl in Disney’s new version of Winnie the Pooh. The hard-working Scotsman spoke with Metro about growing up on Pooh, finding Owl’s voice and the future of his TV gig
Were you already a fan of Winnie the Pooh?
Oh yeah, of course. I knew the stuff. The books were read to me when I was a very little kid, and I watched the Disney movies and TV shows, I remember, as a child. So yeah, I’m very familiar with it. And I’ve got now two kids myself, so the figure of Pooh Bear is a familiar one at my house. My favorite as a kid was Tigger — not at all Owl, who I suppose radiated a kind of intellectual figure, but the character of Tigger, who is kind of crazy and unrestrained. I loved Tigger when I was a kid.
You’re not your usual Scottish self as Owl.
I think we all felt that an English and a sort of kind of stuffy, pompous, kind of upper class sound was the most appropriate. I think that it gives it a little bit of flavour, because it’s a slightly different sound to the other voices. It’s kind of, you know, fun.
You’ve done a great deal of voice work for animation. What about it appeals to you so much?
Animation is very attractive if you’re in my line of work because you’re not limited by your own physical appearance, clearly. You’re the voice of a character and kind of the personality to a degree, but you’re not the character’s appearance. So you don’t have to worry about your physical limitations, right down to the extent of when you go to work that day you don’t have to shave. You turn up looking like a slob and sound like an owl.
Between acting, writing and hosting a late-night talk show, your schedule must be a nightmare.
It’s not that bad, really. I live about a 20-minute car ride from where I work, and the late night show takes me a couple of hours a day — and really no more than that. I’ve been doing it for a while, so I clearly have an idea of how it’s going to play out once I get there. With the other stuff, you do the work you can and what fits in with the family life. I used to do a lot more stand-up on the road, but since my youngest kid was born I don’t really feel like leaving home anymore. I thought I would want to leave home more when there was a baby in the house, but actually the opposite is true. Anything I can do in the surrounding zip code is kind of how I make my decisions.
Where do you see The Late Late Show going?
I don’t know. I think that’s a fair question, and it’s something I’ve been asking myself recently. I mean, I’ve been doing it since January 2005, so I guess it will be coming up on seven years. I don’t know how much I can do with it or where I’m going to take it. I’ll do it for a little while longer, but I really don’t know how it’s going to play out. I like keeping it as loose as possible. I think that’s what makes our show different — it’s a very, very informal, intimate kind of non-structure or deconstructed type of a show. So I’d like to make sure that we’re doing that and keeping it friendly and available to the people who enjoy it — and continue to enjoy it myself. But beyond that kind of vague philosophy, I have no specific idea what I’m going to do with it.