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Nancy Cartwright on the birth of Bart

You may not know her face but her voice is legendary around the world as Bart Simpson from the most successful animation series on the Fox network, The Simpsons. Nancy Cartwright,  also voices  other characters such as Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders and Kearney.

You may not know her face but her voice is legendary around the world as Bart Simpson from the most successful animation series on the Fox network, The Simpsons. Nancy Cartwright, also voices other characters such as Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders and Kearney.

How did you find Bart’s voice?
I remember as if it was yesterday. I was called in to the Fox lot to meet Matt Groening to read for the part of Lisa. All I had was the description that she was an eight year-old girl. Matt showed me a picture of Lisa, which helps formulate a sound when you see the jaw of a character, but I got nothing. Yet next to her was the picture of Bart, a 10-year-old school-hating underachiever and proud of it. So wouldn’t you rather be Bart? I asked Matt if I could do Bart instead of Lisa and typically I would give about three or four different sounds, but with Bart for some reason it was very clear to me that he sounded just like this (raising her voice an octave higher to sound like Bart). And Matt’s eyes nearly popped out of his head!

Did you come up with Bart’s catchphrases?
Most of them were in the script. The only one I contributed was ‘Eat my shorts!’ It was something that came from high school. I said it one time as a comment but it got a big laugh and next thing I know it was written in the script. One time I was coming out of an elevator and the doors were shutting and this kid was wearing a Bart Simpson T-shirt and I said in Bart’s voice: “Cool T-shirt man!” (Laughs) I just love watching their reactions.

What is a typical working week as Bart?
In the production line up the actors record their voices first and then it’s edited and then another six months in production for the art work and animation to be completed. Then I go in at the end for either one line or even one word which can take up to about an hour. So my time for one show is like a day at the most.

 
 
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