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'The Simpsons' actress finds her own voice 'In Search for Fellini'

By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - For most fans of "The Simpsons," the name Nancy Cartwright may ring a bell as the voice of 10-year-old troublemaker Bart Simpson over 28 seasons of the Fox animated show.

Now, the actress is hoping to establish her own voice by documenting a surreal adventure, "In Search of Fellini."

Cartwright, 59, co-wrote the new film, out in U.S. theaters this weekend, a mostly autobiographical tale of how her obsession with filmmaker Federico Fellini led to her own impromptu solo Italian adventure to find the elusive director.

"All the writers on 'The Simpsons,' they've created this legacy ... and to be a part of that has been such a privilege," Cartwright told Reuters.

"For me personally, I would like to be able to, as an artist, establish my own voice."

"In Search of Fellini" follows Lucy, a young, naive girl living a sheltered life with her mother in a small Midwestern American town until she undergoes a spiritual awakening watching Fellini's 1954's "La Strada" and goes to Italy.

The film traces Lucy's journey through idyllic highs, such as falling in love, and crippling lows, such as an encounter with an older, male stranger that quickly goes wrong quickly - a scenario that Cartwright said she lifted directly from her own experiences.

"As a writer, I thought it absolutely had to be in there. I couldn't hold onto something that had happened to me because I'm embarrassed to share that I was so naive or stupid," she said.

Bringing the story to screen was a nearly 30-year effort, Cartwright said.

"I certainly didn't have the power back then that I have now, I didn't speak Italian, I didn't have connections that I have now worldwide, so it took a little bit of time for the physical world to catch up with Nancy's dream," she said.

Cartwright said she hopes to write and produce more projects after her experience on "In Search of Fellini." Meanwhile, she will return in the 29th season of "The Simpsons" in October, continuing her tenure as Bart and characters such as Ralph Wiggum and Nelson Muntz.

Fox Broadcasting has confirmed "The Simpsons" will continue to its 30th season and Cartwright said she does not foresee an end.

"As long as the actors are alive, I think we'll do the show ... I don't see any of us being replaced," she said.

"We could be around for another 30 years," she added with a laugh.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; editing by Diane Craft)