In addition to his latest live action HBO series, Danny McBride will be heard, if not seen, in theaters this weekend in “Angry Birds Movie 2.” He reprises his role as Bomb, a big but genial fellow who is one of the titular Angry Birds.
McBride has also provided voices in other animated films, some kid-friendly such as “Kung Fu Panda 2” and “Despicable Me,” and some adult-themed, such as “Sausage Party” and “Hell and Back,” as well as providing voices on animated TV shows including “Good Vibes, “Chozen” and “Animals.”
Shortly after working on the first “Angry Birds,” he explained that he enjoys recording audio tracks, even if he often has to do his performances alone in a sound booth rather than interacting with other actors. “It’s fun, it’s fine,” he said. “You’re just in there by yourself, saying things over and over again.”
He speaks highly of his time at UNC School of the Arts, where he studied in the School of Filmmaking, but he credited a different source with helping him prepare for animation — watching cartoons with his son. “Watching all those films with him helps me not be the worst one in the movie,” he said with a laugh.
Several other alumni from UNCSA also have thriving careers providing voices for animated characters.
One of the most prominent is Chris Parnell, a School of Drama alumnus who is perhaps best known for his live-action work on “Saturday Night Live.” In animation, he does voices for such cult favorites as “Archer,” a blend of spy spoof and office comedy in which he provides the voice of nerdy comptroller Cyril Figgis, and “Rick and Morty,” where he plays Jerry, Rick’s insufferable son-in-law who is Morty’s dad. He also does voices for more wholesome projects including “Elena of Avalor” and “Mr. Peabody & Sherman.”
Parnell credited his time at UNCSA with helping him handle an assortment of characters.
Diedrich Bader, who also attended UNCSA’s School of Drama, has provided the voice of Batman in various projects, including the 2008-11 series “Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” “JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time,” a 2018 Scooby-Doo crossover movie, and the forthcoming “Harley Quinn” animated series on the DC Universe streaming service, which is set to debut in October. He has also done dozens of other voices for cartoons, and said that he still draws from what he learned at the school.
“The emphasis of School of the Arts was really to focus on being able to play a range of characters,” he said. “It’s really good in a voiceover session because you can adapt to whatever direction they want to go ... and you’re at the service of the director.”
Here are some other UNCSA alumni who have done voices for cartoons:
Natalia Cordova-Buckley: Frida Kahlo in the 2017 Pixar animated film “Coco”
Anna Camp: Guest voices in “Sofia the First,” “Star Vs. The Forces of Evil,” “Vampirina,” “The Stinky & Dirty Show”
Samantha Kim Daniel: “Pokemon,” “Pororo the Little Penguin”
Dane DeHaan: “The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island,” “Leap!”
Brett Gelman: “Jeff & Some Aliens,” “TripTank,” guest voices on “Adventure Time,” “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” “Mr. Pickles”
Tom Hulce: The star of “Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame”
Anthony Mackie: Guest voices on “Animals”
Jada Pinkett Smith: The “Madagascar” films.