Oz Comic-Con—A Brief Interview With Bill Farmer
Bill “Goofy” Farmer shares his insights on voice-acting.
The human voice has a curious power. For some of us, like Bill Farmer, it is a gift that can be used to bring countless joy to others. Farmer is best-known as the voice of Goofy, who he’s been bringing to life since 1987. Over the course of his career, Farmer has powered through 4,000 projects spanning film, animation and video games. His most recent work is Sing, in which he voiced a News Reporter Dog. Rather amazingly, he still sees what he does as ‘play’. Perhaps then, it’s not surprising he seems so exuberant as he enters the room. When asked whether he’d like something to drink, he requests a flat white, the quintessential Australian coffee. And within moments he’s established a comfortable mood, imitating President Trump and sending his audience into fits of laughter. We asked Farmer about some of the video game projects he’s worked on. Here’s what he had to say.
Gameranx: You voiced Sam in Sam & Max Hit the Road, whose voice sounds like a more toned-down version of Goofy. Phonetically, how did you make them different?
Bill Farmer: Well Steve Purcell had brilliant dialogue for the game, and I wanted to bring something deadpan but still comedic to the role. So it was a bit of Johnny Carson and more Humphrey Bogart.
Gameranx: If I’m not mistaken, you’ll be doing the voice of Goofy for Kingdom Hearts 3. Will you be voicing the international versions as well as the English versions?
Farmer: No. It’s interesting, the Kingdom Hearts series was produced originally in Japan, so I’m hearing the Japanese Goofy in my headphones. I have to replace it with English. And that’s quite weird, because Goofy in other languages changes, just, you know? It’s such a dialect kind of character. In Japanese I hear like, “Oudoshimakachou!” It’s really weird. And then I have to (say), “Oh, come on, Sora! The heartless are coming!” But doing a game like that is different because you skip around an awful lot. Depending on what the player does. And I never get a sense of the game. People tell me, what’s the plot? I don’t know, because I’m doing page 18, page 84, page 128, little pieces of it—until it’s totally done I have no idea what it’s like. But Disney has a division that does nothing but find characters in all of their projects in about 40 some languages. So occasionally I’ll do something in Spanish or something if they need. Or say just a couple of words in different languages. But no they go around the world and find Goofys in all sorts of languages.
Gameranx: I know you’ve voiced the first three games in the TY the Tasmanian Tiger, but do you know why you didn’t return for the fourth installment?
Farmer: You never know why you don’t get something. They just don’t call. Maybe they forgot I was in the first one, maybe they found somebody they liked better, who knows. That’s part of the business. Like with Sam & Max, they did a cartoon show which was not union. I’m a union actor. They took that to Canada to cast which is why I didn’t do that. And so maybe they got on that non-union bandwagon, and you never know with all the politics. A lot of it’s politics, too. So you just stay grateful for the ones you get, and say, hey I’m available if you need me!
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Gameranx thanks Bill Farmer for his time and Blue Planet Public Relations for making this interview possible.
Audio credit: Super Marcey’s Super Network
Oz Comic-Con Melbourne is taking place from July 1 to 2 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
*Interview has been edited and condensed