I've been working on a very fun project, called "Captain Cornelius Cartoon's Cartoon Lagoon." (cartoonlagoonstudios.com) It's an animated puppet show about the crew of a tiny toy submarine at the bottom of a lagoon full of abandoned cartoons. I recently sat down with the man behind the voice of our very own Captain Cornelius Cartoon, Chris Phillips, the ubiquitous voice actor behind scads of cartoons, commercials, network IDs, video games, and the musical half of Denis Leary. He was the high-pitched “Face” for Nick Jr., to the God-Voiced announcer of NickToons, to the Woody Allen-esque nervous boy beaver “Munchy Beaver” (PB & J Otter) on the Disney Channel, and has voiced cereal icons Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, Count Chocula and Boo-Berry.
CLS (Cartoon Lagoon Studios): So…you are the Captain!
CHRIS: I am!
CLS: How do you like being the captain?
Chris: I love it! I get to boss people around. “Swab that deck will ya? He he. Get me another cartoon.”
CLS: How long have you been working in animation?
CHRIS: Hoo, boy, at this point? Twenty-seven or so years I think?
CLS: Can you tell readers what kinds of voices you’ve done over the years?
CHRIS: I guess some of the more well known ones would be the character “Face,” for Nick Jr., And that was a lot of fun. That was a job where they hired me because, I think, at the audition I went, (Insert Face’s signature trumpet sound here). It just said “Doot Dee Doo” in the script. I don’t know what anyone else did, but they chose me!
CLS: You were also the announcer voice of NICK TOONS, right?
CHRIS: When NIckToons first hit the airwaves, I was the main voice. I was the main voice for the Cartoon Network when they first started. I’ve been the voice of Comedy Central, one of the voices for MTV, so it’s been nice.
CLS: A lot of people get recognized for their on camera work, do people ever recognize your VOICE when you’re speaking?
CHRIS: Heh! It’s funny one time, my Dad was visiting me in New York, and I got a phone call from my agent, and I was just talking in my regular voice, I hung up the phone, and the woman behind the counter said, “Are you FACE?” And, I went, “YES! I Am!” My dad just went (Insert indescribable proud Dad noise here) Oh! That’s my son!” And It couldn’t have happened at a better moment. And I couldn’t figure out how she figured it out…could I have ended the conversation with a “Thanks very much” and then (as “FACE) “See ya laaaaaterrrr!”
CLS: And you were a bunch of voices on Disney’s “Doug” and “PB & J Otter,” right?
CP: Right, right, when “Doug” first started, it was on Nickelodeon, and I wasn’t on at that point, but the guy that was doing Doug’s voice and Roger’s voice and a couple of other voices had left, contract negotiations didn’t pan out, and he moved to LA. SO they decided to recast and I became the voice of “Roger Klotz,” and numerous other characters on the show. And that was a lot of fun. And because of working with Jumbo Pictures, I was in “PB & J Otter.” And that was terrific.
CLS: And who were you on PB & J Otter?
CP: Well, I was the Father Otter, “Ernest,” and a character named…”Munchy Beaver.” How that got by the Disney censors, I don’t know….hahaha…But everybody loved “Munchy Beaver!”
CLS: What made you go into voice acting to begin with?
CP: It’s funny, I guess, I got interested in voice stuff when I was a little kid. My grandfather had given me a recorder, a small reel-to-reel recorder, I must have been 4 or 5 years old. And I was threading it myself, and all of that, and I started doing little home radio shows. And if there was a snow day from school or something, I’d drag my younger sister in and she’d be the co-anchor and we would do fake commercials and, you know, pretty much everything I’m doing now, but now I get paid for it! And they’re real commercials! That got me started recording, and doing bits. In college I joined a comedy group, or really, we started one. I went to Emerson College, up in Boston, and there was no comedy there at the time. And a buddy of mine, Denis Leary, who went on to fame and fortune, he and another friend of mine, decided to form a comedy group, and we called ourselves the “Emerson Comedy Workshop.” We did our first show, and got heckled by a teacher who thought he had a reign on entertainment at the college, but we thrived, and got budgeting and it’s still there to this day. A couple of years after school I was at a comedy club, and a friend of mine said, “I remember you used to do all of these characters at the comedy shows. I’m a voiceover agent now. Why don’t you put a tape together.” SO I knew an engineer at a studio, went in and wrote a tape and that’s how I started.
To hear a taste of his performance as Captain Cornelius Cartoon, check out the trailer for “Cartoon Lagoon"