Thursday, January 15, 2009

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.


RICARDO MONTALBAN



Working with Ricardo Montalban was one of the greatest pleasures of my whole Freakazoid experience. (I think Tom and John would say so as well.) He was incredibly nice and showed us his amazingly silly side. And, had it not been for his doctor, he'd probably never have come to play.

I don't quite know where in the process we decided that Freakazoid's arch villain, Guitierrez, should sound like Kahn. But it seemed to be a perfect fit. We all loved the way Kahn turned a phrase and how fun it was to write that sort of dialogue. Plus, the character was SO SERIOUS. Perfect to pair up with Freakazoid. I had assumed, frankly, that we'd never get Ricardo and just do a sound alike or something like that.

But Andrea Romano sent him a script and I thought...well. That's that. We won't hear from him again. BUT...

Ricardo had had back surgery a few months before and, as a consequence, he was left in crippling pain in his legs. He described it once to us as always have that "pins and needles" sensation after your foot falls asleep and starts to come back. He had that sensation 24/7. Anyway...

The script arrives at his house as his doctor is checking him out and Ricardo reads it and thinks about it. And his doctor tells him..."you should go do it. Get out of the house. It'll do you good."

Thanks, doc! 

When Ricardo showed up at the first session...we didn't know what to expect. Would he get it? Would we have to work with him on what we were going for. The answer was a loud...NO. He got it. He understood we wanted Kahn. And he was only too willing to play. He came totally prepared and knew exactly what he wanted to do. We were in stitches...especially where he goes into total Kahn mode and says..."he tasks me! HE TASKS ME! Revenge is a dish best served with pinto beans and muffins." I think it was one take. We were on the floor rolling. Howling. And Ricardo looked at us and said..."you wanted it like that, right?" RIGHT.

Anyway...I guess he had fun because he came back for about six more episodes. And each time...he came ready to play and push it. I remember us only giving him a line reading once or twice. We'd explain how we saw the line and he would quickly say..."Yes. Yes. I see. Ahhh, yes." Then he'd hold his hand up to silence us and not lose focus. And he'd deliver the line. "Like that, you mean." Yeah, Ricardo. Like that. 

Perhaps my fondest memory was when he had to come and do addition dialogue for the episode HERO BOY. For reasons we couldn't figure out...the episode came up about 3 minutes short.  So, John and I devised a solution in which Guitierrez would show Freakazoid his favorite bloopers. Our editor found some of the dumbest, old, live action black&white footage I've ever seen. We cut it together and I wrote some dialogue to cover the footage. When Ricardo arrived he had neither seen the footage nor his dialogue. I explained the setup to him. "Guitierrez is crazy about these bloopers and he really thinks they are funny and he really wants to show them to Freakazoid and..." 

"Ahhh, yes. I see. I see. Yes. Let's do it." Ricardo and I went into the booth. We ran the footage and he made me laugh so much that I didn't do my lines. The sound guys were rolling. Andrea was in hysterics. Bruce Timm popped his head into the room and started laughing. We did it again and again and each time Ricardo kept pushing it a little further and trying new things. He was having so much fun just playing around and doing all these voices. We probably had it on the second take...but we must have stayed in there an hour...playing and being silly. Ricardo was so off the wall but he understood the gag. Guitierrez has to GUSH over these clips. It's perhaps my favorite moment from all my Warner Brothers days. 

Anyway. God Bless, Ricardo. God Bless.

11 comments:

  1. Paul -

    What a great story about Ricardo's doctor being the catalyst for his Freakazoid fun.

    I'll drop you an email with some good news.

    -Troy

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  2. Troy,

    It's amazing how you forget stuff and then suddenly remember old stories...

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  3. Thanks for sharing that.
    I've got a family friend who went in for surgury on a clot in his leg, and came out with nerve damage similar to that painful sensation he described.

    I had noticed Guitierrez seemed much more silly in "Hero Boy" than normal. That was a great episode.

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  4. Speaking of Heroboy, look what we can finally start talking about!

    http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Freakazoid-Season-2/11167

    -Troy

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  5. [Troy] Yeah someone beat me to posting that to the WBC, I can only assume the fans have been staying up on caffine all night reloading TVshowsOnDVD over and over to be the first to catch it.

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  6. Hurray for F! S2! And I really loved the Montalbon story, a fine tribute to underrated actor.

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  7. Thanks for sharing that. Ricardo Montalban was amazing, and he'll be sorely missed.

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  8. I started laughing with "So, John and I devised a solution in which Guitierrez would show Freakazoid his favorite bloopers."
    You guys foresaw Youtube! Here is that powerful and resourceful man, sharing his list of stupid youtube nonsense with the world! Kind of like Warren Buffet or Carlos Slim sending funny e-mails to their friends (which probably happens).
    Thanks for sharing, Paul.

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  9. Forgot to ask this, Paul: Was there a Guitierrez design among the art concepts that Bruce left, or was it created after casting Ricardo?

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    1. Twas soley based on Ricardo. I think Mitch Schauer did the design.

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