Interview with E.G. Daily
We talk to the voice of Tommy Pickles about Powerpuff Girls, Rob Zombie movies, and exclusive information about Exit Through the Gift Shop.
Whether it’s animation, singing, or acting on screen and stage, E.G. Daily’s work always entails her voice.From Rugrats to a singing career spanning four decades to Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure to Tanzi, a play about professional wrestling and feminism, her voice has always been a key part of her success. This Monday she returns to one of her most famous roles, Buttercup, in a new Powerpuff Girls special airing on Cartoon Network. Daily was kind enough to talk to us about Powerpuff Girls, her wide-reaching body of work, and her connection to street artist Mr. Brainwash.
Den of Geek: You have such a wonderful voice; do people in public recognize you for it?
Thank you. They don’t usually recognize my regular voice. Most of the voices I’m known for I alter, I tweak up or tweak down or push somehow. [Because of The Voice] I would say now more people are recognizing my own voice, but mostly it’s the cartoons. I could be on line at the movies and talk like myself and nobody knows who I am and then I can go, [as Tommy Pickles] “I’d like some popcorn please” and everyone turns around.
You’ve done a lot of singing and voice acting along with screen and stage performances. Do you view yourself as primarily one of those or a mixture?
I view myself as an artist, and that for me always entails the voice. Whether it’s acting and being in character and altering my voice or using my voice for that char. Singing involves my voice, using it to communicate the song. I do voice overs which involves my voice where I get to be all these different characters through my voice. And then I get to listen closely to my inner voice which tells me what to do, what not to do. I sort of feel like I’m a little bit of everything. Genuinely, I couldn’t say that I’m more an actress than singer or more a voice over artist than an actress. I just constantly like to keep busy doing one thing or another that’s artistic, where it’s all an expression using my voice.
Along with being on The Voice, you appeared on Saturday Night Live as a musical guest. How was that experience?
That was a long time ago, but it was exciting to be a guest. It’s just one of those monumental moments of my career where I was like, “Wow, I get to be on that show, I get to be a musical guest on that show.” It’s pretty incredible. There are pivotal moments of my career and that is one of them.
What would you say are some of your other pivotal moments?
I did a play called Tanzi and that was one of the pivotal moments. I ended up getting a major record deal, I ended up falling in love, and I ended up getting the card for my voice over agent of over 25 years. I would say that particular musical play was very monumental because it brought me so many abundant things.
The next one was having a number one dance hit song “Say It, Say It,” where I was able to go and tour and go to different countries and sing the song. I got to be on American Bandstand and Saturday Night Live.
I would say the next pivotal moment was an audition I got through the voice over agent for Tommy Pickles; I booked that job. That was pretty monumental. I would say booking Dottie was pretty monumental. A one woman show I did called Listen Closely was really monumental. It was my journey through entertainment and I made it in to a one woman autobiographical musical. And the next was being on The Voice singing “Breathe.”
While preparing for the interview I saw a few mentions to Listen Closely, but no details on it. I was hoping to hear you expand on that.
I started writing a book and it was very raw, very candid. Memoir-like. As I wrote this book, all this raw stuff started coming out of me and I was like, oh my gosh, this is crazy. I called a friend of mine who’s a great editor and writer, and told her I wanted to take this and turn it in to a one-woman autobiographical musical. So we laid out all the pages across the floor of my living room and we took each page and configured it in a way that worked itself out in to the format of the one woman show. We decided what was necessary for the show and we edited it down. Then I hired a director and we tweaked it even more.
It was very cathartic; it was like my life story being told in a musical. All the songs I used for the show were songs that I had written during the times I was going through the things I had written about. So everything was cross connected and very powerful and very cathartic. It was incredible; I ended up doing three six-week runs. It was standing room only. We had people like Paris Hilton and Tobey Maguire showing up toward the end of the run because the word of mouth was so cool and all these people wanted to come. There were no seats left and people were standing against the wall and sitting cross-legged on the floor. It was very powerful.
Thank you for sharing that; there’s not a lot of information about the show and it’s something I’ve been curious about.
Yeah, it’s interesting that you asked that; not many people bring it up. Did you ever see the movie Exit Through the Gift Shop?
You did? Did you like it?
I did; it was wonderful. It was my pick for best documentary of the year.
Thierry Guetta, the guy it was turned in to about, the Frenchman. That is actually my cousin, Mr. Brainwash. Mr. Brainwash actually filmed the one woman show for me. So I have this version that’s filmed on three cameras and one day I hope to release that so people can see the whole thing.
On January 20th you have your first Powerpuff Girls special since 2005.
It’s very exciting. The fans have been going nutty, which we like. They’re real excited. There’s going to be a marathon leading up to the special. It’s going to be real exciting to see what happens. I can’t really say a lot about it, but I can say it’s an exciting event and could lead in to a lot more Powerpuff Girls.
When working on Powerpuff Girls, do the three of you all record together or do you record individually?
We all record together because we interact so much that we need each other. Other characters will come in and do their lines as well. We also usually work with the Professor Tom [Kane] and Mojo [Roger L. Jackson], but most of the time it’s the three of us and other characters will drop in. It’s not necessary though. With Rugrats, when we did that, the babies usually recorded together. We didn’t record ever with the grown-ups because we didn’t have a lot of interaction with them.
So I know you’re a parent-
Yes, two daughters. They’re 15 and almost 18.
So they were around the age then for Powerpuff Girls and maybe Rugrats, probably more All Grown Up?
Yeah, they grew up with them. I literally was having babies while I was making Rugrats. They grew up with Rugrats, they grew up with All Grown Up, and they grew up with Powerpuff Girls. They were right along with me growing up with it.
Did they enjoy the shows? Did they know that was you?
Yeah, completely. Everyone knew it was me. I was the Tommy Pickles mom. Everybody knew, but to them it was so exciting, surprisingly. They were used to it, but they were still sweet about it and excited, and so were their friends. I was a cool mom.
A lot of your roles our readers are familiar with tend to be for all ages projects, but looking through your filmography we were shocked to see that you were in The Devil’s Rejects. How did you go from doing children’s cartoons to Rob Zombie horror?
I know, right? I was actually in my voice over agent’s office at the time and she called me in to the room and she goes “You got an offer to do a part in a film.” I said okay, but I didn’t know much about it, and then she hit me with, “But the thing is, they need you to be available today.” I was like, “What? Let me look at the script.” So I looked at the script and I said, “Oh my god, this is so crazy and insane. I love it.” I couldn’t wait to do it. I loved this script. It’s so radically crazy and it’s right up my alley. I didn’t even ask any details about it and as I was leaving the office, she called me back and said, “Oh, I think it’s directed by Rob Zombie.” And once she said Rob Zombie I was like, “Are you kidding me? That’s so great.” So I go to work with Rob and he’s genius. It was pretty incredible. I like having the versatility of doing a crazy horror film, and doing animation, and doing music.
What do you see for yourself in 2014?
I would say that I’m doing a lot of animation stuff right now. I’m rehearsing for some live LA shows right now, which should be fun to do. Some real intimate shows. I do a lot of charity and concerts for benefits [Daily is an active supporter of Last Chance for Animals]; I’ll be doing more of that. I’ve been doing some more on-camera work. I have a film I already did called Yellow directed by Nick Cassavetes that hasn’t come out yet. I have a cartoon called Julius Jr. that I’m in on Nick Jr. And the Powerpuff Girls special and who knows what will happen with that.
More recording, more singing, more movies, more animation. More speaking. More sharing my feelings. More talking about real stuff. More trying to be a positive influence.