In advance of the premiere of Regular Show: The Movie on Cartoon Network tonight (it’s also available on DVD with commentary), we chatted with creator/voice actor J. G. Quintel. Regular Show is the second Cartoon Network series to produce a theatrically released film and the first since The Powerpuff Girls Movie back in 2002.
J.G. Quintel has the same laid back and relaxed vibe as Mordecai. He’s so chill that for the role he had to practice yelling because he rarely raises his voice. Quintel was humble about how successful the movie and show are and was proud of his crew’s accomplishments (while still a little surprised at his own success with it).
Den of Geek: You’re the creator of the show and also the voice actor of Mordecai; do you consider him your alter-ego?
J. G. Quintel: Yeah, pretty much. I’m not as much like Moredcai now but at the time of creating the show he was definitely kind of what I was like in college. So it was very easy to come up with how he would act in certain situations; I would just imagine if I was in that situation.
At what point during production did you realize you were the right voice for Mordecai?
Well when I was at CalArts one of my student films (2 in the AM PM) had Mordecai in it and it was pretty lo-fi. You just get your friends to help you do the voices. I had done the voice of Mordecai and Sam Maren did the voice of Benson and Pops so when it actually got picked up to be a show it was already set in my head that I wanted those voices to remain the same as the short.
You’re also Hi Five Ghost, who I don’t believe was in any of your student films I’ve seen. Was he original for the show?
He was brand new. Muscle Man came about first. I kept thinking he’s going to be this guy that gets mom jokes wrong, but that was the only thing I could think about for him. Then I was like no one is going to laugh at that so he’s got to have a best friend that will; that’s how Hi Five Ghost popped up.
How did you end up being Fives’ voice?
I had this idea for how I wanted him to sound. I wanted him to sound really ghostly and the way I was pitching him, I really liked how it sounded. I was worried he would sound too much like Mordecai but that voice sounded different enough that I don’t think people can really tell; we put a filter on it through a computer and it really makes it sound like a ghost. It was fun to be able to voice him as well.
The show nails that late teens/early twenties and terrible minimum wage jobs everyone has to go through. How many of those did you end up doing during school?
Two. For a couple of years I worked at a movie theatre and that really feels Regular Show, obviously minus the park, but it was all high school kids working late because movies get out late and having to close theatres down and messing around and stuff like that. I also worked in the back of a Barnes and Noble so I would just like listen to old rock music and unpack books all day. [Laughs]
I definitely see the influence of the movie theatre. I’ve done that too and it’s spot on with those relationships and interactions. You were talking about old rock music, which is a huge part of the show. What have you been listening to lately?
Lately, I’ve been listening to Folds. I’m trying to learn how to play guitar a little bit so I’ve been listening to old blues stuff. Also old rock and ‘80s stuff on the radio; every time I’m driving to work I pretty much have something like that on.
Regular Show is packed with great music, both licensed and written for the show. What’s your favorite song/montage/musical moment from the show?
Just recently on our “Terror Tales of the Park V” we used “Werewolves of London,” that Warren Zevon song, which I’m really excited we got to use. It’s really specific to the episode. We used lots of other stuff. We used Queen, we used (Mountain’s) “Mississippi Queen.” It’s hard to remember back because we’ve done over 200 episodes now. Any time we have a moment on the show that feels like it deserves a song we try to put one in.
Earlier this year there was an episode (“Brilliant Century Duck Crisis Special”) that was an anime parody with a Neon Genesis Evangelion title sequence and I was just amazed with what you did for that; it was beautifully spot-on. I was wondering how that episode came about.
Well that episode was funny because we had done a couple of baby duck episodes in the past and that was our third one. We always try to top the episode and previous one was pretty big and this one got crazy big. It originally was only an 11-minute episode, but with the board artists, Toby Jones, and Owen Dennis, they over-boarded it. It was really long, but we were laughing so hard that we were like ‘we should just extend it and make it in to a 22-minute special.’ Part of that was adding the intro to make it even longer and adding more fighting, the outro, and all the cool images of them playing with the ducks afterwards. I was really happy with how that one turned out.
The show generates a lot of 80s/90s nostalgia by blending pop culture and technology of that era in to a modern day setting. What do you wish from that time period was still around or would make a comeback?
I like records, although I know those aren’t from the ‘80s and are already coming back which is pretty cool. It would be pretty rad if they actually made ‘80s cell phones again because with the technology we have nowadays it would be a really powerful computer if it was that big. And it would be really funny. I don’t know how you would fit it in your pocket but it would be hilarious.
And it’d probably have a really long battery life.
Food is such a central part of the show; what would you want for your dream burger?
Definitely all the classics. Lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, cheddar cheese. Maybe bacon? You don’t really need bacon. The sauce is really important. The bun is important. It’s all important. I’m a big fan of In-N-Out; that’s a quality burger.
You’ve got the movie coming up which is the first animated Cartoon Network film to be theatrically released since The Powerpuff Girls Movie in 2002. How did that come about and how was working on a sixty-eight minute story different from working on eleven and twenty-two minute episodes?
Crazy. Crazy different. It had originally started that at the end of season five the network asked us to make a 40-minute special. We’ve done a bunch of 22-minute special in the past which are harder to make than the 11s, but 40 felt like a weird number so I asked them if we could just attempt to make a movie in the same amount of time and they let us. We wrote an outline for an idea and the network approved it so we went on to board it. The process compared to what we normally do with our episodes was pretty much the same but it just ended up being really difficult because we didn’t script it at the beginning. We boarded it and then after doing a whole pass of the movie it was really long, like two hours long, and we needed to cut it down; then we finally scripted it with everything we knew we wanted and then boarded it again and then we finally landed on it.
Just to give you an idea of the scope of it, compared to what we normally do, we usually make a whole season in about a year. We were at the tail end of season five when we started thinking about it and then we didn’t actually screen it for the first time until the beginning of writing season eight.
Yeah, so it was a very long time so we’re really happy with how it turned out and are excited it’s going to air on the Network.
What can you tell us about the story and how you came about that plot?
We’ve done a lot of epic ideas in the show. Definitely a lot of movie-esque kind of concepts boiled down to 11 minutes, so we didn’t want to repeat ourselves with whatever we were going to do with the movie. We wanted to make sure it was epic enough to warrant the time for people to sit down for that long and we kind of landed on this concept of challenging Rigby and Mordecai’s friendship. We don’t do that that often. They get in to arguments a lot on the show but we’ve never actually broken them up. So with the movie we wanted to really test their friendship. It’s kind of about this secret from their past that could destroy the universe and once the secret is fully revealed, which will save the universe, it’s probably going to destroy Mordecai and Rigby’s friendship. It’s this crazy thing that Rigby has to deal with and it’s pretty epic.
What caused more sleep deprivation: working on Regular Show: The Movie or 2 in the AM PM?
Oh man. 2 in the AM PM was a cake walk compared to The Movie. The movie was a lot of late nights, a lot of extra hours to try to get that thing to work. We finally got it, but with the student film, I remember that going a lot more smoothly because it was just seven minutes. I mean, the movie is ten times longer and fully colored and actually finished. [Laughs]
Regular Show: The Movie premieres on Cartoon Network tonight at 7:30 eastern and is already available on DVD. New episodes will premier every weekday during the week of November 30th. OHHHHHH!