Exclusive: ‘Storks’ Star Stephen Kramer Glickman Talks Voice Acting And Trump
Stephen Kramer Glickman discusses his role in “Storks” and acquiring the role of Pigeon Toady.
“Storks” releases on September 23, 2016 and the multi-talented Stephen Kramer Glickman is the voice behind the film’s main antagonist Pigeon Toady and a few other characters. While speaking with Stephen I learned quite a bit about his past, how it influenced the decision to acquire this role, and how his character inadvertently shares similarities with a certain politician.
I wanted to inquire about the film given its cast and its director. Although it has a PG rating, Nicholas Stoller has been known for his adult comedy. I wanted to hear from Stephen’s perspective if there are some subtle comedic moments within the film that only adults would catch.
“There’s a little here and there but nothing that’s too far off the mark. I think what we’re looking at with something like this…it’s a lot closer to something like ‘Monsters Inc.’ or ‘Toy Story’ than it is something like ‘Sausage Party’. This is a family friendly film [Nicholas Stoller] wrote for his kids, based on having kids. Honestly, there is so much funny stuff in this movie. They really let Key and Peele and they let me and Katie Crown and Andy Samberg just go to town and be as ridiculous and hilarious as possible. There’s so much in the movie that’s not in the trailer; it’s going to blow your mind.”
Going into the specifics of Stephen’s role, I wanted to know more about his character Pigeon Toady. While the film’s subject matter surrounds storks, how does a pigeon fit into the film?
“Yeah! Well Pigeon Toady is kind of the antagonist in the film. He’s like the bad guy. But the way that I approached it and the way that Nick and Brad Lewis and Doug Sweetland and everyone approached it with this guy is that he’s not just a bad guy who’s trying to be bad. This is a character that wants to rule the world or rule over stork mountain. He wants to be in charge and he’ll do absolutely anything to get there. He’ll stab someone in the back, he’ll lie to your face, or he’ll agree with you right after saying the opposite. He’s this kind of awful pigeon and he’s mean and he’s ridiculous and he’s got this bad toupee. It reminds a lot of people of somebody else’s toupee. He’s just this horrendous guy and he’s such a fun character to play.”
Check out Stephen doing a quick improv moment as Pigeon Toady talking to me…
Assuming that the “bad toupee” comment was in reference to Donald Trump, I had to ask if Pigeon Toady was inspired by Trump or if it was coincidental.
“Here’s the thing. I saw this character from day one. What he looked like from the beginning and we’re talking almost three years ago. Two or three years ago, Trump wasn’t really a thing. It’s only within the last year or so. He’s really kind of popped up and everyone’s kind of freaking out, rightfully so (laughs). I think it just kind of happened, it’s like a happy accident. It just happened to be a funny thing and the hair is a little similar and people just immediately started saying, ‘Oh my God, it looks just like him’. I think if anything it will just add to the mystique of the character. “
Given that Stephen identified Pigeon Toady as the antagonist, I wanted to know which character Pigeon Toady created the most opposition for. He may be the villain in the film but which character and cast member was his biggest rival?
“Definitely Andy Samberg. In the film Andy is about to take a big promotion. He’s about to go up in the world and Pigeon Toady wants that promotion. He wants to be in the position that Andy Samberg is in. He’s going to do whatever it takes to take down Andy.”
While Pigeon Toady is Stephen’s main role in “Storks,” he also has a few other roles that he voices in the film.
“I also do the voice of the polar bear in the movie and I do the voice of the snow monkey and the rabbit. You’ll see those guys pop up here and there throughout the movie. I do a lot of weird voices in the movie but it’s a lot of fun.”
With so many voice roles in “Storks,” I was surprised to see that Stephen was a bit of a newcomer to voice acting. I was surprised to learn that this was his first big role in voice acting.
“Before this I’ve only been in one animated thing. It was not a movie, it was a TV show for Hulu and it was right in the beginning before Netflix was doing original series and all these places were doing original series. It was a Hulu original series called ‘Trailer Trash’ and I was the lead on that. We did like 25 episodes of it and it was really cool. But it just kind of came and went and it was before its time doing original content on the web. But yeah this is my first movie. I’ve never been in a movie before, never been in anything theatrical, and I’ve never been in an animated movie. This is all new stuff for me, I’m learning new things every day.”
Stephen also received some advice from a friend who has some experience in voice acting. TJ Miller (“How To Train Your Dragon,” “Deadpool,” “Big Hero 6”) had a few suggestions for Stephen making his way into voice acting.
“TJ Miller, who’s a buddy of mine who was in ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ and ‘Big Hero 6’, he said to me, ‘Dude just have a good time with this one and then you’ll get to do more’. And I was like, ‘If I get to do more animated movies or I get to do an animated TV show or something, my life is complete man’. I’m so overly happy with how things are turning out.
Landing the role took some effort and it all seemed very surreal to Stephen. Because things were so surreal and the cast was so high profile, at times he was concerned about retaining his role in “Storks.”
“It’s mind blowing. I literally would come in sometimes and be like, ‘Is today the day that Jonah Hill takes over for me or when’s the day when I lose my job’? When does that happen? I kept thinking that would happen and it never did and Phil Lord and Nick Stoller both went super hard at the studio and said, ‘This is the guy, this is who we want’. And they fought really hard for me and the studio watched it and they agreed and I got to stay in the movie. They chose someone who is not as famous but they liked what I was doing and that means a lot to me.”
Given that Nicholas Stoller and Phil Lord gave their stamp of approval, I was curious how Stephen was introduced to the role in the first place.
“How this came about, and I can wrap it for you really easy, is in animated movies they have scratch vocals. There were about 10 of us doing scratch on the movie and I was one of ten people and every couple of weeks I’d come back in and I’d walk into the room and it would be Nick Stollar and Doug Sweetland and Brad Lewis. And Brad Lewis was the executive producer on ‘Ratatouille’ and just him alone being in the room is insane. And then Doug Sweetland I know from Pixar. And then Nick Stoller, I’m a huge ‘Get Him To The Greek’, ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’, ‘Neighbors’, huge fan of his stuff. You start realizing you’re the least famous person even associated with anything having to do with this and it’s such a learning experience.”
While the scratch recording was what got Stephen in the door, he believes it was his singing talent that sealed the deal. He was not the intended individual to sing Pigeon Toady’s song but with past Broadway experience, he wowed those behind the film.
“There was one day we were taping and they said, ‘Okay we’re going to do the song today but we’re going to skip the song with Stephen but we have a singer coming in later’. And I said, ‘What are you talking about, what song’? And they said, ‘Well Pigeon Toady has a song in the movie, but we’re skipping it because we have a guy coming in to sing it’. And I said, ‘I worked on Broadway. I’m a musical theater actor, trained professional singer. I can kill this for you’. And they were like, ‘Yeah…no we’re good’. And I was like, ‘Please just let me do one take at it’. And they were like, ‘Okay’ and they gave me the song and listened to the karaoke tracks and I sang it and Nick Stoller stopped the room and was like, ‘Who are you? Where did you come from? What is going on right now’? They immediately bought the rights from the band for the song for the movie and the band had to approve me singing it and I’m a huge fan of this band and they loved it and now it’s in the movie. It’s a huge piece of the movie and a big comedy moment. “
After such a big moment landing his role in “Storks,” I was curious about what Stephen’s plans were after the film. Where does he see his career in the future?
“What I would like to do is sit down with Nickelodeon and sit down with Cartoon Network and sit down with Disney Channel and some of these channels about maybe doing an animated series somewhere. I think that would be super cool to get to be on an animated series. But I’m hoping that I get to do more stuff with Warner Bros. That’s the real goal to maybe do something else with them or something live action. I’m up for some stuff right now, everyone that worked on ‘Storks’ is going off to work on other things, and I’m getting invited along to come and do some stuff with some of these folks which would be super cool. For the most part it’s just an interesting process to see what’s going to happen next. Right now I have a live show that I’ve been doing for almost a year and a half. We’ve been doing this show called ‘The Night Time Show’ and it’s the only live late night show in Los Angeles. We do it at the Hollywood improv Saturday night, once a month, 10PM, and we have enormous, super famous guests and super famous stand up comedians come and perform on the show. And after they perform I interview them in front of the audience and it’s really fun. “
Stephen was a pleasure to speak with. From his multi talented array of voices that he shared to his spirited, high energy persona, this is an actor to keep an eye on. You can also check out Stephen Kramer Glickman on Twitter at @StephenGlickman and YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/Funnyguyfromtv.