Exclusive interview with Marty Grabstein!
This page was last updated on March 13, 2003 12:07 AM
Courage (The Cowardly Dog)
Voiced by Marty Grabstein: Read more about Marty at
1. Tell everyone about your acting career prior to Courage The Cowardly Dog...there's next to nothing listed at Internet Movie Database for many of the voice actors from Courage.
Iíll get back to you on this one. Iím rounding up pictures and resumeís to send to you along with a short career summary.
2. How did you get the gig doing Courage's voice?
An old friend of mine Risa Neuwirth of Stretch Films, called me up out of the blue after having fallen out of touch with these words: "Marty , weíve been trying to cast the lead character in a new cartoon series for the past five months. The character is a nervous , high maintenance , neurotic dog. Weíve been through 350 auditions and John (Dilworth) still has not found the voice he wants. Weíre going crazy, so why donít you come in and give it a shot." I ran down that same day , auditioned and somehow they thought I had just the right combination of vulnerability and comedy. A few days later they called me and gave me the job. John and Risa were behind me all the way, it didnít hurt that John actually thought I looked like Courage, particularly my eyebrows. The craziest part of the whole thing is that my voice is actually low pitched, but it seems the cracks and timbre that make the character work were best achieved by pitching my voice higher.
3.Are there any other characters you've done voice work for on the show?
Originally John was considering using me every now and again but he changed his mind . He was concerned my being the lead might jeapordize the credibility of any other characters I might play.
4. When recording dialogue for an episode or scene, does a voice artist always work by himself, or are there times when two or more voice actors are brought together?
I had fantasies about doing the Tom Hanks/Cameron Diaz type thing , sitting around in t-shirts bouncing dialogue off of one another. Thatís for the big shots. I was alone in the sound booth for every session with the exception of the time my wife Nancy (who is a nurse not an actor) was visiting me and got lassoed into doing a line in the episode "Little Muriel". She was the flight attendant who jumped out of the plane screaming...."I canít take it anymore-ahhhh!"
5. What is the frequency for recording sessions on an animated series....in other words, are the actors called in as needed per episode, or do several episodes for an entire season get recorded within a certain period?
The recording sessions were scheduled each season in a relatively consistent manner usually either every week or two weeks depending on how quickly the writers were ready with scripts and story boards.
6. Is the script for an episode strictly adhered to, or are the actors allowed a certain amount of room for improvisation?
Once the scripts and story boards were received we pretty much stuck to what was there. However, when it came to some of my more surreal and frenetic vocal expletives, I was given some leeway to come up with what would be most effective.
7. How much input into Courage's character have you been given, or was Courage pretty much laid out by John Dilworth and the writers?
John Dilworth is one of the most brilliant , offbeat, madly creative people Iíve ever met. However, he sometimes had trouble conveying to the vocal directors and myself the exact vision he had in his head of the character. This made for a sometimes frustrating , but ultimately exciting trial and error process, in which he came to rely quite heavily on my creative instincts.
It was a truly collaborative experience.
8. What have you liked best about working on Courage, and what have you liked least?
This was my very first job in animation and has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. Rarely does an actor get to be a part of such an original and inspired project such as this.
Perhaps the most difficult thing was making the transition from Courageís "chatty" first season to the subsequent more vocally pyrotechnical seasons . The reasons for cutting back on dialogue were quite sound but my actorís ego needed to adjust to this shift. Ultimately , it became just another challenge which made it quite satisfying in itís own right.
9. Are there any particular directions you would like to have seen the show or Courage's character taken to?
A love interest for Courage might have been fun. (Who knows, maybe Courage-The Movie)?
10. Several fans of the show have commented to me that, during the past season, Courage seemed to be talking less and making his mutterings and sounds more. I've even noticed more of a use of what appeared to be previously existing recordings, or library dialogue/vocalizations, in many season four episodes. Can you fill the fans in on this?
Believe it or not every single episode was recorded fresh off the presses. Some library stuff was used to fill in now and again. Primarily, everything was recorded new. I can attest to that by my numerous sore throats.
11. Has there been any talk of doing another season's worth of episodes, or have we seen the last new Courage episodes as of this season four?
A lot of talk has gone down, but nothing has been confirmed one way or another. (Maybe you can get an inside track on this?)
12. What can we look forward to next from the amazing Marty Grabstein? :-)
The production company that my creative partner and I are associated with is working on down loading some short films (co-written and acted by myself) on the Internet. We are also working on a really wild ongoing series developed specifically for the Internet. Iíll keep you posted on any new developments.
"Click on me and get back to the index page!"