Simpsons and Spinal Tap star Harry Shearer: 'I never know what voice people are going to come up to me with' (From This Is Local London)
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Simpsons and Spinal Tap star Harry Shearer: 'I never know what voice people are going to come up to me with'
If you find yourself in Richmond Park next week, keep an eye out for Hollywood actor, writer and voice over extraordinaire Harry Shearer.
For Shearer - perhaps best known as the voice of Simpsons characters Mr Burns, Smithers and Ned Flanders, as well as bassist Derek Smalls in classic spoof rockumentary This is Spinal Tap - will be in Kingston performing in Oliver Cotton’s critically acclaimed Daytona at the Rose Theatre.
And when he’s not performing, it seems Shearer enjoys the vast green spaces that London affords.
“I have to say, as a student of cities, the profusion of great parks in London is one of its great jewel like features,” he says.
Shearer is speaking to the Surrey Comet from New Orleans, but flies back on Sunday for the start of a week-long run at the Rose, and is looking forward to seeing co-stars John Bowe and Maureen Lipman again.
“I’m looking forward to working with John and Maureen again,” he says. “I despair listening to the luvvie talk but I’m sorry, we’re having a very good time doing this play.
“It’s been a great relationship among the three of us.”
Last week, the Comet spoke to Bowe, who described Shearer as “a God” for his work on The Simpsons, Spinal Tap and the host of other hit films and shows he’s appeared in during a career spanning 50 years.
Shearer laughs. “I am a mere interloper in this world of highly-trained British actors,” he says.
“I’m just trying to do my best, and I’m delighted to be accepted and but appear among people that have such a highly distinguished theatrical record.”
Daytona is the story of Joe (Shearer) and Ellie (Lipman), a retired Jewish couple living in New York in 1986. Both escaped the European concentration camps during the Second World War, and now occupy their time competing in senior ballroom dancing competitions.
Shearer is enjoying working with John Bowe (above)
But then Joe’s brother Billy (Bowe), a fellow holocaust survivor, arrives unannounced after a 30 year absence, and his story threatens to blow apart the cosy little world Joe and Ellie had made.
For Shearer, the role of Joe was one he can empathise with.
He says: “One of the reasons I think I was drawn to the material is that my parents were not in camps but they were the only members of their families to get out of their respective countries and come to America [Shearer’s father was from Vienna and his mother was Polish].
“I saw that sort of closed down reaction to the darkness of past in them , and so as an actor it was something I knew how to play.”
As an actor, Shearer is known for his ability to replicate authentic regional accents from home and abroad.
“I have a musical ear and I think a musical ear helps,” he says. “In my experience, sometimes dialect coaches will concentrate on pronunciation and miss inflection, and that’s as big a part of an accent as pronunciation.
“Having a musical ear helps you a little bit more with the melody of an accent.”
Which character is the most popular request from members of the public? Does he ever get bored of parroting Mr Burns or Derek Smalls?
It seems not. “I can never predict what people are going to come up.
“For many reasons I’ve always wanted to come to the audience with something different, and hope that each different thing connected with a different slice of the public, so that as I go about my life I’m always being surprised by who relates to what part of what I do.”
Daytona, Rose Theatre, High Street, Kingston Monday September 2 to Saturday September 7 Tickets £8 to £30 (charge applies when booking online or by phone