AKA William Richard West
Birthplace: Detroit, MI
Race or Ethnicity: White
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Futurama voices, Ren and Stimpy
Billy West grew up as a big fan of not just cartoons, but of Mel Blanc, June Foray, Bill Scott, and the other voice talents behind the cartoons. In high school and early adulthood he played trumpet and guitar in bands, even performing with Brian Wilson. In his mid-20s, West was an old man by rock'n'roll standards, so he decided to try performing stand-up comedy, and his best-received bits involved celebrity impersonations. From there, he was offered a once-weekly no-pay show on a college radio station, and with that on his résumé he was brought in to a Boston commercial radio station to produce their zany morning show and provide sound effects. In 1985 he moved to New York to provide impressions and sound effects for Howard Stern's radio show.
Eventually he was hired to voice commercial characters like the Honey Nut Cheerios bee and Red M&M. His first cartoon work was in a pilot for a revival of Beany and Cecil, but no network was interested. In 1991, he was cast as Nickelodeon's Doug and as Stimpson J. Cat on The Ren & Stimpy Show, and later, when Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi was fired, West took over as Ren Höek as well. He is most famous, of course, as the voice behind Phillip Fry in Futurama, where he also plays Prof Farnsworth, Dr Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan, and President Nixon's Head, among other Futurama characters.
He has been Warner Bros' go-to voice for Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, Woody Woodpecker, and other Looney Tunes characters in recent cartoons and video games. He will not be surprised if that assignment ends, though, because he has been critical of the writing of his Looney Tunes projects. The problem, as West sees it, is that the scripts are vetted to ensure that nobody is offended, a step the original Looney Tunes cartoons never bothered with.
He is also outspokenly annoyed that celebrities like Cameron Diaz, Tom Hanks, or Tim Allen are paid top-dollar to give their usually-dull readings for animated films, basically just playing their famous selves, while very talented voice actors who could give animated characters real pizzazz remain unemployed. "[Studios] spend zillions on visuals but as far as voice tracks go, they're flat-lining and there's just no magic. They're basing everything on celebrity, the most artless, bloodless, Godless idea I've ever heard."
As an actor in the flesh, West appeared on episodes of Sabrina the Teenaged Witch and Dharma & Greg, and in Mark Hamill's Comic Book: The Movie. Quick-witted and funny in person, fans of Futurama should not miss West's commentary track on the show's DVDs. He is also an active participant in the chat room at his website, and he plays lead guitar for Billy West and The Grief Counselors. The band released their first CD in 2004, Me Pod.
West played a dozen different characters in Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, he was the most prominent roach in Joe's Apartment, Pidge on Voltron: The Third Dimension, Mr Eskimo in Drew Barrymore's Olive, the Other Reindeer, and George Klimer on The Oblongs. On-line, West is the voice of Billy Bastard: Amateur Human, Professional Asshole, a strung-out troublemaker allegedly based on West's own early years.
He is not related to another comic Billy West, Roy B. Weissburg (1892-1975), who became famous as a Charlie Chaplin impersonator and starred in dozens of silent films in the 1910s and '20s.
unknown detox facility 1985
Risk Factors: Alcoholism, Cocaine
Futurama Fry, Farnsworth, Zoidberg, etc. (1999-2003)
Ren and Stimpy Ren, Stimpy, etc. (1991-96)
The Weird Al Show Announcer (1997)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder (23-Feb-2009) [VOICE]
Futurama: Bender's Game (3-Nov-2008) [VOICE]
Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs (24-Jun-2008) [VOICE]
Futurama: Bender's Big Score (27-Nov-2007) · Philip J. Fry [VOICE]
TMNT (22-Mar-2007) · Additional Voices [VOICE]
Queer Duck: The Movie (4-Jun-2006) [VOICE]
Curious George (10-Feb-2006) [VOICE]
An Inconvenient Truth (24-Jan-2006) [VOICE]
Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy (9-Nov-2004) [VOICE]
Creature Unknown (29-Jun-2004) [VOICE]
Comic Book: The Movie (27-Jan-2004) · Leo Matuzik
Looney Tunes: Back in Action (9-Nov-2003) [VOICE]
Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring (12-Mar-2002) · Freddie [VOICE]
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (9-Dec-2001) · Old Man Johnson, Butch, etc. [VOICE]
Cats & Dogs (23-Jun-2001) [VOICE]
Rugrats in Paris: The Movie (5-Nov-2000) [VOICE]
Dinosaur (13-May-2000) [VOICE]
Olive, the Other Reindeer (17-Dec-1999) [VOICE]
Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (22-Sep-1998) [VOICE]
Escape from Atlantis (27-Jan-1998)
Space Jam (15-Nov-1996) · Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd [VOICE]
Joe's Apartment (26-Jun-1996) [VOICE]
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