Family & Companions
Even if he had done nothing else in his career, veteran actor, writer, and voice-over artist, Dan Castellaneta's place in pop culture history was well secured, thanks to his singular creation of Homer J. Simpson, the loutish father figure on Fox's long-running animated comedy "The Simpsons" (1989- ). Castellaneta provided the voice of Homer and numerous other characters on the show, lending his elastic vocal talents to a host of other animated shows and features as well. If the series had not made his face a familiar one in households around the world, it certainly afforded him job security and the ability to express himself in a variety of different forums, including CDs, books, and theater.
Born Daniel Louise Castellaneta in Chicago, IL on Oct. 27, 1957, Castellaneta was a shy child whose knack for comedy and voices was fostered by his father, a printer and amateur actor whose collection of comedy records was a source of much enjoyment for his son. He got his first taste of performing while still in grade school, but pursued teaching while still a student at Northern Illinois University. His skill at imitation and humorous voices was not lost on his students, and they encouraged him to do something with his talent. After graduation, Castellaneta joined the acclaimed Second City comedy troupe, and began providing voice-overs for local radio stations and advertising spots. During this period, he was partnered with writer and performer Deb Lacusta, whom he married in 1987.
While at Second City, Castellaneta was recommended to join the cast of "The Tracey Ullman Show" (Fox, 1987-1990), a sketch comedy series starring the UK comic actress. In addition to performing on and writing for the show, Castellaneta and his castmate Julie Kavner began providing the voices for a series of one-minute cartoons created by writer and cartoonist Matt Groening, which aired between sketches on the show. The animated bits were titled "The Simpsons," and Castellaneta provided the voice for the family's hot-tempered father, Homer. His vocal inspiration for the character was Walter Matthau, but Homer's wildly fluctuating emotions required another approach, and Castellaneta eventually developed an early version of Homer's voice for these spots. He also developed Homer's trademark utterance - "D'oh!" or "annoyed grunt," as it's written in the show's scripts - which he claimed was a shortened take on a pained groan used by a British comic in the 1940s.
In 1989, "The Simpsons" was developed into a weekly half-hour series for Fox, and the vocal cast featured on the Ullman show was brought on board to voice the Simpson family on a full-time basis. The series became the first Fox program to break the Top 30 on the Nielsen charts, and merchandise based on its characters (both authorized and bootleg) sold to the tune of $2 billion in the first 14 months of production.
The success of "The Simpsons" allowed Castellaneta to provide voices for numerous other animated series and films. Among his many credits were "The Return of Jafar" (1993), Disney's direct-to-video sequel to "Aladdin" and the subsequent "Aladdin' series (CBS, 1994-96), for which he replaced Robin Williams as the voice of the Genie (a movie precipitated by the studio's rift with the actor over promotional snafus). He also voiced Grandpa on Nickelodeon's "Hey Arnold" (1996-2004), offered a dead-on imitation of Christopher Lloyd for the "Back to the Future" animated series (CBS, 1991-93), and took the lead as "Earthworm Jim" for The WB Network from 1995 to 1996. Castellaneta also voiced several characters for video games, including several "Earthworm Jim" titles, and appeared infrequently in supporting roles in television series and feature films, including "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004), "The Client" (1994), and "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS, 1996-2005).
But Homer and "The Simpsons" provided Castellaneta's main creative outlet. In addition to his voice-over work, he also wrote several episodes of the series with his wife, and even appeared on an episode of "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994) as a theme park actor who is dismissed from his role as Homer Simpson for "inappropriate behavior" in 1992. For his efforts, Castellaneta won three Emmys and an Annie as a performer and was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award with Lacusta.
In 2000, Castellaneta released the CD, Two Lips, a homage/parody of the Beatles' most popular songs. It was followed by a comedy album, I Am Not Homer, in 2003, which also featured Lacusta's vocal and comedy talents. He also found time in his busy schedule to make frequent returns to the stage, including a stint off-Broadway in "The Alchemist" and a one-man show, "Where Did Vincent Van Gogh?" which he performed in Los Angeles and at the Aspen Comedy Festival.
In 2006, Castellaneta and his "Simpsons" castmates began work on the long-awaited feature film version of the series (2007) while they continued voicing their characters for the series. Since Castellaneta voiced about 10 characters for the TV program - including fan favorites Barney Gumble, Mayor Quimby, and Groundskeeper Willie - he found himself logging upwards of 20 recording sessions at a time - a considerable leap from the five or six per year that most voice talent face over the course of a single year.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Special Thanks (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Co-starred in "Nothing in Common" with Tom Hanks
Was a regular on "Tracy Ullman Show"; also did voice of Homer Simpson in animated vignettes
Voiced Homer Simpson on the FOX animated series "The Simpsons"; also voices Grandpa Abraham Simpson, Krusty the Clown, Sideshow Mel, Itchy, and other characters; earned an Emmy nomination (2009, 2010) for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance
Co-starred as Warren Morris on the ABC sitcom "Sibs"
Voiced Doctor Emmett L. Brown for the CBS animated series "Back to the Future"
Cast in "Plump Fiction," a feature-length spoof of "Pulp Fiction"
Voiced Grandpa on the Nickelodeon series, "Hey Arnold!"
Voiced Robot Devil in the animated series, "Futurama"; also created by Matt Groening
Starred in the one-man stage show "Where Did Vincent Van Gogh?"; reprised performance Off-Broadway
Published first music CD <i>Two Lips</i>
Released first comedy album, <i>I Am Not Homer</i>
Portrayed Aaron Spelling in the NBC TV-movie, "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Charlie's Angels"
Appeared in Jeff Garlin's feature directing debut, "I Want Someone to Eat Cheese with"
Co-starred in the Will Smith drama "The Pursuit of Happyness"
Reprised roles for "The Simpsons Movie," an animated feature based on the long running FOX series