Actor, writer and slow-witted patriarch of the Simpson family.
Although being the owner of probably one of the most famous voices in film and television, it's no surprise that few people know what Dan Castellaneta actually looks like and, despite a lengthy filmography, he will always be best known for giving a voice to one Homer Simpson. However, while Homer makes a life of guzzling beer and watching TV, Dan remains a tai chi-practising, teetotal vegetarian. And at $100,000 per episode for the 2002 season, he's considerably better paid.
Born in Chicago, Illinois on 10th September, 1958, he graduated from the class of 1975 at Oak Park River Forest High School. In 1983, he joined Chicago's improvisational comedy group Second City where he honed his acting skills as well as getting additional training for voice-work from commercials and radio programs, contributing short comedy bits to the WXRT FM program, Saturday Morning Flashbacks with his wife Deb Lacusta.
In 1987 he turned down an offer to be in Nothing In Common in favour of joining the cast of The Tracey Ullman Show, preferring the freedom to play a wider range of characters rather than just the one. When the producers of the show made plans to include animated shorts of dysfunctional family life by Matt Groening, Dan landed the role of the father, basing his voice initially on a nasal-sounding Walter Matthau. Although ideal for short comedy segments, the nasal voice had to be adapted for his own comfort when The Simpsons became a television show in its own right and continued to evolve throughout the first season.
"When you're doing a half-hour show, that (original) voice didn't seem appropriate. Reading all day, that voice wouldn't be comfortable for me."
A flood of cameo and guest television appearances later, he returned to live theatre in 2000 with his own, one-man show 'Where Did Vincent Van Gogh?', in which he portrayed dozens of characters ranging from a girl named Flopsy to a ventriloquist's dummy. Although being seen by some to be merely a vehicle to show-off his voice talents, the show received huge critical acclaim in Los Angeles, Denver, New York and Arlington Heights.
"He's a very clever writer and a master of seemingly innumerable voices, but what registers most here is the fluidity with which he shifts from character to character. How he continually surprises us with his transformations is little short of magical."
- Les Gutman, www.curtainup.com
Outside his many vocal appearances, Dan has made guest appearances together with his body in a huge number of television shows including Friends, Grace Under Fire, The George Carlin Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Drew Carey Show and Cybill. He has also lent his voice to computer games including Toonstruck, Planetscape: Torment and ClayFighter and it's worth noting that he wrote the Simpsons' episode, 'Days of Wine and Doh'ses'.
2001: Don't Try This at Home Human Canonball
1999: The Settlement Neal
1998: My Giant Portlow
1998: Rhapsody in Bloom Chelton
1997: Plump Fiction Bumpkin
1996: Space Jam Male Fan
1995: Forget Paris Taxi Driver
1994: The Client Slick Moeller
1989: The War of the Roses Man in Chair
1989: K-9 Maitre d'