Who among us doesn’t remember Marty Feldman’s uproarious portrayal of Igor (pronounced “Eye-gore”) in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein? Since the early Frankenstein films, right up to Brooks’ sly and loving send-up of those movies, the character of Igor has become synonymous with the sub-subservient servant who limps around with his hunchback doing the bidding of his obsessed master.
Fast-forward to today and feast your eyes on Igor, a delightful cartoon send-up of this classic character as voiced most tenderly by John Cusack. There are a few twists to this version, written by Chris McKenna and directed by Tony Leondis, as Igor has become the generic term for anyone born with a hump in the nasty little town of Malaria. Such unfortunates are sent to Igor School to train for a Yes Masters Degree and a life of servitude as a lab assistant to one of the town’s evil scientists. But alas, Igor’s position with Dr. Glickentstein (John Cleese) brings him no happiness and he longs to become an evil scientist himself. The film’s antics then unfold in hilarious and touching fashion, with a fine supporting cast including Sean Hayes and Steve Buscemi lending their vocal talents.
Cusack recently answered a few questions about the film as well as a few other topics.
This is very different from your other work. What drew you to the script?
It was fun to do. It’s a very easy job for an actor. You come in and just play around with lights and do the character and then great artists go off and do all the work and when they come back, they’ve created an entire world around your voice. Or it could work the other way where you fill in the voice for this beautiful world they’ve created. It’s kind of nice to see it and it doesn’t take a lot of effort on our part, whereas you watch the creative team go through a year or two of super human effort.
Do you still have to prepare for the character?
Not really. It’s all there for you and all you have to do is go in and interact with it and do what you normally do without having to deal with all the technical aspects of shooting a film.
John, what’s in your future? What projects are you working on now?
I did a film called Factory for Warner Bros. and another movie called Shanghai, and I’m working on one called 2012.
You are such a fine actor and I’m wondering what advice you would give to aspiring young actors?
I would say act – just do it. Don’t talk about. Do theatre. Take classes. It’s a verb so you have to do it. It’s like someone saying “I wanna play basketball.” You gotta go play basketball. You learn by doing it, not by talking about doing it.
Where did you get your training?
I trained in Chicago when I was younger and did theatre with different people.
One political question. Are you involved in national politics and have you taken a position?
Oh yes. Clearly I would do anything to keep the Bush-McCain legacy of shame from continuing.
Do you spend any time in Santa Monica?
When I’m in California I like to spend time there. I do errands and stuff, visit the shops and eat in some of the terrific restaurants. I meet people there as it’s a good meeting place and that’s where some of my friends live.
Thanks John. It’s always a pleasure speaking with you.
You’re very welcome.