Katey Sagal and Billy West on the return of Futurama
by Danny Gallagher, posted Jun 22nd 2009 11:08AM
Futurama has gone through more frustrating cancellations than a United Airlines flight leaving Chicago's O'Hare Airport. No one knows that better than voice actor Billy West and actress Katey Sagal who respectively provide the voice, heart and soul of the show's two main characters, Fry and Leela.
But what has kept the show going is the camaraderie of the cast and crew. Everyone from the show still keep in touch in between other jobs and even have the occasional reunion from their regular crowded visits at ComicCon to smaller get togethers like when Katey said the cast got together to watch her last concert at the MBar in Hollywood.
Most of all, they said they have the fans to thank for their next big reunion when Futurama goes back into production. They both took a short time out of their busy schedules to chat about Comedy Central's two season order.
Katey Sagal: actress/singer/voice of Leela
So where are you?
We're shooting Sons of Anarchy right now. I'm in Sunland (laughs).
Oh, right. So first off, congratulations on Futurama getting picked up. When did you find out and did you know that this might happen?
I found yesterday (Tuesday, June 9th) when everybody else found out. I got a little bit of a rumor. There has been so many rumors over the last couple of years about Futurama that I kind of don't pay attention so much. So I didn't get the official word until they made the official announcement yesterday and it was pretty darn exciting.
Were you confident that it was going to get picked up? What was your gut feeling?
I've been in the business for so long that I never expect anything (laughs). I've always trusted that Futurama has an amazing fan base. When we go to Comic Con and talk to people and just from my own website, you can just tell what a strong fan base it has. To me, Futurama was one of the smartest written shows that I've ever participated in. So I thought that was a no-brainer that this has to come back. You say that but you just never know. I was pleasantly, totally surprised but it could have gone either way.
What's kept the cast and the crew and everyone together? What keeps you all so committed to this series?
It's great material. It's a great gig and a great group of people. For me, all of those guys are so funny. I go to work and it's just a big laugh-fest. Doing an animated series is a wonderful thing to be able to do because you have time to do other things. It's a great deal, and to be associated with [Matt Groening] and [David X. Cohen]. I think ultimately you do anything you do because it's written well. That's been the draw.
And we've all said goodbye, I can't tell you how many times we've all said goodbye to each other (laughs), but we keep coming back for more, which is fantastic.
What about the character that you play do you find interesting about her, other than the fact that she gets just as many jokes as the other characters?
I love that she's a hard ass with a heart, kind of hard on the outside and soft on the inside. She's grown up feeling very alone and I like that she searches for love and I like that she's in charge. She's got a great dichotomy. And of course, she's funny. When I got the job for Futurama, I didn't really know what she was going to be. I was just so thrilled. I've never done a voice-over gig before and getting to be with Matt and David Cohen made for some great company. I'm thrilled with everything that they do.
So what are you looking forward to know that the show is going back into production?
Probably that we'll all be together. That's really fun. It's like the little engine that could, the show that just keeps going strong. What's really great is so people driven. The fans are what keeps it alive because they are so committed to it and talking about it. That's a great reason to keep doing something.
Billy West: actor/voice of Fry, Dr. Zoidberg, Professor Farnsworth and other characters
Did you know that they were talking about wanting to do new episodes?
I knew that they were mulling it over, but there was nothing substantial to report and they knew we were going to Comic Con and promote the box DVD set of all the movies, the features that were done.
When you heard the news, were you expecting anything from the chatter you heard?
It was a big surprise because it was like when they announced the DVD movies and a couple of seasons of them on Comedy Central, it was like wow, I never expected anything like that. That show was my favorite show that I ever did.
What do you think convinced them to make new episodes?
I know that this is kind of unprecedented. It's actually unheard of that anyone would order two seasons. It's performed well. It's popular. Everybody loves the show and I imagine it was the DVD sales that they took a good look at them and said this should be back on television episodically. Plus I have the fans to thank. I'm sure they are always pushing for stuff like that.
It seemed like a big part of this was fans clamoring for more. What does it feel like to be on a show that has that powerful a fan base?
Absolutely incredible. I always say this when you do a project, it's great that it's a cool show and everything but you never know if something is going to be iconically popular. You never knew when you're doing something and you're in the middle of it that it's going to be a huge phenomenon.
But you're working with the guy who created The Simpsons. There had to be some sense that you're working with Matt Groening and it must give you an idea that maybe this was going to be something big.
You have that feeling but you have to be pragmatic and can't say, "I've got nothing to worry about. This is Matt Groening. It will be big no matter what." I come in there with my hair on fire wanting to perform for my life, always I just want to bring a lot to the table and really, really contribute the best that I can. That's how I look at my job.
I knew it was going to be good, but taste can't be disputed. Some people think something is good and other people don't.
Do you know when you'll be going back in and recording anything?
I don't know what the schedule is right now, but I'm sure they are writing up a storm right now.
I consider myself extremely lucky that this would come back. I so enjoy the show like I can't tell you. Even if I had nothing to do with this show, I would have been a huge fan of it.