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EXCLUSIVE: ‘BoJack Horseman’ Creator on What Happens When Celebs Turn Down Cameos

by Stacy Lambe 9:20 AM PDT, July 22, 2016
Photo: Netflix

BoJack Horseman, Netflix’s animated tragicomedy about the titular washed-up ‘90s sitcom star voiced by Will Arnett, is back with a brand-new season.

Debuting on Friday, July 22, season three sees BoJack navigating awards season as he promotes his role in the biopic Secretariat. The only problem is that during season two, he flaked out on the set of the film and the director replaced him with a CGI version. As it would turn out, the CGI version of BoJack is a really good actor.

Joining this season is Angela Bassett, who voices "Oscar Whisperer" publicist Ana Spanikopita. She’s among the many A-list and funny guest stars -- Daniel Radcliffe, Paul McCartney, Keegan-Michael Key and Lisa Kudrow, among others -- that have become a secret ingredient of the show’s success, as BoJack Horseman lampoons Hollywood with meta glee.

MY FAVORITE SCENE: 'BoJack Horseman' Creator on the Episode That Made Netflix Nervous

Constance Zimmer, Jeffrey Wright, Candice Bergen and Diedrich Bader are among this season’s guests and cameos, joining the superb cast featuring Arnett, Aaron Paul (Todd Chavez), Alison Brie (Diane Nguyen), Paul F. Tompkins (Mr. Peanutbutter) and Amy Sedaris (Princess Carolyn).

Ahead of the return of BoJack Horseman, ET jumped on the phone with creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg to discuss the show’s amazing voice talent and how the team decide whether to get a celebrity to play their animated namesake or a new character on the series.

From L to R: Stanley Tucci, Lady Dynamite's Maria Bamford, Tatiana Maslany, Lisa Kudrow and Olivia Wilde Photo: Netflix

ET: One thing I love about this show is all the amazing voice talent and guest stars. How have you guys managed to do that?

Raphael Bob-Waksberg: I think it's because we have a great show and people want to be on it. We have an amazing casting director, Linda Lamontagne, who always knows who to ask and how to ask them. In the first season, we got pretty lucky that we got some pretty great people [including Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom, Kristin Chenoweth, Patton Oswalt and Stephen Colbert] who were into the idea. Then, as we get more and more people, it becomes like a cool club to be in. I'm hoping we have a bit of a reputation for being a fun, easy show, especially for actors who are not necessarily used to voice acting, who do a lot of live action, who are thrilled to discover on this show that they don't have to sit in hair and makeup. They don't have to memorize any lines. They don't have to wait to get their lighting just right. They can come in their pajamas and they can hang out and goof around for a half hour. That's it! 

Given the meta aspect of the show, how do you decide when you’re going to have guest stars play themselves or have them voice a new character?

The script is written first and then we try to find someone to play that character. Sometimes we'll write real people into the script and then we'll ask. “Hey, do you want to be in the show? We wrote a character for you.” Like, Margo Martindale was working on The Millers with Will Arnett and he went to her and said, “Hey, do you want to be on my cartoon?” She was like, "No. I don't want to be on a cartoon show.” Then Will said, “Well, you have to because the character is Character Actress Margo Martindale.” She said, “Alright.” I think she had a great time on the show. So you know, we'll always ask the person who we're making fun of. If they say yes, then great. 

Right. And if they say no?

If they say no, either we'll rewrite the part to be another celebrity who does want to do it or we'll just cast somebody else, usually Kevin Bigley, to do an impression. Paul F. Tompkins was Andrew Garfield in the first season. I will say that when somebody doesn't do our show and we end up getting someone else to do the voice, it always ends up being a little meaner than if they just said yes. Like, the Andrew Garfield characterization is much sillier and then he ends up falling into a pit at the end of the season. If Andrew Garfield would have just said yes, it might not have been so cruel. 

So is that a warning out there to other celebrities?

Yes. But then again, Naomi Watts said yes and we made her have sex with a horse. There's not really a rhyme or a reason. Then we had somebody in season three who we cast and she came to us after the table read and said, “You know” -- we almost never get notes from the actors -- “I want you to go meaner with this. I feel you can make more fun of me then you are.” We were like, “Alright.” I don't know if you ever want to tell a room full of comedy writers to “go meaner.” So, we're like, “Let's find that limit,” and we kept throwing jokes at her. She was game for almost all of them.

Given the show’s parallels with John Stamos' career and all the jokes about him, have you ever asked him to be part of the show?

No. I haven't. I saw him at a Netflix party once from a distance. I almost introduced myself, but then I didn't. I chickened out. I don't know if he's seen the show or what he would think about the show. I'd imagine he has a sense of humor about himself. There was one time where I was accidentally on an email thread with John Stamos, because of a thing we were both tangentially working on. It felt very eerie, and I was wondering, “Does he know who I am? Does he know I am in this room? This is spooky.” But you know, I have no ill will toward him and I'm sure he'd be very funny to have on the show. 

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