Some character actors never seem to stop working. The number of movies and TV shows (Think Starship Troopers, Shawshank Redemption, and Highlander) that the Urbana, Ohio-born actor Clancy Brown has appeared in is staggering, and for everything you’ve seen him in, there are another five guest-starring roles where you didn’t even notice him. That doesn’t mean he’s unrecognizable - he’s just an actor who knows how to change his mannerisms to fit the performance.
Aside from playing heavies in about every show of the '90s and 2000s, Clancy Brown, who has been steadily employed since 1997, voices many of our most beloved characters. He explained, "Getting into voice work was a little bit by design. I really got involved just after my daughter was born. There wasn't that much production in L.A. at the time. I always seemed to be working in Canada or New Orleans. And I wanted to be with this new miracle in our lives. So I started concentrating on voice work, and I just sort of took to it at just the right time."
He originated the role of Lex Luthor in the mid-'90s, and he’s the voice actor behind SpongeBob's Mr. Krabs. There are so many ways that Brown disappears into his roles, either with voice acting tricks, makeup, or just real-deal acting chops.
Which of his roles do you remember best?
- Photo: Nickelodeon
It’s hard to imagine a world without SpongeBob SquarePants. The long-running Nickelodeon show, which began in 1999, has featured voice actors from across the film world, bringing together improv comedians, legit thespians, and David Hasselhoff.
Brown said he took the role because he wanted to stay close to home and be with his family, although he didn’t go into the audition with a plan. He says that he just did the first voice that came to mind. He explained to The Plain Dealer, "I went on the audition and they told me he had sort of a pirate voice. So I thought, 'OK, I can do that.' I just thought of an old Disney pirate kind of voice, and that's what came out."
If there’s any role in which Brown really disappears, it’s Mr. Krabs. Even if you’re a fan of the actor, you have to really strain to hear his voice.1,508106Great performance?
- Photo: Disney+
Leave it to Clancy Brown to appear in easily one of the coolest episodes of The Mandalorian. Episode six of this limited series streaming on Disney+ sees the Mandalorian join up with a crew of bounty hunters to rescue an unnamed prisoner, and Brown, standing 6 feet 3 inches tall, popped up as the muscle of the group.
Brown fits the role nicely, even if he is unrecognizable behind red latex and a set of massive horns. Throughout the episode, he struts around and threatens Mando before ending up getting his keister kicked around a New Republic ship.
The episode is filled with awesome guest stars like Bill Burr and Richard Ayoade, but Brown literally towers above them all.82156Great performance?
- 7Photo: Kids' WB
It’s hard to imagine anyone but Clancy Brown voicing Lex Luthor in this day and age. He’s been playing the character since he was introduced on Superman: The Animated Series in 1996, but he initially wanted to play Superman.
Brown said he’s always cast as a bad guy, and the only place he can play a hero is in animation because of the way he looks. However, when he went in and stated his intention of playing Superman, the casting director begged him to audition as Luthor. Brown explained to The A.V. Club:
I jumped at the chance to audition for that and really wanted to do Superman, because how else am I gonna get cast as a good guy? And [Andrea Romano] said, "You know, would you read for Lex Luthor?" I said, "Aw, maaaaaaannnnnnn... Even in voice-over I’m typecast as a heavy?" She said, "Oh, you don’t have to do it, that’s okay." I said, "Nah, nah, I’ll absolutely do it." And she cast me. She basically taught me how to act for voice-over.
Even though Brown said he was learning on the job, it doesn’t sound that way. His work is menacing and cold, exactly the way Lex Luthor should be.64339Great performance?
- Photo: Paramount Pictures
While speaking about Pet Sematary II, directed by Mary Lambert, Brown admitted the film was far from being the greatest thing ever committed to celluloid, but he was insistent it was a great time on set.
As character Gus Gilbert, Brown hammed it up and was straight-up evil. There was nothing redeemable about this character, but Brown made him someone you want to see on screen - and that’s after you've watched mashed potatoes spill out of his neck.
It was fun... It was a goofy movie, I thought. The opening sequence sort of set the tone - it’s about an actress in a slasher movie that gets killed, and you see all the blood. To me, that sort of said, "Okay! Hello, everybody! This is all pretend! Nobody take this seriously!" And slowly but surely it becomes sillier and sillier. And because Mary’s a good filmmaker, it actually becomes a little scary.67666Great performance?