‘Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.’: Fred Tatasciore on playing primal

Aug. 22, 2013 | 2:24 p.m.

Fred Tatasciore, a longtime voice actor, has been the voice of the Hulk on numerous cartoons, video games and TV shows for years. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Hulk's best pal Rick Jones begins making a Web series to show the world Hulk is a hero in Disney XD's "Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H." (Disney XD)

In "Marvel's Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.," a never-before-seen team-up of Hulk, his cousin She-Hulk, A-Bomb, Red Hulk and Skaar form an unlikely family living under one roof. (Disney XD)

Fred Tatasciore on the show's animation: " We go back to do ADR and see the animation that's been done, and it's usually grander than we'd imagined. And yes, it affects everything. It's one of the strongest parts of the show, too. The look." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Hulk and the newly formed Agents of S.M.A.S.H. -- including a Hulked-out Rick Jones, a.k.a. A-Bomb -- invade the Negative Zone to stop Annihilus once and for all. (Disney XD)

Tatasciore: "For me to play [Hulk] -- he's been my green friend for a long time. He's just a regular guy who really wants to be left alone and do the right thing. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Fred Tatasciore is a fun-loving guy, but he’s best known in Hollywood for bringing to life a creature fueled by rage: the Incredible Hulk.

A voice actor, Tatasciore has been playing the Hulk consistently for almost a decade — working on at least six different film, TV and video game projects this year alone. He’s currently in Disney XD’s “Marvel’s Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H,” which launched in early August.

Channeling the roars, grunts and howls required to give voice to the Hulk takes a special type of actor. A big one.

“It’s a physical workout and requires my voice to open up a bit, but it lets me get a chance to do what a lot of others can’t,” said the tall, burly Tatasciore. “Hulk’s a good guy at heart but gets launched into a very primal, animal side of humanity. That also makes him a great canvas for an actor play.”

In "Marvel's Hulk and the Agents of SMASH" is a never before seen team up of Hulk, his cousin She-Hulk, A-Bomb, Red Hulk and Skaar to form an unlikely family living under one roof. (Disney XD)

In “Marvel’s Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.,” a never-before-seen team-up of Hulk, his cousin She-Hulk, A-Bomb, Red Hulk and Skaar form an unlikely family living under one roof. (Disney XD)

As Tatasciore has painted his version of Hulk, he’s had to change the brush strokes on his gamma-irradiated muse lately. The days of “Hulk Smash!” are not totally gone, but in “Marvel’s Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.,” Hulk is the leader of a group of hulks — including the militaristic Red Hulk (Clancy Brown), the level-headed She Hulk (Eliza Dushku), the fun-loving A-Bomb (Seth Green) and the violent Skaar (Ben Diskin).

He has progressed to the point where he has much of the intellect of his genius alter ego, Dr. Bruce Banner.

“He can always turn on the savagery, but he wants to stay in control,” Tatasciore said.

Onscreen, the Hulk made his first appearance in the 1966 “Marvel Super Heroes” cartoon TV series. Lou Ferrigno’s Hulk (and his alter-ego David Banner, played by Bill Bixby) were probably the most famous screen incarnation of the characters, appearing in the popular live-action TV series that ran from 1977-1982 and in three TV movies produced after the show was canceled.

After that, the Hulk appeared in many cameo cartoon roles (“X-Men,” “Fantastic Four” shows) and starred in a 1996-97 UPN animated series, until a CGI Hulk turned up in multiple movies in the 2000s, with 2003′s “Hulk” starring Eric Bana and 2008′s “The Incredible Hulk” with Edward Norton. Neither of those films met with great critical or fan acclaim. But last year’s blockbuster hit “The Avengers,” with Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, was a commercial and critical success, with a sequel to follow.

Fred Tatasciore strikes a pose next to the "Agents of Smash" poster while in the recording booth. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Fred Tatasciore strikes a pose next to the “Agents of S.M.A.S.H.” poster while in the recording booth. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

“I was into the comics as a kid, and I was very much into the Bill Bixby show. Between the animation and the movies and the comics — you learn from everybody who’s done it,” Tatasciore said. “I loved how Bixby played Banner and Ruffalo brought something different, too.”

His influences are numerous. Ferrigno had a physicality that was integral to Tatasciore’s development of the character. Even Norton, whose Banner/Hulk earned mixed reactions, helped guide Tatasciore.

“I worked on that movie with him and he was fantastic. He voice-directed me for a part of it and he was very sympathetic to people who yell to do the voices, and he did a great job,” Tatasciore said. “But, it’s like each Bond has his own separate thing — I learned from all of them to make my own amalgamation.”

Tatasciore developed his showbiz work ethic and collaborative nature early on as the son of an actress mom who worked with Vincent Price on many of his movies, and a producer dad who worked on such programs as “Password,” “The Mike Douglas Show” and “The Dinah Shore Show.”

“When I was a kid, I carried a tape recorder around doing voices,” Tatasciore said. “It was kind of like growing up in the circus. It was always allowed that I could pursue voice acting and animation, and encouraged because [my parents] knew people that were doing this type of thing.”

Hulk and Rick Jones in "Hulk and the Agents of SMASH." (Disney XD)

Hulk (Fred Tatasciore) and Rick Jones (Seth Green) in “Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.” (Disney XD)

In his show business life, Tatasciore has tried stand-up comedy and is an animator himself, but being a voice actor was always his professional calling. The combination of stage work and animation led to voice acting for friends’ productions, and that turned into paying gigs.

Despite his current roles, he is not limited to Hulk in his voice-acting repertoire. He’s had long stints on the anime program “Naruto,” different incarnations of “Scooby-Doo,” “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness” and way too many video games (at least 260 credited) to list.

“If you had told me 25 years ago that that would be the future, I’d have said, ‘What?! What do you mean?’ No, I never would’ve known that these video games would become so cinematic,” Tatasciore said. “The story lines are so in-depth. They’re like novels. You end up playing a character for many years.”

Actor Seth Green also had been through similar voice-acting transitions in the industry — he got his start young and is a high-profile presence in the world of animation with projects such as “Family Guy” and his own “Robot Chicken.”

A fellow actor on “Agents of S.M.A.S.H.,” Green recognizes the attention to detail that Tatasciore brings to the Hulk.

“There is a difference between being able to act and being a gifted voice-over performer,” Green said. “Fred Tatasciore is someone that we’ve hired on ‘Robot Chicken’ over and over again because he can do so many things. He’s a really committed and terrific actor.”

Tatasciore also voices Hulk in “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” (Sunday mornings) and “Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel,” two tonally different versions of the character. Exploring so many interpretations of one character is creatively satisfying for Tatasciore, though he has a special appreciation for his “green friend’s” currently more thoughtful mode on “Agents of S.M.A.S.H.”

“Hulk can be savage, but he strives for peace as a leader, and he’s going through all these emotions,” Tatasciore said. “But what brings out the rage is the negativity in the world.”

– Jevon Phillips

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex


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One Response to ‘Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.’: Fred Tatasciore on playing primal

  1. A Big Fan says:

    I've had the pleasure of seeing Fred do stand-up comedy, and he is phenomenal. Trippy and deep, and skull-clutchingly funny. What I love best about his stand-up it is never mean-spirited or x-rated — he's no prude, but he doesn't need to get laughs via shock tactics.

    Really an unusual talent. Also just one helluva nice person.

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