EXCLUSIVE Seth Green talks about the new "Robot Chicken" spoof of "Star Wars" and spending time with George Lucas.
I got a chance to talk the other day to Seth Green who, as always, was a man in major motion. "There’s a lot going on these days," he said. "But there’s always a lot going on, right?" This week Green was in New York for the final episode of MTV’s "Total Request Live," he was in L.A. chatting up Kevin and Bean at KROQ-FM and then he was jetting north to the Bay Area to meet with Lucasfilm folks about his ongoing and quirky relationship with the "Star Wars" universe. Green is, of course, a busy actor (more on that later) but he is especially near and dear to hearts of fanboys everywhere for his work on "Robot Chicken," the deliriously funny pop-culture spoof show that is at its very best when goofing on "Star Wars" and its mythology.
Green and his "Robot Chicken" puppeteer partners-in-crime have returned to the universe of the Jedi for "Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II," which Green directed and which makes its premiere at 11:30 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 16) on Adult Swim. As usual, it’s got fall-down-funny satire of the greatest space opera of them and features voice contributions from Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Seth MacFarlane, Ahmed Best and Conan O’Brien, just to name a few. (I’ve got some images here from it as sneak peek; I got a good chuckle out of the Imperial stormtrooper who made the mistake of participating in "Bring Your Daughter to Work Day," which you can see after the jump…)
"When we do ‘Star Wars,’ it does seem to really work so well and I think it’s because everyone is so familiar with the mythology, it’s universal, everyone instantly connects and also there’s also a lot there to have fun with, in our very loving and slightly weird way," Green said. He said this entire production went back at pretty amazing pace of 14 weeks from blank page to completed footage. "We’ve become super efficient," he said. "Alarmingly efficient, in fact. And when it’s ‘Star Wars’ we’re always swinging for the fences and we’re very happy with the finished product. It’s about 100 people collaborating, counting the writers and the actors and the costumes and the puppeteers and everything else. It’s a huge endeavor but it’s going so smooth and it’s just so much fun. "
I told Green that I have a theory that the greatest service performed by Emmy-winning "Robot Chicken" is to "Star Wars" creator, George Lucas; I think the parodies — and the fact that Lucas has given both his continued blessing and even the occasional voice contribution — have gone a long way in humanizing the sometime remote wizard of Skywalker Ranch.
Green said getting to spend time with Lucas has been one of the great (and unexpected) treats of his show-biz career. And he said that the filmmaker is "just a super guy, which maybe people don’t always get when they are looking on from a distance." He added: "There’s this whole side that is just great and warm and funny."
I’ve talked to Lucas on several occasions now and I even got a chance, like Green, to spend time at Skywalker Ranch. After all that, I have the theory that Lucas is more comfortable around new ideas than he is around new people. "I think that might be true," Green said. "But there’s the side to him that people don’t get to see. He is somewhat shy in social settings. But the reaction that people have to him is sort of crazy, too. People are dumbstruck when they see him."
I last talked to Lucas at the Spike TV 2008 Scream Awards and, standing in a crowded backstage party just a few feet from Marilyn Manson, the 64-year-old filmmaker looked like he was rather be somewhere (maybe anywhere) else. "Yeah, he probably did," Green said. "It’s funny because just like Marilyn Manson people see George and they have all these expectations and they just can’t process that they are standing near him. It’s very weird for guys like them to deal with all that."
Green seems pretty comfortable no matter what setting he’s in and, without great fanfare, he has become a true triple-threat player in pop culture — on camera, behind the camera and (with comic-book endeavors) away from the camera.
Green will costar with John Travolta and Robin Williams in Disney’s "Old Dogs" next year (don’t be surprised if one or even both of those Hollywood veterans pop up on "Chicken" at some point) and his bizarre Amish role stole the movie in "Sex Drive," which opened this month. Green is making new episodes of "Family Guy" and he will be a guest star on "Heroes" in December. Green and Hugh Sterbakov created "The Freshmen," the Top Cow comic book series, and his resume goes on and on. He’s quite the brand-name in the fanboy universe, of course, for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and his expertise for eye-rolling as the disaffected son of Dr. Evil in the "Austin Powers" films.
The 34-year-old Green, who co-created "Robot Chicken" with Matthew Senreich, seems like one of the real nice guys in show business and it is amazing to think back on the path he’s followed since appearing in Woody Allen’s wonderful 1987 film "Radio Days." It’s been a great ride for the West Philly native and here’s hoping that in between the movie roles he makes a lot more puppet skits about the "Star Wars " bounty hunters. "There’s, what, maybe 60 years of history from the start of ‘Star Wars’ saga to the end? Think about that," he said, "that’s a lot of material."
— Geoff Boucher
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Credits: Seth Green photo by Kwaku Alston. Robot Chicken images from the new "Star Wars" special courtesy of Stoopid Monkey Productions, Adult Swim and Cartoon Network.