How The Animaniacs And Pinky And The Brain Casts Feel About Their Characters Appearing In A Live-Action Project

It’s probably fair to say that Animaniacs is one of the greatest animated series of all time and has produced some of the most recognizable characters in all of pop culture. The Warner siblings, along with Pinky and the Brain, are widely loved by TV aficionados and have been since they were introduced in 1993. Though as popular as they are, the eccentric bunch have yet to appear in a live-action project. A number of fans would surely love to see it, but one can’t help but wonder how the voice actors would feel. Well, thankfully, I was able to get their thoughts on the prospect. 

Plenty of notable toons have made the jump to live-action, from Popeye and The Flinstones to Speed Racer and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And some have even appeared in hybrid productions that featured both animated and flesh-and-blood beings. With all of that in mind, there are a number of ways that producers could handle Animaniacs’ cast of characters. In celebration of the Hulu revival’s final season, I spoke with the core voice actors and asked about the notion of the Warners and the ACME Labs mice entering the real world. Wakko voice actor Jess Harnell likes the idea and believes that such a production should take inspiration from a certain classic movie:  

I think to dress people up as these characters and have real people doing it would be pretty silly, and I don't know how that could work. But if you took the Warners and did sort of a [Who Framed] Roger Rabbit thing with them and put them in the real world, I think that can be hilarious and amazing.

The actor makes two good points here, one being that it would be difficult for audiences to buy real actors dressed up like the mischievous siblings. Also, Robert Zemeckis’ crime comedy is a perfect example of a mash-up movie done right. Even to this day, few films have managed to match Roger Rabbit, let alone surpass it. However, in 2022, there was a certain flick that did arguably capture the spirit of the 1988 romp. And Tress MacNeille evoked its name when arguing why the hybrid format would work for Animaniacs:

Well, I know that it can be done and people would love that sort of thing. But Jess is right, of course, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot would have to remain animated and then maybe our adversaries or our current friends, we mix those with the live-action folk. Yeah, Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers did that, and so we know that it's a form that works and people like it very much.

The idea of the Warners inhabiting the real world is just too delightful to deny. And considering what the producers have accomplished with the animated series, I think they could craft a truly unique project – one that maintains the clever nature of both animated shows. So that covers the fun-loving siblings, but what about Pinky and the Brain? Maurice LeMarche, who voices the latter mouse, is down with the duo leaping into our universe. Though unlike his co-stars, he’d like to take things a step further when it comes to how the characters could be designed:

Well, I mean, you know, I think if it were to be a live-action situation, they'd still have to be animated. Maybe they'd be incredibly intricate CGI renderings of themselves, moving through a real world, much like The Muppet Movie – although they were still cloth. But you know, those characters moving through a flesh and blood world was what gave that movie its charm. I think that would be something that might be fun to experiment with, you know, little Pinky and the Brain, with fur you could actually see moving with the wind, you know, interacting with Harry Styles, I don't know, just who knows. And just... it would be great.

I’m not sure what makes me chuckle more: the prospect of the mice traversing the real world or the simple thought of them interacting with Harry Styles.During the same interview, Maurice LeMarche and Rob Paulsen (Pinky) pitched an awesome idea for a Pinky and the Brain movie. They imagine the two going on a road trip together to find an item that’ll assist them in finally taking over the world. That could certainly serve as a fun plot for a live-action outing. 

The future of Animaniacs is uncertain at this time, especially since the latest iteration of the show closed out its run after three seasons. However, I still believe we’ll see these characters again – and in a live-action setting, at that. Should it not happen though, the cast is “proud” of the show’s legacy as is. And as Rob Paulsen sweetly put it, he and his colleagues have already “won the lottery.” That’s totally true, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t want to see them hit the jackpot again by having their characters leap out of their animated parameters.

All three seasons of Animaniacs are available to stream using a Hulu subscription. You can also peep the 2023 TV schedule to learn about other major premieres that are set for the year. 

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.