Shaggy from Scooby-Doo is easily one of the most beloved animated characters of the last 50 years. While he’s very much a reflection of the era from which he was born – essentially a stoner hippy who we never see smoke pot – fans have long loved his goofy antics and his enviable relationship with his number one canine pal, and its kept him and the rest of the Scooby gang as pop culture stalwarts for decades.
Of course, a huge part of Shaggy’s legacy is the list of great performers who have played him over the years, starting with the legendary Casey Kasem, and the latest to join that line with the new animated feature Scoob! is Saturday Night Live alum Will Forte. It’s a role that the actor was honored to have the opportunity to play, but as he revealed to me earlier this week during an online video chat, it also proved to be a job that came part and parcel with a lot of stress:
With Scoob! set to be available for digital purchase starting on Friday, I had the pleasure of talking with Will Forte during the film’s virtual press day on Tuesday, and my first question was in regard to his process leaving his own stamp on the character. As I quickly learned, that was a whole thing in the early days of the project that legitimately freaked him out:
Oh, I'll tell you, it was very stressful because it's a character that I've loved forever, and I'm so used to those... Casey Kasem's voice obviously is one of the most iconic voices of all time, and then Matthew Lillard I thought did an amazing job. So it was stressful cause my voice is different than theirs.
It’s an understandable position when you consider the potential negative outcomes that Will Forte could foresee. If he tried to do his best imitation of past Shaggy performers, he would potentially be criticized for not doing a good enough job. And if he tried to do his own thing with it, there would potentially be complaints about him not honoring the legacy. It’s not exactly a no-win situation, but still a thorny one to navigate.
Fortunately, he found a level of comfort working with Scoob! director Tony Cervone and the other filmmakers in the recording process, given a kind of permission to pursue the character the best way he felt fit:
They put me at ease when I was coming in and they said, 'Don't worry about topping older voices. You can kind of do your own thing.' And so it was trying to find a voice that was not wildly off from what Shaggy was, but a voice that I could actually do.
Ultimately it was a lot of work, and Will Forte took the role as seriously as any performer could – but he found himself laughing when recounting to me all the good the extracurricular activity actually did when he arrived in started doing his recording sessions. Said the actor,
I studied so much and practiced so much, and then pretty much all of the study and practice goes out when you get into the recording booth and it's just kind of what comes out comes out. What an honor to do this voice, and it was a lot of fun, but there definitely was a stressful side to it.
What will fortunately make any difficult endeavor easier to get through is having the support of a trustworthy colleague who can guide you, and that definitely was the relationship that Will Forte had with Tony Cervone. The filmmaker has been telling stories with the Scooby gang since co-directing/producing 2010’s Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo, and that experience, plus his general positive attitude, allowed Forte to relax a bit while bringing to life his incarnation of Norville "Shaggy" Rogers:
Tony, the director, is the sweetest person and so supportive and wonderful. It's just so wonderful to work with him. He makes you feel really supported, and pushes you into a lot of directions. That made it way easier, cause I overthink everything, and then I come in feeling stressed out, and it just immediately became fun because he's just a really nice, smart, wonderful guy.
You can hear Tony Cervone discuss about his experiences making Scoob! on the latest episode of ReelBlend, which is available here.
In addition to Will Forte, Scoob! also stars Amanda Seyfried, Zac Efron, Gina Rodriguez, Jason Isaacs, Mark Wahlberg, Ken Jeong, Kiersey Clemons, and more, and will be available for digital purchase or rental tomorrow – with a special premiere being hosted on Twitter at 4pm PST/7pm EST. Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more of our coverage!