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For several years now, Justin Roiland has been of the most popular TV animations actors on the planet, based largely (but not completely) on being the voice of both the titular characters in Adult Swim's Rick and Morty. His improvisational style and manic drive are two of his biggest strengths, which has also helped boost his career outside of Rick and Morty-dom. Not all of it has been a painless dream, though, with Roiland recently revealing one role that completely wrecked his voice after the first time he did it.
Before Rick and Morty shook up the late-night animation game, Justin Roiland held roles on two of the most beloved animated series of the past 20 years, Adventure Time and Gravity Falls. While talking about his various acting gigs with GQ, he revealed that taking on the role of Adventure Time's batty Earl of Lemongrab was quite detrimental to his voice at the time. Mentioning that the show's creator Pendleton Ward had been on an episode of his Grandma's Virginity Podcast, Roiland explained:
We had [Pendleton Ward] on an episode, and I remember after that, he asked me to do a voice. I didn’t know what it was, but I was like, ‘Yeah, I’d love to do a voice on Adventure Time, because I love the show.’ They sent me the storyboards for the episode, and I looked through it. I didn’t really know what to do, so I went in and started screaming, and he’s like, ‘That’s it. Great.’ I learned the limits of my voice with that character for sure. I blew my voice out really bad.
Anyone who is familiar with the Earl of Lemongrab knows exactly what Justin Roiland is talking about. The character's voice is high-pitched and strained, to the point where it sometimes sounds as if Roiland's vocal cords would be splintering with each word. It doesn't help, of course, that Earl of Lemongrab's rabid and unstable personality only causes his voice to get more stretched out and fractured as he gets upset.
Justin Roiland had to take some healthful advice from Tom Kenny, who voice Adventure Time's Ice King (as well as SpongeBob SquarePants himself). In Roiland's words:
Tom Kenny told me to go to this really good ENT and I had to get a cortisone shot and not talk for two weeks. Literally not talk. I had to use an app called TalkBot. I would talk to people using the app – text-to-speech – and the app sounded really depressing, so every time I would text something, people would be like, ‘Are you okay?’
As the creation of one Princess Bubblegum, Earl of Lemongrab first showed up on Adventure Time in the Season 3 episode "Too Young," riding his Lemon Camel into the Candy Kingdom as its ruler, only to get fired (ya butt) from the position after being pranked. That debut performance was definitely a memorable one, and set up more than a dozen appearances on Adventure Time (sometimes as cloned versions). But you can bet that he came up with better ways to voice Lemongrab, which may or may not have involved running around and ripping his pants off. (It did not.)
While certain characters on Rick and Morty have a passing resemblance to the way Earl of Lemongrab sounds on Adventure Time, Justin Roiland likely knew never to push himself quite that hard when making the Adult Swim comedy.
Rick and Morty is all done with Season 4 now, following a Star Wars-filled season finale, with Season 5 set to possibly debut in 2020. Meanwhile, Adventure Time wrapped up its run on Cartoon Network back in 2018, with all ten seasons now available to stream on HBO Max. What's more, the show will be returning with four hour-long specials on HBO Max, which will be released under the title Adventure Time: Distant Lands.