We got a chance to chat with Baron Vaughn, one of the stars of the upcoming animated series, Wild Life. Perhaps best known for his role on Grace and Frankie or in the 2017 revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Vaughn plays a hyper anthropomorphic fox on Wild Life.
The series is a part of SYFY’s late-night adult animation block TZGZ, and it revolves around a group of zoo animals who have taken back the world after the apocalypse. From a pacifist cheetah with anxiety issues to a self-care loving panda, every episode is full of wild adventure and wilder humor. The 6-episode, 15-minute series is executive produced by creator Adam Davies, as well as Alex Plapinger, Dylan Dawson, Valparaiso Pictures and Octopie.
We spoke with Vaughn about his involvement in the series, his voice work, and where he would be in an apocalypse.
On his reaction to the premise of Wild Life:
“My reaction was [that] this couldn’t be more timely. And that was even before this whole pandemic situation started. You know, I hate to use a word like ‘collective consciousness.’ But, to me, TV is always like us talking about ourselves when we don’t think we actually are. So whatever’s on our mind, whatever’s going on in the world in some way, even if we don’t mean [for] it to, will show up in our work. So the [people] that created the show — it’s almost like a writing-on-the-wall kind of a thing — but it’s also like, they know who they are.”
“So I wouldn’t doubt if it’s born out of the idea of like, ‘Guys, we’re probably headed towards the Apocalypse! Are we gonna be okay?’ And then this show is a take on how we could support each other. And all of this weird violence and darkness is just normal. It’s not like we stopping by [and saying], ‘Oh no! A skull, oh, my god!’ It’s just like, ‘Yeah, that’s what things are like now. That’s not even headlines anymore. We got to make it through the day.'”
On auditioning for the part:
“It’s a combination of things. I knew one of the executives on it, Alex Plapinger, before this project; I met him many years ago. But luckily, people tend to remember me and liked working with me. And also, I have a good relationship with SyFy. But, even so, I think I might have done a good old fashioned audition for this part.”
On collaboration and improvising on the script:
“Luckily, the [people] who are making the show are very, very, very, very open to collaboration. Generally, the scripts are already great; they’re already funny as written. It seems like basically everyone stays pretty much on the script. But if they improvise, like myself, it’ll always be in the context of the scene and always just be an elaboration of what’s happening.”
“So, there’s the improv where you write things that were never there, and they didn’t even figure out the characters or the story, and you have to do it. And then there’s the improv where what you’ve been given is so solid, it’s just your instinct to continue to grow this world because they’ve already created such a great vivid world. It’s easy to just imagine that you’re in it. That’s the kind of improv that we’re doing on this show.”
On doing voice work:
“I love doing voiceover work. I respect voiceover actors, and I love animation. So I’m always looking for an opportunity to get involved. I’ve been on a couple of different short animated shows, and it’s always like a joy to take part in.”
“What I like about voiceover work is that — especially in a show like this, where [there] are anthropomorphic animals — we all get to tap into that lizard-brain part of ourselves, you know? The animal brain, that instinctual, that wildness, the feral part of ourselves. But also, because of how they’re written, there’s also that logical insecurity. So that going back and forth is just really, really fun. I wouldn’t say Hudson is insecure. I feel like Hudson jumps in before he thinks about what’s happening. And then if what he didn’t want to happen happens, he’s annoyed, he’s like, ‘This was not how this was supposed to go!’ He’s very scatterbrained and, and I love being able to go to that place with him.”
“And, I love the way they pulled off the animation. The voice was just born of looking at it. For me, I have to see that character. I have to see the drawing. It gives me everything. Any artist is who’s good at their job is putting those things [together], like how open or how narrow their eyes are, [if they have a] big posture and they stick out their chest, or if they’re a little hunched over. That tells me a lot of things and Hudson’s got a wide-eyed, looking-for-the-next-thing kind of look. And I just was like, I think I got this, and luckily they responded to it. That’s what’s always the joy, about doing any voiceover, is the collaboration with the directors and the artists to create something. No one’s thinking about me when they’re going to see this part. And so I get to do that, too. I get to think about not me.”
And finally, on the animal he would be in the case of an apocalypse:
“I think that I would try to be a skunk. Yes. First of all, well dressed. Black and white. Makes anyone look good, you know what I mean? Always slimming. And then secondly, I love a good fart weapon. You know what I mean? You really get to pick who you’re going to be around when you’re a skunk.”
Wild Life is set to debut this Saturday, September 26th at midnight alongside Magical Girl Friendship Squad.