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Jason Isaacs reveals how Scoob! puts a new spin on Wacky Races' Dick Dastardly
With the release of Scoob!, Warner Bros. hopes to launch a Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe that throws Mystery Inc., Captain Caveman (Tracy Morgan), Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg), and Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs) into one big animated blender. Moreover, the project is meant to put a different spin on all of these established cartoon characters.
"Dick Dastardly is a villain in this film in some ways, although I have a lot of sympathies for him," Jason Isaacs exclusively told SYFY WIRE. "Dick Dastardly in the Saturday morning cartoons was a bit of a dismissible wimp. He was the loser from the first frame, always. You were never worried about him."
Famous for his long trenchcoat, striped hat, and twirl-worthy mustache, Dastardly (originally voiced by Paul Winchell) made his first-ever appearance in Wacky Races, a CBS cartoon that ran for a single season of 17 episodes on CBS between 1968 and 1969. Much like Wile E. Coyote of Looney Tunes fame, the antagonist was always attempting to sabotage the titular races, only to be foiled in the most karmic of ways. Upon becoming exasperated, he'd often exclaim: "Drat!," "double drat!," or even the dreaded "triple drat!"
Between 1969 and 1970, he and his canine companion, Muttley (a character known for his weezing sort of laugh), received a short-lived spinoff series, Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. In Scoob!, Dick Dastardly is a Netflix thief who wants to cause a “dogpocalypse" by unleashing Cerberus (the three-headed dog of the Underworld) upon the Earth.
"He’s a man on a mission and he’s not as easily dismissible," Isaacs continued. "He’s not as pathetic and you can tell just by looking at. Dick Dastardly was a very very wimpy guy in the original cartoons and now, he’s got a giant simian jaw and a huge kind of Mr. Incredible body. He’s slightly more of a force in this."
Over the years, the character has also been voiced by Rob Paulsen and Jim Cummings.
Having grown up as a fan of Wacky Races, Isaacs (Harry Potter, Star Trek: Discovery) was slightly nervous about lending his voice to such an iconic role. Fortunately, he was able to apply some of his life experience as a commanding officer in Starfleet to his approach for Scoob!.
"It was terrifying until I realized what I’ve realized before in situations like this," he said. "If you take any of the weight on board of the extraordinary stuff that’s happened before, then you just wouldn’t bother trying. I felt the same playing a captain in Star Trek. You have to forget what people expect and what they’ve seen and what they’ve heard, and just jump in and make it the best you can."
Unlike his work on The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance for Netflix, the actor was recording his dialogue before the animation was made, meaning he could really let loose with the performance.
"I was given a lot of leeway," Isaacs added. "We had enormously good fun recording a billion versions of everything. Me going wildly over the top and I have no idea what ends up in the film, of course. You just record and record and record all day, laughing or screaming or whatever the hell it is, and then it’s down to them to choose the bits that they think will make a good film."
Having starred in Pixar's Cars 2, he's pretty savvy on how the whole process works.
"You record multiple times," Isaacs said. "You go in, [do your lines], animators come back, and they re-animate, they try new endings ... You go back and do it a lot and they keep changing it a lot and they change endings and beginnings and characters. So, I get to hear some of the other voices and they’re fabulous and the animation is great."
Will Forte (Shaggy), Gina Rodriguez (Velma), Amanda Seyfried (Daphne), Zac Efron (Fred), and Frank Welker (Scooby) voice the members of Mystery Inc. Ken Jeong (Dynomutt, Dog Wonder) and Kiersey Clemons (Dee Dee Sykes) round out the rest of the principal voice cast.
Helmed by Tony Cervone (director of 2015's Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery), Scoob! was written by Adam Sztykiel, Jack Donaldson, Derek Elliott, and Matt Lieberman.
Originally meant to hit theaters in late May of this year, Scoob! has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was one of several Warner Bros. projects (including Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman 1984 and James Wan's Malignant) to be pushed off by the global health scare.
No replacement date has been announced yet.