Whether you’re an uber-fan of the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon or have only casually dipped your toe into the Bikini Bottom waters, you can't help but wonder, “Who — or what — could have raised Patrick Star?”
Sure, the pink starfish is lovable, hilarious, and a loyal friend. But he’s also dumb as a rock. Frankly, we've worried for him. So, if you're like us and pondered his origins, we can assure you that context is coming inside Nickelodeon’s brand new animated series, The Patrick Star Show, which premieres on Friday, July 9, at 7 p.m. EST.
Set slightly before the SpongeBob SquarePants series' timeline, the series introduces audiences to the family who shaped that crazy starfish, including parents Cecil (Tom Wilson) and Bunny Star (Cree Summer), his talent booker little sister, Squidina Star (Jill Talley), and his grumpy genius GrandPat Star (Dana Snyder).
In reality, Patrick’s family is brought to life by some of the most well-known animation vocal artists in this modern era of animation. Take actress Cree Summer (Bunny), who is beloved as Freddie Brooks in the seminal live-action sitcom, A Different World. But, her first animation role was in 1983 as Penny in Inspector Gadget. Since then, she’s brought to life now classic characters like Elmyra Duff in Tiny Toons and Susie Carmichael in Rugrats.
Playing her co-parent, Cecil Star, is Tom Wilson, best known as Back to the Future’s Biff Tannen. However, in the animation world, he’s the voice behind countless Bikini Bottom citizens like Flats the Flounder, as well as characters in Gargoyles, Pinky and the Brain, and Tales of Arcadia.
Dana Snyder embodies GrandPat Star, but he's also the iconic voice of Master Shake in the Aqua Teen Hunger Force, as well as The Alchemist in The Venture Bros., and The Penguin in recent DC animated series.
These are all veteran voice actors, yet all of them are genuinely delighted to be part of one of animation’s most enduring franchises. SYFY WIRE spoke with the trio about where they found their character voices, how the new show has upped their familial cool, and how playing a Star ranks on their resumes….
Cree, you have young kids. Did getting cast in The Patrick Star Show gain you any cool points at home?
Cree Summer (Bunny Star): I have two daughters — Brave Littlewing, who is 10, and Hero Peregrine Stormborn, who is 8 — and they watch SpongeBob on purpose. [Laughs.] When I told them I was going to be part of The Patrick Star Show, they went crazy. The thing about doing cartoons when you are a parent is your kids don't really care about the cartoons you are on, and rarely do they watch them. But this was a really good "in" and I got some points with my daughters on this one.
Tom Wilson (Cecil Star): SpongeBob has meant so much to my family. I have four children and my daughter in third grade won a SpongeBob competition. Her sons are now watching SpongeBob and Kamp Koral, so to be a part of that for so long is just so wonderful and I'm so happy.
Cree, do your kids get excited when you have to voice from home?
Summer: No, I record everything from what my daughters lovingly call "Mama's toilet office." [Laughs.] I spend hours and hours in the toilet. It's a living!
Dana, you've played a lot of smart characters. GrandPat Star is supposedly the brain of the family. What's his most genius moment?
Dana Snyder (GrandPat): He's pretty crazy. He is a genius, so probably everything. Everything is attacked from a point of genius, so everything he does just gets smarter than the last thing he did. And the first thing he did was very smart. Borderline genius, so at this point, he's so old that he can't make a non-genus move to save his life. And it's unfortunate because he's in a house full of dolts.
What's the inspiration for his voice?
Snyder: I kind of based him on a very masculine version of Diane Rehm from NPR, who has spastic vocal cords. But, just a little bit more manly. You can hear his diaphragm is going crazy. [Laughs.]
What's it been like adding your character to the Bikini Bottom universe?
Snyder: Well, he's just a grizzled old Marine who thinks his family are boobs, and wouldn't be able to fight their way out of a paper bag, let alone fake their way out. The stuff he gets to do in there, it's very fun because one week he's a gladiator, and the next week he's back in the '20s at the Speakeasy, and then he's fighting dinosaurs. I feel very lucky to be able to be a part of this.
Summer: Tom's been in this universe for a long time. I am brand-spanking-new into the breach. So you know, for me of course excitement and then also just that feeling of "Wow, I hope they like this crazy Bunny chick and Grandma Tentacles, Squidward's grandmother." But, more than anything, probably just excitement. What an honor to be part of such an established, incredible franchise. I mean, you just feel it going in that you're a part of something really special.
Wilson: I am so thrilled to be a part of it. From the very beginning of SpongeBob, God bless him, for [creator] Stephen Hillenburg, I would do Reg the bouncer of the Salty Spitoon. "Hey, Welcome to Salty Spitoon! How tough are you?" And then Stephen would come up with another character and say, "Tom, could you make it like lower? Can you do it with more gravel and louder?" It was a joke, because every time it was, "Yeah, could it be louder? More psychotic?" So now, I finally get to play Patrick's dad which makes me so happy because it's so close to my voice. I'm not screaming my head off and fighting people. It's so wonderful. [Laughs.]
The Patrick Star Show premieres on Friday, July 9, at 7 p.m. EST.