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Interview with Hank Azaria, star of Chicago 10

Hank Azaria stars in Chicago 10, directed by Brett Morgan, as the voice of Abbie Hoffman, who lead anti-Vietnam War protests during the Democratic Convention in Chicago of 1968 and was charged with inciting riots along with 7 other anti-war protest leaders. The courtroom scenes are animated with motion capture effects while the rest include lots of historical footage, which makes for a wildly imaginative documentary. Hank Azaria has performed in Run Fat Boy Run, The Grand, Eulogy, Along Came Polly, Dodgeball, Shattered Glass, America's Sweethearts, Mystery, Alaska, and The Birdcage. He also lends his voice as the character of Moe in "The Simpsons". I had the privilege to interview him.

Roadside Attractions releases Chicago 10 on February 29th, 2008 at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How challenging was your voice over work in Chicago 10?

HA: It was a fun challenge for a voice-over mimic actor like myself. It took many takes and a lot of studying and listening to tapes over and over again.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How different was this experience compared to your other voice-recording experiences?

HA: It was like most cartoon acting where youíre by yourself. [Director] Brett Morgan read the other dialogue with me. The only difference is that I need to pace it up in voice-over acting. Pauses have to be used either as a joke or to serve what youíre hearing. My only tools are reflection and tone of voice, [so I] had to work within that palate. I donít even think about it anymore because Iíve been doing it for so long.

NYC MOVIE GURU: When did you know you were meant to become a voice mimic?

HA: When I was [a kid] I always mimicked everything I heard. I just thought everybody could do it. I didnít realize it was a marketable skill until later in life. Itís actually great to apply it to something like this that has something relevant to say and isnít just funny.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How close is the dialogue to what was actually said on the tapes?

HA: All of courtroom scenes are verbatim [while] some of the other animated scenes are written dialogue.

NYC MOVIE GURU: What the political message behind Chicago 10?

HA: I donít like being political as an actor, but, simply [put], protest is okay. Itís okay to have a public voice about what you do or donít like about this country. Young people should know that itís not un-American to point out what you donít like your country is doingówhether itís about war, healthcare, NAFTA [etcÖ]. At the time when we were making the movie, things were a lot bleaker for left-wing people like myself.

NYC MOVIE GURU: If Abbie Hoffman were still alive today, what would you ask him?

HA: Itíll be interesting to ask him what he thinks of Ralph Nader. Iíd be curious to see what heíd be getting behind right now. What would he be protesting? What would feel like would be the most vital thing that heíd be throwing his anarchic weight behind? I, kind of, also wanna ask him ďDid you mean to kill yourself?Ē but I guess thatís kind of a cheating question.

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