"I am like a cartoon hyena in real life, so I didn't have to do that from myself," Eric Andre tells news.com.au.
"I'm constantly eating raw meat and stealing lion cubs in my private life. It was a smooth transition. "
Andre is joking, of course. The comedian doesn't really love the lion cubs when the cameras aren't on But he does have a cackle that is decidedly hyena like. Even over the phone from LA, his laugh reverberates.
Andre is the voice of Azizi, one of the three hyenas in Scar's evil pack in the live-action remake of Disney's The Lion King.
"I was born to play." I approached it kind of like in my own voice but heightened. I assumed I was hired based off my previous small body of work so I made it a heightened version of myself. "
While the hyenas in the 1994 animated version were all a bit dopey, the new version has changed the characterization so that really only Azizi is.
"I am proud to say that I might be the dumbest character in the movie."
Andre, 36, may not be as famous as his co-stars in The Lion King, which includes the likes of Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Beyonce Knowles, Chiwetel Ejiofor and John Oliver, but he has a dedicated fan base.
He was the voice of cheeky demon Lights in Matt Groening's Netflix series disenchantment and played Mark in the short-lived but beloved Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23.
He is about to embark on his new stand-up tour in the US, Europe and, by December, Australia, where his Sydney show is already sold-out.
But he’s probably best known for his role in Man Seeking Woman, and as the creator, host of his own series, The Eric Andre Show.
The Eric Andre Show is a surrealist parody of talk shows where Andre punks his guests with outrageous antics. On his show, Andre has an outsized, wacky identity, and sometimes his fans thinks that 's who he is in real life.
"I was getting a banh me once in Toronto and this kid came up to me was‘ Ahhhhh! You’re Eric Andre! ’And I said‘ Yep, just getting a sandwich ’. He was confused that I wasn't hyper or crazy so he started punching my back.
"It 's like as if I was his favorite toy and it had stopped working. He slammed me like a broken VCR. I asked him to stop hitting me and he just walked away. He didn´t even get his sandwich. "
The Eric Andre Show airs in the US on the cartoon Networks late night Adult Swim line-up and even though it doesn’t seem like a natural precursor to wholesome Disney movie The Lion King.
"Thank god (director) Jon Favreau has a 16-year-old son that watches Adult Swim at 4.30am in the morning, or I would not be talking to you right now!"
With his two fellow hyenas – Keegan-Michael Key and Florence Kasumba – the three voice actors improvised much of their dialogue together.
While most voice performances in the screen are recorded only in a booth with the script on a music stand, Favreau tried a different set-up.
The director set up a soundstage in which the actors from the same scene would play around, like a theater rehearsal, and they would be riff and improvis
"I thought it was pretty cool," Andre says. "It felt like Robert Duvall in that George Lucas movie, THX. It was futuristic, like we were recording at NASA.
"They are really really immersive."
“We did a lot of improv We had everything we wanted and Disney let Favreau do what he wanted. It was very fun and free. "
Andre admits that he doesn’t remember is asked if there was anything they had improvised that he loved but didn't make the cut.
"That's the thing about improvising. When you do it, five minutes after it's done, you don't remember anything. I mean, I've been smoking pot since I was 12 years old. "
With that, he laughs again, that hyena cackle mixed with some nervous laughter in the background from Disney publicists.
The Lion King is in cinemas from Wednesday, July 17
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