Animated Shorts: Armin Shimerman- From Quark to Calculator
For years, Armin Shimerman has been known as one of the top character actors in the business. Just think of his role as Quark, the ever-scheming Ferengi, on Star Trek: Deep Space 9, and that’s just for starters.So how does he find working in animation? “It is over the top,” he admits while on break from Batman: The Brave & the Bold. “So it’s right up my alley. I’ve done mostly science fiction on camera. These wonderful animation characters are basically in the same line. They give me the opportunity to go over the top, which I certainly enjoy doing.” An admittedly late bloomer in the voice acting field, Shimerman has been making up for lost time with Batman: The Brave & the Bold. On Friday, May 1st, he will voice the role of The Calculator. James Tucker and Mike Jelenic like him so much, he will be returning as two other characters in future episodes this season. One will be as a Green Lantern guardian. The other he won’t say. Then again, he’s thrilled about doing comic book roles as well. “Oh God, yes!,” Shimerman enthuses. “My younger brother was a phenomenal comic book collector and eventual dealer. He actually went into the business selling comic books as a young adult. I probably read most of them. He would go out and buy them and then I would then devour them. Lots of Batman, Superman certainly. We were definitely into Marvel, too. Now that I think of it, it may have something to do with my loving to go over the top in my performances. They certainly provided me with lots of inspiration with the heroes and villains.” As for Shimerman’s entry into animation, he admits that’s all due to Maxwell Atoms. “I’m General Skarr,” he said. “Max Atoms is brilliant and a great guy. I owe a lot to him. My whole reason I’m talking to you today is he took a chance on a guy with no experience in animation before. Working on Evil Con Carne was sort of my college education in voice acting. Another person who he said helped considerably was Billy & Mandy star Grey DeLisle (who is in the Calculator episode as Black Canary). “Grey DeLisle is my hero!” he again enthuses. “We have worked together for about five or six years in both Evil Con Carne and Billy & Mandy. “ If anything, Shimerman finds the Batman cast all something to work with. “They are brilliant, brilliant people! Diedrich [Bader] is phenomenal. So is James Taylor (Green Arrow). The types of talent are very different, so it’s not easy to compare to DS9, but if you are talking about the cumulative level, I just sit back in awe. I admit I’m still basically new to animation. These guys are incredible at their ability to make characters come alive incredibly fast. Usually, it takes a lot of time for us on camera people to rehearse to provide those types of performance and energy. So I sit there in awe.” Speaking of Star Trek, it had to be asked how Shimerman feels about the upcoming new movie with Christopher Pine as James Tiberius Kirk. As it turns out, there’s a very personal connection for him. “I was very blessed,” he begins. “It was an incredible group of actors. Another thing was the format in DS9 worked well for that cast. Basically it gave each individual in the cast our own episodes. This came from the producers, writers, and directors all knew they could hang entire episodes on each actor. This was different from Next Generation because they were also incredible actors, but they knew how to work together as an ensemble. They could share with each other without a problem. So many of their scripts were about the group solving problems. Deep Space 9 was all about each individual character solving a problem. “I’m not professionally connected [to the new movie], yet as a fan I like seeing the franchise getting a shot in the arm. I actually just went over to the website, looked at the footage, and was actually thrilled at what I saw. So I’m very excited about that. In fact, my neighbor, Bob Pine, is Chris Pine’s father. Bob and I have known each other very well. So I know Chris, maybe not that well but enough to say that he was my neighbor.” Moving on to the present, Shimerman’s DS9 past has come in handy when working on Batman: The Brave & the Bold. “I don’t think I’ve ever played a hero per se,” he says. “I’ve always been known for playing villains. Even in Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Quark wasn’t really a hero. I was more a villain who did heroic things because he was forced to. He was an anti-hero, perhaps, not your traditional Star Trek hero that’s for sure. He did things in spite of himself. “The Calculator’s the ultimate couch potato. He’s connected to his computer more ways than one. He wants to participate, but he doesn’t have the skills. So I see him as a wonderful couch potato. They gave me a script that actually reminded me of when I was a teenager. I was sort of like that character, always sitting in my room, reading and imagining things.” In the meantime, one gets the feeling we’ll be hearing a lot more of Shimerman as well as seeing him.