Ever since I saw the film Napoleon Dynamite I became a huge fan of Diedrich Bader. When I saw Office Space and the TV show The Drew Carey Show my respect for Bader’s work increased. He is a great actor and a few years back I found out that he is a voice actor as well. One of his voice acting credits is Batman. How cool is that?
Now Diedrich comes back to reprise his role as Abner on the DreamWorks’ Emmy Award winning series, All Hail King Julien on Netflix. The series features sixteen new episodes that audiences will enjoy even more misadventures with Julien, Maurice and Mort, along with fan-favorite Henry Winkler as Uncle King Julien.
Diedrich Bader and I chat about All Hail King Julien, fatherhood and more. In regards to the show, Bader loves that fact that All Hail King Julien is a prequel to the Madagascar films. They can explore new characters and have Julien do things that we might not have seen in the films. He also loves the notion that this is a show that he can watch with his kids. His past films and shows might be a bit too edgy for them. Here Diedrich is able to share with his children what he does for a living and see the results of his hard work in this series on Netflix.
Deidrich lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two kids, Sebastian and Ondine.
Art Eddy: You are back for Season 2 of Emmy Award winning DreamWorks show All Hail King Julien. Talk to me about your role on the show?
Diedrich Bader: Abner is kind of a hillbilly character. (Both laugh) It isn’t quite of a stretch for me if you ask some people. He is a lot of fun. I get to work with some really talented actors. Abner is trying to overthrow King Julien basically. He is a thorn in King Julien’s side. He is a very funny character. It is a great opportunity to be around Danny Jacobs, who is unbelievably great as King Julien.
AE: The Madagascar films are fantastic and All Hail King Julien follows suit. Did you and the rest of the cast feel any pressure with the success of the other Madagascar projects?
DB: It is interesting because it is like it has taken a life on its own even though it is a spinoff from the original. If you watch Penguins of Madagascar it was a really, really good fast paced show. I think that they had the idea to spin off King Julien from that or kind of a prequel idea. It is sort of based on Madagascar.
It is weird because it is not that close to the movie. It really doesn’t adhere that close to the movie. It has less time. The jokes are so compact. There is a lot of physical humor. Every week as a dad you look for it. There is a theme to it. It has got a message in there somewhere. It is not just about the jokes, but there are a lot of jokes.
AE: How did you look to create the voice of your character Abner?
DB: It is a cooperative thing. You come in with an open mind. You go in and try a bunch of different voices. You have about ten different voices that you come in with. You fine tune it as you go. Sometimes you will get halfway through and realize that you are doing the wrong voice and have to go back and do it again. That is the beauty of it. It is not live or anything. You just do it again.
I heard Abner’s wife first. The character of Becca, who is played by Andy Richter’s wife. (Sarah Thyre) She came up with the character that was similar to Abner. She went first. I kind of heard what she did and based my Abner basically on that because they are supposed to be a couple.
AE: A lot of people know you from many hit shows and films, but you do a lot of voice acting as well. How did you get into voice acting? It is very different from live acting correct?
DB: Oh yeah. It is totally different. There are so many different things about it. Number one you don’t have to shave or even wear pants. (Both laugh.) Number two obviously there is no memorization of anything. The people are all really, really nice. The hours are incredible.
The number one thing is that I get to watch it with my kids. So much of my career like Office Space for example I would have a lot of explaining to do. (Both laugh.) It is just not worth it. You know. You are a dad. You get it. I just don’t want to go down that road yet. So while they are innocent and young I am going to keep them innocent and young.
The hours like I said are fantastic. So you get to go in and knock one off between a half hour and an hour. For example I did carpool for my kids today at their school. Just opening doors for all the cars that drove up. Now I will do this and then I will do a voiceover. Then it is time for my kids to come home. It is just the perfect day for me.
DB: I wanted to be an actor since I was about five years old. I loved Charlie Chaplin. Ironic since he was a silent guy and I do voice overs now, but whatever your inspiration is. I just loved Charlie Chaplin and the physical humor and the combination of humor and sentiment. I thought he was a beautiful storyteller. He just got me really interested in being part of a story.
That is the beauty of it. I am not the storyteller itself, but in show business you are all part of the larger story. Even the writers are servicing a larger story. To be a large part or a small part it is all the same. You are just contributing to the river that is the story that we love to hear.
AE: Switching to fatherhood now, what are some of the core values you look to instill in your kids as they grow up?
DB: Core values are difficult here in Los Angeles because a lot of people have skewed values. They tend to be more materialistic than anything else. For a lot of people here it is a lot about material gain and where you are in your career and are not contributing to your family, culture or society.
We try to, and this is not be over serious about this, but we try to instill in our kids a sense of modesty and a sense of place in the world, decency and a respect for others. On top of that they have got to have a good sense of humor or they go upstairs. (Both laugh.)
AE: What is the biggest difference from the time you were growing up to now as your kids are growing up?
DB: I think now parents are much more into being parents. My parents were sort of into it. They enjoyed it at dinner, but other than that they were really kind of outside of our lives. I am really involved in my kids’ lives. I am doing it for them, yes, but I am also doing it for me. I totally enjoy it. I love going to see them doing a play. I love to go to their school and go over their homework. I love to hear them play piano. All of the stuff that my folks were frankly bored by I find totally interesting.
So I think that it is a generational thing. I think a lot of what we do is corrective to what our parents did. I didn’t think that I was judging my parents as they were parenting me, but later I was like it would have been great if you would have come to a game or something. That would have been really cool. I think that is the big difference between our generation and their generation. That’s not to say in our parent’s generation there weren’t some parents who were really involved. So I will speak for my own family, but I think that is the biggest difference.
AE: What advice do you have for new dads out there?
DB: My best advice for a dad, specifically a dad is to do the job that is really the awful job. Your wife or the mother of your child has already done an amazing amount of work. She will always in her head feel like she is doing more work than you. So try to take the jobs that are really awful. Clean up the poop. You got to relish that moment.
Here is another thing. Nothing lasts forever. It is all in stages. You are in the middle of it and you are totally exhausted and you don’t want to deal with it. It is not going to last forever. So just deal with it that way. That would be my advice.
Life of Dad Quick Five
AE: What is your favorite family movie you guys like to watch together?
DB: That is a really interesting question because we shift around a lot. My favorite one to watch with my kids has been Ratatouille for a while.
AE: Do you guys have a song that you guys like to dance together as a family?
DB: We really like this band called The Penguin Cafe Orchestra. There is this song called The Bean Fields. We really like dancing to that song. We like music an awful lot. We listen to it a lot.
AE: Describe the perfect family vacation.
DB: For us it is hiking and eating. If we could possibly do that at the same time like hike with a sandwich that would be fantastic. We love to go somewhere that is mountainous and then go have a really beautiful sit down dinner. We really like getting dressed up for dinner. We love having a very active day during the day. Just lots of hiking and lots of activities. That is our perfect vacation wherever that may be.
AE: Who was your favorite comic book hero growing up?
DB: Batman. The fact that I got to play him was to this day my favorite role on camera or off. It is just a great part. There is nothing like the backstory of Batman. He is the best.
AE: You have played a ton of memorable characters so far in your career. What is the role that fans talk about with you the most?
DB: It depends on their age. So older guys like Oswald. (The Drew Carey Show.) Around 35 to 40 love Office Space. Then in their twenties the love Rex Kwon Do. I only bring up those three because it is absolutely true. If I see a younger guy I know that it is going to be Rex Kwon Do. When they were like 12 or 13 they would watch the movie a cagillion times. It is the same thing with guys in their 20’s when Office Space came out.