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Natasha Leggero on Ugly Americans Voice Acting and What It's Like Being 'Cast as Domineering Bitches'

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Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 11:28 AM
click to enlarge COURTESY OF COMEDY CENTRAL
  • Courtesy of Comedy Central

In Ugly Americans, which began debuting new episodes last week on Comedy Central, wizards, demons, zombies, humans and more live together, and often clash, in New York City. At the center is Social Services trying to ease the rifts between the varied members of the community.

Callie Maggotbone works in Social Services. She also dates the show's central character, human Mark Lilly. Voiced by comedian Natasha Leggero, Callie is a half-demon/half-human succubus.

"You don't play the succubus part," says Leggero over a recent phone call. "She's a woman and she's in love with Mark. It's very much how I've been in relationships, minus being Rosemary's Baby."

click to enlarge COURTESY OF COMEDY CENTRAL
  • Courtesy of Comedy Central

Well known for her stand-up work, Leggero is no stranger to Comedy Central. Neither is she a stranger to animation, having previously voiced characters on Aqua Teen Hunger Force and HBO's Life and Times of Tim.

Leggero says working on an animated series like Ugly Americans has an advantage. "Because it's a cartoon, you can do so much more," she explains. "You can be malleable with voices."

She's been acting since she was a child, but it was Leggero's work on the stand-up comedy circuit that catapulted her career. "What's great about stand-up is that you can say whatever you want and go around the country, and sometimes the world, and work on it and see how people react," she says. "You don't need Standards & Practices or notes from lawyers or producers to tell you what's funny."

Leggero still flies out to gigs a few times a month. "Artistically, it can be more rewarding than acting in other people's work," she says. But she has been popping up more frequently on television and the web. She's been a regular on Chelsea Lately for a while now and recently was featured in Let's Do This!, Bob Odenkirk's live-action Adult Swim pilot.

For Leggero, who often appears as though she just stepped out of a swanky Hollywood shindig circa 1965, in party dresses and jewels, the work she gets frequently is an extension of her stand-up persona.

"I think certain roles gravitate toward you," she says, adding that actors tend to be cast for roles in which they seem the most "natural."

"So, I'm often cast as domineering bitches," she continues with a chuckle. "And then when I'm cast in non-cartoons, I'm usually not wearing pants."

With Callie, Leggero infuses the grown-up demon spawn with a lot of heart and, despite the character's occasional outbursts, a good amount of level-headedness. She's tough, but not afraid of showing vulnerability or a sense of humor.

"There's something grounded about Ugly Americans," says Leggero, "so I think it's good that I'm playing a version of myself in these elevated cartoon circumstances."

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