Carlos Alazraqui, El Chupacabra on Planes, in a ToonBarn Interview
Carlos Alazraqui is not shy when it comes to sharing his vast array of voices from the characters he has played over the years. As he says in our Exclusive ToonBarn Interview, “you almost have to announce the things you do, even with people that know you,” to continue to work successfully as a voice-over actor.
His character on Planes, El Chupacabra, is also not shy. Carlos describes El Chupacabra as “a lovable character” that “has a samurai spirit”, with respect for his competitors. He is the only race participant to befriend Dusty, and as a result, they help each other in many ways. Despite his outwardly macho and flirtatious personality, El Chupacabra has a softer side, which we eventually see.
Here is a clip from the first time Dusty meets El Chupacabra:
ToonBarn’s Marc Morrell was happy to talk to Carlos Alazraqui in an exclusive candid interview, in anticipation of the DVD and Blu-ray release of Planes. Disney’s Planes arrives on Disney DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, November 19th.
Carlos: Hey Marc, How are you?
Marc: Hi Carlos, how are you doing?
Carlos: I’m doing well today.
Marc: I recently saw you at the “I Know That Voice” Premiere in Los Angeles (Wednesday, Nov 6), and you were being interviewed with Dan and Swampy (Creators of Phineas and Ferb).
Carlos: That’s right. My old buddies from Rocko’s Modern Life.
Marc: Exactly! You and Swampy were going back and forth with your Scottish accents.
Carlos: (In his Scottish accent) That’s right. That’s right. Grew up with that, so Swampy is a kindred spirit there. He actually set me up with a friend of his, Derek Moore, in Edinburgh. We met with Derek on a trip to Edinburgh. It was kinda nice. He lives half a world away, a friend of Swampy’s, and we were drinking pints in a pub.
Marc: Cool. We had recently seen the East Coast Premiere of “I Know That Voice”, with John DiMaggio, at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Carlos: Oh great! I was just meeting with Larry Shapiro (Lawrence Shapiro, the Director/Exec Producer of I Know That Voice) this morning on another project that we’re going to launch on the web that’s going to feature voice actors as well. Sort of on a weekly YouTube web channel basis.
Marc: Do you know what that will be called?
Carlos: No, it’s just a working title right now. It’s in the works. Just to be vague, it’s another project that he has designed to feature the talents of voice-over actors. Hopefully, it will be coming in February.
Marc: OK, cool. It was great seeing you in “I Know That Voice”, where you were going back and forth, between your Spanish and Scottish accents, all in the same sentence. It was amazing!
Carlos: Thank you.
Marc: How come they haven’t put you in more Scottish roles?
Carlos: There’s been a couple. Recently, for a Nickelodeon pilot, I played a Scottish Panda. Sometimes, I think people see my name and don’t realize I do it. It’s something I’ve done in my stand-up for awhile. You almost have to announce the things you do. Even the people that know you, they don’t know everything you can do. You always have to be a walking A-frame, and do all the voices you can do. “I didn’t know you could do that!”, “Well, I never said I could.” Hopefully, more Scottish roles will follow. Maybe, in another Disney/Pixar toon, there will be a Scottish character and I’ll make it be known that I can do that. Swampy had me play the voice of Ferb’s Scottish Uncle on an episode (of Phineas and Ferb), and I was hoping it was going to a recurring character, but it might not be.
Marc: I remember you playing Bobbi Fabulous in the group Love Handel on Phineas and Ferb.
Carlos: (In the Bobbi Fabulous voice) That’s right, Fabulous, the Bass Player.
Marc: Nice! In planes, obviously you played a plane, but you also do skydiving on the side, don’t you?
Carlos: I used to. Actually, I just met some skydivers the other day at a bar. I do the tunnel flying now. I’m sorry, I have kids. I have a little kid and another one on the way. Ever since 2010, I stopped skydiving, and went into the high fly tunnel.
Marc: I was going to ask, did they ever have a clause in a contract, where you can’t do skydiving while you are working for us?
Carlos: I never had that type of clause, per se. It was encouraged that I didn’t do it. While I was on Reno 911, there wasn’t a contract that was so detailed that we couldn’t skydive, per se, but it was kinda frowned upon. I was skydiving while I was doing Reno 911. Now, the contract is between my wife and I.
Marc: She wants you to be there for the kids.
Marc: OK, so El Chupacabra. People left and right, up and down, upside down, everybody loves El Chupacabra. What do you think about that?
Carlos: I think it’s really great. I think it was a great opportunity to do a read in front of John Lasseter. To book the job, and have him become popular. To have people like him, and buy the toys. It’s a fun character to play. He’s bigger than life. As a voice-over actor, it’s one of those things, with great directing from Klay Hall, and great writing, you can just knock it out of the park. They’re not holding you back, they’re not saying, “We need you to be more subtle.” (In his El Chupacabra voice) “Dusty, I love you. I express my cape at you, just because you’re thin, amigo.” So, it is awesome. It’s fun to play that character. I think it’s great that people love it.
Marc: Now, the character, and the reason they picked you to play him, did they get that from Rikochet from Mucha Lucha?
Carlos: Speaking of which, we’re trying to work with that a little more. Rikochet was born in the honored tradition. He was a luchador. He had that braveheart spirit, where Rikochet was like all luchadores, was that they respect, like samurai, their competition. Yeah, there’s a little bit of Ricochet in El Chupacabra. Granted, Rikochet’s a little bit more humble, a little more shy, but he does respect an opponent.
Marc: I see. Now, let me, for a second, get inside your head, OK?
Marc: OK, you’re in a closed booth, recording the scene where El Chupacabra first feasts his eyes on Rochelle.
Marc: Alright, when you speak that line, where you are so enthralled with passion, you’re not thinking of a French-Canadian plane. Who are you really thinking about when you say that line?
Carlos: The proper answer is “my wife”. My Wife.
Marc: (laughing) You don’t want to follow that up?
Carlos: Either that, or Kate Winslet or Diane Lane. One of those 3. She (my wife) openly has a crush on Robert Downey, Jr., so I am going to go with Kate Winslet.
Marc: (laughing) Ok. Your first attempt at wooing Rochelle with a serenade was very aggressive, loud, and boisterous. Then, Dusty helps you calm down a little bit, to a romantic ballad. Have you thought about making your own CD, I mean, Enrigue Iglesias must be getting nervous?
Carlos: He must be getting nervous. I wish I could say in truth that it was me that sang the slow version. I did sing, (El Chu’s voice) “I’m just a Love Machine”, the bad version, but I have been known to Karaoke, and if I were Enrique Iglesias, I would be very, very nervous. I can sing it for you now. You can be the judge. (El Chu’s voice) “I’m just a Love Machine, and I won’t work for nobody but you.”
Marc: Hey! That sounds perfectly fine to me. I think with a little production value in there, it could sound the same as the movie.
Carlos: OK, I’ll let you be the judge.
Marc: Now, you’ve played some pretty cool characters in the past. You were Deputy James Garcia and the Taco Bell Chihuahua.
Marc: We already mentioned Bobbi Fabulous…but my favorite character name you ever played was Stromulus Guandor, the Birdbat leader from Saul of the Mole Men.
Carlos: Saul of the Mole Men, yeah, (as Stromulus) “Squawk, squawk! My daughter! What are you doing with my daughter?!” Another more gruff, older telenovela kind of father from the soap opera. And that was just a blast. So bizarre. It was this giant bird creature. A guy in a suit that I provided the voice for. That is the best name ever. Stromulus Guandor.
Marc: Yeah, the Birdbat Leader. Very Land-of-the-lost like. Very much so.
Carlos: Yeah, now you’ve made me think about, because I have played some broad characters like Stromulus and Mr. Crocker from Fairly Oddparents, and the thing about El Chu is that, even though he is broad, he can have these sweet moments with Dusty and be brought down to a Rocko (Rocko’s Modern Life) level, like (in El Chu’s voice) “Dusty, I don’t know what to do. I do not know how to win the heart of Rochelle.” He can be really sweet and subtle at times. He’s a nice mixture of both.
Marc: Right, very much so. Why do you think El Chupacabra, out of all the planes in the race, was the one to befriend Dusty?
Carlos: I think, again, it’s that samurai spirit, where he never once judged Dusty for his size or for his inadequacies, a smaller engine. He just saw another competitor, and knew that this person deserves respect. They are sort of alike, in that Dusty is afraid of heights, and when it comes down to it, El Chupacabra is afraid of love. He’s afraid of the real thing. He can flirt and all that, but when it really counts, when he needs to “go high up into the clouds”, like Dusty, they share the same sort of fear.
Marc: Unfortunately, I know a lot of real people like that, so there’s plenty to pull from on that. Planes is going to be one of those movies I will love watching over and over again, especially with my son, because we saw it together the first time. How does it feel to know your character’s plane is one of the most sought after planes in the toy stores?
Carlos: Really flattering, really cool. I had been out there before, when I was playing the Taco Bell dog, and I was at a Taco Bell, and there were people in line before me, buying the doll, and I thought, “This is pretty cool.”
Marc: There’s another Planes coming out (next year) called Planes: Fire and Rescue, will you be in it?
Carlos: Yes, fear not world. I make another appearance in Fire and Rescue. Yes, El Chupacabra comes back.
Marc: Will there be any chance of El Chupacabra getting his own animated short, like the ones Pixar is famous for doing?
Carlos: Listen, from your mouth to God’s ears and John Lasseter’s ears. That would be awesome. You kiddin’? You never say no, and heck, I could see it happenin’, why not? He’s a lovable character.
Marc: He is. And I love the introductions to all the racers they did on the Blu-Ray.
Carlos: Yeah, with Brent Mustangberger introducing them?
Carlos: “Meet so-and-so. Meet El Chupacabra, who is unafraid to break wind, and it stays broken.”
Marc: (laughing) That’s awesome! Carlos, Thank you for all the wonderful roles you have done over the years. I continue to look forward to anything you have coming out.
Carlos: Thank you. When I get more specifics on that project that I have, I’ll get back in touch with you. The one that features voice-over actors, but we are collaborating with Larry Shapiro, who produced “I Know That Voice”. We’re hoping to bring it to ComicCon, and things like that. But, it’s a continuation – highlighting the talents of voiceover people. If you want to see more about me, check out CarlosAlazraqui.com.
Marc: OK, thank you very much.
Carlos: Thank you for your time today!
Disney’s Planes arrives on Disney DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, November 19th. Go out and get your copy tomorrow!