Martin Short

  1. Chip Zien, Howard The Duck, 1985.     Everybody wanted to voice Marvel’s Howard T Duck… Short, John Cusack, Jay Leno, Robin Williams. Plus voicing specialists Townsend Colman and Rob Paulsen (more than 500 credits between them). Zien was not a voice-actor. Howard was the big deal production of the year… massive budget… George Lucas, Mr Star Wars, producing… his American Graffiti writers, writing. And. It. Bombed! Willard Huyck never directed again. And in need of cash for his Skywalker Ranch, Lucas sold to Steve Jobs what became… Pixar!
  2. Robin Williams, Aladdin, 1991.     Disney’s voice choices for the blue Genie included Short, Albert Brooks, John Candy, Matt Frewer, John Goodman, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy… As if anyone could match Williams’ dazzling 16 hours of improv. (So much ad-lib finished on screen, the toon was denied any adapted script Oscar nomination). In whirlwind manic brilliance (at union scale!), Williams used everyone from Ethel Merman to Groucho Marx, William F Buckley to Carol Channing, De Niro to Schwarzenegger!   “Good but not great,” noted Chicago critic Roger Ebert, “with the exception of the Robin Williams sequences, which have a life and energy all their own.” Indeed.
  3. Mike Myers, So I Married An Axe Murderer, 1993.    Charlie, a bookstore clerk, who wans to be a poet – and a bachelor – was designed for Chevy Chase. When he passed, so did Woody Allen and Albert Brooks. Martin Short tried (too) hard (he always does). The (slightly) taller but no funnier Myers tried harder;  Myers, wanting a switch from Saturday Night Live.He learned a lesson. “Juggling mirth, romance and murder requires a deft touch – think of Hitchcock’s Trouble With Harry,”commented Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers. “Axe is a blunt instrument.”
  4. Jim Carrey, Dumb & Dumber, 1994.      Short  was ejected  for sadsack Lloyd Christmas. Carrey was first hired for $700,000, then Ace Ventura: Pet Detective opened to enormous business and his agent renegotiatedf his fee to… $7m.
  5. Steve Carell, The Office (US), TV, 2005-2013.     Buying the rights was much easier than finding someone to replace co-creator Ricky Gervais’ unique, docu-style performance in the US version of yet another innovative BBComedy. Candidates included Short, Hank Azaria, Paul Giamatti, Bob Odenkirk, Martin Short and Rainn Wilson (who finally played Dwight Schrute – or, indeed, Mr Sycophancy). Carell, of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, was booked for another pilot, Come To Papa – quickly canned when NBC realised they’d found their star.
  6. Jim Cummings, Christopher Robin, 2018.   After Short, Dustin Hoffman and Alan Tudyk were heard, the Irish actor won the Tigger gig. Except, his  rather English voice did not please test audiences.  And so – and, indeed, obviously!- Cummings continued his normal double act (started in 1988)  of voicing Winnie The Pooh and Tigger.


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