Currently, Tucker Chandler is voicing Michael in Apple TV+’s Stillwater, having started the regular role when it premiered in December 2020, with Series 3 being released in May. As a successful voiceover actor, Tucker’s further voiceover work has included playing Pandy Paws in Gabby’s Dollhouse, Patrick Guttman in Dead End: Paranormal Park, and in 2021, he took over the role of Pip the Penguin in T.O.T.S. for Disney Junior. In Madagascar: A Little Wild – the prequel series to the 2005 film – Tucker voices the lead role of Alex the Lion across all episodes, with the final series having aired in June 2022, and Tucker attended the Children’s & Family Emmy Awards when he was nominated for Outstanding Younger Voice Performer in an Animated or Preschool Animated Program. Also having theatre experience, Tucker is playing Emmett in Act 1’s summer youth production of Legally Blonde, and amongst his previous roles, he played Danny Zuko in Grease, and he is set to be part of the Theatre Program at LA County High School for the Arts later this year. We chatted to Tucker about voicing Michael in the Apple TV+ series Stillwater, his time as Pandy Paws in Gabby’s Dollhouse and recording as the lead role of Alex in Madagascar: A Little Wild.
You currently voice the regular role of Michael in the Apple TV+ series Stillwater, can you tell us about the show and your character?
Stillwater is really special. Unlike the manic pace of some animated children’s programmes, Stillwater deals with “growing pains” and life lessons in a really mindful, calming way… incorporating Eastern philosophies. I’m really interested in living or working in Japan someday, and gaining some of that unique perceptive. Until I can do that, Stillwater brings some of that magic to me just by being part of the cast! Michael is the older brother, so he tends to be a little more jaded or doubtful than the younger kid characters on the show. And sometimes he has to deal with more mature lessons.
What is the show like to be part of and why would you recommend watching Series 3, which was released on the platform in May?
In Season 3, the kids get new neighbours, twins Molly and Leo. Also, one of my favourite aspects of Stillwater is the amazing animation. It’s so beautiful to look at, and it actually calms you! The tranquil waters, the trees blowing, the landscapes. There’s so much of that in Season 3 – it seems like it just keeps getting more beautiful.
How has it been developing the character over the years and seeing the success to the show?
I feel like the character has grown with me, as I’ve grown. That’s unusual, since many characters in animated shows sort of stay the same – same voice, same personality and tendencies. Michael is more nuanced… more like me.
How would you describe your character Pandy Paws in Gabby’s Dollhouse and was there anything that drew you to the role?
I love Pandy Paws! He’s so enthusiastic and excited about everything. He loves to hug people… which is a lot like me. I also remember early drawings being sent to me and I really loved the animation style. It’s still fun to wander through a toy store and see Gabby’s Dollhouse merch! I can press a button and out comes my voice! Nobody in the aisle believes me if I say “That’s me!”.
What do you enjoy most about voicing Pandy Paws and how is it being in the cast?
Gabby’s Dollhouse is such a high-energy show. I remember working with the production/directing team was intense because there was so much material each week, both spoken lines and musical numbers to learn.
How was it voicing Patrick Guttman in Dead End: Paranormal Park for Netflix?
(Laughs) Dead End is a hilarious show. It used to be called Deadendia. Everything on that show was a tiny bit twisted. In a good way. I like twisted.
Had you seen the Madagascar films before auditioning for the prequel series Madagascar: A Little Wild and do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the lead role of Alex?
I had seen Madagascar as a younger kid, but didn’t really remember it when I auditioned for A Little Wild. So, I remember watching clips of Ben Stiller voicing older Alex, so I could get a sense of who Alex grew up to be, so I could understand the character and create the “kid” version! I remember when I booked the role, my agent actually called me. You know when they call, it’s usually something good!
What was Alex like to voice and what are some of your favourite memories from working on the series?
My favourite part of working on Madagascar was my voice directors, Johanna Stein and Charlie Adler. We had so much fun during the sessions – and they did voices on the show too. Mostly everything I recorded was remote, since the show recorded many of its episodes during 2020 and the COVID pandemic. We would meet via Zoom for the session. I was in my garage, in the small recording studio my dad built out there. I’d see Johanna and Charlie through Zoom, and Johanna had an Easter Island statue behind her in the screen, that always made me laugh. We all laughed a lot. We all pulled each other through a really tough time.
Can you tell us what a typical day looked like recording for Madagascar: A Little Wild and what was it seeing the completed animations for the first time?
During the pandemic, I’d go to virtual school inside my house from 9am to 3pm, grab a snack and drink, then head out to my garage with my dad around 3:30pm, and we’d dial up the Zoom meeting and hook up the audio systems so my dad could record the sessions from home and send the files to Dreamworks. There were the voice directors and the engineers, communicating to me for performance and my dad for sound quality. It was tricky to get the sound just right – they all worked hard. A lot of what you hear on the show was recorded in my garage! When the show premiered and I saw it all come together – my voice, everyone else in the cast, the spectacular animation… I was blown away.
For your role of Alex, you were nominated for Outstanding Younger Voice Performer in an Animated or Preschool Animated Program at the Children’s & Family Emmy Awards, how was it hearing the news and what was it like attending the ceremony?
Wow. Well, I got a call from my mom while I was at school. That never happens, so I worried something was wrong. I was in the middle of a class so I texted her, “I’m in class!” and she wrote “Call me AS SOON AS YOU CAN!”. When I did, she said, “Kiddo, are you ready? You were nominated for an Emmy Award”. I was shocked. I was overwhelmed. Later in the school day, during my musical theatre class, my parents showed up with balloons and my classmates all cheered and took pictures with me. It was a really great day. The ceremony itself was surreal. I didn’t expect to win and I didn’t win… but it didn’t matter. I was at the Emmys, seeing my picture and name up on the screen, dressed in an awesome retro burgundy suit I’d gotten at It’s a Wrap in Burbank. I was living the dream!
How was it taking over the role of Pip the Penguin in T.O.T.S. in 2021?
Big shoes to fill! Jet Jurgensmeyer is such a hugely talented guy. I admire him greatly and was honoured to take over for him. It happens all the time in kid voiceover: we all know when our voice changes, we “age out” of a role. My folks talked to me about it quite a bit, so I knew it’s just part of what happens. Jet “aged out”, I took over… and then just a few months ago, I “aged out” of Pandy Paws. Puberty. It happens to the best of us.
What was T.O.T.S. like to work on and how was it being cast in a Disney Junior show?
I especially loved recording the theme song for the show. Man, those notes were high, I’m not sure how I did it! Every week, I’d have to learn different songs for both T.O.T.S. and Gabby’s Dollhouse. It was really fun to challenge myself musically, learning multiple songs rapid-fire.
Can you tell us about some of the other projects you’ve worked on over your career so far, which have included Fever Dream, Come Play and the Audible Original series Grandma For President?
Grandma For President was SO MUCH FUN because I got to work with David DeLuise (son of Dom)! AND one of the voices on the series is Mel Brooks! My folks are huge fans of these icons, and Young Frankenstein was required viewing in our home. David was so funny and nice to me. I have also done looping for films a lot. If a company likes you, they just keep calling. So I did many projects providing the voice for a movie that was originally in another language… including the Oscar-nominated I Lost My Body. I remember recording for Come Play… I still haven’t seen that movie because I don’t like scary stuff!
Where does your love of acting and voiceover come from and how did you start?
It’s actually a funny story: my brother Addie, who is also a voiceover artist, was at the time 11 years old and a recurring character on Nick’s Harvey Beaks. He was recording an audition for a Life Cereal commercial (in our garage) and seven-year-old me wandered out and echoed the last line: “Life. Enjoy all of it”. My dad thought I sounded cute, so he recorded me on the whole commercial copy for fun and sent it off to Addie’s agent. Who sent it on to Life Cereal. Who hired me for the job. I was seven and had no idea what I was doing, but I had a raspy, gravelly voice that they loved. The rest is history.
Do you have any favourite films and TV shows to watch, and how do you like to spend your free time?
My favourite movies are Chef and Forrest Gump! I also love Studio Gibli movies (Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service), and the animated series Adventure Time and The Amazing World of Gumball. I spend my free time riding bikes and gaming. I especially love Team Fortress 2 and PaRappa the Rappa.
We understand you’ve also performed in theatre, can you say about some of the shows you’ve been part of and how different do you find this to voiceover work?
I love musical theatre and am playing Emmett in Act 1’s summer youth production of Legally Blonde right now. I played Jack Kelly in Newsies, Danny Zuko in Grease, and Artful Dodger in Oliver! last year. Musical theatre is so different from voiceover because it’s much more collaborative. Most of voiceover recording takes place on your own. Everyone’s lines are recorded separately, so you’re not reacting to any other actor. That’s the biggest difference for me. When the pandemic was over, it was really exciting to stand on stage with a bunch of other kids and react to their characters in real time!
What are you hoping 2023 brings for you and do you have any upcoming plans that you can share?
I’m going to be attending LACHSA (LA County High School for the Arts) in the fall, in their Theatre Program. I hope I like it! As I mature as an actor (and my voice doesn’t really sound like a little kid’s anymore), I’m finding that I have a lot more range and varied character voices I can do. I’d like to carve out an adult voiceover career, utilising all the skills I gained as a child and adding to that my arsenal of character voices! I’m also interested in writing and producing an animated series. Being a part of the animated voiceover world has really impacted me and made me want to be part of the behind-the-scenes creation of it.
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