The Art of Anger: Curtis Armstrong Voices The Master of Revenge in 'Dan Vs.'
Curtis Armstrong has gone from Revenge of the Nerds to revenge on an epic scale. On The Hub's Dan Vs., he lends his voice to the title character, who is constantly on a quest to get even with pretty much everyone and everything on the planet. Curtis, on the other hand, is much calmer and more pleasant to be around. He recently spoke with Digital Airwaves about Season 3 of Dan Vs., which is not your prototypical Saturday morning animated series.
"When you look at The Hub, it's very much for children and families, and in the middle of it, you have this horrible, raging, intolerant psychopath," he said. "It is hard really to [explain the show]. On the one hand I can say 'Well, it's about the angriest man in the world,' but that sounds almost like I'm talking about Network. It's something that people in a lot of ways sort of have to see for themselves. I haven't been able to find a way to describe it in a way that does it justice [but] anger always enters into it."
Yet Curtis has an idea of how the show fits amongst the network's much more family-friendly programming. "I think a lot of little kids love to watch Dan Vs., because Dan is like this pure id," he explained. "He's this character who is in a way childlike. He throws these temper tantrums and demands things, and no one ever really stops him. You have Chris and Elise as sort of quasi-parent figures, who tell him 'You can't blow up that building' [or] 'You can't destroy those people,' which is like little kids at home whose parents are telling them 'You can't run outside after dark.' Dan is basically that same sort of kid."
Dan is much more ambitious than any kid, however. He's dragging his best friend Chris (voiced by Dave Foley) and Chris's wife Elise (voiced by Paget Brewster; read my interview with her) along as he schemes to get back at things like the common cold, a mummy, and even anger management class.
"'Dan vs. Anger Management,' it just was one that was so perfect. I really was excited about that one," said Curtis, referring to the Season 3 premiere. As far as what episodes he enjoys, "Sometimes I look forward to them based on the fact that the object of Dan's rage happens to coincide with objects of my rage. That's really cool because it takes a lot less effort.
"If I'm getting angry about Shakespeare dinner theater or Canada, it's difficult for me to get really stirred up about Canada, which is a country I love. On the other hand, the beach, technology, traffic - a lot of the things which annoy a lot of people happen to also annoy me. I sort of am able to get out a lot of pent-up frustration."
There's a lot of frustration in each episode of Dan Vs., as Dan might just spend more time yelling than he does speaking. His tirades are some of the best that have ever been written for television. But they're not something just anyone could pull off. Curtis - a veteran voice actor who also has the recurring role of Snot on FOX's American Dad - explained how he maintains Dan's constant anger without destroying his voice.
"I worked really hard over the years, I've got a good voice. It's a strong voice. I started in theater and I was able to learn to support the voice and not completely shred the vocal chords," he said. "With Dan, I just have to be aware of how I'm doing it. The way we do it is on Wednesdays we go in and we do a read-through of the script that they are currently writing, and then we go straight into the room and record the show that we had read the week previous. That will end up being about four hours of me screaming.
"I feel it by the end," he added. "It can be tiring but I've never lost my voice because of it."