Friday, September 27, 2019

Mark Hamill Voiced 'Invader Zim' in Show's Original Pilot

We all know Invader Zim's iconic voice. But did you know that it could of sounded much different to what we know and love?

The original pilot for Invader Zim featured legendary actor Mark Hamill (Star Wars) provide the lead voice. Debuting on Nickelodeon in 2001, Invader Zim creator Jhonen Vasquez managed to launch a character that is still relevant today. Despite being canceled after just two seasons, the series has continued to find new life through various formats, such as the recent Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus movie on Netflix.

Following the antagonistic alien, Invader Zim was created to target an older demographic for the studio and had a surprisingly quick development process. Nickelodeon contacts Vasquez based on some of his comic books and he quickly came up with the idea for Invader Zim. Once Nickelodeon heard the pitch for the pilot and ordered Invader Zim to series, it then came time for Vasquez to figure out who would voice his lead character. Fans of the character may associate Richard Steven Horvitz (The Angry Beavers) with the role, but it was the man behind Luke Skywalker who was originally going to supply the voice.

Mark Hamill's casting came during Vasquez' initial search for the voice of Zim. When he started this search, Vasquez wanted to find someone with a distinct voice so that the actor didn't have to do a weird voice every time. This led him to Hamill - who has a prolific voice career - and he cast him in the role. Hamill recorded his part for the original pilot, but Vasquez decided late in the process that Hamill's voice was not working with Zim and they went their separate ways.

Despite having an entire pilot with Hamill's voice recorded, the audio of Hamill's take on the character has never been released. Considering Vasquez's preference to just let the natural voice of whoever he cast be how Zim sounds, then it isn't difficult to imagine what Hamill would bring to the role. If it would've stuck, Invader Zim could've been another notch in his voice acting work, which includes one of his most well-known roles as Joker, as well as voice work on Nickelodeon's Lucky, SpongeBob SquarePants, Danny Phantom and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the actor also wants to star in Netflix's upcoming live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series).

Once Invader Zim and Vasquez did move on from Hamill as the voice of the titular character though, it wasn't the last time that the voice was changed. Vazquez's first choice to take over the part was Billy West (Doug, Ren & Stimpy) and he did so in the pilot. But, West was replaced with Richard Steven Horvitz once the how was given a full-season order. One of the reasons for this was West's involvement with Futurama, as he voiced the lead character, Phillip J. Fry, with Vasquez saying that Billy West was "too well known" and that he wanted all of the voices for the main characters to be unique and not voices people had heard before. Also, due to Futurama still being on the air at the time, Vasquez did not want the same voice actor to be the lead in two contemporaneous sci-fi comedies.

Watch Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, only on Netflix:

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Original source: Screen Rant; Additional source: Wikipedia.
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