Animaniacs Interview: Tress MacNeille & Jess Harnell on The Beatles

By | February 17, 2023

ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Animaniacs stars Tress MacNeille and Jess Harnell about the revival’s final season. The duo spoke about keeping in touch over the years and what they’d like to parody in the future. Animaniacs Season 3 is now streaming on Hulu.

“Yakko, Wakko, and Dot return with an all-new season of laughs, songs, pop culture parodies, and enough zany antics to fill a water tower (or at least 10 episodes!). Pinky and Brain’s never ending plans to take over the world journey them to the ends of new lands, deserts, and even the space-time continuum,” reads the new season’s synopsis. “And while new friends, Starbox and Cindy continue their play date, the Warner siblings must battle their way out of a video game, learn the secrets of being a teen influencer, and escape a mad scientist’s island all while finding time to teach us about the threat of global warming!”

Spencer Legacy: The new series is concluding. So for the two of you and Rob [Paulsen] and Maurice [LaMarche], what’s it been like all these years later to get to do it all again?

Tress MacNeille: Well, we’ve all been friends now for … what, 25-30 years? Rob, I’ve known a little bit longer. I’ve known you for at least 30, haven’t I, Jess?

Jess Harnell: Absolutely.

Tress MacNeille: So we’ve grown up together and we’re very close and even when we weren’t working on Animaniacs, we might be working on something else together. So we’re never apart for very long, and we communicate and text and that sort of thing. So not being in the studio together, like during the pandemic and stuff, made things a little difficult and kind of harshed our mellows a little bit because we have so much fun in the studio and it’s something that we thrive on. You really miss [it] … we’re addicted to our friendship, really.

Jess Harnell: If you think about it like this, Spencer, if you think about somebody that was your pal in high school or a couple of your best pals, right? And you get back together years later and it’s like you haven’t missed a beat. Well, we got to do that in double because we love each other and we love our characters. So when we were back in the room doing that, it was like six times the fun because even though there were three or four of us — eight times the fun — we got to reunite not only as ourselves under that umbrella, but with the characters too. So it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing and we love it.

Tress MacNeille: And we’ve been able to travel together too!

Jess Harnell: Yeah, that’s true!

Tress MacNeille: So, you know, we go out on the road and there’s some wacky hijinks going on out there. So we don’t leave each other a lot.

Jess Harnell: It’s good all the way around, brother. It’s good all the way around.

Tress MacNeille: It’s all good.

Jess, Wacko’s voice was inspired by The Beatles, but a couple generations now think of it as just Wacko’s voice, first and foremost. what does that association mean to you?

Tress MacNeille: Isn’t that fun?

Jess Harnell: We’re getting some questions we’ve never gotten today, Spencer. That’s a great one. You know what? It makes me proud and I’ll tell you why. Because that thing, doing that voice, was an homage to The Beatles, who were and are a huge part of my life, and Tress’, for that matter. When I got the gig doing that voice, I couldn’t have been happier, because it was like me tipping my hat. Now, if people’s first thing when they hear somebody with a Liverpoolian accent is to think it sounds like Wacko, but it makes them dig a little bit deeper and go, “Oh, that was based on The Beatles,” and maybe they dig into that — well then it’s a win-win, isn’t it?

Since this is the last season, what do each of you hope to be parodying in the next reboot in 2040?

Jess Harnell: Well, listen man, if we don’t get to the Kardashians, eventually we’re missing the boat.

Tress MacNeille: Well, I think we’re going to be like the movie Cocoon. We’re going to be old, old, old, but once we get into the water tower, then we’ll return to our youth and things are just the way they always were.

Jess Harnell: Yeah and in 40 years we’ll have sciatica and our new character, Oh-My-Aching-Bakko. It’ll be really fun.