Dan Castellaneta is an American voice actor and comedian widely known as the voice of ‘Homer Simpson’ in the hugely popular adult comedy animated series ‘The Simpsons’. He has also provided voiceovers for several other popular characters like ‘Barney Gumble’, ‘Krusty the Clown’, ‘Sideshow Mel’, and ‘Groundskeeper Willie’ in the same show. Castellaneta is equally famous for lending his voice to various characters in television programs and films like ‘Darkwing Duck’, ‘The Adventures of Dynamo Duck’, ‘Back to the Future: The Animated Series’, ‘Aladdin’, and ‘Hey Arnold!’. The versatile actor has won the Annie Award two times and the Emmy Award four times in his career that has spanned over three decades. The son of an amateur actor, Castellaneta was inspired by his father’s comic acts and used to listen to his records while growing up. Even though he loved acting from a young age, he did not give a serious thought to pursuing it professionally. He initially aspired to become an art teacher but destiny had other plans for him. Once he began acting, there was no looking back for him.
Castellaneta became one of the highest-paid voice artists in the industry in 2008 when he was given a $400,000 per episode contract for his role in the ‘The Simpsons’.
Childhood & Early Life
Castellaneta was born as Daniel Louis Castellaneta in Chicago, Illinois, on October 29, 1957, to Elsie Castellaneta, a home maker, and Louis Castellaneta, an amateur actor who also worked in the printing industry.
He used to listen to his father’s recordings with much delight and was very enthusiastic about acting and comedy. After seeing his passion, his mother put him in an acting class for children.
He went to Oak Park and River Forest High School and after graduating, he began attending the Northern Illinois University in 1975. He studied art education with the aim of becoming an art teacher in the future. While serving as a student teacher, he would entertain his students with his voiceover skills.
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After graduating from the Northern Illinois University in 1979, Dan Castellaneta joined the show business and began his acting career. He began taking improvisation classes and joined The Second City, an improvisational comedy enterprise, in 1983. He worked with them for four years.
Castellaneta tried for a role in ‘The Tracey Ullman Show’, an American television variety show starring Tracey Ullman, but was not convincing enough in his audition to impress Ullman. However, Ullman later attended one of Castellaneta’s shows where he played the role of a blind man. Ullman was taken aback by the poignancy of his performance and later admitted that he made her cry with his act. Ullman ultimately gave him a role in her show.
During his time with the ‘The Tracey Ullman Show’ there was a series of animated shorts about a dysfunctional family in the show itself. When the producers required some voice actors, they asked Ullman for artists from her show rather than going for extra artists. Castellaneta auditioned for the voice of ‘Homer’ but initially he struggled to keep the voice powerful as intended by the producers. He later decided to “drop the voice down” and added a bit of humor to it.
After making people fall in love with his character and his brand of humor, he also voiced several other characters in the show. Some of his popular characters on the show are ‘Grampa Simpson’, ‘Barney Gumble’, ‘Krusty the Clown’, ‘Groundskeeper Willie’, ‘Mayor Quimby’, ‘Sideshow Mel’, ‘Itchy’, ‘Kodos’, ‘Hans Moleman’, and ‘Gil Gunderson’.
Castellaneta was paid $30,000 per episode until 1998 when a pay dispute arose between the production team and the artists. Fox threatened to replace the entire cast. However, the dispute was soon resolved and Castellaneta was offered a $125,000 per episode contract till 2004. That year, the actors once again demanded a pay hike and were given $250,000 per episode.
In 2008, Castellaneta became one of the highest paid voice artists in the industry as his salary was hiked to $400,000 per episode. However, three years later, when Fox was going through a financial crisis, all the artists decided to take a 25 percent pay cut to help the show continue.
Besides Homer, the voice actor has also lent his voice to several other characters including ‘Warren Morris’ in the ABC live-action sitcom ‘Sibs’, ‘Dynamo Duck’ and ‘Megavolt’ in ‘Darkwing Duck,’ ‘Doc Emmett Brown’ in ‘Back to the Future: The Animated Series’, and ‘Grandpa Phil’ and the ‘Jolly Olly Man’ in ‘Hey Arnold!’, an American animated television series created by Craig Bartlett.
He played an Annie Award-winning portrayal of ‘The Postman’ in ‘Olive, the Other Reindeer’, a 1999 CGI animated Christmas television special.
Dan Castellaneta has worked in several popular shows as a voice actor. However, his claim to fame has been the animated series ‘The Simpsons’ in which he voices the character of Homer Simpson. He has been part of the show for almost three decades, becoming one of the longest serving actors in any type of television productions. Besides Homer, he has also voiced multiple other characters in the show and has won four Primetime Emmy Awards as well as one Annie Award.
Castellaneta benefitted from a disagreement between Robin Williams and Disney when the two parties parted ways. Williams had voiced the genie in the film ‘Aladdin’ but after his disagreement with Disney, the role was given to Castellaneta who voiced the genie in the Aladdin sequel ‘The Return of Jafar’ and also in the 1994 ‘Aladdin’ television series.
Dan Castellaneta met Deb Lacusta while taking improvisation classes. The couple married in 1987 and has been living in Los Angeles for a long time now. His wife works as a television writer and actress. The couple often works together and collaborates on their creative projects.
He is very different from his on-screen character ‘Homer Simpson’ as he is a vegetarian and never touches alcohol.