A Filipino from Scarborough, Ontario has been chosen as the new voice of Bugs Bunny. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Eric Bauza.
When he was a teenager growing up in the east end of Toronto, Ontario, Bauza was known as a prankster.
When he was a student at Cardinal Newman Catholic High School, his teachers gave him the opportunity to have fun. Bauza loved doing voices, entertaining his classmates with his impressions of teachers and TV and movie characters.
During moving announcements, Bauza would do Homer Simpson. He became quite famous on campus, being chosen as valedictorian for his graduating year. Bauza knew how to work a crowd.
He knew he was destined for big things. In his yearbook, he wrote something that turned out to be quite prophetic:
“WELL, B4 I GO, I’D LIKE 2 SAY THANX 2 EVERY 1 WHO THOUGHT I WAS FUNNY & IF I EVER DO B-COME FAMOUS, PARTY AT MY HOUSE!”
The legendary Looney Tunes character, Bugs Bunny, turned 80 years old this year. Originally voiced by Mel Blanc, Bugs Bunny has been entertaining children of all ages since 1940.
The Toronto Star sat down and talked to Bauza and asked him how he does Bugs Bunny’s voice.
“I don’t really think about it,” Bauza told the Star. “It kind of just happens naturally.”
Bauza started doing his impressions when he was young, and unsurprisingly, made fun of his parent’s Filipino accents. Turned out, he was pretty good at it.
One day, Bauza’s brother, Alan came home and heard voices from his room. Thinking he had some friends over, he came in to check on his little brother, only to find out he was doing the voices of every single character from The Simpsons.
Of course, Bauza enjoyed his talent, maybe too much at times.
Occasionally, he’d call the school, pretending to be a parent. He’d also call students, pretending to be a teacher from the school.
He could also throw his voice, pretending to be the school secretary calling from the classroom speaker asking him to be called to the main office.
His teachers have fond memories of Bauza.
“Many of his responses on tests or quizzes came in the form of comic strips, with made-up characters that not only answered the question but were hilarious!” Bauza’s old science teacher, Rob Day, told the Star.
His drama teacher, Shiela Gatensby, also thought very highly of him.
head and shoulders above everybody,” Gatensby told the Star. “I quickly realized as his drama teacher, the best thing I could do was give him space.”
When Bauza delivered his Valedictorian speech, he pretended to fall and did numerous impressions of teaching staff.
“So, my fellow graduates, receive those diplomas with your chins up high, give Cardinal Newman a long goodbye, cross your hearts and hope to die, stick a needle in your eye, and eat a horse manure pie, because tonight, we the true survivors celebrate our GRADUATION DAY!!!” Bauza said during his speech.
Bauza studied radio, television and film at Centennial College. He moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a production assistant. He was able to get a few gigs doing voice acting and came back home.
After graduation, he took a year off and found work at an Ottawa-based animation studio.
He moved back to Southern California after, where he was able to leverage his connections that eventually ended up with his first big break.
He got the role of Rodolfo Rivera in the Nickelodeon show El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera.
Jorge Gutierrez, the creator of the show, was amazed at Bauza’s talent.
“We found a Canadian-Filipino guy who can do a better Mexican accent than any Mexican I’ve ever auditioned,” Gutierrez told Nickelodeon. “My favourite thing about him is when he does a voice, even if it’s super ridiculous, there’s a thinking heart, I call it, behind the voices, where you feel empathy for them. And you also laugh with them, you’re not laughing at them.”
When Looney Toons was rebooted by Warner Bros. Animation, Bauza went in for an audition.
He was initially chosen for the role of **Marvin the Martian **, but Bauza had his sights set a little bit higher.
He auditioned a second time, and ended up being cast as Bugs Bunny.
“The voice acting world, as you know, historically has been basically Caucasian, even though these characters are rabbits and mice and foxes,” Gutierrez said. “The fact that someone like Eric is getting an opportunity to voice such an iconic, global character is humongous. This allows people who look like us and Eric to go, ‘Maybe I can do that.’”
“I will now be in the history pages of animation as the sixth guy and maybe one of the only Canadians to voice Bugs Bunny,” Bauza told the Star.
Loony Toons Cartoons is available on HBO Max in the United States and Teletoon in Canada.
Bauza is keeping busy, working on the Space Jam sequel with NBA superstar LeBron James.
“Yesterday was my birthday and I spent my entire birthday with LeBron James on the set acting with him. He needed someone there to read lines of these characters so he had believable interaction,” Bauza told the Star. “He still doesn’t know I’m from Toronto, so don’t tell him. There’s that weird sense of bitterness of a two-year-in-a-row sweep of the Raptors versus Cavaliers.”
Congratulations, Kabayan! We are very proud of you!
SOURCE: TORONTO STAR
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