Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. You've worked on TV, you've done movies and you're
currently appearing on the West End stage. How was providing the
voice for an animated feature? Was it a different experience for
A: It wasn’t without it’s challenges, because
none of us were in the same room at the same time. So instead
of being able to respond off another actor you had to really use
your imagination. Like you would as a kid, when you build a fort
in the backyard or whatever.
So a lot of the work, for me at least, was trying to give the
directors as much to choose from as possible. I would do the line
20 different ways, knowing that eventually they would cut it together
depending on everyone else’s performance. But it was really
freeing not having to worry about how you look.
Q. Having been part of such a successful series as Friends
for so long, does it feel exciting being free to pursue more projects,
such as the West End play, or this movie?
A. Well I guess so, though we had enough time off while
we were doing the series to do films and plays, we’ve done
a lot of plays over the last ten years. Mostly little theatres
in Chicago with my company, or Los Angeles. But this is really
an exciting time and the opportunity to do this movie was something
I’d always wanted to do.
Jeffrey called and said ‘hey, what do you think about being
Q. And where did the idea come from to make him a hypochondriac
A: I have no idea.
Katzenberg: We cast against type.
Schwimmer: It’s strange, because who I feel I am in real
life is pretty much the opposite of this character, so it’s
fun for me to be able to play into this idea of who Melman is.
Q. Do you have any phobias of your own, though?
A: I don’t have any phobias, but I have some fear
of being way out in the ocean by myself, swimming. You go out
there and think everything is great and then you see you’re
pretty far out, and maybe it’s time to head back in. But
that would be the only thing.
McGrath: And that’s the one thing that
doesn’t bother Melman!
Q. Did you ever imagine yourself playing a giraffe as
part of your career?
A: No I never thought of being a giraffe, although we
did as actors – when we went to school and studied –
have a whole semester of being animals.
My first animal that I chose was a penguin, because you had to
go to the zoo and study an animal intensely for three weeks, and
they made me laugh so I studied them.
Q. So did you audition to
play a penguin?
A: I didn’t. I didn’t get the opportunity
to audition for one of the penguins. I’m still secretly
angry about that [laughs].
Q. Did you observe animals as part of your preparation?
And if you could be reincarnated as an animal, what would it be?
A: I knew what giraffes were like, I’d seen a lot
of them, I did a little bit more research on the web. But I didn’t
make a special trip to the zoo to study them. I’d seen a
And if I were to come back it might be interesting to be something
that flies, because we don’t enjoy that experience. An eagle
or a hawk.
Q. Are you enjoying your time in London, appearing in
Some Girl(s) in the West End? And are you embracing the English
A: I’m having a blast. I went to a great pub, the
pub life here is the way to go. I had a great time in a pub for
seven hours one Sunday. Coldplay showed up, and bought a round
for everyone. That was cool.
Q. Do you like to drink warm beer, in keeping with certain
A: No. I like cold beer.
Q. When you saw the video of yourself doing the vocals,
were you ever surprised to see how animated your vocal performances
A: I had the same reaction as Ben, I didn’t like
to view it. When you’re holding your tongue as if you’ve
got stuff in your mouth, because when you’re doing it you
want to imagine that you have a certain safety.
It’s very vulnerable, because you go out and try all sorts
of stuff knowing that what you’re doing is not going to
be seen. And then to watch playback is almost like seeing yourself
Q. Given the diversity of your roles, if you were forced
to choose a medium to remain in, such as film, TV or theatre,
which would it be?
A: If I could only perform in one thing it would probably
be live theatre. But I feel really fortunate that I can do all
I’ve done radio plays before, but to be able to do this
is a different experience, just another opportunity to grow as
an actor and try something I’ve never tried before. I hope
that I’ll be able to continue doing all of those things.
Get to know Melman the Giraffe:
Real™ High | Real™
Medium l Real™
High l Windows™
Medium l Windows™
Ben Stiller interview
Chris Rock interview
Girl(s) - David Schwimmer in the West End - review