In “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” LeBron James finds himself turned into a cartoon and forced to play a high-stakes basketball game. At first, the only one in the entire Warner Bros. universe willing to help him put together a team is a famous carrot-munching rascally rabbit.
Jeff Bergman was the first person to voice Bugs Bunny after the death of Mel Blanc — known as the man of a thousand voices. Bergman doesn’t have quite that many, but he does scores of characters for Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera.
Bergman also performs Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Yogi Bear and Fred Flintstone in the new “Space Jam” film. And in Stephen Colbert's “Our Cartoon President” on Showtime, he did the voices for both Trump and Biden.
He tells KCRW about how as a college student, he had a fateful meeting with Blanc that set him on this career path. He also discusses the intense casting process for “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” and then learning he got the part of Bugs Bunny in March 2020, just days before going into pandemic shutdown. He ended up recording the entire movie remotely.
Reflecting on the many auditions he did for the new “Space Jam” movie, Bergman explains that most people probably don’t realize how much goes into a strong voice acting performance.
“A lot of people can muster up a line to mimic,” Bergman says. “But when somebody gives you a line that you’ve never read before, and then they give you a direction that you didn’t think about when you were preparing for the line, you really have to have a sense of who that character is.”