'Animals' Has Famous Voices Behind Its Critters

Ever wonder what the subway rats are thinking or, better yet, doing on a Friday night? Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano have clearly wondered the same thing, since the premiere episode of their new HBO series Animals dives into the thoughts, friendships, and even personal lives of animals around New York City. Matarese and Luciano joined forces with Mark and Jay Duplass and developed the series, eventually finding a home at HBO. Although animated, there are a lot of famous guest stars featured in Animals , which Matarese, Luciano, and Mark Duplass spoke on during a Q&A at a screening for the series in New York.

Unlike other series, Animals doesn't feature a constant cast of voice actors. Instead, famous voices like Aziz Ansari pop-up throughout the episodes. Just some of the voices you might hear in the first few episodes are Ansari, Chelsea Peretti, Ellie Kemper, Jason Mantzoukas, Lauren Lapkus, Kumail Nanjiani, and Nick Kroll.

Duplass says that there's a certain amount of "creative autonomy" when voicing a character for Animals, unlike more strictly scripted animated work the actors might be used to. "You're going to get to improvise and tryout some stuff," he says.

"[The actors], surprisingly, like to do more work," Matarese jokes, referring to the extra effort needed when voicing on an Animals character.

Knowing that there wasn't going to be a set cast, the show runners were able to invite their friends and peers in to record when things worked out for their schedule. "Aziz [Ansari] was in town the day after he sold out Madison Square Garden," Duplass says of Ansari's contribution in Episode 4's "Dogs," joking that the setting of their recording space was by no means as glamorous as Madison Square Garden (Matarese calls their space "DIY").

"I think it was something that everyone who was down to do it — knowing that it was a Duplasss thing — they were going to be in for something a little different," Luciano says.

As for future episodes, expect to hear some of your comedy favorites like Nick Kroll, Wanda Sykes, Eric André, Ike Barinholtz, Adam Scott, Danny McBride, Jenny Slate and more as various animals like pigeons, cats, turtles, flies, squirrels, and even turkeys.

Images: HBO