Big Mouth's first season saw middle school BFFs Andrew and Nick lose countless battles against The Hormone Monster — an imaginary, Bigfoot-like creature slowly turning them into sex-crazed teens. But Season 2 introduces The Hormone Monster's mortal enemy, The Shame Wizard.
The character may sound familiar to fans of Harry Potter: he’s voiced by David Thewlis, who played Remus Lupin — a former Professor of Defence Against The Dark Arts at Hogwarts — in the 2000s film franchise. The actor has lent his British accent to background characters of Family Guy in the past, but is better known for his live action roles, including turns in Wonder Woman (2017), Fargo (2017), and Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021). So voicing The Shame Wizard marks somewhat of a turn in his career.
The pointy-eared, bulging-eyed character is almost creepier than the VM Varga creature Thewlis portrayed in Fargo. Whereas the Hormone Monsters encourage the teens to embrace their most deviant impulses, the Shame Wizard stokes their innermost shame about their changing bodies and hormones. His goal seems to be to demolish what little self-esteem they have, destroying their confidence and taunting them about their mistakes and shortcomings. However, Big Mouth’s writers wanted to draw a clear distinction between shame and guilt while writing the character. “Guilt is, I made a mistake, shame is, I am a mistake. Guilt is, I did a bad thing, shame is, I am a bad thing,” co-creator Andrew Goldberg told Vulture in 2018.
The idea for the Shame Wizard was pretty simple: Goldberg felt the Hormone Monster needed an archrival. Initially, he wanted to call the character the Shame Monster, but co-creator Nick Kroll had a different take. “He was like, ‘No, shame is not a monster, shame is a wizard,’” Goldberg said. “Because shame is clever and tricky and needles its way into you.”
While writing Season 2, many of Big Mouth’s writers happened to be watching the third season of Fargo, in which Thewlis plays the aforementioned villain VM Varga. The character came to embody what they wanted to portray with the Shame Wizard, and eventually they asked Thewlis to join the cast. “He’s a villain, but he’s charming at times, and repulsive at times, and shame is the smartest person in the room,” Goldberg said of Varga. “That’s how we got the idea of asking David to do it, and fortunately he said yes.”
At the end of Season 2, the kids realize they can all see the Shame Wizard and band together to banish him. However, after a visit to the Monster World, Andrew realizes that shame can sometimes be important. It’s implied that the Shame Wizard’s harshness stems from his poor relationship with his mother and the absence of his father, lending a bit of empathy and understanding to the character. And while he admits to Andrew that he can sometimes get carried away with his job, he says his intentions come from a good place: he wants to encourage self-betterment and improvement.
The Shame Wizard is set to return for Big Mouth Season 4 as well as the upcoming Big Mouth spinoff Human Resources.
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