Bill Farmer, the voice behind Disney’s Goofy and Pluto, is stepping out from behind the microphone to meet one of his favorite characters: dogs.
The 67-year-old voice actor is the host of the new Disney+ series “It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer,” where he explores country meeting canines doing incredible jobs to make the lives of everyday Americans better.
Farmer has plenty of reasons to celebrate these days. In addition to his latest role, he recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of “A Goofy Movie,” the 1995 animated musical comedy about Goofy taking his son Max (Jason Marsden) on a cross-country trip.
Farmer spoke to Fox News about auditioning for Goofy, his comical pranks and which real-life dogs impressed him the most.
Fox News: You are known as the voices of Goofy and Pluto. When did you realize that you had the voice for these characters? Bill Farmer: Long ago when I was a kid, I started doing impressions of characters on television that I would see and live-action and animation, and Goofy was one of my favorites growing up. I practiced the voice. “Gorsh,” and he’s right there. There’s Goofy. I practice it and gorsh, now I’m doing it for a living.
Fox News: Have you ever tried doing any of the other Disney voices? Farmer: Oh, yeah. When I auditioned for Goofy, I also auditioned for Mickey. I thought I could do a pretty good one. If you can do that falsetto. “Gosh. Oh boy.” You’re kind of up in that. Donald’s really tough to do. … So yes. I’ve done incidental characters in all sorts of movies, hundreds and hundreds of television shows if not thousands actually in the last 33 years. Yeah, I’ve done probably 50 some different characters for Disney over the years.
Fox News: Have you ever pranked anyone using any of your voices? Farmer: Oh, of course. When I was young, we did that all the time. We’d drive through places like Burger King or McDonald’s, and they’d say order in a weird voice. “I’d like a Whopper with cheese and Arnold the Pig would like a Coke” and they’d look out and everything. My friends got a big kick out of it. Never knew that it would turn into a career.
Fox News: In April you celebrated the 25th anniversary of “A Goofy Movie.” What do you believe has been the secret behind that film’s lasting success? Farmer: I think it’s that that movie has a lot of heart. We had to add some emotional depth that Goofy had never had before. He had cared about his son, Max, and worried about him. Those were emotions he really didn’t have too much before.
We explored that in the movie and I think it really came out and people to this day, more than anything else that I’ve done, they say, “I couldn’t talk to my dad until I saw a Goofy movie. Now it’s our movie and we listen to the soundtrack and it brings us closer together so it did its job.”
Fox News: What can audiences expect from “It’s a Dog’s Life”? Farmer: … You get to find out about dogs that have all sorts of amazing jobs… and I’m the eyes and ears of the person at home asking hopefully the questions that people at home would like to know about these incredible dogs and all the things that they do. I always knew that there were police dogs and search dogs. I had no idea there were dogs that could sniff out disease in beehives or dogs that can find whale poop in the middle of the Pacific ocean that they use for research.
There are so many amazing jobs that dogs are suited for. Of course, in this time they’re teaching dogs to sniff out the coronavirus. They have that sensitive a sniffer, that they can do that kind of thing so it might come in really handy pretty soon.
Fox News: Which dog or job would you say surprised you the most while filming this series and why? Farmer: Remus, who was one of the dogs at the Cincinnati Zoo that they raise as a sibling with one of their cheetah cubs. That surprised me, that dogs and cheetahs, dogs and cats, get along that well together. Also, the one that finds a disease in beehives. I had no idea that it was a job at all. Those two jump out at me. Also, the mayor of Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, a small little town on the Ohio River, is a dog. I understand he’s doing a really good job and is up for election later this year.
Fox News: How important is it to see dogs do amazing things in our country now more than ever? Farmer: Dogs have amazing abilities. They can smell diabetes, pneumonia, now, maybe COVID-19. In the medical profession alone, their sense of smell is so acute that they can tell if you’re going to have skin cancer before most medical tests. Those things alone just blow me away. Also, they do it for love. They are all personalities. Each dog is an individual, but they do it because they love humans and they get a treat at the end usually.
Fox News: What’s one key piece of advice you would give to anyone thinking about getting a dog now? Farmer: Well, make sure that the dog is a good fit for the family. In other words, if you sit around and you’re pretty sedentary, you may not want a border collie that needs like three to five hours of exercise a day. Match it to your lifestyle is probably the most important part because not all dogs are the same fit and they’re not like one size fits all. They’re like finding a partner, a spouse. You got to find that special one so take your time.
Fox News: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is known for having at least 30 dogs in her lifetime, specifically corgis. After meeting them, does it surprise you that they happen to be the royal’s personal favorite? Farmer: Not after spending an afternoon with 1,200 corgis at Huntington Beach and learning about JoJo, the surfing corgi. I got to surf with JoJo… Surfing’s harder than I thought. I didn’t do that well at it, but he can surf. He really can. They’re delightful dogs so yeah, I can understand why the Queen loves them.
Fox News: You have two dogs. How have they made your life better, especially during these unprecedented times? Farmer: Well, I’ve always had dogs unless I was living in an apartment and couldn’t have a dog. But I have two dogs now, a black pit bull and a black lab mix named Boo and another mix named Roxy. Both are about 12, 13, and the unconditional love that dog show people and that they show me it, it helps during this COVID-19 crisis to have a friend like that.
They are just glad to see you. It makes hanging out at home a lot better and we go out on walks for about an hour every night. It’s that quiet time so I don’t go crazy here at the house. They really help you mentally. They can keep you sane and they’re important in our lives.
“It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer” is currently available for streaming on Disney+.