Ben Feldman on How ‘Monsters at Work’s Tylor Relates to ‘Superstore’s Jonah
Monsters Inc. is welcoming a new character to its crew in the new Disney+ series Monsters at Work, premiering with two episodes on July 7.
Ben Feldman‘s Tylor Tuskmon is a talented scarer eager to join the ranks of Sully (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal), but there’s a catch. The company has just transferred its Monstropolis energy source from screams to laughter. Below, Feldman opens up about his new role in the fan-favorite universe, Tylor’s similarities to his Superstore character Jonah, and much more.
What drew you to Monsters at Work and Tylor?
Ben Feldman: It was an easy yes. What was really cool about it to me, I’ve never been a big voice actor or an animated person… They didn’t want that, they wanted my stammering, neurotic, stuttery, whatever thing that I do. They wanted real, and they wanted to actual grounded emotion, all that kind of stuff, so that was really exciting. Basically, they were like, “Do you want to be a TV version of one of the coolest movies ever made, and then also, do you just want to sound like yourself?” I was like, “Wow, this is everything I’ve ever wanted.”
What was the process like when it came time to record? Was it pretty solitary considering COVID-19 protocols or did you get to record with any of your costars?
Very solitary. We’ve been doing this for a long time, so this predated COVID. It’s not really the nature of these things for you to get to be in the room with a lot of other actors. I got to do it a little bit with Henry Winkler, which was awesome, I love him and always have. I know Mindy [Kaling] really well, but I never did this with her. At the beginning, it was Bob [Gannaway], who created it, who [would] just mimic the cadence and the sound of whoever if I needed someone to read along with me.
Your character Tylor Tuskmon is a scarer. What kind of surprises is he in for when he arrives at Monsters Inc.?
His whole world is turned upside down. He’s this kid who’s been studying forever to be a scarer and to be on the scare floor. He’s got these big horns, and he’s big, purple, and broad, just a perfect candidate to be a young Sully. His first day of work is our first day watching the show, and it’s when they switch over from scare power to laugh power. What is up is down.
The only thing that he knows is he wants to be successful, he’s aggressive and a go-getter. So, if it’s not going to be scaring, then he’s going to find a way to get on that laugh floor, and that’s his journey. All of the other characters are these obstacles that [are] stepping stones to him. That’s what we start with Tylor, not totally likable, but we get there, I promise.
It’s hard not to see the similarities between Tylor’s first day and your Superstore character Jonah’s first day at Cloud 9. Did that make it easier to relate to this role?
Yeah, it made it easier to have discussions with the writers and the directors, especially for me, someone who hasn’t done a lot of animated [work]. It was nice to have that template under my belt with Superstore. There’s a lot of imagining and blanks that you have to fill in as an actor coming into an animated show, especially if you’ve never done it before. So yeah, I think the similarities between Jonah and Tylor really helped me, almost like a crutch, to a degree, maybe. Like, “Okay, I don’t have to worry about that, I know where he is emotionally, and physically, and all that kind of stuff, because I’ve been through this before.”
Speaking of Tylor, you mentioned his appearance. Were you shown an example of what he’d look like before signing on or did you have any input?
There was a different version of the monster a long time ago. He was yellow, and slender, and looked almost like a pencil, or a giraffe, or something. Then it changed and it evolved into this. I think the original monster was as nerdy as I am and maybe meek. I think at some point they were like, “Would it be funny if it was Ben’s voice and vibe, but coming out of something that’s actually big and intimidating?” So, that was a comment on how un-big and unintimidating I am, as a vibe, but I think that’s what happened.
Monsters at Work, Series Premiere, Wednesday, July 7, Disney+