Sean Astin Talks Netflix’s ‘Captain Underpants’ Series & His ‘Stranger Things’ Future
“Tra-la-laaa!” The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants are flying into Netflix on Friday, July 13, and we’re giving you a first look at the DreamWorks Animation series.
Featuring the beloved characters from Dav Pilkey’s classic Captain Underpants book series, George (Ramone Hamilton), Harold (Jay Gragnani), and Mr. Krupp/Captain Underpants (Nat Faxon) come to life with 13 half-hour episodes in the first season.
For the highly-anticipated series, Netflix also recruited none other than Sean Astin (Stranger Things, Lord of the Rings) for narration duties. Read on to see what Astin had to say about the role, his Stranger Things future, and Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings series.
You narrate this fun new Dreamworks/Netflix collaboration. What makes you say yes to a project like this?
Sean Astin: The process has been a dream really because usually when I go to work I’m going to South Africa or New Zealand or England or something. When I’m working on Captain Underpants, I just drive down the road for a half hour [Laughs]… Because we know each other, [executive producer Peter Hastings] called me and invited me to play the narrator. He thought I had the quality that would work for the show, and I instantly said yes.
I feel really comfortable with the tone of the narrator and what his function is, and I feel that sense of ownership of the narrator. It’s like I’ve been wrapping presents for two years, and now I get to start opening them and enjoying them. [Laughs] I really am proud of the show.
Captain Underpants is a character that’s been around for over 20 years. Do you have any personal connection to the books that inspired the show?
You mean [how] I’m starting to look more and more like Captain Underpants? [Laughs] You know the fun thing about this, I’m a 47-year-old man and my daughters… I think they kind of missed it there, so I don’t know that I have kind of a direct historical connection other than it’s iconic. Anybody who’s walked into a Barnes and Noble kids section, you’ve seen it.
The trick for me is can I connect with it, whatever that thing is that people love. For me, I think it happened pretty quickly because of 1970s cartoons that I grew up on, like Super Chicken or Tom Slick. The narrator was like a friend of yours you were watching the show with.
What kind of challenges do you face as an actor when it comes to voiceover work? How does it compare to live-action?
I think narrating a book is a lot less complicated than doing a lot of the other stuff. So I wouldn’t want to say that it’s easier… but it’s easier. Once you establish the tone, and you kind of get that down, then it’s just fun. The only thing that’s trickier are some of the tongue twisters or making sure that you’re getting the puns exactly right.
Reboots and revivals are such a trend in today’s TV climate. Amazon is working on a Lord of the Rings series — is there anything else you’d like to see rebooted from your filmography? Anything that shouldn’t be touched?
I think Toy Soldiers, which is kind of a lesser-known movie title that I was in, would be really really great for a remake. The Goonies they could obviously do a sequel or reboot — that would be fun! I’m looking forward to seeing Lord of the Rings. I have no idea what they’re gonna do with that, but I’m sure it will be fantastic.
You’ve been a part of the Netflix family for a while now as fans loved you as Bob Newby in Stranger Things 2. Is there any chance they might get to see Bob in a few flashbacks come Season 3?
Well, I haven’t filmed any… but I wouldn’t say that it’s impossible. But I wouldn’t say it’s possible either. It’s probably better not to say anything. Well, let me just say this: Bob is dead, period, he’s not coming back. [Laughs] But you know, two seasons from now, if somebody thinks they’d have an idea for a flashback, I don’t know.
Stranger Things is all about casting for ‘80s nostalgia. Any other ‘80s icons you’d love to see them cast in future seasons?
I know they cast Cary Elwes [of Princess Bride fame] — oh god, there’s so many. It’d be cool to see Winona [Ryder]’s contemporaries in there, like let her have some relationships with other women. Like Ally Sheedy’s probably older than her, but somebody like that from the John Hughes movies. Molly Ringwald, or something like that! That would be cool to see, to give her a chance to play like that.
Netflix is all about binge-watching. What’s your latest binge?
You know, this morning I got the link to 10 episodes of Captain Underpants so I watched four right away with my wife and kids. [Laughs] I know that sounds cheesy, but that’s exactly what it is.
Check out a clip below where Astin lends his vocals to explain why George and Harold aren’t fond of the school dance they’re being forced to attend.
DreamWork’s The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants, Premiere, Friday, July 13, Netflix