FCHS grad lends voice to new Disney cartoon

Wed, 04/01/2009 - 9:36am
By: Michael Boylan

FCHS grad lends voice to new Disney cartoon

Gary Anthony Williams has appeared in a lot of television programs and movies. You might remember him in such roles as Smart Brother in “Undercover Brother,” Stevie’s Dad in “Malcolm in the Middle” various roles on “Blue Collar TV” or as Clarence/Clarice on “Boston Legal.” When he isn’t in front of the camera, something he has been doing since appearing on an episode of “In the Heat of the Night” in 1990, Williams has been lending his voice to animated programs such as Nickelodeon’s “The Wild Thornberrys” to Cartoon Network’s “The Boondocks” as Uncle Ruckus. Williams is now the voice of Mr. Dos on The Disney Channel’s “Special Agent Oso.”

“Mr. Dos is the one who gives Special Agent Oso his assignments,” said Williams. “You never see my character just the voice pattern on Special Agent Oso’s watch. I do my pseudo James Earl Jones voice. It’s very deep and authoritative.”

Williams raved about his experience working on “Special Agent Oso,” which is a program that his son enjoys, because it is recorded with the full cast, which isn’t always the case with voice work. Williams stated that as someone with eight siblings (six sisters and two brothers) he likes having people around.

“The sessions are always fun and real kids are doing the voices of the kids on the show,” said Williams who added that sometimes adults are doing the voices of kids on animated programs. The show has also allowed Williams to work with Sean Astin who voices the character of Special Agent Oso.

“The show looks great and it really captures the imagination,” Williams stated, adding that it is nice to do a project that his son can watch.

Williams is a family man and his heart is in Fayetteville. He attended Hood Avenue Elementary, Fayette County Junior High and Fayette County High School. Many of his family members and friends still live in the area and he visits two or three times a year.

“The changes never fail to amaze me,” said Williams. “I grew up in the sticks. We had to move cows off the road.”

He can trace the start of his acting career to Fayette County High School and a computer error in scheduling. The error put him in an acting class and he was “too lazy” to get out. Williams stated that his high school drama teacher, Robin Bennett, is the greatest acting teacher he has ever had.

“My first paid acting gig actually came from Fayette County High School,” Williams said. “I was part of a live show about troubled teens that toured around.”

In college, Williams tried to branch out to other things and wound up in plays anyway. He moved to Atlanta, performed with the Georgia Shakespeare Festival and also started working with the improv comedy group Laughing Matters.

“At one point, I took a one day improv class at Clayton State and the guy leading it told me that improv wasn’t for me,” Williams recalled with a chuckle. “In reality, improv has made me what I am.”

Williams has certainly shown his chops in improv and comedy, appearing in shows like “Reno 911,” “Lovespring International,” “Andy Barker P.I.” “Saul of the Mole Men” and “Chocolate News,” as well as “Blue Collar TV.”

“When I saw they were doing ‘Blue Collar TV,’ I auditioned and just pulled out all sorts of southern memories and characters,” Williams said. “I always seem to find connections to Atlanta and the south.” In addition to “Blue Collar TV,” Williams’ voice work on “The Boondocks” and “Stroker and Hoop,” and role on “Saul of the Mole Men” are all programs on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and Cartoon Network is based in Atlanta.

There is even a bit of a connection to Fayetteville in Williams recurring role on “Boston Legal.” He had purchased airline tickets to come home for a few days and he got a call to do one episode of “Boston Legal.”

“I kept turning it down, but eventually got persuaded to go and do it, so I cancelled our tickets and filmed the show. In make-up, the stylist told me that she could tell the character would be a regular.” The stylist was right and Williams appeared as Clarence/Clarice Bell, a cross-dressing receptionist for 36 episodes.

Williams has been performing in television and movies for 19 years and the list of programs and features he has been a part of is extensive and impressive. He has been fortunate enough to find consistent work and is even branching out behind the camera. He has written and directed two shorts, one of which, will be made into a full length feature. The work on shorts also prompted Williams to helm the L.A. Comedy Shorts Festival.

“The festival was voted one of the Top 25 Film Festivals in the world worth the entry fee,” said Williams.

Williams plans on doing more writing and directing and voice work like his role on “Special Agent Oso” makes that possible.

“I so enjoy what I do,” Williams said, adding that he wanted to make sure every home in Fayetteville tunes in to the show. “If someone in Fayetteville isn’t watching the show, I will come down there and I won’t be a happy guy.”

With a new show on Disney, a short film festival that has won a lot of praise right out of the gate, and a career that has given him the opportunity to work with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, it’s hard to believe Williams could be anything but happy.

“Special Agent Oso” will appear on Playhouse Disney on The Disney Channel Saturday, Apr. 4 at 8 and 8:30 a.m. and again at 10 and 10:30 a.m.

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