Before he was president of the United States, he was king of the jungle. Tony Goldwyn may be best known for his portrayal of President Fitzgerald Grant III on the smash ABC series "Scandal," but 15 years ago he was the commander in chief of a very different kind of jungle.
In 1999, the actor voiced the title character in Disney's animated big screen movie "Tarzan." That's right, while his TV character, Fitz, takes it all off for those steamy love scenes with Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), Goldwyn's animated alter ego prefers a loincloth.
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The popular Disney flick boasted a star-studded cast that included Minnie Driver as Jane and Glenn Close as Tarzan's ape mother Kala, so Goldwyn had his work cut out for him with the lead role of the iconic ape-man.
Tarzan meets Jane for the first time:
In an interview with CrankyCritic.com, the actor talked about the challenges of making the animated feature and how he struggled with the character's signature yell.
"The yell was very hard," he said. "First it was deciding what it would be. Initially it was going to be some new thing we hadn't heard before, of animal sounds. The sound men recorded a bunch of different animal noises, baboons and panthers and birds and monkeys, and I would mimic them."
Directors Kevin Lima and Chris Buck decided to go with a more traditional Tarzan yell instead, but when Goldwyn had trouble mastering the character's trademark call ("It's really hard to do, physically," he revealed), co-star Brian Blessed stepped in to provide a powerful version of the gold standard 1930s-era Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan yodel.
Of course, Tarzan doesn't just hang out with apes. Turns out he's an ESL student, so Goldwyn had to adapt the character's voice for different scenes.
"There are a couple of components to Tarzan, vocally," Goldwyn said. "When you first meet him and he's interacting with Terk and Tantor and Kala he's just a regular guy. When he confronts the humans, he's an ape. He acts like a gorilla and speaks like a gorilla. Even when Jane teaches him English, he approaches it as someone who's speaking a second language. Even though he's a quick study, his vocal character is different."
Tarzan teaches Jane how to speak Gorilla:
Goldwyn's big screen "Tarzan" was ultimately a box office success, so it's no surprise that it spawned a small screen spinoff. The Saturday morning cartoon series "The Legend of Tarzan" ran on ABC from 2001 to 2003. Michael T. Weiss voiced the jungle man in the TV version, which picked up where the feature film left off.
"Scandal" airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.