Scott Menville was born into show business and has been acting since age 11. Son of animator and TV writer Chuck Menville, who helped animate Disney’s classic The Jungle Book, Scott is best known for his work in the world of animation as well. He has brought characters to life not with pen and ink, but with his voice talents — including performances in Disney’s Frozen, Tangled, and Wreck-It-Ralph, as well as the films Despicable Me, and Paranorman. He currently voices the roles of Robin in Teen Titans Go! and plays the recurring characters of band geek Bucky in Disney XD’s Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, Dr. Blip in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Jimmy Jones in Ben 10: Omniverse.
I had the opportunity to chat with Scott, in anticipation of the upcoming Disney animated show The 7D, based on Disney’s beloved Seven Dwarfs, and its companion app by Disney Publishing, which is available with Sneezy starting today.
I understand your father, Chuck Menville, passed away at the very young age of 52. You must have been pretty young yourself. Are there any words of advice or bits of knowledge he gave you that help you in your show-biz career now?
What a lot of people may not know is that he started his professional career at Disney with The Jungle Book and animated on the whole “King Louie” sequence. He worked on it at least a year. That was when every frame had to be done one at a time. No CG animation or computers to help out. I’m very proud of him for all the work he’s done, and I’m absolutely influenced because of him. It was evident at a young age that I had the acting bug. I began taking acting classes, but when I joined the Screen Actor’s Guild I remember him sitting me down and saying to me, “This is a profession. Don’t be late. Good actors arrive 10 minutes early. So take it seriously, but don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake, that’s what second takes are for. But be professional.” When I showed up the very first day all of these incredibly professional people were there and when we started people were goofing off so I learned that I could relax a little bit. But I would say my professionalism comes from my dad.
Given that your dad worked on The Jungle Book and you’ve also starred in Disney movies, and now you’re featured in a Disney animated series, does Disney hold special significance for you?
Great significance. Everyone knows and loves Disney. I love Disney! It’s near and dear to my heart and playing an iconic character is a really cool thing. Even after all these episodes I still have to pinch myself and say, “I’m Sneezy!” It’s awesome. Just the Disney name carries such weight and feelings of joy so I’m grateful to be a part of it. And I for one am so excited about the music! Us actors record our parts before they place the songs and so we don’t get to hear it until afterward and from what I’ve seen already, the music is just great. And with so much talent in our cast it’s terrific.
If there was one lesson in life that your dad taught you that you carry with you, what would that be?
Follow your heart. My father grew up in Louisiana with a dream to get into the business. He didn’t know anyone and didn’t have any contacts, but it was his dream and so at age 18 he packed up his bags and came out here. No contacts or anything and he carved out for himself a great career. He never actually said those words to me, but knowing his story and his example I’d say that’s the powerful life lesson he taught me. Follow your heart. Follow your passion. Whether or not it’s as an actor, musician, or medical student. If you have a passion for something follow it.
How is this new take on the Seven Dwarfs going to be different from the Seven Dwarfs we are so familiar with from the movie? Does it take place anywhere in the Snow White universe?
It’s a contemporary take on the Seven Dwarfs so they look different and the voices are different as well. It’s more contemporary so the characters are hip to this generation, with a lot of references to pop culture and jokes thrown in. It takes place before Snow White is born so we won’t be seeing her in the show. I don’t know if we see the Evil Queen but the current queen is called Queen Delightful and she rules over Jollywood. I don’t know if you can even call them villains but Grim and Hildy Gloom are there always plotting to overthrow the queen, and being a parent myself, I like that it is definitely age appropriate. It’s not scary at all.
Kids are so saavy at video games and know how to make it work. They can find this thing with like 18 buttons on it and figure it out in no time. [What’s great about this] game is it’s simple enough that I can actually play it, too. I think even the littlest kids can play it. And as for the show, I would definitely tell parents to sit down and watch it. There’s humor on an adult level as well as for the kids. It’s classic comedically-timed stuff and well-written dialogue. My wife and I are very conscious about what our kids watch and with Disney we know we can trust them.
Photos of Scott Menville: ©Rick Rowell/Disney Junior