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Larry the Cable Guy Brings a Tow Truck to Life in Cars

The Voice of Mater in Cars


Larry the Cable Guy Brings a Tow Truck to Life in Cars

Mater the Tow Truck (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy) in Cars.

© Disney/Pixar
Getting Into Character: Larry the Cable Guy provides the voice of Mater the Tow Truck in the latest Disney/Pixar collaboration, Cars. When it came to casting the role, Larry the Cable Guy believes director John Lasseter automatically thought of him. “When they thought of a tow truck they had me in mind, apparently. I got into the character, though. They told me I was going to play a tow truck so I put on 1,700 pounds. I’ve actually lost some weight since we done that . Then I found out it was a cartoon, and I felt like an idiot (laughing).”

As with most Pixar movies, the Cars filmmakers incorporated characteristics of the actors voicing the roles into the animated characters and allowed the actors to play with the lines. “I think I got a “get er done” in there. Dag gum was definitely something I brought to it. John Lassiter basically had this in his head. He knew what that tow truck looked like, he just had to find the voice to match what that was. When he heard my voice, he was like, ‘That’s the voice of that truck,’ so that’s how I got that. Because he thought I sounded like the voice of this truck. But the truck, itself, was his brainchild. As far as certain phrases, yeah, I came up with certain phrases.”

The Process of Finding the Right Voice: “I had never done voiceovers before so I remember when I first started doing it, I did like the first five lines and then I was starting to do another one. I said, ‘John, can I do this line a little different because I just don’t feel comfortable the way they’ve got it written?’ He said, ‘No, that’s what I want you to do. We love the voice. We want you to be this character so you do it how you want to, as long as you talk about the gist of what it’s talking about. I don’t care how you get there, just get there.’ That was a whole different thing. That’s when I started throwing stuff in and changing lines around. As long as I got where we were supposed to be, I could do that. That made it a lot more comfortable for me. The more I did it, the more I got comfortable in the studio.”

Larry the Cable Guy on Working Solo: “It wasn’t that bad because John Lasseter is a real good guy. We got to be pretty good friends. He’s a big NASCAR fan. He told me he wanted to come down to Bithlo, Florida, where I live. Bithlo is outside of Orlando and they have figure eight bus races. He’d heard about these figure eight bus races…we got to talking about them because I’d been to them. He was there and Joe Ranft, who passed away (last year) was there as well. I got to be good friends with him as well. It was just us three in the booth there, and Joe would read the line before mine, and then I’d read it, and John would laugh. It was fun, I just enjoyed it. I didn’t feel I was talking to a wall. I was getting into the part, laughing, and it was a lot of fun.”

Has Success Changed Larry the Cable Guy?: “Not at all. I’m from a small town. I grew up a country kid. I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 1979. A lot of people go, ‘Oh, he’s from Palm Beach.’ I’m not from Palm Beach, I’m from West Palm Beach. Especially in the 1970s and 1980s there’s a big different between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach. I used to board my horses two blocks away from where I lived in West Palm Beach. That shows how much it’s grown down there.”

The Origin of ‘Larry the Cable Guy’: For those who don’t know, Larry the Cable Guy’s real name is… Dan Whitney. Larry’s his middle name. Asked to explain the origin of his stage name Larry the Cable Guy said, “When I started doing call-ins on radio stations, I was doing it as a joke and everybody on morning shows use fake names, generally. So I just threw out Larry, my middle name. I didn’t want to use my first name. I had no idea that it would catch on the way it caught on. It did make sense to travel under a different name than the one I was using on the radio. It all started with call-on radios. 27 stations. The first paid gig was May of 1988.”

And no, Larry the Cable Guy doesn’t get free cable.

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