Bill Hader has had a stel­lar year

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Michael Cavna

Per­haps Bill Hader was des­tined to voice a “Star Wars” droid. The sci- fi fran­chise, af­ter all, pro­vided his first inkling that he would wed his wife of now nearly a decade.

“Yeah, that’s true,” Hader said the first time I in­ter­viewed him, sev­eral years back now. He looked around writer- di­rec­tor Mag­gie Carey’s apart­ment, and he knew. “She had ‘ Star Wars’ cur­tains. Iwalked in there and inmy head, I thought: This is awesome, andwe will be mar­ried.”

Now, nine years af­ter their nup­tials, Hader has lent his vo­cal skills to a “Star Wars” char­ac­ter that is be­ing em­bla­zoned upon seem­ingly ev­ery fab­ric and com­mon sur­face ma­te­rial around. The “SNL” alum is cred­ited as a “vo­cal con­sul­tant” for the sounds of BB- 8, the cute new “soc­cer ball” droid in “The Force Awak­ens.”

Two years ago on “Co­nan,” Hader— while do­ing his comic im­pres­sions of dy­ing Star Wars char­ac­ters — half- joked that he “cor­nered” J. J. Abrams and told the “Force Awak­ens” di­rec­tor that he would do any voice for Episode VII.

What really hap­pened, Hader has said in re­cent in­ter­views, was that Abrams was mess­ing around with an iPad sound- ef­fects app while the ac­tor op­er­ated a talk box. The re­sult soon be­came less “voice” and more me­chan­i­cal, as they found the droid sounds they were look­ing for. (“Parks and Recre­ation’s” Ben Schwartz is also cred­ited as a BB- 8 con­sul­tant.)

In­spir­ing the whirs and whis­tles of a droid is just the cap­per on a stel­lar year for Hader, the Emmy- win­ning per­former who got to con­trib­ute even more sig­nif­i­cantly to an­other one of Dis­ney’s big­gest hits of 2015: Pixar’s “In­side Out.” Hader voices the emo­tion Fear— an easy role for him, he says, given his nat­u­rally anx­ious state. When I asked Hader in June how he landed that role, he joked that he ba­si­cally hung out at Pixar for days un­til they gave him work. “It’s that thing where,” he says, “I stalked them.”

The real rea­son I be­lieve direc­tors love to hire Hader, how­ever, is that as a quick­wit­ted per­former and writer, he’s an ap­peal­ing mix of wildly imag­i­na­tive, joy­ously col­lab­o­ra­tive and ever so son­i­cally gifted— plus, it doesn’t hurt that the Ok­la­homa na­tive comes across as ter­mi­nally hum­ble. No part is too small if it cap­tures his cre­ative in­ter­est.

This past sum­mer, I men­tioned to Hader how fas­ci­nat­ing I’ve found his ca­reer choices— that the sheer eclec­ti­cism of his roles sug­gests some­one who is truly fol­low­ing his own muse as a per­former.

That wit and pres­ence and sense of col­lab­o­ra­tion made Hader a smart choice to star op­po­site Amy Schumer— and Le­bron James— in Judd Apa­tow’s sum­mer hit “Train­wreck.” And his “Doc­u­men­tary Now!” se­ries with Fred Ar­misen, Seth Mey­ers and Rhys Thomas was very well- re­ceived.

Rob Kim, Getty Im­ages

Bill Hader is the voice— or beep— be­hind BB- 8.

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