Sean Astin Explains Why ‘Captain Underpants’ is Far More Than Fart Jokes
Most wouldn’t call an animated series with fart jokes “high art,” but that’s exactly how Sean Astin describes The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants in an interview with FANDOM.
Yes, the same Sean Astin who has worked with Steven Spielberg on Goonies and Peter Jackson on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was the chance to work with another legend — Peter Hastings — that drew the actor to the new Netflix series.
“He’s the maestro,” Astin says of Hastings, whose animation credits include Tiny Toons and Animaniacs. “He just called me up and asked me to do it because we knew each other. I instantly said yes because I wanted to work with him and the idea of being on another beautiful and beloved franchise.
That beloved franchise is Captain Underpants, which started as a children’s novel by author and illustrator Dav Pilkey. It was adapted for the big screen in 2017’s Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie and is now a Netflix series. Astin plays the nameless narrator, who sets up each episode and propels the action along.
Watch Astin at work below:
“The narrator in the show is like the ones in the ’70s that I used to love like Tom Slick and Super Chicken. The narrator was such an important character for those shows, and I realized that really quickly when I got into the booth.”
The narrator guides the two leads — Harold and George — as the navigate elementary school. The prankster pupils are continually under the eye of Principal Krupp, who they hypnotize and turn into the titular hero.
“It’s scatalogical humor for elementary school kids,” Astin admits. There are an abundance of fart jokes in the pilot, and a hilarious big-bottomed villain named Flabby Flabulous.
“You can only do so many fart jokes. If you do them well, and there’s something else going on besides that, it can be its own kind of high art,” Astin says.
The show actually is high art. It blends multiple art forms, from cartoon animation to live puppetry to comic book paneling.
“I watched four episodes with my kid and my wife. We were sitting up and pointing, ‘Are those sock puppets? How are they doing that?’ I loved it,” says Astin. “[Harold and George] are writing comic books, and you’re living in the comic books, so you’re living in their real world. From an imagination — a story perspective — there’s a lot visually.”
Astin knows great heroes and great villains, so when asked about Epic Tales he plead the fifth. “Krupp is a villain and Captain Underpants is a hero,” referring to two sides of the same character. “I can’t say more [laughs]!”
FANDOM has screened the first couple episodes, and the bad guys (and gals) are definitely the best part.
The Epic Adventure of Captain Underpants is streaming now on Netflix.
Lawrence is Editor in Chief of FANDOM. He grew up loving X-Men, Transformers, and Japanese-style role playing games like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. First-person shooters make him incredibly nauseous.