Posts tagged Hank Azaria
Hank Azaria didn’t know if he wanted children. So he wanted to ask his good friends who were parents what their take was on fatherhood. He started filming this as a documentary to find out how others navigate through the journey of parenthood.
On the series he spoke with Bryan Cranston. Jim Gaffigan, and Kevin Bacon about their views on fatherhood. He would ask about the good times as well as the bad times. Lo and behold while filming this series he and his wife found out that they were going to have a baby.
Now from what started as a fun project became a quick prep course into fatherhood. Naturally Hank called the series “Fatherhood.” It is hosted at Mom.me and AOL and you get to see famous dads like Mike Nichols, Mike Meyers, Richard Hatch, Phil Rosenthal, Willie Garson, Tim Robbins, and Rainn Wilson talk about being a father. Plus Azaria gets expert advice from Dr. Elliot and Dr. Alyssa Berlin, Jill Spivack, Michele Borba and more.
I had the great opportunity to chat with Hank about his film series, fatherhood, and yes of course “The Simpsons.”
Art Eddy: You started off looking to do a documentary series with your friends showcasing them on being a dad. During that process you and your wife get the good news of expecting a child. Of course it was a no brainer to shift the focus a bit to your journey into fatherhood, but did you ever think of not going with that angle for the web series?
Hank Azaria: It changed so much over the course of a few years. It started out like you said just asking dads why did you do this. It seemed insane to me. Then getting pregnant. It shifted to oh I am going to be a father please help me because I am terrified.
I didn’t want it to be an overshare. I didn’t want it to be some reality series about my family. I had real questions that I wondered if other dads did. Real fears that I wondered if other dads had. It doesn’t seem that men talk about this too much. Because I produce this I can control it in the editing room so that I am not oversharing in front of America basically.
AE: Did you find some of the answers about fatherhood from your friends shocking?
HA: I’ll tell you one thing a guy said that was a little shocking. I jokingly asked who do you love more, your kids or your wife. He said oh are you kidding? It is my kids. They are my flesh and blood. My wife is someone that I met in a bar. (Both laugh.) That person shall remain nameless. He didn’t say that on camera. He wasn’t that stupid to say that on camera.
AE: How soon was it from when you started shooting to when you guys found out you were pregnant?
HA: Six to nine months. Somewhere in there.
HA: Total. In fact we were shooting some stuff. We had a dog. Our dear old dog Annie that was 16 years old and was starting to die. We were shooting that since that was what was going on. I don’t know if you ever had an old pet that you were taking care of, but she was blind, deaf, and senile. I was hand feeding her. I was like I am taking care of a child. The day that the dog died we found out we were pregnant. It was the same day.
If my son was born a girl I wanted to name her Annie much to my mother’s chagrin. She was like you can’t name your child after your dog.
HA: With tantrums I don’t know about you, but I found them very daunting. I didn’t want to flip out. I didn’t want to make a mistake. I also wanted to keep up my own sanity. One of the main things is that you can’t give in. You can’t give them what they are wanting. If you do then the lesson they learn there is that if you flip out you can get what you want. You don’t want them doing that.
You also don’t want to respond to a tantrum with a tantrum. You don’t want to be emotional in the face of a tantrum. You want to pick your battles. You can do certain things to head off tantrums if you know they are coming. Transitioning a kid is a big deal. Instead of just saying okay we got to go you tell them we are leaving in five minutes. Finish up what you are doing because in two minutes we got to get out of here.
Think about it. You wouldn’t like it if you were told that. You were doing something and I said hey let’s go. It takes a lot of practice. That’s why I like to get advice from experts and other dads. It is good to get help on things like that.
AE: You have said the Kevin Bacon has given you a ton of great parenting advice. I know we saw some of that advice in your series, but what is some of his advice that still stands out to you?
HA: He was really wise. Bryan Cranston was. Tim Robbins. Bacon, before I had a kid, he said the phases will drive you crazy. The phases of childhood. Whether you love them or hate them, they will pass. They don’t say that in the books. Including the tantrum phase. They stop with the tantrums after a while.
You are better off handling them well than not well. Even if you don’t handle them well they are going to pass. Even when my son was two. He was like a cherub. He was completely angelic. The second he turned three he became maniacal. Love it or hate it, it is not going to last. When you look at it that way it helps appreciate the good times and know that the bad times are not going to last forever.
AE: What can we except from the upcoming episodes in your series?
HA: We get into things like different generations like how we were raised and how we raise our kids. There is a definite difference how my dad approached it and how I approach it with my son. Being a kid with your kid. Being a friend to your child as opposed to being a parent to your child, like a disciplinarian. These are all topics that personally interested me that I found challenging.
Getting your kid to go to sleep. There is an entire episode on that. Birds and the bees. My son at an early age asked us where he came from. It was a ridiculous conversation. Not only was it dads sharing how they handled the conversation, but the insane way people’s fathers approached with them. There was a whole lot to say on the sex conversation.
HA: They are voices I have heard. Either they are voices of celebrities that I like to imitate, family members, friends, or store owners. Wherever. Anything I heard I mimic it. Sometimes I am mimicking it exactly. Sometimes it is just my version of it. I am a mimic at heart. It starts there for me.
AE: Out of all the characters which one do you feel the most closest to?
HA: (In his great voice work as Moe from “The Simpsons”) I feel closest to Moe the bartender. I used to be a bartender. (Back to normal voice) I feel that if it wasn’t for “The Simpsons” that I would still be a bartender. Moe is from Queens. I feel the closest to Moe. I feel Moe is like if I didn’t have success in showbiz my life would be closest to Moe. My actual personality.
Click here for each episode.