Recently, I interviewed the performer behind one of Goosebumps most familiar faces. We talked about his first big part in the new Goosebumps movie, how he got started, his hobbies and what we can expect from him in the future. So without further ado, here's the voice and puppeteer behind Slappy the Dummy, Avery Jones!
1. How did you get into puppetry?
My dad is a puppeteer and ventriloquist, so I grew up around puppets. I've always loved Sesame Street and The Muppets, and once I found out how those puppets worked, I couldn't get enough! I was incredibly shy for a long time, so I'd never perform for anyone, but once I found theatre and acting, I discovered there are plenty of avenues for puppets, and my shyness faded away.
2. I saw your Goosebumps video(and your Goosebumps collection ;) ) , how were you introduced to the franchise and what about it captivated you?
I knew of Goosebumps growing up, but wasn't allowed to read them as a kid. I may have watched a Slappy episode of the show at one point, but I didn't know much about it until I got my audition for the film, that's when I did all of my homework.
3. Before you got the gig of Slappy were you puppeteering freelance, or employed by a company?
I was doing a bit of freelancing with the Springer Opera House in Columbus, GA both as a puppeteer and puppet builder. Aside from that, I was working on projects for my own production company Big Heater Media.
4. Do you plan or wish to continue participating in the film industry? If so, which genre(s) would you prefer performing in and why?
Absolutely, now that I'm here, I might as well stick around! I'm really not picky about the genre, every genre has it's own need and use for puppetry, I'd love to try them all.
5. Besides comedy and puppeteering, what are your other interests?
I draw a lot, and watch a lot of movies. I build all of my own puppets, as well, so I spend most of my days doing that. And I really enjoy directing and writing shorts for my YouTube channel.
6. Who are your influences and why?
Jim Henson and his puppetry works, of course, that's probably a pretty obvious one. Voice actors like Jim Cummings, Mark Hamill, and Corey Burton. As well as a handful of great comedians like Robin Williams and Steve Martin. They were/are all fantastic at creating worlds and making stories come to life out of practically nothing.
7. During the audition process did you feel compelled or obliged to try and imitate Slappy's voice from the 90's Goosebumps series?
I went into my audition pretty cold so I wouldn't imitate anyone else's Slappy, wanted to figure him out on my own with just the script in front of me.
8. What other projects are you currently working on?
I'm currently creating puppets for several big projects across the country, and writing and puppeteering on a national kids television show Heath and the Checker Shoe Band.
9. What are your top five favorite films?
Alright, now this is a tough one... Mrs. Doubtfire, Wizard of Oz, Toy Story, The Muppets Take Manhattan, and anything from Marvel. That's not cheating, right?
10. Which direction do you see practical effects/puppeteering heading in the next ten years?
I feel there might be a resurgence in the art, between J.J. Abrams returning Star Wars to its original puppets and practical effects glory, and The Muppets returning to TV, I think people will start to see the value in having real on-set interactions with performers as opposed to acting off of nothing with CG characters.
11. If you read the series, do you have any favorite Goosebumps books?
I'm going to have be be incredibly biased and say any of the Slappy books, but particularly Bride of the Living Dummy.
12. What do you wish to accomplish in the next decade?
To work more and learn more.
13. Do you have any advice for aspiring performers?
Find a stage, or a place of any kind, and get on it. Perform on as much as you can. Even if you aren't very good. If you stay on your stage long enough you can eventually become great.
14. What's your personal motto?
Love what you're doing you'll never work a day in your life.
15. What was your experience working on a big Hollywood production?
I had a great time, I definitely learned a lot. I got to meet a lot of awesome people, including Jack Black who was incredibly nice to me. It was a fun set, no egos, no divas, just good people doing great work.
16. Finally, what's...your favorite color?
Chartreuse. No idea what color it really is, just love the word.