‘Simpsons’ Star Nancy Cartwright Brings ‘In Search Of Fellini’ To 2017 Long Beach International Film Festival

As the voice of Bart Simpson for nearly 30 years, few actresses have experienced success as Nancy Cartwright has. However, her work with The Simpsons is only one of Cartwright’s major accomplishments. A prolific voice actress, Cartwright has also done voiceovers for Animaniacs, Rugrats, Kim Possible, Family Guy, and The Critics. She has also done voice work related to major films like Sixteen Candles, Back To The Future Part II, The Color Purple and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Her on-camera acting credits include 24, Empty Nest, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air and Godzilla. Cartwright’s 2000 memoir, My Life As A 10-Year-Old Boy, was a best-seller and adapted into a one-woman show.

Behind the scenes, Cartwright has stepped up her game in recent years. Early last year, Cartwright announced the launch of a new film and television production company, Spotted Cow. Headed up with longtime collaborator Peter Kjenaas and Monica Gil, the first project from Spotted Cow is In Search Of Fellini. Starring Ksenia Solo, Maria Bello, and Mary Lynn Rajskub, In Search Of Fellini was co-written by Cartwright and Kjenaas, based on an experience of Cartwright’s in the mid-1980s. North American rights for Fellini have been acquired by the Ambi Media Group, and a September 15 release date is currently slotted.

Cartwright is currently showing In Search Of Fellini at film festivals across the United States, and on behalf of the Inquisitr, I caught up with the actress at the Long Beach International Film Festival in Long Beach, New York. More on Nancy Cartwright and her various projects can be found at www.nancycartwright.com.

For someone who hasn’t seen the film or its trailer yet, how would you describe it?

Nancy Cartwright: I would describe it as a desperate-to-help mother, a young woman, leaves her small town in order to travel to Italy in search of the great director Federico Fellini.

I read that the film is somewhat based on a journal that you kept when you were traveling. How much of it is autobiographical?

Nancy Cartwright: I’d say probably 75 to 85 percent is for real. We take you into Fellini’s world and that’s why it’s rated R. (laughs) Well, that and I ate, drank, fell in love and probably did some things I shouldn’t have done. (laughs)

What inspired you to write a film? I ask because I’m very aware of your prolific career as a voice actress.

Nancy Cartwright: It’s interesting because it actually started years ago. I actually took the trip in 1985, a couple of years before The Simpsons.

Right before your Cheers audition…

Nancy Cartwright: Oh my gosh, you are a fan! So at the time I was doing all sorts of things and taking an acting class. I was studying La Strada by Fellini and I fell in love with Giulietta Masina’s character. I had an epiphany, I said, “Wow, I want to do this as a stage performance.” How am I going to do that? Long story short, I ended up writing Fellini’s office quite a bit and I got an answer back, but they were not encouraging. “Don’t come, he’s going to be here but he’s busy editing, so don’t come.” I’m like, “That’s all I needed to hear.” I got a plane ticket and took off. I went in search of him and by the time I finished my journey and returned home, I realized I had a better story to tell than a stage version of La Strada. I realized I had a one-woman show. So, fast forward to 1995, I had two children…

That long in development!

Nancy Cartwright: Yeah, it was. I was busy. It was never in my wheelhouse, if you call it, to write. I didn’t consider myself a writer, I’m an actress. I’d done quite a bit on television, as you know, but I never considered myself a writer. In an acting class, I believe all actors have the ability the write. They have to because improvisationally, you have to take what someone gives you. You have to think on your feet, so we are all writers. I took advantage of that in my class, so I started putting up scenes in my acting class and realized I had this one-woman show. But I was also smart and I decided that I wanted to collaborate with someone who was a real writer. I met a person at a party…


Nancy Cartwright: Peter Kjenaas, yes. He was so interested in doing this because he’d seen me do a monologue. We started to collaborate together and did it as a one-woman show. It did really well, it got a couple of Drama-Logue Awards. That was quite an honor. From then on, I’m telling you, The Simpsons was five, six years in and my kids were a little bit older, but I had other things to do. I wanted to write a book, I was doing other animation…But the main thing was, I didn’t speak Italian. “How am I going to make a movie in Italy? I don’t know anybody over there.” The main thing was that I didn’t have the confidence yet to be able to do it, and there was no Internet. Come 2000, now we’ve got the Internet, I still kept the dream alive. I kept telling people what I wanted to do. I kept telling the story and everyone kept saying, “You have to make this as a movie.” It’s like the seed was planted and I had to wait to catch up with my own postulate, my own dream.

You knew the end game, you just had to take all the steps to get there.

Nancy Cartwright: That’s right. That’s what happened. So it was February, whenever the NBA All-Star Game was in Baton Rouge, we shot it in 2014. I was ready. Myself I’d done a lot of growth, a lot of change and I was ready to do it. Taron [Lexton] was a good friend of mine, a first time director, I really respect him and he was my only choice. I didn’t want to go through the studios because I wanted to keep my integrity, and that’s my story.

As someone who has been nominated for Primetime Emmys and been part of one of the most popular television shows in history, is there anything you are still hoping to accomplish?

Nancy Cartwright: I started sculpting, I started painting years ago, so that has yet to be introduced to the public. I’m having a blast with that. I’d like to carry this filmmaking through, I’m not done by any means. I would like this to be introduced to the public and art-houses, and I would like everybody to be able to see it and not just domestically but internationally. We’ve got foreign sales that have bought the right to the film, so that would be beautiful to have. I’d like as many people to see the film that are interested in it to take in that experience. There’s a great message and it has to do with purpose, and when they see the film, I hope that they are inspired so that they can make their dreams come true.

So this is your first time on Long Island, but do you have a favorite restaurant in New York?

Nancy Cartwright: No. (laughs) I can’t really say that I have a favorite one. With everything that New York has to offer, I’m sure I’m going to have a lot of opportunities when our film premieres in September in New York City.

Finally, Nancy, any last words for the kids?

Nancy Cartwright: This film is not for children, it’s rated R, so I’m not sure that they would be interested in hearing this. It’s not just for the kids, but it’s for any kid no matter how old you are. Pursue your dream. Sometimes people go through their whole life and don’t have a passion, don’t have a purpose. For me, I meet a lot of artists that don’t make a living doing their art. Not everybody is going to make a living doing their art. But you absolutely have an outlet to express yourself, especially today, with modern technology and social media. There are so many opportunities to express your own voice.

[Featured Image by Tonya Wise/Invision/AP Photo]