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Aqua Teen Creators Dave Willis And Matt Maiellaro Are As Silly As Their Cartoon - Exclusive Interview

"Aqua Teen Hunger Force," the Adult Swim cartoon about a selfish milkshake, a cool box of french fries, and a dim-witted wad of meat who are allegedly superheroes but mostly just argue with each other about petty nonsense, may be the absolute silliest show to ever somehow last 15 seasons and receive two movies. It only makes sense that the series' creators, Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro (both of whom also voice various characters in the franchise), would deliver on potentially the silliest interview ever given to Looper.

Willis, who also co-created the similarly ridiculous yet long-running "Squidbillies," and Maeillaro, who co-created "Perfect Hair Forever" and created "12 oz. Mouse," are promoting their new direct-to-video movie, "Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm," which reunites the team of fast food crime fighters to take on an evil online shopping business. Among various topics, we asked them about how the new movie came about, their experiences with voice acting, and what the future looks like for Adult Swim — and all of their answers must be taken with a grain of salt because one can never be sure whether these hilarious cartoon creators can ever be taken the least bit seriously.

Why the Aqua Teens return

Why is now the time to bring back the Aqua Teens?

Matt Maiellaro: Because the movie just happened to get done about four months ago and this is when they can find the broadband to put it out on screening. So this is the perfect time for it.

Dave Willis: Yeah. We had made the movie even before they contacted us about the movie because we were going to distribute it from my hatchback. We were going to go to the different bus stations and sell it freestyle under the radar. But fortunately, we had finished it, and then they were like, "How would you like to do an 'Aqua Teen' movie?" We were like, "Crazy coincidence. We already have one."

How different was your approach to making this movie versus the first one?

Maiellaro: No different, really. It was the same: write a bunch of funny stuff down and record it and put animation to it.

Willis: Well, there was that pandemic that we didn't have in 2007. There was that. That was different. We had to do it like this [via Zoom], which is pretty crazy. I don't want to step on what you're saying, Matt. I'm just saying.

Working on Aqua Teens is pure bliss and fun

So much of the plot of this new movie is about unionization, and the film's animation studio, Bento Box, unionized just this fall. Would you say the Aqua Teens helped inspire this?

Maiellaro: Yeah, I would say we did. We've greatly influenced that. I think almost every company now is going to go union because of what we've done.

Willis: Matt and I just started our own union. [It's a] union of two; no one else is allowed in. Our healthcare situation hasn't improved, though. We've come to all the healthcare providers saying, "We have a union of two."

Maiellaro: But our rates are really high.

Willis: Our rates went up, yes.

What are your favorite voices to do?

Maiellaro: I like doing the little baby with the football head. He's funny. Did you see him? Remember in the movie where he shows up? That's me. 

Willis: I still do that Meatwad voice with my cat and my dog every day.  I can't stop. I just cannot stop, and I'm like, "You little fart master. Fart monger. Little fart bubble." I come up with names using the word "fart" a lot.

Fifteen years and three corporate regimes later, is there any chance of the banned Boston episode getting an official release?

Maiellaro: Well, it got released on YouTube a while ago.

Willis: Because we rewrote it. There was this whole angle involving trolls living under the bridge that had been taking them ... Then someone got a rough cut of it and put it on YouTube, and I told somebody I had given the one cut of it to Paul F. Tompkins, who plays the Boston cop in the thing, and Paul got pestered for years about it.

Maiellaro: Our lawyers are still talking to him.

Willis: That's why Paul's not online anymore, because [of] our army of internet trolls pestering him about the Boston episode.

Is there anything you regret from the 15 seasons of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force"?

Maiellaro: I'm trying to think.

Willis: No.

Maiellaro: No.

Willis: Usually regret keeps you up at night if you think about it.

Maiellaro: It was 15 years of pure bliss and fun. There was nothing to regret about that.

Other Adult Swim movies

This movie was announced at the same time as movies for "Metalocalypse" and "The Venture Brothers." Do you have any idea how those productions are coming along and when we might expect to see those released?

Maiellaro: They're coming along really great. I know at the end of "Metalocalypse" they all die, and "The Venture Brothers" probably will come out in 2046, and they take a cultural turn that you may or may not agree with. That's what I know about them because I talk to those guys all the time.

Are there any other canceled old Adult Swim series you'd want to see come back for movies?

Maiellaro: "The Moxy Show" would be a good one.

That was pre-Adult Swim. That was like Cartoon Network's first thing, right?

Maiellaro: Yeah.

Willis: Chris Rock was locked in on that, right? Who else was in that?

Maiellaro: Bobcat Goldthwait. Honestly, we're trying to revive that right now because I think that's what America needs. We're in talks.

There has been a lot of concern about layoffs and write-offs impacting animation at Warner Bros. Discovery. What does the future of Adult Swim look like to you in light of all this?

Willis: We don't know. We just know how to make our thing, and we have this weird job where we make adult cartoons, and hopefully it seems like those are shows that people want to watch and rewatch. We don't know anything about the machinations of Discovery+ or Warner Bros. Animation. It's like two phone calls, actually. One: "Would you do the movie?" Second one: "Thanks for turning in the movie." So I don't know. I don't know. I could get serious about it. I don't think you want that.

[Dave's serious answer has been redacted]

The interview just gets sillier

In "Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm," we learn what the Mooninites think about Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman." But what did you guys really think about it?

Maiellaro: I've never seen it. I don't watch dumb movies.

Willis: I love it. Watched it in a theater. Would definitely watch it again. I just need to find four free hours.

Maiellaro: Ask us something else. Ask us how much money we make.

How much money do you make?

Willis: No, no, no, no, no. Don't ask that question. I'm going to casually weave it into the conversation so people know but don't make it so obvious. Don't be too on the nose. I'll just casually say it.

Dave, you also were in "Steven Universe," and your character in that, Andy DeMayo, had the exact same voice as Carl. What was that like? Were you specifically asked to do that character as Carl?

Willis: I tried to make it different. I tried to make it a little different. They made it pretty clear to me it was sort of inspired by [Carl], and I was like, "Sure. All right, I can definitely do that." It was awesome. It was awesome to do that. It's nice to be part of that show.

[At this point, Matt starts asking the interviewer about the posters on their wall, and it devolves into asking the interviewer for Jordan Peele's phone number so he can complain about the movie "Nope."]

"Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm" is now available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and digital platforms.