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Meet The Neighbors: Simon Templeman

The star of the new ABC comedy talks about his show as well as his love for The Hulk and experience playing Doctor Doom!

Photos courtesy of ABC

By Blake Garris

“The Neighbors” is an upcoming comedy series which premieres Wednesday, September 26 on ABC at 9:30/8:30c after “Modern Family" and then moves to its regular timeslot at 8:30/7:30c on October 3 after “The Middle.” We recently spoke with star Simon Templeman who plays the alien character known as Larry Bird. Simon shared what you can expect from the show, his love for The Hulk and the time he voiced Doctor Doom in the “Fantastic Four” animated series from the 90’s.

Marvel.com: I saw the pilot of “The Neighbors” yesterday and love the show. It’s really funny, and it’s touching too.

Simon Templeman: I keep pinching myself. It’s such a great show, and we’re having such a good time making it, that we’re all kind of restless about introducing it to the public. I let my kids read the scripts and I can hear them chuckling in the other room. They’re 20 and 12, so I’m thinking “Y’know, that’s the wheelhouse demographic that we’re after.” If it makes my kids laugh just reading the script, it makes me feel positive about the whole process.

Marvel.com: Is the script what made you want to do it?

Simon Templeman (photo by Craig Sjodin)

Simon Templeman: Oh, absolutely. I read the sides to it, and I thought “Well, there’s no way they’ll cast me in this but I’ll go up for it anyway because it seems like a lot of fun.” And I never get to play a character called Larry Bird. As soon as I realized that [creator] Dan [Fogelman] was attached to it, and all the great people like [director] Chris [Koch]—and this was before anybody was cast—it seemed like a really good script out of the box. As soon as I got any kind of involvement, I was so thrilled. It’s interesting the way the show works to me. There’s all this kind of weird alien stuff going on, but at the center of it is a very normal family. I was watching Dan talk about the show, and he said trying to describe what your family is like, like being a member of that family, is almost like being on another planet. Nobody is weirder than your own family, and I think teenagers feel that particularly acutely; the fact that you can walk five steps ahead of your parents and still be in the same family, but refuse to acknowledge it. Things like that, if you try to explain that to somebody, they might as well be an alien. That was the main reason I was drawn to the script, because everybody attached to it was so good. And now of course we’ve got Jami Gertz and Lenny Venito on board, and they make it look so easy. They’re such good actors, and they’re really the center of the show.

Marvel.com: I have to say, too, it’s 23 minutes long, and there’s a lot packed into that pilot. You really get to know everybody.

Simon Templeman: I’m glad you thought that way. I’ve shown it to some friends of mine and everyone’s responded favorably. Fingers are crossed as we’re in the middle of making episode six now, and I think the scripts are getting funnier and funnier. They’re writing really well for the actors involved. We’ve got such a weird and wonderful cast that they can go in all sorts of different directions, so we’re having a great time.

Doctor Doom

Marvel.com: What can people expect from upcoming episodes?

Simon Templeman: We’re going to the mall, which is one of the first episodes, because it seems to me crucial that the aliens would attend the mall. There’s a school episode, we have a Thanksgiving episode, we have a Halloween episode, [and] we have one dealing with sex and human reproduction, which will be very interesting. It’s introducing the aliens to the most basic human forms and functions. The level of discomfort just gets higher and higher and higher, it’s fabulous.

Marvel.com: You were the voice of Doctor Doom on the “Fantastic Four” and “Hulk” animated series in the 90’s. What was that experience like for you?

Simon Templeman: It was brilliant. I remember walking into the section and saying “Hello, my name’s Simon and I’m here to play Doctor Doom,” and everyone looked at me like “Are you out of your mind?” [Laughs] I think I put my voice up an octave just to really try to throw them off. They all freaked out, I thought they were going to kick me out of the parking lot. It was great. It was a few years ago, and Lou Ferrigno was the Hulk. It was fun, it was kind of wild. I think I’ve got the Doctor Doom mug and a poster. I was almost a cool parent there for a second.

Marvel.com: Were you into comic books or Marvel cartoons at all?

Simon Templeman: As a kid I was; we used to get them in England. I think The Hulk really hit a chord with me, I love the Hulk. But, I never dreamt I’d be playing Doctor Doom.

Marvel.com: What made you like The Hulk as a kid?

The Hulk

Simon Templeman: He didn’t have a nice costume, basically. Everybody else was kind of rather flashy, and he just had sort of tattered board shorts. I was kind of drawn to that as a scruffy teenager. I thought, “Yeah, I can relate to that. It’s not too super hero-ish for me.” [Laughs] All those things growing up in England, they were super exciting and sort of unattainable.

Marvel.com: Speaking of your voiceover stuff, you do a lot. I was really impressed by all the voiceover work you do. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, all that stuff. What’s been your favorite thing so far with voiceover work?

Simon Templeman: There [are] a lot of video games out there, and they seem to get bigger and better each year, and the graphics on them get more impressive. Now they’re doing this motion capture stuff, and they’ll put all these light bulbs on your face and capture those. I’ve done a bunch of them this year. There’s one called “Dead Space 3,” and another one called “Darksiders” I did which is just coming out. They’re fun to do, and the people who make them are always belaboring over these scripts and games for five years by the time you get there. There’s a pitch of excitement to the whole thing that’s palpable. It’s great to be part of that. And again, I think I’m just trying to be a cool parent, and I haven’t yet realized that it’s a contradicting term, and there’s no such thing as a cool parent.

Marvel.com: You seem to do some really awesome stuff, that as a kid I think I would think you’re pretty hip.

Simon Templeman: When it’s your own dad, you can’t relate to it in that way. I think it’s just another source of embarrassment. [Laughs]

Simon Templeman, Toks Olagundoye, Dan Fogelman, Jami Gertz and Lenny Venito (photo by Peter "Hopper" Stone)

Marvel.com: How would you pitch “The Neighbors” to somebody who has never heard of the show?

Simon Templeman: No one is more alien than your own family.

Marvel.com: [Laughs] That makes sense to me.

Simon Templeman: I can’t wait for you to see the rest of the shows. I hope you enjoy them as much as you enjoyed the pilot. I think the tone of it is brilliant. The tone of the writing and the way Chris has put it together is fantastic. It’s kind of quirky but familiar. It’s the most familiar kind of American TV, that American TV family. Like “The Honeymooners,” or even “The Flintstones,” we’re all so familiar with that American TV family, that to introduce a bunch of aliens from Zavron and to manage to keep that interesting and fun is quite an achievement. I think Dan and Chris have done a great job. It just draws you in, and the jokes are never where I think they’re going to be. They always throw me off key, it’s great.

“The Neighbors” premieres Wednesday, September 26 on ABC at 9:30/8:30c after “Modern Family" and then moves to its regular timeslot at 8:30/7:30c on October 3 after “The Middle.”

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