Guest starring Stephen Hawking

When Stephen Hawking does voice work (e.g. for The Simpsons and Futurama) do the producers actually fly him in and record his actual synthesizer, does he visit a studio closer to home to record his lines or do the producers do what I would consider most sensible, use a completely separate synthesizer with Hawking’s permission? Or is something else done?

Well, all I know is:

a) Hawking consideres the synthesizer his “real” voice, these days. So I don’t know how he’d feel about an imitation. But that that might be moot, because b) his synthesizer is essentially an obsolete design, and no longer built—and, as a matter of fact, it’s getting harder to maintain. The producers of an animated show might not be able to find another synthesizer like Hawking’s.

I couldn’t tell you how he got there, but I think The Simpsons producers have said it’s actually him, not a computer that sounds like him. One of those things they did because they’re The Simpsons, I suppose. :wink: Sounds like they’re having him back next season, too.

Oh, duh. If they’d used a synthesizer I don’t see how they’d be able to say “special guest star: Stephen Hawking.”

I don’t think the synth would be that big a deal. You wouldn’t need a complicated machine, just a computer that did that voice. My family’s Gateway had that exact voice in a script writing program.

Back when ST:TNG was still on, Stephen Hawking guest starred in the flesh, as a holographic representation of himself. I’d guess the voice we hear is the real thing.

Stephen Hawking Pick-up Lines.

For his Futurama role, I believe they went up to Cal Tech (where he sometimes lectures) for the record. The Simpsons probably did the same.


I knew a guy in college who was wheelchair bound and could only communicate through a pad he had in front of him–he’d point to one letter after another and you’d have to spell things out and construct the sentence as you went (which, naturally, would take a while).

He had a reputation for going up to attractive women, and walking them through a sentence that would always end with something dirty and overtly sexual. This, understandably, would be a big turn-off for them (especially with the time and energy they put into the effort), but man you could tell he got a big kick out of it.

Stephen Hawking’s lines on Futurama were definitely recorded at or near Cal-Tech. I’m not sure about The Simpsons.

His appearance on Star Trek TNG was obviously filmed at Paramount.

From what I understand, his appearance on Star Trek was a bit impromptu. He was visiting the studio on his off time, essentially as a tourist, and they asked him if he’d like a cameo in the episode they were filming. And when they passed the warp core set, he said “I’m working on that”.

According to this, Hawking says, “In an odd sort of way I’m quite flattered.” Then again, it’s an odd sort of imitation.

He ended up in a scene playing poker with several other historical characters. I think one was Sir Isaac Newton(the human, not the “dragon”)

The poker game was Hawking, Newton and Einstein playing against Data. Hawking being the only one who was actually there in person, he won. (IMDb notes he’s the only person who appeared as himself on ST:TNG.)

You can see the poker game here.

Well, by that logic so did Joe Piscopo, sort-of. Hawking doesn’t actually appear as himself; rather as a holographic representation of himself, himself presumably being long-dead by the 24th century.

The original series had at least two episodes where the ship goes back in time to Earth in the late nineteen-sixties. These episodes used NASA stock footage, in which human figures (not necessarily recognizable) are visible. Assignment Earth for example uses (if I recall correctly) stock footage of NASA engineers at Mission Control. Technically, all these people are playing themselves.

No, because Piscopo played a comic whose style was markedly different from Piscopo’s own, and was also not identified as “Joe Piscopo.”

I dunno, “The Comic” (as the character was listed in credits) acted like an intolerable jackass, which doesn’t strike as too far removed from Piscopo’s schtick. The character also made a 20th-century reference to Tip O’Neil (recently retired when the episode aired) which to me only raises the question of why, since the character was clearly modeled on him, the character wasn’t named after Piscopo. I suspect Piscopo decided he didn’t want his name associated with such lame material, having had enough of that during his run on Saturday Night Live.

Incidentally, in the same scene, Data ups the speed of the holographic presentation so “The Comic” begins speaking in a chipmunk-like voice, apparantly delivering a lengthy (but interrupted) joke about a Jew and an Irishman. To me, this just proves the Star Trek writers were completely clueless when it came to humour. I’ve aways thought the best comedic model for Data would be the deadpan stylings of Steven Wright (who actually would have been funny in the episode), rather than Joe Piscopo doing a painfully lame Jerry Lewis impression.