Interview: James Urbaniak on the Longevity of The Venture Bros.

20 years after the series premiered, fans are finally getting closure with a feature-length film

A man in sunglasses smokes with an older man with a goatee and a younger man seated in the background in the trailer for Venture Bros movie
Adult Swim/Screenshot

It’s been 20 years since Episode 1 of the animated comedy series The Venture Bros. aired on Adult Swim. Over two decades and seven seasons, the brainchild of creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer gained a cult following—and talks of a reboot of sorts have swirled since the show’s cancellation was announced in 2020.

In April 2023, Adult Swim revealed a full-length feature film called The Venture Bros.: Radiant is the Blood of the Baboon Heart would soon drop—and fans were in a frenzy. Specific details of its release have yet to be revealed, and so far, Cartoon Network is staying mum on timing, except to say it will debut sometime in 2023. As fans wait with bated breath for updates, TV Obsessive’s Cassie Hager talks with Dr. Venture himself, James Urbaniak, about the series’ lasting impact, reaction from fans about the characters returning, and what his own kids think about the cult cartoon.

Brock Samson puts a hand to his ear with soliders to each side of him in a shot from the trailer for the Venture Bros movie
Adult Swim/Screenshot

Cassie: People online seem stoked at the news of these characters coming back. What types of reactions have you seen? Are people excited?

James Urbaniak: Oh, yeah. It’s been public for a while that there was going to be this movie. Over the last year, people tweeted to me, like, “What’s going on? Is it still happening?” There has been a steady stream of interest from the fans. Then there was finally this formal announcement that said it was coming…though they didn’t actually say when. Still, people got very excited because that was proof that it was actually happening. 

Cassie: Since the show debuted 20 years ago, what type of audience does it seem to attract now?

James Urbaniak: My experience with fans is that there are people who are either totally into the show, or they don’t know it at all. It’s such a cult show, and not everyone is even aware of it. So when someone asks me what I’ve done and I say The Venture Bros. they will either say, “What’s that?” or the other reaction will be, “Oh my god, you’re from The Venture Bros?!” It’s very rare that I get someone in between. They are either super into it or they are just not aware of it. That’s how it has been from the beginning. The fans we do have are very intense, and that’s been very nice.

Adult Swim tends to be geared toward later teens or adults, so there is a literal new generation of people who watch the show. Quite possibly some of them are people who weren’t even born yet when the show began. In fact, I have 17-year-old twins who didn’t watch it when they were young. They’ve just recently started watching it in the last year, which has been really fun.

Cassie: How sweet! Do you watch it with them?

James Urbaniak: Yes, and they genuinely like it. It’s not just like their dad forcing them to watch the cartoon he’s on. The funny thing is, when I started doing the show they weren’t born yet. But they’ve been aware of the show for years, and I have a lot of The Venture Bros. swag around the house. One day, they just brought it up. My son was the one who said, “hey, I want to watch this!” 

Cassie: I’m always curious about the process of voiceover acting. Is it difficult not having someone to react to?

James Urbaniak: That’s pretty standard in animation. Jackson directs very meticulously and he knows what he wants. He really has a sense of the energy he is looking for and he is able to get it from the actors. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it does. During Season 1 we did some recording together, but then we started doing it separately. Actually, about three years went by before I was in the same room with Patrick Warburton, who plays Brock Samson, my bodyguard. And we have all these scenes together. 

Cassie: What do you think it is about this show that contributes to its longevity? It has so many fans after all these years.

James Urbaniak: I think that season to season, the narrative and emotional life of the show has expanded. It’s a real universe, and the characters have depth to them. It’s a comedy, but there’s a detail to the characters that I think people respond to. That, and Jackson and Doc are just very talented.

Cassie: I know you can’t say much about the film yet, but is there any insight you can share with fans? Do you think they’ll be happy with it?

James Urbaniak: I will say that I’ve seen it and it’s very, very good. I think the fans are really going to love it. I think, in its own way, it closes the series. Not that there are going to be other versions of The Venture Bros., but it does suggest that these characters will continue in their world. It suggests that they will live on, even if we are not privy to their adventures. I think it’s going to have a really good effect on the fans.

Written by Cassie Hager

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