Nancy Cartwright Interview: ‘The Simpsons’
Nancy Cartwright was pleasantly surprised to hear about her Emmy nomination this year, but got an even bigger surprise from her family in the immediate aftermath. “I was invited over to my son’s house for dinner and he said, ‘Mom, we want to celebrate your nomination, but we want you to dress up,'” explains Cartwright in our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above). When she arrived and knocked on the door, she looked in and everyone popped out and yelled, “Surprise!” “It was just a tight group of us, but we just kind of celebrated it. It was just a really lovely gesture. I really appreciated it.”
Cartwright has been the voice of Bart Simpson for well over 30 years, going back to the days when the cartoon was a recurring series of animated skits on “The Tracey Ullman Show.” She’s nominated this year for the episode “Better Off Ned,” which sees Bart being mentored by Ned Flanders, which causes Homer to go out and mentor local bully, Nelson Muntz, in an act of retribution. The episode also features Cartwright voicing Muntz, Ralph Wiggum and Todd Flanders. She also regularly voices Maggie Simpson, Kearney and Database. This marks her third career Emmy nomination for “The Simpsons” after winning in 1992 (juried award) and being nominated in 2017.
While Cartwright truly loves voicing Bart, she also a huge soft spot for Nelson, partly because of his troubled background. “This is a kid that’s a troubled kid, his mom works for Hooters, his dad left the family to go get a carton of milk and never came back.” While this could serve as the basis for a character that’s much more tragic in nature, Cartwright credits the show’s writers for taking him to place that really won her heart. “He’s the classic bully at school and yet there’s a part of him that is a sweet side because he’s been hurt. He’s coming from some real pain and I think that the writers have beautifully tapped into that part that is for real in our culture today.”
While Cartwright’s win in 1992 was announced in advance (due to being a juried award at the time), it was still an incredible shock for her to learn she was being honored. “I was like, ‘What? They want to give us an Emmy? What do you mean?’ It was awesome. I didn’t care that it was premature. It wasn’t expected at all.” Cartwright also sees her win in a very special way because of how long it took the TV Academy to make Voice-Over Performance a permanent category. “It was amazing because it wouldn’t be until 2009 that there were enough shows on television to warrant a competition. We were the only ones for the longest time. You can’t do it with just us and ‘King of the Hill.’”