Why Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa Simpson, launched a true crime podcast
Support for this podcast and the following message comes from smart water, not satisfied being like other brands. Smart water looked up at the clouds and said, I wonder if we can one up mother nature for a pure crisper water and guess what? They did smart water vapor distilled for parity electrolytes for taste. Hello and welcome to. I think you're interesting on Vanda would the I I think you're interesting. And when the Simpsons I came on the air in nineteen ninety s as a regular TV show and Simpsons mania overtook the country and children everywhere were buying t shirts of, you know, Bart Simpson saying, don't have a cow man and all these other things. I was not allowed to watch the program which if you've listened to the show before, you know, is my favorite TV show of all time. I was not allowed to watch. My parents felt that the characters were disrespectful, and I did not need to be learning that SAS. So there were these many years in which I knew the Simpsons existed. I knew a significant amount of information about the show, but I hadn't seen a moment. What I do know is that Lisa Simpson was my number of the Simpson family. The one that I felt the strongest kinship with which is weird because again, I'd never seen it. I didn't know what her voice sounded like. I didn't know anything like that. I just knew that she was roughly the same age as me when the show debuted and that she played the saxophone. The also played and that she no felt sort of out of place as I frequently did. And of course, that's like the archetype of the character. I think that everybody who sort of fish tortured brooding writer from very young age identifies with Lisa Simpson by. That's why I'm excited that this week on the show, we have early Smith. She's the voice of Lisa Simpson. And of course, we talked about Lisa, but we also talked about her true crime podcast, small town Dick's, which is a lot of fun. And we talked about like true crime in general. What draws her to it? What she thinks other people to it. And if you've ever wanted to hear. The voice of Lisa Simpson describing like horrific, bloody things, my friends, this is the episode for you. We're not just going to talk about crime. We're gonna talk about Simpson's. We're gonna talk about her other projects and they're gonna just talk about being one of the most famous people on earth and yet, no, not necessarily being one of the most famous people on earth the same time. It's a lot of fun if you're Simpsons fan or just a person who knows what the Simpsons look like, which is everybody on earth, including eight year old me stick around. You can have a good time. My guest today is Yardley Smith. You may know her as the voice of Lisa Simpson. You also might know her from her podcast town Dick's which she hosts with zippy Smith. Did I get that with zippy Alan? I knew it was a common last. Zubi Allen Yardley, welcome to the program. Thank you so much. So small index is a true crime thing. There's, you know, there's a lot of interest in true crime, and I'd like to ask you where your interest comes from, but then also maybe speculate as to like why we, as a culture seemed like really into this perpetually. It's not like a new thing. We've been doing this for fifty years. You know, true. I think on a broader scale, I think as healing beings, we love heroes. We really want the good guys to win for the most part. A lot of our movies are predicated on that superhero movies couldn't be bigger than they are right now. You know, for me personally, and I think this actually plays in perhaps to the global interest in true crime is every crime is about a breach of trust your. And so I was a really good kid. And I never broken rules. I was very Lisa Simpson. Like I was gonna, say, not nearly as smart, but definitely as well behaved and. I'm sort of at this later point my life. Certainly not when I was sort of eight or nine, but I was fascinated by the kids who had the balls to play hooky. And then you take that to the obvious extreme, you know, to murder or rape or any of the other horrific things that people do to each other. And I think there's a a great fascination about what is it about those people who do those things that leads them from. I wish I could. You know, I've been done wrong. I wanna hurt the person who did that to me. There's a great distance between that thought on the actual action. Not always, and those are the people I think who end up on the news? Do you use your well behaved child? I was also a well behaved child to you. Recognize those impulses within yourself, like you recognize that there there because I have very rarely in my life felt that like, oh, I could do something really terrible right now if I didn't have you know myself holding. Me back, you know? Yes. I think I'd never had the thought that I could do something terrible to somebody else. But I think when the very core level of trust is broken society can't function without some level of trust, and there is a really interesting article about a month ago or a couple months ago in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times or something. And they think they referred to trust as a currency, things like Airbnb and lift an Uber, those businesses don't thrive unless you're willing to get into a complete strangers car. And while you used to do that when you get into a taxi or onto a bus, you sort of had this notion that those people had been vetted, but these are complete who knows where this person came from. Right. And so the currency of trust I think, is in our lives evermore even more than it was when we were growing up and I'm older than you. So I'm just sort of fascinated by the. People who don't value that it's the same as people who don't place any value on life. I don't understand that be clear when I said, I recognize this is capable of terrible things that like I met like international jewel thievery like I was like, you know. Okay. To that point, I was thought I would actually probably be a really good smuggler because I would have one really good crime because of all the kinds of parts I've played in my career as an actress people. They always welcome me with open arms. They feel really safe with me. They feel really warmly towards me. I go up to TSA at the airport and they're like, oh my God, it's you get away with some shit. Yes, in that regard, one hundred percent not. Let's just do one one. Big heist together. Yes, I'll get. I'll get the exotic birds. You get the suitcase. We'll figure it out. So I, I really enjoy small town decks. What I've heard of it and it's different from some of the other crime podcasts out there. And I'd like to sort of hear you tell us what sets it apart, like, what? What makes it a different show for us. Certainly in podcast face lessen the television space. All of our cases are told by the detectives who investigated them and zippy and I are reluctant Greek chorus where the audience where you, if you had an opportunity and the guts to ask the questions we ask those questions. Sure. So we actually don't do very much talking. We really, really want the stories to stand on their own. And we also when we had this idea, we had this notion that it would be as opposed to being really free form podcast. It would be sort of highly curated much like this American life. We had no idea how much work that would be, oh my God, this American life. You know, it's supported by Chicago public radio. They've got a staff of thirty people. We are staff. A four. So if it's a lot more heavy lifting than we expected, it's incredibly gratifying. And one of the things that we hear both from our fans, how much and how much they appreciate how well produced it is. But we also hear from our detectives how cathartic it is and how grateful they are to have a light Sean on really good police work, and that is just an unexpected benefit from the whole thing. You know, those kind of interesting thing because I've done a number of podcast now and people, I think think it sounds easier than it is. I mean, of course, we did. County, Utah? No. When I launched the show, I was like, what do we knew? We need a couple of microphones. Maybe we need somebody to like, make sure the microphones are on and that's it. But no, like we have like I read the credits at the end, we have a logo designer. We have sound engineers, we have, you know? So yeah, but it's. To what have you learned like we're used somebody who was like, sort of been naturally curious type who becomes an interviewer before you launch the shore. Have you had to sort of teach yourself interviewing skills? I was always naturally curious and add also incredibly shy. So when I would go onto a set and I felt always completely out of place, even though they had invited me to be there right as an actress, my way in the way I would make my cell feel comfortable was to ask whoever was standing next to me what they're name was where there were from, how did they get the job, you know? And so and I was genuinely interested because I believe that everybody has a story, even if everybody thinks their own story is not that interesting. Everyone of those people is wrong. So your story of where you're from, how you came to do this podcast, the things that you love, the things that you realize you don't love. All of that to me is so fascinating and that is even just it's one grain on the entire sand beach of who you are now. And so it came quite naturally, I think to both to be an eye and we also though so Dan and Dave two twin detectives, identical twin detectives, who co hosts small town with us, they have been incredibly generous with their stories, and also they give us an authentic that Zebian I couldn't manufacture if we tried no matter how charming and welcoming we are. We couldn't cold call a detective in a small town somewhere that we don't live, that we have no connection to an expect them to come on the show. But Dan and Dave. We've have a much better chance of getting that man or woman to come on our show because they speak the same language and they share a common experience. All of those things. I, I do feel a little bit like it's lightning in a bottle you mentioning that you think everybody's stories. Interesting. Like the name of the show, I think you're I sort of like when we launched joked, we could have like anybody on. 'cause I think everybody's interest. We could pull random people off the street. It turns out people like to listen more when somebody heard, but. But you know, theoretically, yes. I mean, sometimes I think props to that point. It's it can be hard to get people to loosen up enough to tell you something. But my theory is is that if you can get them to teach you something about themselves, so they don't feel like, well, because this is your show you're more in the know than I am that sometimes works, but we have had detectives who are so well versed in our job and you soon as you put the microphone in front of them, they're really not that comfortable, and it's been a lot actually our hearts go out to them. It seems to have been a lot harder for them than we would have liked, but we still got a terrific story. No. When you said you were doing that on on sets, just sort of talking to whoever you were saying next door, you've worked with some big names people. Have you ever felt. Have you ever been a situation where you were like felt kind of intimidated. All the time really when I remember doing city slickers with Billy crystal and we were between takes only there for a day. I think to do that one scene and I remember standing next to him while they were moving the camera and you know my go-to like, hey, so basically tell me about yourself without putting it quite in such broad terms. I absolute clam. Oh, fuck. Now, what what do I do like? Well, I know you are. And yes, I always feel like the ugly orphan child or something. I don't know. I feel like. No, you're gonna find out. I don't really belong. And what's your name? Billy Ray. What you said. What you said belly. That's goal. Is that short for what. Maybe? Yeah, I met. We had better dick Cumberbatch at the read through for the Simpsons. He was actually on the show probably year and a half ago, maybe even two years ago, but he came to read through I, it was when the first series of Sherlock Holmes was on, and I was absolutely starstruck and just just a big, dumb, goof like. Good to meet you, you know, and luckily easy, huge fan, but I'm sure he thought, who is this moron. It's this more on girl. Well, one of the things that kind of think about with we're, we're in a moment in American culture when we're talking about abuses by law enforcement, and when you're doing storytelling about law enforcement, whether that's true crime, whether that's like a TV show, you know, set the FBI, something like that. You kind of have to navigate how you're going to approach that question. So like what conversations have you folks had about like how to present stories responsibly about law enforcement that reflect the good that they do like the good things they do, but also like don't validate the worst sides that we've heard about. You know. In every profession, there are always people who don't represent that profession well, and all and some in the worst light possible. And certainly we've seen that with some of the shootings that people catch on their phones from law enforcement. But I will say, and I do genuinely believe this in my heart really about people for the most part, that there are more good cops in there are bad cops, and it wasn't our part of our mandate to like present a counterbalance to the national conversation about police brutality. And I guess to that point, we actually have a couple of cases in our two season so far that showcase bad policemen one was on the force for ten years and was a serial sexual abuser, and it's called the sociopath on the whistle blower. And it's at the end of season one and it's it will, you know, it will just raise the hair on your head. It is really, really. Arrowing and the Lieutenant who investigated that policeman was a colleague of his and his bias sees leaned more toward. I'm gonna believe my colleague, not these women. He was abusing who were more or less on the fringe for the most part, and he had a complete about face. And so our detectives are very specific and really, what do I wanna say they're very by the book. So in order not to violate somebody's rights, I have to check all of these boxes. That means that in order to get a search warrant signed, it takes hours. If it's in the middle of the night, I'm gonna have to wake up the judge. I'm gonna have to go to their house. I'm going to have to explain the case. I'm gonna have to wait to see if they think that it's worthy of them signing the search, warrant that I'm gonna have to come back. I mean, it's the detail is micro, and so we're really. Pleased and proud that as one of the unexpected byproducts is that we actually are able to showcase police work at it's finest and as it should be. And all of our cops say that they appreciate the public and the system imposing checks and balances on them that they have the ability to take away somebody's freedom possibly for the rest of their life, right? To build a case that ultimately jury will weigh in on and they don't take that lightly and therefore they absolutely should be held to the highest standard. That's one of the things that I like about the show because I have a lot of true crime podcast. I listen to where I feel like there's not that requisite level of skepticism. I guess at law enforcement's behavior, sometimes they'll be like what to me feels like a clear civil rights violation. They'll disorder gloss over. I like that. You mentioned at the underseas one does really dig into that question of, how do you do something. When the police officers, the one who's in the wrong, you know, and it's a fascinating tension. Yes, thank you. And also we are very, and this actually comes easily to treat these cases with the reverence and respect that they deserve, considering the crimes that have been committed and really any crime. You mean Dan investigates a case in, I can't remember. I think it season one where it was a robbery. It was a home invasion, robbery, and he put together all these dots in order to catch these people who are basically left no clues, right? And that isn't somebody being murdered or child being abused, but it is still a horrible crime for the person to whom it happened. And the way Dan had to go through, you know, he had to get search warrants and he had to look at video and he had to do. Surveillance, and it's just it's old time detective work, but those cases deserve as much reverence as a horrible case that we did call unspeakable, which is a really harrowing case of child abuse. And again, that case is. As much about the detective work and how they were going to right the wrong, albeit somewhat too late, but the law changed because of that case in this particular state. And so you know, Zidane I r- absolutely rapped by all of these stories. And we change all the names. We often change relationships. We do whatever we can. We even put disclaimers in our opening credits that say, we realized that some of you may recognize these cases, but we hope that you'll join us in protecting the identities for the sake of the victims and their families. And sometimes even that doesn't work, but you do what you can else crooks about the flip side of that, which is there is a real concern, a lot of true crime. Storytelling that people are making it to fun, but you need to like, you can't just have it be a dirty through the worst of human rights aren't concerned off-putting. So how'd you find that. Balance between keeping it engaging, but also like being respectful of, you know, there's nothing fun about the crime, but the detectives by their own admission. They imbue a lot of gallows humor into their lives because they see the worst of humanity all day every day. And so we're very judicious about the gallows humor because I also feel like if you can't see somebody's body language when they're speaking, you can't get a sense of their energy. You can't see their facial expressions obviously than only hearing something can seem very black and white. But we are by no means opposed to the funny things that happened like even in that horrible case on speaker bowl, detective Don, who is the retired detective who investigated that case. It was quite a few years ago. Twenty years or so ago talks about a moment where he's talking to a colleague of his who was at the autopsy of this child and. This guy was known for being really understated, not very expressive, and Don is like, okay, all right noted and got the details that he needed than a few hours later. He went back to stay. She looks at the photos that goes holy, fuck Al. What do you mean? It's bad. It's like the worst thing I've ever seen. Right, and it's a moment where we all laughed because Don surprise at AL's understatement after the fact was I think a moment of release, but also you go, right? You know, we're all human beings and you cope the way you can cope. So we actually have moments of levity in our podcast despite the the horror and our fans have often written about how much they appreciate that. There's actually an episode coming up. It's episode three in season three and it's called interstate and it has everything from soup to nuts. It has the crime. It has great detective work. It has an. Extradition and the comedy that comes with the extradition. And then it has a really poignant Daniel mall at the end where detective, Dave says, I ask him a question actually, if this suspect is compliant and he's not giving trouble and he's in handcuffs, why do you feel uneasy sitting next to him? 'cause you're season detective and he's not giving any trouble, and he gives a great answer when I'm not going to tell you. So you've kind of traveled all over the country doing the shook as you go to some of these small towns to look into the stuff. So what have you learned from traveling around the country? Did you travel a lot before this, or are you getting to see parts of the country have never seen before I grew up on east coast in Washington DC live in Los Angeles. So my travel mostly was over the middle of the country. I've worked in Texas, Louisiana, worked in Wisconsin, but I have by no means seeing all of our country, and I'm really always struck by how welcoming people are for the most part. And again, if you lead with, I am by no means trying to cast myself as the smartest person in the room. Then even if they've heard of me, even if they know the Simpsons even if they, no, they consider me a celebrity that disarms them at least. To a point, but I live by those words like I never wanna be the smartest person in the room. I only want to do what I do well, and then you all everybody else. You guys bring all that other good stuff to the table. And with that, we can make a really good pie. What's town you travel to you've been really taken with like, I can't tell you, or you can't because we never say any. Right, right. Sure. And we don't even give the names of the last names of our detectives and so and we did that consciously, obviously partly largely to protect the victims, but also most of these detectives are still working men. We don't want them ever to be on the stand testifying case that they worked on and have a defense attorney go. You're part of that fucking podcast, right? That small town Dick's where they glorify crime and you, you know, and look, you don't have to dig very far to find out who they are traps where these crimes take place, but that's not the most important part. The most important part is. Is how do all these lives that have never met for the most part intersect. Support for this podcast and the following message comes from smart water, not satisfied being like other brands. Smart water looked up at the clouds and said, I wonder if we can one up mother nature for pure crisper water. Guess what they did. This is the kind of water that regular water gets jealous up. It's the water that refreshes like no other brand, try it. Smart water vapor, distilled purity, electrolytes for taste. Before we get back to the show. Let's listen to a quick message from our friends at eaters start to sail. Hi, this is Aaron patinkin CEO of unle, and I'm tasha case CEO of cool house and gather were the co hosts of start to sail. We talked to entrepreneurs about what it takes to build a business from launch to exit will really talk about the experience in the trenches that most valuable lessons learned to get them out of there. Don't miss an episode subscribe to our show today, and thanks to smart water for being the founding sponsor of start to sail. I wanna ask about some other things, but I, I gotta ask, this is the thing I probably could have Google because I'm sure you've answered it before, but I have to ask about your name and where it comes from. Yes, my name Yardley is my my father's dead now, but it was my father's middle name ochre. He was Joseph Yardley Smith and Yardley actually my third of three first name. So Martha Maria Yardley Smith Martha's my mother's first name. Maria is an ancestor somewhere on my mother's side actually. And I actually after nine, eleven because your driver's license and your passport. Now everything has to match. I dropped the, I two first names dropped Martha, Maria. So I'm just Yardley Smith now because you used to be have driver's license that just said Yardley Smith and a passport that said Martha, Maria Yardley Smith. And the reason I. I have my driver's licenses only Guard Smith because when I first started out as an actress, I used to put all my name's on my w four. And then they would make the checkout to Martha Smith, who's my mother, and then I couldn't catch him that in work out so well. So then I started not using those names at all on the w. four and it didn't matter. Because if you had the social security number, of course you could go obviously and Yardley such an unusual name. Everything was good then after nine, eleven all that changed. And so probably ten years ago, I officially dropped the first two arms gonna say that Gwynn you're going to get your side card, probably Martha Maria, like, yeah, he's a lot more common at least doubt if you're gonna have Smith is the last name, something sort of interesting in front of it. So the Simpsons just started its thirtieth sees and I wanna ask you where Lisa some, I actually Nancy was on the show, Nancy Cartwright a year ago, I sort of got into her with her where Bart lives in her voice where she lives and like, where do you see Lisa sort of living in your voice a as opposed to actually your voice? Yeah. Wow. This is this is Lisa Simpson, not that far and Nancy. She studied for silver. She's much more skilled than I am at that. I got the job because I've been doing a play in Hollywood in a tiny, what we call a black box theatre here, which we have a lot of equity waiver theaters here, which means that you have if you have ninety nine seats or less equity kind of gives that theater a pass and back in the day, this would have been back in like eighty six in equity waiver production. You literally got paid nothing. No, not like, oh, five dollars. That's not. No, like nothing. You know, you did it for the love of it. Although in Los Angeles, I always feel like there's often alterior motive where maybe I'll get discovered. Theater doesn't have the same weight here that it does in New York doesn't mean that there isn't good theor- here. People don't send me hateful Twitter messages. Terrific, terrific theater here. It just is different focus here. So anyway, I was doing play called living on salvation street, which was a really fun play. And I was playing teenager who liked to sing Elvis, Presley songs and wanted to join the army. And I think about nineteen people saw that play. But one of them a year later would cast the Simpsons along the Tracey Ullman show. And she tells me that she knew immediately who should play Lisa Simpson. Although I was originally, I brought in to read for Bart, but I don't think that was calculated. I think that was we always have women to the voices of young boys because our voices don't chase. Change. Let's bring Yardley Smith and she can read for Bartley. So it doesn't matter just, you know, whatever it wasn't well thought out. Whereas Nancy. 'cause she read for Lisa too, and but she already knew she wanted to play Bart. She said that the teachers were sort of drawn. Yeah, we're you drawn to Lisa similar way or was it just like this didn't really have a personality in those shorts that we did on the Tracey Ullman show. She really was just a brat. We both brats man Bart, and he was really a foil for him. He was the star of those shorts, and I am a younger sisters I that that's no problem. So it wasn't until we went to half hour. James l. Brooks, our executive producer said, I want Lisa Simpson to be a genius, and I want her to play the saxophone. And that's when Lisa really started to become a person. And you know, she, I feel like. She's quite separate from me. I feel like she exists holy in her own right, and it's not unlike knowing somebody most of your life like you would know a really good friend. And when that show is over, it will be like my best friend moved away and is never coming back. That's really so it will be really sad. I Todd will be in a fetal position on the bathroom floor. Perhaps for weeks, please send food. But one thing that's sort of interesting about that is she is. I mean, she's a very mature eight-year-old, but she's forever eight and like. Is soon that you, I don't know, you know, maybe maybe we're gonna find out. You don't. A portrait in my attic. I feel like it's not working as well. I was, I guess, how has your relationship to playing a kid like changed over the years? You know, it's been incredibly cathartic again at another unexpected byproduct of something that I've done in my life. It's also true that Lisa Simpson is the catharsis for all of our writers who were super smart geniuses who had no idea where they fit in when they were kids. And so they work out all of their childhood angst with Lisa Simpson for me. I feel like Lisa has a resilience that I really struggled to master as a child. She comes to it so easily. She bounces back much more quickly than I did. I was just really I was an anxious kid and I didn't have sort of clinical anxiety, but I worried all the time. I'm still a terrible worrier, and I wanted to be good at everything. And I was a perfectionist, which is by the way for any young listeners that is zero sum game, you will never win. Don't even go down that road trying. But I, you know, and I do too where I set the bar, I think sometimes unreasonably high. But now I sort of chuckle at it. Let's pretty fantastic. Let's see if we could touch that bar. And I say now, for instance that the rejection that we get in show business, it's not that it doesn't affect me any. More just recover from it more quickly. So I'm I'm more likely Simpson now than I certainly was when I was eight. I often said that I wish I had been likely Simpson when I was eight. I think. I mean, don't we all don't y'all been of reason for my entire community here? So that would have been great. I know rats. So you mentioned you mentioned that you were not a train voice actor in the way that some of the others in the cast are. What have you learned about voice acting from doing this for as long as you have? It's not that different from acting in front of the camera. I don't think there's any less emotion somehow, people think like, oh, you know, I'm a celebrity and I'm newness feature film, slumming it. And you're like, really? I actually don't think of it that way. I, I mean, obviously, you can't see me when I'm doing Lisa Simpson and I can't move away from the microphone. But those are the only real differences. I don't feel any less. I don't feel any less deeply. I don't care any lasts about what's happening to her. If somebody does something to Lisa Simpson that I don't think is fair or I don't like I feel moral obligation to stand up for my girl. I will fight for my character. And again, it's not so much whether or not I win that fight. But if I don't fight that fight, I can't sleep. So for me voice acting and because I don't have the range for instance that Nancy has or Dan castle meadow or you know, Hankas area Harris share. I don't get asked to do other voices really on other shows, and that's okay because I never actually wanted to do voice over. I think I did before I started doing Lisa Simpson, sort of look down my nose at it a little bit like that's not really acting, but I have certainly come to have a completely different one eighty appreciation for the process and what it takes and what I want to imbue my character with. Do you remember the nearly going if there were scenes or stories where you really sort of learned how to convey that level of emotion through just your voice and then trust that the animators would capture it in performance? I don't remember a moment like that. I remember for instance, in season two didn't episode called Lisa subsitute where they actually flew me to New York with. James l. Brooks to record with Dustin Hoffman who plays Lisa's substitute teacher, and it's a wonderful episode and we took all day to record that episode and Dustin Hoffman was phenomenal, and he did there was so much ad-libbing and the tragedy is that it was still only twenty two minutes show and none of it made it in there, but I cried so much for so many hours in that recording. When Lisa Simpson cried in those scenes and. I didn't know how else to do it. And so I just I'm not unlike a pet unless you give me a correction on like, okay, so that we're good, you know. Okay, great. Let's go to the next thing. I, I don't think you should over think the process too much. I'm not. I never had acting lessons. So again, I don't have a really methodical process about how I get to where I get, but I also believe that not every actor is good at every part and I that should be okay. You know, I think that I mean for all I know Daniel Day-Lewis is brilliant sitcom actor. We'll probably never know that, but if he's not, that's okay. He's one of the best actors of our generation. Right? So you know dance with the one that brung you Buddha Day-Lewis shows film before a live studio? Exactly. Good, great. Oh, good. Great. Awesome. I couldn't for that. Well, I kind of let me ask you like I'm thinking about you don't of on camera work, and when I hear your voice, I'm like, oh, there's Yardley Smith, you know, even if I even if you're in heavy makeup or something, you know. Like exactly the same. You know, I am never guy told me about kind of navigating that because that's sort of like, I guess, you know, we're all used to actors being in multiple different roles, but tell me about navigating that path of like your voices. So recognized. You know, it's interesting to your comment about. You're used to saying actors in multiple roles and different disguises. That's rare. If you're one of those actors who gets to play those parts or I think if you're an older male actor, you're, you have many more opportunities to do that. They're less eager, at least in the past, I think to transform women, unless you are the superstar and you're going for the Oscar. Right? And so I haven't had a lot of opportunities like that. So yes, definitely think that Lisa Simpson is probably kept me from other parts because my voice is so distinctive. I did a tiny little thing on madman, which I love doing a huge fan and I had one a few lines with Jon Hamm, and I remember getting to the set that day and Matthew winer said Yardley, so fantastic to see you such huge fan. I wanted to give you a bigger PA. Part, but you're not a blender. Great. Great. Thank. No, yes. There will be people who can't ever get over me being Lisa Simpson. But the other thing I get which I still get and has really surprised me is people think I don't want to work because I have this great job because versions of our salaries have been published for years and years and years people like what? Why would you wanna come down for your castle? And I literally had a producer describe it to me that way, and it was. I did a fabulous recurring role Dharma and Greg for five years and played Marlene. I played Greg's crabby, secretary loved that part, and they were so good to me. I only did a couple of shows a year for the most part. And after that show is canceled. I did a one woman show which I did in New York and Los Angeles. And one of the producers executive producers came to see me and we had lunch a couple of days later, and he said, Yardley, you know, we loved you. You were so brilliant, ios delivered. We always wanted to have you on more, but we were sure you didn't wanna come down from your castle. And I was gobsmacked. I almost stabbed him with my fork. How was like, how could you not even ask? I mean, you could just ask, and I would tell you if I didn't wanna come down from my castle, but since then and that was many like twelve years ago, that is definitely a recurring theme, which is why I started a production company. 'cause I'm like, I can't wait. You know, I, what about my soul blandly should've out your soul. So I have this production company called paper clip limited with my business partner. Ben Cornwell on our premises that we take projects across all mediums at their earliest stages and develop them. And again, you know, the Simpsons being the greatest job in the world. We have a budget, so we are able to actually say, yes, I, when in we live in a town and work in an industry where yes is almost the worst word you can say. Nobody wants to say, yes, I won some one person says, yes, the yeses may fall like, you know, Domino's, but God. Help you if you can get a. Yes, I. We'll tell us about your castle. No. No, I do like I do. You did mention earlier that like you could be smuggler because people here. What? What? What are some of the door? Like what are some of the moments when you like walk up to like a grocery grocery store clerk or something in? Does that sort of happen happens happy, especially in small towns, right? Yes. It doesn't happen as much now, but I used to have people hug me in the supermarket all the time. I was in Las Vegas if you years ago, and I 'cause I used to make shoes used to have a talion shoe line for five years and all the two big shoe conventions are both in the same convention, but it's twice a year in Las Vegas so better. And I would go my still now business partner. He is a man of jack-of-all-trades master of many. We're literally walking down a hallway in one of the hotels going from one end to the other. And this woman just throughout her arms, pulled me into her giant bosom and said, oh my God, I love you and then turned her entire family. Most of. Whom were grownups like, do you know this? And they're like, yes, we do. And she recognized me from the legend, Billie Jean, and then it was ten minutes of photos and and it's hilarious. And what I'll say about that is the Simpsons is the best door opener of any job you could possibly think of. So that pretty much everywhere I go, complete strangers are happy to see me not a lot of people can say that. And so while some people might be like, you know, it's a little off putting to be hugged by strangers. I didn't mind then in that moment it was lovely and funny and welcoming. And I've since thought she was great. My my strategy in this show is that like, I'll I'll be listening to what you're saying. It'd be like, okay, I have some questions I want to ask, but then I'll try and pull stuff out and like every answer you give like she had an Italian shoe line. Just like there's so many ways I could go, but my motto is screw it. Let's do it to know do a return to something you said earlier, which is that you didn't go to acting school. So I kinda wanna find out how you got into the career in what's what's your origin story? I knew I wanted to be an actor from the age of about five or seven, and there was a woman in my neighborhood in Washington DC who used to do these. They weren't musicals we. She would just gather all the kids together in her garage which she'd made into a little stage. She addresses up in costumes, and then we would lift sink to things like the sound of music and fiddler on the roof. And she would also do these things called living portrait's when if you probably are. So I was a portrait by Mary Cassatt girl and straw hat. And I mean, it felt like ten minutes, but it was probably thirty seconds and I'd stand in the middle of the stage with his spotlight on me. But I remember the first time being backstage and she had a little. Curtain and my knees knocking and the curtain pulled back. And the audience was so close because it's garage people, you know, kids are sitting like inches from you, and as soon as the spotlight hit my face, my niece stop knocking and I thought, oh, oh, this, oh, this seems good. Seems like a solution of some kind. And then I just started doing school plays from the time I was about in fifth grade, and one of the things that I love, I love theatre it's my first love because you really fly by the CD your pants, you get on that train and you can't get off until it gets to its absolute destination. If you can't remember your line in the middle of the scene, you better fucking figure way out of it. 'cause nobody's gonna come and help you, and there's something about that adrenaline and the connection with the audience when it's going well and when it's not how you going to navigate that. 'cause that's so much harder that I really, really, really love. And I remember I'm sorry. I was looking at your logo and I lost my train of thought. That's fine. That's nice logo. Nice logo. Oh, yes. So one of the things that I always loved about theater and then later film and television was it was very comforting to me being an an anxious soul to know how everything was going to turn out. So you knew the end at the beginning, and even if it was bad, you could prepare yourself and you could then freely take the journey through the story because you knew where it was going to end up, and that really appealed to my sense of wanting to being control. Do you still struggle with that anxiousness, as an adult or a childhood thing? They kind of I do. I feel like my social anxiety is more acute. You know, I don't like crowds, like I'm not a concert goer. I like a crowd. If I'm on stage, we did the the Simpsons at the Hollywood bowl three years ago, four years ago and eighteen thousand people sold out. I'm absolutely at home. Sign me up all day long. But if you want me to go. Oh, to I went to an EMMY party a couple of weeks ago and I couldn't have been more nervous and felt more out of place, and I will find my footing again. I will talk to the person next to me and say, so what's your name? And what brings you here? And you know, blah, blah, but it takes everything to even get me out of the house. And I feel like that's gotten worse and I don't know what that's about, but I don't know. They're kind of a comfort them to being on the show that's run for thirty years. You know, episodes probably aren't gonna have like devastating endings, bittersweet ending. You know. You know, I think it's more that I, I have a real love hate relationship with routine. So I love having someplace to go and someplace to show up and people to show up four at the same time I'm easily bored, so I really have to. I'm always trying to make up new things which is part of why the podcast came about, which is a lot of why the production company came about, which is why I did have a shoe line for five years. You know, I sort of see something I think I think I can do that. I absolutely no professional design experience when I was doing shoes, but I knew what I liked, and I knew at work to have lots and lots of clothes, and I didn't have any shoes that were beautiful and comfortable enough to carry me through my day, and I thought that was stupid. So I thought I could be part of that solution. So I get like I'm not the smartest person in the room. I will gather will explain what I want and with pictures. And you know, like paper dolls to a designer, this. What I am looking for. She will then render those. We will then go to the factories in Italy and they'll make them, and I will correct them and I'll put them on my feet and I'll say that looks well. That strap is too thick. It's too thin, whatever it is. And so I like to fly by the seat of my pants that way, but I rely on the expertise of the shoe maker to say to me, well, that won't work because it will break or it's uncomfortable or whatever. And so the collaboration is really, really thrive on that is really meaningful to me. You mentioning being recognized for the legend of Billy Jayne made me think when you are recognized for non Simpson's rolls, what comes up the most often legend, Billie? Jean Herman's head maximum overdrive. Interesting. Yeah. Yeah. Those are three very different. Gals once in awhile cities, Lakers. Okay. I also get this like, oh my God, you're somebody are you? And you're like, oh, my worse. It's my least favorite question because there's no good answer. And then you say, yes, I'm an actress and they go, what have you been in? And then you start to lift your resume and they're like, no, no, no, no, no, that's not. No. And you're like, God, this is torture. Torture. I would say city slickers I think once you remind them and you say I was in cities like really what? And you go. I'm the girl who says she got pregnant in the supermarket aisle and like, you know. So sometimes you have to prompt memory, but unprompted legend, Billy Jean maximum overdrive inherits head and maximum overdrive. We just I think they just released the DVD with commentary which I said I would participate in. So there's been a lot of Twitter love their guy, Tom Wilson, the guy who played biff in the back to the future movies has like. A little card. He hands to people with like the answers to the questions. They asked him. They can just like, look, I mean, he's like written a song out of the answer to that. It's it's on YouTube. You should. That up steal a paid. Worked with James l. Brooks on a few things and he's like a great hero of mine. I, I love his work. Tell me about kind of like what you have learned from working with him. That's excellence has no time limit. When I did as as good as it gets the scene where so I played Greg careers assistant and there's a scene where he's been beat up and I go visit him in the hospital, and the scene is written where she starts align off camera, says some like, hey, hero, how you doing and then walks into the room, sees him in burst into tears. I am not an actress who can cry on cue. So I was really, really nervous about this day. And we were also shooting in an old bed in hospital. So it wasn't a set where they could move walls and move the camera in any kind of angle that they could. It was very, very limited space. So, and I tell you that because we ended up doing that scene all day, like all day, twelve hours. I cried for twelve hours and I had to keep myself in a space of semi distress for the entire day, which isn't really my MO. I'm such a people. Leaser that I'm not the girl who's gonna you know, be playing a bitch on a film and then sit down at lunch with the crew and still be a bitch. That's not what I'm gonna do. So I had to actually say to the woman who was my dresser on that. I just want you to know that today's going to be a really rough day and don't talk to me too much 'cause this is what I need to do, but I need to forewarn you, right. I just I didn't want her to feel like it was her and you know what I learned was if you think of emotions as being on a complete circle, Jim will start at the top of the circle. Take you all the way around all the way around try everything, everything, everything end up back at the top of the circle and go, okay, that was great. So you can end up feeling as though I think he's really unhappy and he doesn't like what I'm doing when. In fact, he really, I think he feels like, ooh, there's something here. Here, and I just wanna see all the options. What are all the different flavors that I can get out of this one? You know entree, so to speak. And so once I realized that he considered that a collaborative process, even if I found it debilitating, it was a really good lesson that my process isn't the only process. We're coming into the end of the show, and I do have to ask your relationship to the other cast members of the Simpsons like you're the only people who know what it's like to be in this thing. So how like how does that developed? I realize you don't all like hang out. I know that's true. But like you have that thing in common that you're part of this? Yes. And it is without question despite the fact that we don't socialize at all. Really there is an always has been such respect for what each person brings to the process and I stand. So we record altogether like an old radio play, which is very unusual for voice over when the Simpsons crossover episode with family guy, I went and did all my lines by myself. I selected. I'd never met kunas and so does make, but that's much more usually the way voiceover is done. So we do it all together and I stand between Dan and Nancy, and I can tell you I could take a lie detector tests today. Day, and I would come up as truthful. When I tell you that to watch, Dan, go from voice voice voice to have complete conversations just with himself with different characters, never gets old, and I have been watching it for over six hundred and forty some episodes or something. It is pure delight. It is cover your mouth so they don't hear you laugh when it's not your turn and same with Nancy, you know, and my feeling is that the advantage of doing it all together in a room obviously is that the way you say something to me is going to inform the way I respond so it makes complete sense to me. And I think because James l. Brooks, he comes from sitcom, right? So he was like, why don't know why it'd be any different doesn't matter. Nobody can see you on camera. It's still a sitcom. So of course you should all be in the same room. Of course, you should be like a conversation. That's what we're gonna do. That's how that started. And. I think those of us who are in that room all the time wouldn't give that up for anything ever episode by asking guests. Some of the same questions I'm gonna ask you now. Oh, no. The first one is who is the actor living or dead that you've learned the most from, but that you've never met. Meryl Streep, probably. Interesting. Why do you say that? I think that she's so game and she's also incredibly skilled. And her willingness to throw herself into whatever has. Led her to actually agree to do that part is inspiring. And I feel like she has a freedom that I strive for. Sort of next, do you like to watch your own work? Do you like to watch your performances, whether whether it's Lisa or whether it's like, when you've been on camera? Do you watch? I doubt I don't listen to interviews. I don't read interviews I used to and it was harrowing. I love actually watching Lisa Simpson. Interesting. Yeah, I watch Lisa Simpson. I'm so charmed by her. I find her so funny, and then I'm delighted that I am thirty three and a third percent of that little being and I think, oh, I am so proud of that. But I remember going to my the very first film I did was called heaven help us, and I played a Catholic girl. It was really about a Catholic boys school and really everybody was in it. You know, Kevin Dillon, Patrick Dempsey, Mary Stuart, Masterson, Kevin McCarthy, all these guys, and I played a girl at one of the Catholic girls school, and I remember going to their premier. I go to the premier. I can't remember any who I remember going to the movie and. See myself unscreened going. Oh my God, my posture so back and I was mortified I was so slouch. -i. And after that, I vowed ever after to stand up straight less specifically the role called for slouch slouch. But you also see yourself on camera at angles that you never see yourself in real life nuts, harrowing whole. I just I just don't. I'm gonna cross acting up the list of things. I wanna do. And finally, the deception was going up in October. Our question that we're asking everybody in October is what's your best costume? Halloween costume were if you were onset new wearing a costume, but what is your favorite costume you've worn in your life? Well, best in favorite or different? Sure. Probably the best costume I was ever in. We did a remake of journey to the center of the earth, which I don't think really ever saw the light of day and I played a creature under the earth. Okay. And so I was in makeup five hours a day, but it was so low budget that I wasn't like. They didn't have a dentist chair where I could sleep and they could slap shit on my face for hours at a time. I was sitting literally in a metal folding chair. Oh yeah. And I would not often make like Yardley gotta keep your head up for God's sake and I was on recognizable in that. So that's probably the best. But my favorite costumes are always the ones where I get to look really pretty. I always thought the one thing I don't have my wardrobe Isidoro. I very much need that goes just saying, right. I had a great really expensive wardrobe in as good as it gets, and it wasn't closed that I really wore like it was a lot of suits, but they were from France, and I didn't know any of those designers, but I was like, oh yeah, this shit is good. Nice. I tried to buy some of those like no, not. Not somebody out there is gonna make their ringtone using. Oh yeah, this should is good. Well, the podcast is small town Dicks and the show is Simpson's Yardley Smith. Thank you for joining us for having made this is really fun. Remember you are. I think you're interesting, but I am Todd Vanda were the host and executive producer of the show, and thank you for another great week. Everybody our producer is Bridget Armstrong. Our executive producer of audio at vox media's miss shot. Kirwa our editors perfect Tanner or sound designers miles. You will. Our local designers. Thanks. Victor where Kristal Stevens Georgia Cowley production manager is Alex. Alright. Production coordinator is Carrie Clements our audio engineering in our studio this week, our thanks to the rebel, talk network of Los Angeles and our recording engineer was any Tato who's remember to rate review and subscribe to this show on apple podcasts or Stitcher or Spotify. Wherever you find podcast helps us get the word out about the show and continue to attract great guests. We're going to get like all the Simpsons at some point. You know, if you make that happen two out of four, we're gonna make it happen. You can Email me Todd at vox dot com. You can Email the show. I t y dot podcast at box dot com. And you can tweet at me at TV, oh, TI to vote. We are going to be back next week with somebody else from the world of arts and culture, media, entertainment, somebody who I think is interesting and until then at least one of you has to make Yardley Smith wearing your ringtone. I brought it up and now it has to come true. 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