The (comic) Force is with Seth Green in new DVD

NEW YORK " Turns out Seth Green has the job you always wanted.

He has free rein to play with toys for a living. He makes silly voices. He mocks celebrities, world leaders, even Biblical figures while tapping his seemingly bottomless reservoir of pop-culture knowledge.

And he earns good money and fans' adoration.

"Robot Chicken," of course, isn't the only item on Green's to-do list. It also includes TV and movie appearances as well as other film projects he's developing, plus the couple of hours per month he spends voicing Chris Griffin, the deranged teen on Fox's animated hit "Family Guy."

Since childhood Green, 34, has traveled a roundabout career path, leading to lots of different cool jobs. But "Robot Chicken" " a kookie stop-motion-animated sketch-comedy cast with dolls and action figures " has blossomed from a sort of side venture to a big part of Green's life as a showcase for his myriad skills.

"It all began as just this crazy experiment," he says, "and it's become something I love so much."

"Robot Chicken" premiered early in 2005 on Cartoon Network's late-night Adult Swim (where its 15-minute segments continue to air), with Green juggling several balls as a creator, producer, director, writer and performer. Not to mention the boss duties, which he shares with Matthew Senreich, his Stoopid Monkey Productions partner.

On and off the job, Green also makes it his business to keep his eyes open.

"I'm an actor, so I pay close attention to human behavior, which allows me to replicate it. And I pay very close attention to the trends of pop culture. When the apocalypse happens," he quips, "I want an escape route."

All in all, nice work.

Filming has just begun on the 20-episode fourth season.

"We've been writing, recording and doing the animatics (a preliminary rough-draft film)," says Green, crunching on his English muffin toasted to order ("supercrazycrispy") during a recent breakfast interview. He has sneaked a day from the L.A.-based series for a New York trip to promote what, thus far, is probably the crowning achievement for "Robot Chicken."

A year ago, its half-hour "Star Wars" spoof aired. Now this twisted yet startlingly faithful homage is out on DVD ($14.98; Warner Bros.), just days after being nominated for an Emmy.

Lampooning pop culture, as "Robot Chicken" always does, the special "takes something that you know about, and explains why it's silly," says Green, "or points out what COULD have happened, just off-screen.

"We love to emphasize the mundane in the extraordinary," he says, "and 'Star Wars' was perfect for that. You have something that's intergalactic, and yet there's got to be some textural machinations of day-to-day business: How can you run an industry that large without paperwork? And where are the bathrooms?"

Part of the show's goofy charm is the stop-motion style it claimed for itself, settling somewhere between the finely crafted virtuosity of the "Wallace & Gromit" films and the willfully amateurish "Mr. Bill."

The characters on "Robot Chicken" are mostly off-the-shelf dolls and action figures modified, often painstakingly, for the script and the camera. They're familiar to viewers (you might have owned one), but also laughably transformed when given cinematic life.

Or, as Green puts it, "Because they are toys, there's just a bit of disassociation."

His mastery of "Star Wars" lore (which will help inspire another batch of sketches for a second "Star Wars" special, airing in November) is based more on the films' product line than the films, Green says.

"I've only seen 'Empire' maybe 10 times, the original 'Star Wars' maybe four or five times. But I was cuh-razy about those toys. That's why I know the names of even the super-obscure characters. I know their names and can describe their outfits."

Green's own outfit at this meeting is jeans, T-shirt and running shoes. He is shortish (about 5-foot-4), with red hair and a mischievous smile. In conversation, he reveals a quiet, thoughtful side. He can also be as animated as any of his "Robot Chicken" characters.

His early comic influences included Monty Python, "Blackadder" and "Saturday Night Live"; Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby; "Porky's"; and "Caddyshack" " "all this stuff that was probably inappropriate for me at that age. But it informed my sensibility and my sense of humor."

Meanwhile, he was playing with his "Star Wars" action figures, sometimes in precocious ways.

"I had Boba Fett and Barbie go out on a date once " my 12-inch Boba Fett and my sister's Barbie," he recalls. But who could fault Boba Fett for being smitten? "It's hard to resist her," says Green, grinning impishly.


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