NYCC 2022 – Exclusive Interview With Dave Willis

We chatted with David Willis in a Panel about the newest Aqua Teen Hungerforce movie


Back in the mid-nineties, Ghost Planet Industries received a formal letter of recommendation, seemingly writ by a child. This just so happened to be from a young Dave Willis. Impressed with his knack for humor, he was put on board to write for Space Ghost Coast to Coast. It was here he met Matt Maiellaro and soon thereafter a creative partnership had formed, culminating in the surrealist tsunami known as Aqua Teen Hunger Force on a little-known block eeked out late-night on Cartoon Network just for those within smoke-filled dormitories.

This came to be known as [adult swim].

I sit down with a few fellow writers from other publications to dive into and pick his brain about what makes Carl’s nerves curl when it comes to football, why Meatwad’s voice wasn’t a favorite for executives, and how Run The Jewels started.

On the Baffler Meal Boxed set:

Dave: It looks awesome. I haven’t got it yet. Twenty DVDs is kind of mind-blowing. My only issue with it was Meatwad was never a hamburger patty. “The bun is in your mind.” That was his original catchphrase and have to reshoot it again, Adult Swim said it’s already printed, so never mind.

On the number of explosions in Plantasm:

Dave: Oh, a plethora. I haven’t counted the amount, though I should. There should be a game we play we you can spot a mistake in the movie.

On commentary in the DVD:

Dave: Yes, but not very insightful because those we brought in (Dana, Carey) had not watched the movie, but it’s all funny. The DVD has a ton of cool stuff. There’s an interactive element that I would not divulge I had not seen or heard of any movie doing. When you see it tonight, it’s not going to be activated, but it’s super, super, super cool. On the DVD, there’s a longer version of said interaction and I’m proud of it.

On the evolution of the characters:

Dave: You know, Meatwad’s voice was replaceable to the executives. They couldn’t understand what he was saying. Then it got more Southern. With Carl, I lowered my voice. Still sarcastic, but riled up. Once we cast Shake, Dana’s bombastic, but he always is. Carey has always been the same consistent Frylock. He was always the straight man but we gave him more personality as the show went on. He’s the star of this movie.

On culling a fire cast:

Dave: They’re all great. Tim (Robinson) was cast in Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell before I Think You Should Leave was a thing. We got Robert Smigel, Natasha Rothwell from The White Lotus, Chris Powell, Jo Firestone, and Serafinowicz is awesome. Great cast. All ringers. Paul Walter Hauser, he’s unbelievable, never having done voice-over before this. He’s great.

On working with Run the Jewels:

Dave: Killer Mike is basically an Atlanta legend. Run the Jewels started at Williams Street. Killer Mike had an album at our Williams Street Records before El-P was brought on. So they did the song for our movie, and we cast them both. He has a very pivotal role. I mean, he’s an ATL legend. He’s doing shit with the mayor, so. Even T.I. knows what’s up.

On what is exciting to watch audiences cling to:

Dave: The interactive element. I thought we were going to do it tonight. I understand why we didn’t. It’s something you’ve seen in the real world around you and yet, something you’ve not seen around you. I urge you to follow its instructions when it comes out on November 8th.

On a theatrical release:

Dave: Nope. I would love that, but this was always designed as DVD, VOD, and HBO Max. I’ll be the first to say, our first movie kinda sucked. It was just too long and it was kind of a mess and we didn’t know what we were doing. This movie feels like a movie and kind of spackles all over the cracks. It’s a big story. The Aqua Teens break up. How and are they going to get back together?

Me: So it has emotional heft…

Dave: I mean, as emotional as we’re gonna do it.

On Meatwad/Carl both going after the mail-order bride from Russia:

Dave: “It don’t matter. None of this matters.”

On Carl’s Stone Cold Lock of the Century of the Week:

Dave: I would always listen to sports radio and Carl seems the type to always call in, and wait on the line for 45 minutes just so he could say “Alright, the Yankees are pissing me off, first-time listener, long-time caller, we’ll talk about how they’re pissing you off too, I’ll hang up and listen.” And I’m an NFL fan as well, and it was fun, not to go much off of sports but more of something like Brett Farve sending dick pics or something. Carl would have a very specific take on that. He’d have a lot to say about the Giants this year. “Look I understand they have a new coach and a new system, I gotta work with that… I’m settin’ the bar low. I don’t think it’s a big deal to expect 15 and 1 and then they take it to the Superbowl. Danny Dimes, we got Danny Dimes… you know, it was more like Danny Pennies, more like Danny Crypto… which I lost a lot of money on.”

On the NYCC Comic-Con show floor:

Dave: I would like to take a lap with my son. We have the movie tonight and the floor closes at 7, but I hear this thing is huge. We’re doing like 2,000 at the screening. Have you ever been to San Diego? That kind of jumped the shark. I remember looking at a line six blocks long for Halle Berry when Catwoman came out. Angelina Jolie was doing a similar thing with Tomb Raider and I’m like this is nuts.

On what to look forward to at Comic-Con:

Dave: I’d like to see how our movie (Plantasm) plays in a big room, cos we’re not going to have that opportunity again. This will be the only real screening of this.

There you have it. Dave rounded out our interviews and was more than gracious in spending a little extra time at our table. Thanks to Dana, Carey, and Dave for bestowing us with their time, wisdom, humor, and presence. Hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I had partaken.

Robert Kijowski
Robert Kijowski
Robert Kijowski is a script writer who enjoys a good chuckle and an even better weep when indulging in art both good and even better bad. He's written for pop culture and film websites alike. You can hear him on Spotify (After the Credits) and reach out on Instagram, X or by English Carrier Pigeon.

Latest articles

Related articles

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.