Elizabeth "E.G." Daily is celebrating two major anniversaries this year for her films "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure," celebrating 30 years, and Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects," celebrating 10. But she still can't believe so much time has passed between each project.
"To me it feels like 'Devil's' was like two years ago and 'Pee Wee's' was like seven years ago. I have no concept of time. I only have memories and feelings," Daily told Headlines & Global News in an exclusive interview.
The actress recently finished work on Zombie's next film "31," playing a character named Sex-Head who is a real "badass in the weirdest of ways." She also commemorated the 30th anniversary of "Big Adventure" with Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) on Saturday at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery which is, admittedly, an odd venue for a film screening but that's Hollywood.
"I feel really lucky to be in a beautiful, iconic film," Daily said about the 1985 comedy.
She harbors no ill feelings for not being invited back to reprise her role as the lovable bike shop employee, Dottie, for subsequent Pee-wee films or the upcoming Netflix movie, "Pee-Wee's Big Holiday."
"Paul and I are in touch all the time. If there was something that I was right for in this particular film with the context of what they're doing, he would have called me in a second. That's how Paul is," Daily said. "When he needs me, he knows I'm there for him. I support his works 100 percent. He's super talented."
When she's not appearing onscreen, Daily is probably best known for her voice acting. Her most popular characters include Tommy Pickles from "Rugrats," Buttercup from "Powderpuff Girls" and the loveable pig Babe from "Babe: Pig in the City."
Daily has two daughters, Hunter and Tyson, with her ex-husband Rick Salomon, who she divorced in 2000. Hunter made the news earlier this summer when she took out a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend Conrad Hilton because he kept showing up to her family's home unannounced. The two families have been linked publicly since 2004 when Salomon's infamous sex tape ("1 Night in Paris") with Paris Hilton (Conrad's older sister) was leaked.
Read more of HNGN's interview with Daily about rediscovering her passion for music, her disappointment over the "Powderpuff Girls" reboot and how she's trying to help her daughter Hunter's troubled ex-boyfriend Conrad Hilton (Paris Hilton's brother).
You and your "Powderpuff Girls" co-stars Cathy Cavadini and Tara Strong all tweeted about having no involvement in the upcoming reboot on Cartoon Network. How did you all find out the show was moving on without you as the girls' voices?
When we got the boot?...the reboot and got the boot! It was kind of weird because we actually did the pilot for the reboot. They gave me the hope that we were going to continue to grow with our show because the audience grows with you. Something you've done that long where you establish a fanbase and we've done panels with thousands of people there screaming. They know us. When you take a show like that, that's been running for that long and change the main characters but keep all the other characters, I think it throws people a little bit.
I can only say I wish them well and I wish the new girls a blessed, amazing career. I wish Cartoon Network success because we love the show but it definitely threw us. To me it was kind of a disappointing choice. Not disappointing for their choice, because it's their creative choice, but it was sad for us to not get to move forward with the progress of the show.
Over the last 20 years, animated movies have started hiring more A-list actors to voice their characters. Is that frustrating as an accomplished voice actor to possibly lose out on those roles?
No, there's so much work. I think in some cases they do want certain names. So what they do is they get certain names like Drew Barrymore or whoever and then they surround her with us, so there's plenty of work. Then I'm lucky because I get a lot of A-list films – I was Baby Mumble in 'Happy Feet.' I was Babe in 'Babe 2.' I get a lot of those great feature films myself and a group of my friends do. So there's work for us. There's work for A-list celebrities and then there's work for the voice over people because we have our niche too and they know they can come to us and we'll deliver. I understand. It's business. My bills are being paid.
Many voice actors speak about having a musically-inclined ear. Is that something you have found as well?
Absolutely. It is about rhythm and patterns. Sometimes we have to go in and redo somebody's voice, so some little kid's voice is in a movie and it's like, [young boy's voice] 'Oh, my friends and I are going to the mall and we're going to play ice hockey.' So I hear this little rhythm and I put that little rhythm into my voice which is the ability to mimic a sound and then I'm able to capture that. It's a real ear thing, the ear of imitation and mimic and patterns, speech patterns. There are so many different patterns and rhythms and as you do voice over, you really start to tie your ear to those things. Then I have other games that I play. I watch people's mouths and tongues and teeth. I watch their cheeks and I notice things about faces that give me ideas for voices all the time.
Do you incorporate famous voices into the voices you make up or do you base your voices more on those physical observations?
All and everything. It's infinity how many voices I can do. But half the time I don't know I can do it and my agent is like, 'You can do it, get in there.' I'm like, 'I don't know if I can do it.' He's like, 'You can do it. Get in there.' And then I book 'em. So a lot of voice over is having a great team. I have a great team and they know what I can do more than I know what I can do. Because to me, it's so natural. I can't believe it that something comes so effortlessly. Some things are a grind. There are definitely grinds in between but the actual booking of the job is pretty intuitive.
You had the opportunity to compete on NBC's "The Voice" in Season 5. How did that happen given that you had already recorded music professionally, including your hit 1986 single, "Say It, Say It?"
Well, what happened was – and I talk about this in my seminar – I started to fall into thinking, 'Oh maybe, I shouldn't sing. I'm too old to try doing that. It's kind of silly.' And I started to buy into ideas about age and numbers, which I normally don't do. For some reason, I was a little vulnerable one year and I was pushing higher numbers on my birthday. And then I woke up one day and I was like, 'Hell no!' I have to do what I love everyday – follow my desire even if it's ridiculous. Whenever that tiny little voice is like, 'I don't know if you can do it,' I do it. I do it today because when I didn't do it, I started to fall into a little hole of darkness. I think it's really important to follow your bliss.
That's when things become lucrative because you're doing it because you love it, not because you want to make money from it. I basically got to where I started saying yes to all things music because I love music.
I went to a barbeque for a friend's birthday that was hosted by a lady named Cindy and she saw me and she said, "I love your singing. Would you sing on my 'Balcony TV LA" show?" They do this show on the Internet called Balcony TV and it's all over the world. I said, "Oh no, I don't have my band together right now. I've just been singing for myself lately." She's like, "I'd love for you to do one of those." I was kind of scared because I normally have a band and she said, "No, just you. Just you on guitar, one song." And I opted in, I said yes. Yes to music. So I did it and then after that she asked, "Would you be interested in hosting some of these?" We ended up doing them at my house because I have a great balcony. No money. Just for the love of it.
I was hosting these amazing bands and I was feeling so excited and turned on by the experience and one day Cindy said, "I hope you're not mad at me, but I got you an audition for 'The Voice.' " And I was like, 'Oh no, no, no, no. They're not going to put me on that show, obviously.' First of all, people know me. I'm too old. My kids are going to think I'm a dork. No chance. She was like, "No, you qualify. You don't have a record deal. You do your own music. They don't care. Your history doesn't matter because they're not going to know you. They're not going to see your face. They're just going to listen to your voice today."
I started doing what I love and all of a sudden I'm getting an opportunity to do what I dreamed about my whole career. So I opted in. I learned a couple cover songs. I had fun. I went in and I did really well and I went back and back and back for callbacks and next thing you know I'm standing on that stage singing for Cee Lo [Gree], Christina [Aguilera], Adam [Levine] and Blake Shelton, thinking, 'What the hell just happened? How did I get here? At 50, in my career?' So I ended up getting on Team Blake and everything came together for me on that stage. Amazing!
You mentioned your kids before. How is your daughter Hunter doing after her ex-boyfriend Conrad Hilton [young brother of Paris Hilton] broke into your home? She also has a restraining order against him to stay away from you, your other daughter Tyson and ex-husband Rick Salomon.
Honestly, I care about Conrad. It's not that we don't care about him. I want him well and I love him. I care about him. He was a kid in my house. Years ago, he was hanging out as a little kid and now he's a little bit older, but he's struggling through some stuff that a lot of people go through. The balance is protecting my family while we give him the dignity to get better. So I don't want him in jail. I want him well because I'm a mother and I get it. Conrad is young and he can improve. I have a lot of hope for him and I care about him. The reason for the restraining order – in the meantime, while he's not quite all stable – I have to protect my children and my family. It's a balance. I talk to his father and his family. His father is a sweet man and we've worked together to try to actually get him help. If my house was the place he wanted to go then I'm going to be the place that keeps trying to help his family get him in the right help. That's what we do.
Be sure to check out E.G. Daily's website for her new music and seminars about her career as a voice actor as well as advice on how to break into the voice acting business.