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The owner of one of the most distinct voices in American cinema, Wallace Shawn has lent his friendly pipes to hordes of animated movies over the last 30 years to go along with memorable on-screen roles like Vizzini in "The Princess Bride" and Mr. Hall in "Clueless."
In honor of Shawn's return to the big screen in "Admission" with Paul Rudd and Tina Fey, here are 38 amazing but completely true facts that you may not have known about the esteemed American treasure.
- Three months before Wallace was born, his mother hung the town phone book open on the wall and threw a kitchen knife at it. The knife hit one name: Wallace, Shawn. The rest was history.
- Wallace will be able to mimic your voice exactly six seconds after meeting you, provided you've said a minimum of 13 words.
- A child genius, Wallace first learned to speak at 9 months, his first word adorably being "Mama." It was his next nine — "Bring me to a soundstage in Hollywood immediately, please!" — that would change his life forever.
- Since 1976, Wallace has had a pet tarantula named Toby. Toby is invited to family dinners.
- Wallace has never eaten a cheeseburger.
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- His favorite drink is coffee, but his second favorite drink is Andre Champagne.
- Wallace's first job was playing Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, his Mickey Mouse voice was so perfect that it scared children, and he was fired after five days.
- Wallace co-hosts a weekly podcast with William Baldwin called "We are William Wallace."
- Despite his height, Wallace won the New York City High School Slam Dunk Competition in 1959 (he donned a blindfold and dunked from the foul line).
- He briefly retired from acting in the early '90s to drum for Nirvana before eventually discovering Dave Grohl and insisting that he take his spot.
- Though Wallace never watches his own movies, he has seen "Tremors II: Aftershocks" over 150 times.
- Most know Wallace as bald, but he won the middle-school superlative for "Best Mullet."
- Wallace can do an incredible Christopher Walken impersonation but has never, ever done it in public, explaining, "I'm better than that."
- Wallace insists on filming all of his intellectual discussions with friends on camera. Here, look:
- Here's Wallace's preferred order of national coffee chains: Dunkin' Donuts, Coffee Bean, Peets, the coffee machines at gas stations, Starbucks.
- Controversially, Wallace believes the third "Godfather" movie to be the best of the three. He has called Sofia Coppola's acting "resplendent."
- Tom Cruise ironically calls him "Big Wally," and while Wallace laughs to his face, he secretly loathes Cruise for it.
- Upon completing his first role — Jeremiah in Woody Allen's "Manhattan" — Wallace reportedly looked right at Allen and said, "I like acting. This is fun. I think I'll keep doing it." He then went and bought a chocolate milkshake.
- Wallace can phone any Pizza Hut in the world, say, "It's Wally. The usual," and have a personal pan sausage pizza delivered to him in three minutes, no matter his location.
- A classically trained dancer, Wallace was forced to turn down what became Christopher Walken's part in Fatboy Slim's music video for "Weapon of Choice" due to a scheduling conflict.
- He dated Julia Roberts on and off for four years in the late '80s. Roberts still refers to Wallace lovingly (and bizarrely) as "my strawberry yogurt."
- To prepare for his role as Rex in "Toy Story," Wallace reportedly watched "Jurassic Park" every day for 18 months.
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- Wallace has been known to sit in the massage chairs at any given Brookstone location for up to seven hours.
- Wallace and his team "Plastic It To You" had won the International Wiffle Ball Championship (held every year in Dubai, UAE) each year from 2005 to 2011, but were beaten in 2012 by a Brazilian team called the "Rio Ruff Ridahs" on a controversial walk off home run ("Plastic It To You" believed the ball was foul).
- Wallace has no opinion on the television program "Girls."
- In a stretch from 2005-2008, Wallace lent his voice to a different film project every single day, even Sundays and holidays, with no days off. Subsequently, he was unable to speak in his own natural voice for three full months.
- Wallace believed in Santa Claus until he was 32.
- The best meal Wallace ever had was, oddly, a homemade risotto dish at a dive bar in Tacoma, Washington, in 1991.
- Wallace once went fly-fishing with Vladimir Putin, and enjoyed the experience. He called the Russian Prime Minister "misunderstood."
- One late night on location on the set of "The Princess Bride," Wallace went shot for shot with Andre the Giant (it was Jim Beam). According to witness Cary Elwes, Andre was the first of the two to pass out, though Andre always disputed this.
- On April 9, 2011, President Obama called an impromptu press conference to simply state, "Any cartoon that does not feature the voice of Wallace Shawn is a piece of human garbage." The YouTube video of the press conference has been viewed 135,000,000 times.
- Wallace does an incredible impersonation of a guy who is just trying to support a cause and really doesn't want to be interviewed on camera. This is a good one:
- Wallace doesn't care for rap music, but has admitted his favorite rap song is "Birthday Song" by 2 Chainz.
- The only text message Wallace has ever sent was to his brother, and it was "I don't like to text."
- Not only is Wallace not scared of the dentist, he enjoys his visits to the dentist, and tries to go once every three months or so.
- Though he very rarely uses bad words in his everyday life, Wallace does frequently refer to San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers as "a pussy."
- New York Times blogger Nate Silver has called him "the inspiration for everything I do."
- Wallace is typically indifferent towards fun facts lists but will hang this one above his living room fireplace.