Disney Plus, the streaming service from the film studio, has seen many adults get excited for the return of certain animated series such as “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder,” and to cultural celebratory films like “Black King” by Beyonce. 

However, Disney Plus still manages to maintain its magical wonder for kids and its impressive work with animated and live-action features. That formula follows in the live-action adaptation of “The One and Only Ivan.” The film began streaming on Disney Plus on Aug. 21.

Based on the 2012 publication by author K.A. Applegate, the film stars Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren, Sam Rockewell, Bryan Cranston, Danny Devito, Chaka Kahn, and funny man Ron Funches, who all provide voices to Disney films’ trademark characters﹣animals. 

In Murphy, a talking rabbit, viewers see Funches add another heavy star hitting project to his resume. Nonetheless, it’s Funches’s journey and perspective on his career that gives life to the fury bunny with the “unique” voice.

Funches sat down with The Atlanta Voice to discuss his role as Murphy and his career in comedy:

On what made him want to take on the role of Murphy:

In general, I’ve always looked up to comedians who have done a lot of different things and pushed their talents into different fields. 

Personally, I have a unique voice and it’s something that I got made fun of as a kid and how I’m able to turn it around to make money and to have a career. 

For this project in general, all I had to do was look at the cast list and then say, ‘Oh Angelina Jolie is in this, Bryan Cranston is in this, Danny Devito is in this’ [laughs], CHAKA KAHN IS IN THIS!? I think I can make time for this.


On what it was like doing stand-up comedy in a predominantly white city such as Portland, Oregon:

Well, I mean, you know, I grew up on the southside of Chicago and then I ended up moving to Oregon as a teenager where I started my comedy. I had already lived in an area that was predominantly black to this place that was predominantly not. 

I remember going to high school and they [students] assumed I could play basketball and football until I first tried out where they learned the coach didn’t have to pay attention to me anymore. 

Coming to comedy, it taught me to do what I liked. I’m proud to be a black man and I hope black people enjoy my comedy and I hope white people love it too. I love being for everyone. 


On comedic legends who inspires his developing genius:

Dave Chappelle has opened doors for people like me to really be myself. 


On Murphy’s comedic one-liners as a person of color:

Particularly in comedy, you’re always fighting against perception and I’ve been doing that my whole life. 

One of my first roles was ‘Get Hard’ with Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell where I played a gang member. My next 10 auditions were actual gang members and I was like, that’s not me and that’s not who I’m trying to portray. 

All I can do is continue to go to acting classes, continue to get better, and continue to build my audience through my stand up and my podcast. Most of all, write for me so I can show them what I’m capable of and that I can be a leading man. 


On the process of getting the role:

It was mostly that they had a tape of my voice from some of the work that I had done and the director knew who I was from my voice. 

That’s one of the blessings of doing comedy as well is that there’s always tapings of me. 

They had me come in to read for him for about 20 minutes and they said ‘You’re this guy, you’re this rabbit’ [laughs].


On the message viewers can take from “The One and Only Ivan”:

There’s an importance in us all and we need to respect each other and each other’s backgrounds, which I think is really important in this time period and overall, your family and friends are really who you should turn too.


(Photo: Quibi)
(Photo: Quibi)

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