Yup, he is best known for the voice of The Brain in Pinky and The Brain. In creating the voice for Brain, LaMarche says he looked at a picture of the character and immediately thought of Orson Welles, although the character wasn't modeled after Welles. Voicing Brain gave LaMarche the opportunity to make use of his signature impersonation of Welles. Many Pinky and the Brain episodes are nods to Welles' career. LaMarche won an Annie Award for his role as the Brain.
But did you know that he was once a stand-up comedian? At the age of 19, LaMarche took his high school act to an open mic night in New York, performing to a reaction in which, as he describes, "they just totally ignored me". This reaction was coupled with the backlash LaMarche received from fellow Canadian comedians who LaMarche describes as discouraging him from pursuing a career outside of Canada. Three years later, at the age of 22, Maurice moved straight to Los Angeles to further his stand up career. This move, LaMarche says, would always be something he regretted doing instead of moving to New York.
"... in retrospect, I thought it was a mistake. I think that a couple of years in New York would have made me a stronger comedian."
Over the next five years, LaMarche's career would gradually progress, playing comedy clubs all over the U.S., with several appearances on Merv Griffin and An Evening At The Improv, but in spite of such interest, LaMarche always believed that, while his impersonations and stage presence were strong, he needed to develop funnier comedy material. Despite being so critical of himself, LaMarche would be granted the opportunity of being part of the 1985 HBO production, Rodney Dangerfield Hosts the 9th Annual Young Comedians Special, on which also appeared Bob Saget, Rita Rudner, Louie Anderson, Yakov Smirnov, and the breakout first appearance of Sam Kinison. Although he was received (and reviewed) favorably, in looking back on his own performance in that special, LaMarche believed he was "probably about five years away from going from being a good comedian to being a great comedian" and being the "only impressionist that actually comes from somewhere". Unfortunately, LaMarche wouldn't get that chance.
On March 9, 1987, Maurice LaMarche's father was murdered, shot to death by a lifelong friend in a Toronto hotel lobby, in front of dozens of witnesses. This sent LaMarche into depression and alcoholism for the next two years, effectively stalling his stand up career. After getting sober on Inauguration Day in 1989, LaMarche embarked again into the world of his first love, standup comedy, in the early part of 1990. However, just as he was regaining lost momentum, tragedy struck once more, as his eighteen-year-old sister was killed in a car accident in September of that year. At this point, though he remained sober, LaMarche decided he just couldn't do standup comedy anymore.
"Oh, that's it. I don't have any funny left in me. I'm done."
Maurice LaMarche began voice-acting on Inspector Gadget (and even appeared onscreen as Gadget in a couple of live-action segments of The Super Mario Bros Super Show) and went on to Dennis the Menace, Popeye and Son and The Real Ghostbusters. After The Real Ghostbusters, LaMarche became a regular mainstay of the voiceover industry appearing in such shows as Tale Spin, Tiny Toon Adventures, G.I. Joe, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: The Animated Series, Taz-Mania, Where's Waldo, The Little Mermaid, Batman the Animated Series, and Bonkers before landing perhaps his most recognized role in 1993 as The Brain. Following this, LaMarche worked on The Critic (he once voiced 29 characters in one 30 minute episode), Freakazoid!, and The Tick before being cast in Extreme Ghostbusters. The stretch of two years after this saw LaMarche portray characters in such shows as Duckman, Hey Arnold!, King of the Hill, and Sonic Underground. It was at this time, 1999, that Maurice LaMarche began work on Futurama. Since Futurama he has continued to work steadily in television, including guest roles on The Simpsons (where he once again parodied Orson Welles).
LaMarche acted, voice only, in the second episode of the hit NBC show Heroes, Don't Look Back, as the villain Sylar. His voice is heard in a chilling recorded phone conversation on Chandra Suresh's answering machine. The role of Sylar was later played by Zachary Quinto.
His time on The Critic also afforded LaMarche the opportunity to once again parody Welles, this time after a video reading of a will (the Critic's family was so wealthy, they'd hired Orson Welles to narrate it) dissolves into a commercial for Mrs. Pells Fishsticks (as well as another for Rosebud Frozen Peas, and another for Blotto Bros. wine). Finally, he provided the voice of Welles in a scene for Tim Burton's Ed Wood, in which Welles delivers An Aesop to the eponymous struggling filmmaker. Welles' body was played in that scene by Vincent D'Onofrio.
LaMarche is also well known for his legendary belching. Think of Wakko Warner letting one loose. That's Maurice LaMarche. With no computer effects.
Some of Maurice LaMarche's more prominent roles include
- The Brain in Animaniacs and Pinky and The Brain
- Chief Quimby in Inspector Gadget
- LaMarche also plays Gadget himself these days. He got his start as Don Adams' singing double in Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas, and started doing the voice proper in Inspector Gadget's Last Case..
- George Wilson in Dennis the Menace
- Dr. Egon Spengler in The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters
- Zoltan in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
- Dizzy Devil in Tiny Toon Adventures
- Aloysius 'Al' Vermin in Bonkers
- Verminous Skumm in Captain Planet
- Jeremy Hawke and most of the male celebrities in The Critic
- Longhorn in Freakazoid
- Handy in The Tick
- Reverend Thomason in King of the Hill
- Mortimer Mouse in House of Mouse
- Big Bob Pataki in Hey Arnold
- Sleet in Sonic Underground
- Master Fung in Xiaolin Showdown
- Father in Codename: Kids Next Door
- Stan Freezoid and about half of the classic Hanna-Barbera characters in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
- The Chief in Tak and the Power of Juju
- Principal Pixiefrog in My Gym Partners a Monkey
- Morbo, Kif, Calculon, Lrr, and others in Futurama (in a commentary, LaMarche admits that Lrr, Morbo and the Horrible Gelatinous Blob are basically all the same voice with different amounts of grumbling)
- Mr. Freeze in Batman: Arkham City
- The Grand Master Wizard in Adventure Time
- Avocado Soldier in the Axe Cop motion comic
- The garbage man in the animated adaptation of Dilbert
- One-Scene Wonder character Sixgun in The Transformers
- Doctor Doom in Ultimate Spider-Man
- And of course, Orson Welles in... pretty much anything where he's allowed to do the impression.