Who’s the best person to voice a left breast?
It’s a strange dilemma to face, but when Lisa Hanawalt crafted a storyline about sexual harassment in her surreal new adult animated comedy Tuca & Bertie, there was only one person she had in mind to voice a boob – the raspy, dulcet tones of the one and only Awkwafina.
“She’s just so funny and felt like a natural fit for that role, there was no one else that I wanted for that,” Hanawalt told EW.
Netflix’s new series Tuca & Bertie is centered on the friendship between the wild, carefree Tuca the Toucan (Tiffany Haddish) and anxious Bertie the songthrush (Ali Wong), and tackles issues such as sexual harassment and abuse over the course of the 10-episode series. In the second episode, titled “The Promotion,” Bertie deals with an incident of sexual harassment at work in which a male colleague, Dirk the Rooster (John Early), makes a comment about her breasts that spurs her left breast to come to life and literally pop out of her chest and take a hike.
“I thought that would just be so funny … [the idea] of a boob being removable,” Hanawalt said. “I frankly wish sometimes I could pop off my boobs and put them away sometimes and it’s just funny that Bertie’s not in control of her own body, like her boob just f—ing gets off and runs away.”
That moment comes after Bertie decides she wants to get a promotion at her job at Conde Nest (see what they did there?), and tries to talk to her boss Holland (voiced by Richard E. Grant), only to have the office bro Dirk derail her plans by stealing her ideas and later, when she tells him she needs to ask their boss something, he replies with a sleazy laugh, “is that why you wore that tight sweater today? I’m sure Holland will give you whatever you ask for.”
The comment is too much for the already anxious Bertie, as her left breast pops out of her chest and walks over to Dirk, saying “No, absolutely no, I will not with this s–t, I am finished, I’m finished! I am done with today, I need a drink.” The breast puts on a little hat and storms off, leaving Bertie with a gaping hole in her chest the rest of the day.
“She’s feeling a disconnect with her own body, it seemed like a good way to animate that feeling of when a man is looking at you and you don’t want him to,” Hanawalt explained. And a lot of Tuca & Bertie deals with the pressures and harassment that women – especially 30-something-year-old women – deal with at work, at home, in their social circles and in their own minds, often heightened into bizarre and zany moments with Hanawalt’s quirky, eccentric and poignant animation.
Even though Awkwafina was tied up promoting last summer’s rom-com hit Crazy Rich Asians, Hanawalt said they waited to get her. “It was really late but we added her in and it was worth it,” she said.
All 10 episodes of Tuca & Bertie are streaming on Netflix now.