Sean Astin is eagerly anticipating word on release of his recently-completed indie comedy, “And They’re Off” – a mockumentary in which he plays a failed horse trainer. “By traditional standards, he’s not really a trainer – he’s only had one horse — but as far as he’s concerned, he is,” reports the actor with a laugh. “He’s upbeat no matter what awful things go on. He’s got a documentary crew following him around the track at Santa Anita at dawn, teaching about horses. He’s out walking around the track saying, ‘I’m not going to ask my horse to do something I wouldn’t do myself.’”
According to Astin, the script by Alan Grossbard was “a hoot.” Veteran TV director Rob Schiller, making his feature debut, left room for the actors, including Cheri Oteri, Martin Mull, Kevin Nealon and Mo Collins to improvise as well.
Meanwhile, Astin says, “It felt like I was meeting myself” the other day when he had a face-to-face encounter with his “Special Agent Oso” yellow and green cartoon Panda counterpart. The Oso special photo op was part of his promotion for season two of the Playhouse Disney series, which launches July 10. It certainly has its share of celebrity admirers. Guest voices include Mel Brooks as snoring Grandpa Mel (his real-life grandson is a fan of the show), Brad Garrett, Lisa Loeb, Rita Moreno, Ming-Na, Freddy Rodriguez and Rebecca Romijn.
“Oso is going to be at Disneyland this summer,” Sean reports. “It was a really special thing to hug this big teddy bear.” Adds the father of three girls, ages 13, seven and four, “I think every actor who does voiceover for a particular character becomes possessive. I know I find it off-putting to see ‘Special Agent Oso’ in Spanish because the voice isn’t me.”