- Source citation: , (November 19, 2004). "10 secrets of SpongeBob SquarePants." The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
LOS ANGELES — America's favorite deep-sea sponge is coming to the surface. SpongeBob SquarePants, a goofy sink utensil who wears a little brown suit and lives in a pineapple at the bottom of the ocean, has spent the past five years on the Nickelodeon TV channel. Now a new film out Friday sends him to a "real world" both simple and surreal.
Here are 10 little-known facts about the cartoon cult icon:
- THE BIRTH OF SPONGEBOB: The movie's director and "SpongeBob" creator Stephen Hillenburg was a former marine science teacher who wanted to do a sea cartoon. "I really wanted to do something ... based on an innocent who is surrounded by more cynical beings. ... A sort of awkward, nerdy, goofball, oddball," he said. Fish seemed too ordinary, so he started thinking about a sponge.
- NINE TIMES AS ABSORBENT: Most half-hour "SpongeBob" TV episodes are made of 10-minute shorts, so the new 90-minute film required a different kind of story: SpongeBob and his slow-witted starfish friend Patrick travel to the surface to rescue the crown of King Neptune.
- HELIUM VOICE: Tom Kenny (above), who supplies SpongeBob's high, nasal voice, was a stand-up comic who worked with Hillenburg on the 1993 cartoon series "Rocko's Modern World." When "SpongeBob" started in 1999, Hillenburg remembered a character Kenny did years earlier and envisioned it as the voice of his weird sea hero.
- BALD SPOT: Among the movie's celebrity voices is Jeffrey Tambor as the overly angry King Neptune, whose missing crown reveals his blinding baldness.
Tambor, the criminal father from the Emmy-winning comedy "Arrested Development," said he shares the follicle-challenged scalp of the character but not his insecurities. "I look lousy in a rug," Tambor said.
- PATRICK THE STARFISH: Bill Fagerbakke, best known as Dauber from TV's "Coach," has a naturally deep voice but has to swallow it further to play SpongeBob's dopey starfish friend Patrick.
- UNDERSEA SONGWRITER: Besides doing SpongeBob's voice, Kenny also wrote two songs for the movie's soundtrack: one with the title hero singing "The Best Day Ever" and another with Patrick singing "Under My Rock."
- WHY ADULTS LIKE SPONGEBOB: "It's about keeping your kid-nature in life and not totally becoming a curmudgeon," Hillenburg said. "As we get older it gets harder to do that."
- HASSELHOFF TO THE RESCUE: David Hasselhoff appears in live action as a lifeguard who jumps in to help SpongeBob and Patrick in a critical moment.
"We wrote the entire sequence without asking him," Hillenburg said. "Fortunately, he's a great guy. ... He didn't even see the material and said, 'I'm in.' He was great at making fun of himself."
Other celebrity voices include Scarlett Johansson and Alec Baldwin.
- WIFE SWAP: Kenny's real-life wife, comic Jill Talley, supplies the deadpan voice of Karen--the computer program "wife" of the villain Plankton.
- FUTURE EPISODES: There have only been a handful of new "SpongeBob" TV episodes since 2003, but--despite rumors--the series has not been canceled.
Four new episodes have been completed for broadcast on Nickelodeon in early 2005. The creators plan to finish about 20 total.