|This article is written from a
Real World perspective.
|Date of birth||August 27, 1952|
|Place of birth||Peekskill, New York, USA|
Born in Peekskill, New York, Reubens grew up in Florida and attended Boston University before being accepted into the California Institute for the Arts in pursuit of an entertainment career. In the 1970s, he joined a Los Angeles improv comedy team, The Groundlings, and was a member of the group for six years.
His character, Pee-wee Herman, originated in a Groundlings improvisation exercise in 1978, and some of his fellow Groundlings were involved in helping him develop the character for television. The Pee-wee Herman Show launched in the Roxy Theater, moved to HBO in 1981, and has appeared in movies and on talk shows, as well as returning in another award-winning TV show, Pee-wee's Playhouse. Reubens brought his character to every medium he could, downplaying his own persona, "trying to get people to think that [Pee-wee] was a real person." The character became an iconic cult figure and, over time, was developed into a successful franchise.
Two highly publicized arrests, in 1991 and 2002, touched off media storms which severely tarnished public perception of Reubens and his iconic character. Reubens maintains that the arrests were undeserved, but withdrew from the public eye during the 1990s to avoid further media damage. In the interim, he made several movie and TV appearances which had begun to open the door for a comeback. These plans were derailed by his second arrest, and he spent the following two years caring for his terminally ill father, who died of cancer in 2004.
Reubens subsequently brought Pee-wee back to television, promoting the return of The Pee-wee Herman Show on talk shows; wrote two scripts for potential films featuring the character, exploring motion capture and puppetry as potential options for their development; had a potential third film script optioned by Netflix in 2015; and has continued to reprise the character in interviews.
During 2012 and 2013, Reubens voiced Pavel in TRON: Uprising, having been called about the role rather than needing to audition. While he did not think of himself as a particular fan of TRON before Uprising (a stance he later retracted), he already had a light cycle toy from the '80s. He felt that Pavel had given him "new cred with the fanboys and the sci-fi community." Though he had attended Comic-Con in character as Pee-wee when Disney XD was introducing Uprising, he later felt that "now I could go to Comic-Con and just be at Comic-Con."
Reubens describes Pavel as "a real villainy 'let's throw some characters out in front of a bus,' 'let's derez some people' kind of guy," who prefers a completely chaotic environment with all the accompanying opportunities for usurping or seizing power. A "frustrated villain" who wouldn't mind taking over General Tesler's job, Pavel "wants more power, he wants more responsibility and he thinks he can do better than all the people he's working for."
He considers Pavel's voice different from his own: a "deep, dark, scary voice"; but adds that he read the role "through the eyes of somebody who's very frustrated about the way they fit into that world. So for me, I was reading it almost as if I were Pavel."
- David Arquette, who voiced Link in TRON: Uprising, is the husband of Reubens' close friend Courtney Cox, and cast him in 2007 for Arquette's directorial debut film, The Tripper.