The actor lends his elastic larynx to a trove of animated characters in the new sequel “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” most notably Bugs Bunny in his stream of street-wise riffing opposite LeBron James – who follows in the Nike footsteps of Michael Jordan from the original 1996 hit.
For the veteran voice artist, it all began 40 years ago when Mel Blanc was passing through Pittsburgh on a lecture tour. The legendary actor had originated and cultivated the sounds of Bugs and other Looney Tunes characters, and worked on such Hanna-Barbera shows as “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons.” Bergman, then a 20-year-old theater student at the University of Pittsburgh, discovered where Blanc was staying on campus and worked up the nerve to meet the man.
“Something compelled me to do it without hesitation,” Bergman says of his 10 p.m. cold call. “I knocked on that door and when I heard a voice that sounded kind of like Barney Rubble saying, ‘Just a jiffy,’ I just shuddered.”
The dapper Blanc, then in his 70s, opened the door clad in a vibrant Cordovan-colored robe, and the conversation soon flowed. “We sat on those two little, single uncomfortable beds and faced each other like father and son,” Bergman recounts, “and he could not have been more warmhearted and sweet.”