A fourth-generation fisherman, Capt. Sig Hansen thought he’d spend most of his life at sea, particularly in the Bering Sea off Alaska. Little did he know that fate — and a little Tuesday-night show called “Deadliest Catch” on Discovery Channel — would eventually land him at a post-premiere party, right behind one of his favorite athletes.
“David Beckham was in there,” he says, calling in from Florida where he’s on a “Captains’ Tour,” with fellow “Deadliest” crab-boat captains Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand. “I was right behind him, but I didn’t want to bother him. I was thinking, ‘Man, I wish I could just grab him and get a picture,’ but I chickened out.”
The premiere in question was for Disney/Pixar’s new animated movie “Cars 2,” released to theaters on June 24. Hansen voices the character of Crabby the Boat, a cartoon version of his own boat, the blue-and-white F/V Northwestern.
Crabby has the job of transporting sports car Finn McMissile (voice by Michael Caine), a British master spy.
According to Hansen, he was at a fundraiser in the wine country of Sonoma County, Calif., where he met “Cars 2″ co-director John Lasseter, the chief creative officer at Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, who also shares story credit with co-director Brad Lewis and Dan Fogelman.
“One thing led to another,” says Hansen. “They said, ‘Hey, we need a boat.’ ‘I have a boat.’ ‘Let’s do it.’ It was really kind of casual. It was nothing we pitched. It just sort of fell in my lap.
“it’s super, man. I love it. Come on, I got to spend time with John Lasseter; my boat is going to be forever immortalized as a Disney character. It’s not like you made any big bucks with the deal, but you were still putting yourself out there and having fun with it. I loved it. I thought it was great.”
Touring with the Hillstrands and attending movie premieres is a nice change of pace for Hansen after a winter opilio-crab season last January that saw some of the fiercest storms and biggest seas of his career, including a 35-foot-wave that slammed into the Northwestern’s wheelhouse.
Hansen also had some family storms to deal with, as younger brother, deck boss Edgar Hansen, worked the king crab season in the fall but didn’t return for opilio season.
The issue came up during the June 14 season premiere of “After the Catch,” the roundtable companion show to “Deadliest Catch.”
After some back-and-forth between the brothers, Edgar Hansen suggested that he be allowed to run the Northwestern during the 2012 opilio season. That didn’t sit too well with Sig.
“That’s the big question, isn’t it?” says Hansen. “You know what, he threw me under the bus. Number one, he’s the one that wants to stay home with his family; he wants to do all this remodeling work.
“Then, all of a sudden, you’re looking for my job? That’s my income. I still make my money on the boat.”
After all, Hansen has had to pay for deckhand Nick Mavar’s nose, broken by a flying pick hook during opilio season, which fans saw in last week’s episode of “Deadliest Catch.”
“I haven’t had the final bill,” says Hansen, “but I’m thinking that’s about a $50,000 nose. So I told him, let’s get you a George Clooney or a Brad Pitt nose, but he’s still got kind of a Croatian nose on him. It’s just nice and straight.”
Hansen also feels his younger brother’s pride has kept Edgar from spending as much time in the wheelhouse, learning how to run the ship, as other deckhands have done.
“Nick is always the one who’s up in the wheelhouse,” Hansen says, “or Jake [Anderson], more often. But Edgar doesn’t want to do that, for whatever reason.”
With his “Cars 2″ adventure, Hansen proves that a veteran fisherman can still learn some new tricks.
“I heard that my voice had a 90-percentile recognizable,” he says, “so I think that’s a good thing. I heard that through the grapevine. But, as far as doing it, I had to learn as I went, right? Not that I learned that much, but I did what they asked me to do. That’s the only way you can learn, right?
“so, if I can take my pride and listen to a guy like John Lasseter — who I now understand is a pretty big deal — and I can learn from that, why then can’t Edgar learn from his older brother?
“There were a couple of times where they said, ‘Get mad,’ and I thought, ‘How do I get mad?’ So I thought of my brother, and I got mad. That was easy.”