Height: 173 lbs.
What are some of your previous voice-over roles that you've done? The ones you would consider to be your major roles.
You know, I actually had my voice-over resume in my pocket today. Um...TRANSFORMERS: BEAST WARS, we've just been doing, CGI. "Dinobot," "Rattrap" and "Waspinator." That one's gonna be huge-it's all computer-animated. REBOOT, I work on, ah...CONAN THE ADVENTURER, G.I. JOE....
Do you ever get the leads?
No, I never get the leads, I never get the guy who, you know, the series is named after. I always play like the best friend of the guy who the series is named after.
Or the bad guy.
Yeah, that's true, I do play a lot of bad guys. I like bad guys.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Again, you're making the assumption that I grew up. I knew from an early, early age that I was going to be ["STAGE" VOICE] an actor. I started doing stage stuff when I was three years old, and I always knew. The last thing I honestly expected I was going to be when I was growing up was a cartoon voice-over actor. 'Cause who knew you could? Now I'm doing for a living what I used to get kicked out of school for.
Who was your childhood hero?
I wasn't a big-on-heroes kind of kid. I was one of those geeky kids that read a lot.
Oh no. Not at all. Fat, geeky kid. Books. ["WOODY ALLEN" VOICE] I was a bookish little nebbish kid, wasn't very popular. Lots of imagination. So, I don't know, authors, I guess. Like Jules Verne. I read each and every one of the TARZAN books, oh twenty, or thirty times when I was a kid, all twenty-four of them. Sort of gung-ho adventure kinds of stories, or anything-I read anything I could get my hands on.
What do you most remember about your first love?
["BEATLES" VOICE] Me first love? Me first serious love, I mean I had a girlfriend when I was like in Grade Four...[TOUGH-GUY VOICE] My first love, alright, let's get right to the chase. Cheryl Thompson, Grade Three. I was crazy about her. Oh yes, I was. She wouldn't give me the time of day! Then, they had a fair at Queen Elizabeth mall. Suddenly, sweetly, she asked me to take her to the fair. "Okay," I say, my little heart going pitter-patter, pitter-patter. I go to my bank...my bank account, my wealth, my sum total of wealth in life-four dollars! I take out three dollars of my...my life savings! I take her to the fair, [SOB] I spend all my money, and she leaves me. She used me. She used me! But I'm really pretty much over that now. It's true...god, that's pathetic!
How did you get started in voice-acting?
Voice is something I've always done, I mean, I literally used to get in trouble in school in Grade One for doing goofy stuff. I'd been a professional actor-a largely unemployed professional actor for a number of years in town-and people kept going, "You do these voices, you should be doing voices!" Which at that point meant doing radio spots. So I phoned up my agent and said, "Look, you know, this is goofy, I can do it, so find out what's happening in the way of voice-over."
What was your first role?
First thing I went out for commercially was a Levi's ad, and they wanted a "Jim Burns" type, and I walked in just as Jim Burns was walking out...well, that was neat. But at that audition I met Doug Parker, and this was just when the industry was starting in Vancouver, and we started just talking, and I said the just right thing, in the right way, at the right time, to the right person, and it was like, "God, I wish I'd met you before, I just cast this"-I think it was G.I. JOE, actually-and I was like, "Woah, you mean that's done, like cartoons?" Then I auditioned for another thing and got it, which was THE NEW ADVENTURES OF HE-MAN, and so for like 65 episodes of that I was "Flipshod," "Cracks," "Visor" and "Butthead," or as we had to say for the networks, "BH." And it just sort of escalated from there, and in a couple of years I was one of the crusty old veterans of the industry.
Do you do anything special to prepare yourself for a role? Research?
Yeah, I smoke a lot, and I drink coffee. Sometimes I come in drunk...Ohmigod, is this thing on? To prepare myself for a role? Other than just reading-I'll get the script like a day or two in advance...are you talking about an audition or a role?
Well, for a role, once I've got the thing, I like to be familiar with the scripts-I read the scripts, I want to know exactly what's going on, exactly where the storyline is going. And then figuring out how I interact to everything, what my character's basis is...in a lot of respects it's like preparing for any acting job. And then go in, and BAM, do it.
When you're doing a character translated from the Japanese, do you like to go out on your own, or hear how the Japanese actor handled it?
I do like to hear the Japanese actor, actually. If it's like a show like this one, where it's kind of a live-action type of show. [This interview took place during the recording of GALAXY EXPRESS 999-Ed.] It isn't like one of the [WACKY CARTOON VOICE] total zany, cartoony ones, you know, where you can just come up with your own stuff [NORMAL VOICE] but the reality-based ones, yeah, because I think that gives you a very good indication of what the animators and original directors and producers were trying to get across with that character. You know, so you can get an idea of the tonality of the guy, whether he's a loud, screaming guy, or quiet, gritty, intense, whatever. But yes, I don't know if other people do, but generally I like to hear a little bit.
What's the strangest role you've ever played?
Strangest role I've ever played was on one of these Japanese ADR [Automatic Dialog Replacement-Ed.] shows, where I played a woman, expect that she probably weighed about 890 pounds, the most, buff, bodybuilder ["AHNOLD" VOICE] huge...massive...BEAST!
That must have been PROJECT A-KO.
Yeah, that's right. I was going, Well, I got the Captain part out of that, and then I'm looking at the thing, going, "That's not a...whah?!" I got weird information from my agent and whatnot, so I came down and said, "I'm playing this character and I think it's a woman...?" So that was one of the weirder ones.
Of your live-action work, you've been in HIGHLANDER...I've seen you get killed by McCloud.
That's right. [SCOTTISH VOICE] Bisected by McCloud, my cousin. Bastard! Almost everything I do in television, I end up dying.
Oh, like every show I've ever worked on. Actually, no, on THE COMMISH I didn't die, I just got badly mangled in that one. Then another COMMISH, HIGHLANDER I did, boom, bang, shot. The last gig I did was an OUTER LIMITS, and I took it specifically because it was an interesting way to die. "Well, I've been shot, I've been stabbed, I've been beheaded, I've been bisected, I've been hit by...Oooh, vaporized by aliens. That's good. I've never done that one yet." It's gonna be my biography...A MILLION WAYS TO DIE.
How do you think voice-acting compares to live-action work?
Voice-acting is pound-for-pound, the most fun, I think, you can have. Because it's just fun and it's silliness. Television-to be perfectly frank, most of the television roles are pretty dang two-dimensional, like "Hey, have you got the stuff?" "Right, yeah, oogh, aaah." So TV you do kinda for work. Stage and cartoons are the two things that I prefer to do, that I get the most pleasure out of doing. 'Cause cartoons are just fun. It's just goofy-I get to act like a kid and get paid for it.
Do you get fan mail?
Uh...no. I have got one, I got a couple of requests for autographed pictures from people in New York in L.A. and whatnot, for cartoon stuff, I think. There's guys that just scan the credits of every single TV show, and every name they see, if they haven't heard it, they write that one down, they find out where that person's from, they find out their agency and they phone...they must have warehouses full of autographed pictures, thinking, "Well, if they make it big, then I'll have all these pictures that I can sell for big bucks." So they're trading in autograph futures.
Do you have a closing message, or any words of advice for aspiring voice-actors?
Don't do it man! God, no...there's too many of us! No, really, practice, practice, practice, listen, listen, listen...'cause the most important thing you've gotta have, probably, is an ear. Watch cartoons, find out what's working, what's happening. There're some really good actors who've tried to get into animation and they just suck at it, 'cause it's a different energy-it's a different approach to acting, it's a different style. And so, watch cartoons, learn, practice. Be the guy who sits there at the stoplight in your car making inane...that's where I've come up with virtually every voice that I invent. It happens in the car.
Exerpted from Animerica Vol. 4, No. 11. See this issue for the full article.
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