Captain Rex, Bossk, and many other voices (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels)
Interview: July 2010
How did you get started in the voice acting business?
I taped improv sketches as a kid with a tape recorder with low batteries then would plug it in and play it back resulting in a sped up voice, almost chipmunk. I thought it was fun to modify my voice and perform. I did ventriloquism and all kinds of performing all my life- plays, stand up, musicals, singing telegrams, theme parks, children’s theater, summer Shakespeare, operas, improv. Never studied it really, just performed A LOT. My first “big” voice over gig was voicing and moving the jaw of Olmec on Nickelodeon’s Legends of the Hidden Temple game show. My first animated television series was Cow and Chicken as Dad. There I learned from the great Charlie Adler and Candi Milo, as well as other brilliant guest stars how to do it.
You have done voice work for Lucasfilm for many years. How did you get started at Lucasfilm?
I was called to audition for this “unnamed” project. Had to voice match the clones, they liked me, I booked it. I’d already worked with director Dave Filoni on Nickelodeon’s Avatar television series -really proud of that show- and as well as with the incomparable voice director Andrea Romano, who was helping cast Clone Wars at the time. They knew and trusted my acting ability and I gave them what they needed, I guess. Couldn’t believe it. I’d never done anything so “normal”. Most of my roles were either cartoony or creature oriented up to that point. This was a whole new thing, plus, it was dear to me, as I really loved Star Wars as a kid. Gotta find that picture of me in the Jawa costume my folks made for me, October 1977…
For Clone Wars you have voiced many Star Wars characters, from Rodians to Clone Troopers. Do you get strict instructions of how a voice should be? And what kind of techniques do you use to come up with a voice?
I get specifics from Dave Filoni, plus the scripts are well written and show the way. It’s specific, but I wouldn’t call it “strict.” Also, we get a drawing of the character to get a sense of the size, attitude, etc. Dave is supportive and trusts us, yet has a specific idea of the feel of what the character needs to be. From that, we are free to find it with imagination.
How does a typical work day for Clone Wars look like?
I show up at 2pm with most or all of cast in the recording studio. Dave talks us through the story. We usually receive the scripts to review the day before. We record it almost like Radio Theater, taking it scene by scene. Really fun. Good actors, fun people. A real blast. Done, hopefully, by 6pm or earlier.
Does the cast and crew of Clone Wars joke around and have fun sometimes?
Yes. We have a lot of fun. It keeps the energy up, which is really key when you are spending a few hours on a record, as a drop in energy can kill the needed focus and spark.
You are directed by Dave Filoni on Clone Wars. How does he direct you and how is he to work with?
Dave trusts actors and that makes it easy for us to find the story he needs us to tell. He will add specifics we may not realize, as he has it more specifically blocked out in his mind than even the script suggests. He always has a calm grin and has fun with us as we paint the story.
How do you look at working on Clone Wars? Do you like watching the series?
I think the series is utterly awesome. I could go on and on. I’m lucky to be on a lot of shows, but this is one of the few I make it a point to see, either with my kid or solo. I can’t tell you how exciting it is for me to see how it is finally rendered. It gets better and better, so far beyond anything else on TV. I can think of in that realm. A quantum leap. Really an impressive show in how it is blocked out and imagined. The pace, the action, the comedy, and even the spirit to it, it’s really an amazing package. I wish there were a new one every week all year long.
Can you tell something about Clone Wars: series 3? What can we expect from the new series?
I’m busting to tell so much. Some really incredible developments and new story lines, yet I’ve only heard the records, not seen the final product, which is even more impressive. I can’t say much, but I can say that fans will be surprised at some familiar faces appearing from the features. There is also a multi episode arc of a particular episode that is near and dear to my heart from season one that I think fans of the clones will particularly love.
Who’s your favorite Star Wars character that you have voiced? And who is your favorite overall character that you have voiced? And why?
That’s hard to choose, because we try to give each clone a sense of individuality and humanity. Ultimately, each is interesting to me. But, if I must: My favorite Clone Wars clones I’ve voiced are probably Rex, because he’s so solid and dependable, and then Cut, because he’s a dad, like me. Really loved his episode. I think it was also pretty awesome voicing Bossk. Since the Gorn (editors note: a cult creature from the original Star Trek TV series episode Arena), I liked lizard dudes. On other shows, I have so many characters I’ve done that I just love, but I gotta say I have a special place in my heart for Appa, from Nickelodeon’s Avatar animated series. I particularly loved voicing all the creatures for that series. Dave Filoni directed the first season. Was kinda sad they had no interest in having me voice Momo and Appa for the feature on that one…
Were you a Star Wars fan before you got to work for Lucasfilm? Or did you become a fan afterwards? How and when was your first encounter with the Saga?
Well, I had read the novel and read all the reviews and features before seeing the original Episode IV back in 1977. This was a movie event like no other, kids now cannot imagine the unprecedented excitement of that first movie. It was in-sane. Logan’s Run had just had it’s release, cost more to make, and wasn’t anywhere close in terms of special effects and generating excitement. When Episode IV was re-released summer of 1978, I spent that summer dressed in my Jawa costume at the local theater in Greeley, Colorado scaring people and watching Episode IV all summer long. Got paid in movie passes. Best job ever, well, next to this one. Ha!
What will the future bring you? Do you have new projects and on what Star Wars projects will you work in the future?
I’m working on a lot of shows and games all the time. I’m very lucky to help make these things I love. I’ve been working on a few Star Wars related games recently, new seasons of SpongeBob, Ben 10, American Dad, Phineas and Ferb, to name a few. Got Gears of War 3 coming up this next week, a freakishly great game in my book. Love video games. There are a couple other projects that I’m really excited about that I still can’t talk about. Living the dream.