e-mail q & a

Well, WOW. This is something I can honestly think I would never have a snowball's chance of hell of doing when I started this site last fall. Finally, an interview with Brian Drummond! ::does a little dance:: Okay, that's enough of that.

This interview is composed of questions contributed by Lyndilyn, Knurph, Hibernia, as well as Strafe from the AllSpark and a few from me-- all which have been reworded, edited, and composed in an e-mail by myself. They were sent off to Brian Drummond who answered them quite elaborately and in a timely fashion. =) I have copied and pasted straight from my e-mail. The quoted text are his responses.

Special thanks again to all who contributed and of course to Brian Drummond himself. Happy reading!!

*Author's Note: As of 3:13 AM 10/30/2004, I have pulled out the insult towards Chris Sabat. I'll never like his Vegeta, but let's not preserve that sort of thing for posterity.

Voice Acting--

You said that you got started in the voice industry five years ago but how did you get involved with acting in general?
"I grew up in a small town (Salmon Arm) in the interior of British Columbia (the furthest west province in Canada), about 5 hours from the city of Vancouver. Although I had enjoyed acting in highschool, I wasn't sure what I was going to do when I graduated (1987). I was talked into auditioning for an amatuer summer production by a highschool friend. Eight people showed up to audition for seven parts. I was the only person who didn't get one. However a couple of weeks later I was called by the director that one of the cast had to bow out of the production and I was offered his part. The show was a big hit (for a small town), and I went on to do 2 more shows with them. I felt this was what I wanted to do for a living, and I auditioned for a one of the top 2 acting schools in the country (Studio 58 in Vancouver). Over 200 applicants were auditioned for the school and I managed to squeak in with 15 others. Only 5 of us from this original 16 managed to complete the program. It was worth it, for I recieved exceptional stage training there, and more importantly, I met my future bride there (also one of the 5 to complete)."

Did you go to college? If so, what is your degree in?
"So to answer if I went to college, Yes. Studio 58 is part of the Vancouver Community College. I recieved a diploma in Theatre Arts."

Did you move right into voice overs? Did you start out doing voice overs for commercials or radio, or did you start right off in animation?
"I wasn't even thinking of animation. I found an agent upon graduation in 1991 and went straight into stage shows, as well as some bits and pieces in film and television. I began looking at voice over as an additional option after I went to an open call for the casting of Reboot. I didn't get a part, but it looked like fun. I later went to a "G.I.Joe Extreme" cattle call, and got a callback, and then got cast as "Ballistic" 2nd season known as "Eagle Eye". Shortly after this I was cast as Vegeta in DBZ, and my voice over history had begun."

Would you say youíre happy doing what you do?
"Yes, I really enjoy doing voice work. I get paid to act like a kid, a super hero, a villian, a blue wolf with horns, whatever."

How well do you know the other voice actors you work with?
"Quite well, we see each other all the time at auditions and in recording sessions. There's the odd person I'd rather hang out with than others, but generally everyone in this industry (that I know) are really nice people. Michael Dobson, Paul Dobson, Scott Mcniel, Richard Newman, David Kaye, Ian Corlett, Kathleen Barr, Matt Hill, Gary Chalk, Michael Donovan,Jim Byrnes, Peter Kelamis, Venus Terzo & Terry Klassen (to name a few, sorry guys to those I missed)." [NURI NOTE: I ADORE all of those people!]

I know you said that the majority of your work involves voice-over, but did you ever (or do you) have the goal to be an on-screen film actor? Would you like to do more live-action work or do you have a preference for voice work?
"My goal is not to be a film star. I have done a number of bits and pieces in that industry, and have always enjoyed it, however I don't believe it's the life-long direction I want to take myself and my family. I would say voice work is a preference. It is much less competitive than the on camera work, it pays as well, it's an incredible amount of fun( especially working in a group recording session for a pre-lay show),and it allows most people to be cast based on their skills rather than their height, weight, hair colour etc (things that don't change easily)."

How are voice actors casted? Is it a cattle call with a cold reading, do you receive a script prior to audition or is it a little bit different each time dependent on the people involved with the production? Do Pre-lay and ADR productions cast differently from each other? Have you reached a point where youíre requested for parts?
"Every production is cast a little bit differently. In general there is a large casting call for the majority of voice over talent in the city. In some cases they may wish to hear new people without voice over experience to see if there's some new talent out there that might grab their attention. We always recieve sides (part of the script with a certain characters lines), 1-3 days before our audtion times. Prelay and ADR generally cast the same way, except they'll ussually see less people for ADR auditions, because they mostly want to audtion VA's that have ADR experience. ADR is a much more difficult process than Prelay since the actor has to match the mouth flaps with the right amount of text, and act, (hopefully well) at the same time."

In general, do you have a certain amount of artistic license or does the director have a set idea of what he/she wants? How do you prefer to work?
"There is always a lot of cooks in the kitchen. Final say usually goes to the producer, networks, and in some cases the toy company calls the shots. If these people have a good relationship with the director, and they trust his/her instincts, then the director will have a lot of control. And if the director trusts the actors instincts, this will give the actor alot more flexibility to play around with ideas."

Do you do stage work? If so, do you enjoy it?
"I love stage work. The Acting school I graduated from is a stage training program. All the skills I learned there transfer into the film/tv & voice over industry very well. However, I don't do much stage anymore since they pay scale is so low, and the time commitments are so high."


How old are you and whenís your birthday? =)
"I am 30 years old. I'm a Leo born August 10, 1969." [NURI NOTE: This was conducted in 2000.]

Are you married? Do you have kids (and if so, do they watch you on T.V.)? Do any relatives or friends of yours ever watch you on T.V. and if so, what do they think of your voice acting?
"I've been married to an incredible woman, also an actor, for eight years now (wow time flies). I have two great kids, a boy almost 5yrs old and a 2 1/2 year old girl. We don't watch tv, just lots of videos. They have seen quite a bit of my stuff. We get shows recorded by friends or family. They've seen DragonballZ, Beastmachines, Spiderman Unlimited, Monster Rancher, and a few others. My son likes the shows, but they're a little over my daughter's head. I end up doing many voices for bedtime stories (except for the scary ones)."

Are you originally from Vancouver and do you plan to stay there? Have you ever traveled around the United States? (If so where? Did you like it?)
"As I said earlier I'm originally from Salmon Arm, in the interior of the province of British Columbia. I've been in Vancouver since the summer of 1988. We may not stay here forever, but we will probably keep a residence here. I have travelled all over the US. Most of my travel was with a stage show tour that was performed for highschool & elementary students in theatres across the US. I've travelled from Anchorage, Alaska to Seattle, Portland, LA, Las Vegas,Phoenix,Grand Canyon, Dallas, St Louis, Philidelphia, Columbus, New York, Boston, Long Island, Maine,Buffalo...( and many many more). I loved it!! The US is an incredible country. I hope you're proud of it."

Favorite music, movie, t.v. show, food, play, book, and/or painting? (That seems asked very systematically but I couldn't think of a better way to ask this.)
"I'm a fan of almost all music, Jazz, Rock, Classical, Pop, Folk. You name it, I can find tunes I like in almost every category. Favorite movie is difficult. I'm a big Clint Eastwood fan ( in fact my college roomate and I had a mini-shrine to him in one of our hideous rental houses). Some of my favorites are Unforgiven, The Outlaw Josie Wales, Pale Rider, The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly. However for a complete change of pace, one of my favorite recent movies was the Matrix (similar basic plot lines, except they wear different leather!) I hardly watch any tv, but I still like the Simpsons, and was a fan of the X-Files. I like most foods (especially a nice med-well sirloin steak), yet I'm not a big seafood eater. I've also got a bit of a sweet tooth for red licorice and Coffee Crisp candy bars. As for a favorite play, I don't think I can pick one. I was always a Sam Shepard fan, and Les Miserables is a great musical. Mostly my favorite "play" is with my kids. When I was younger my favorite books were from a series by Terry Brooks, "The Elfstones of Shannara" being one of them. I can now be found diving into PMA (positve mental attitude) books on a regular basis. I'ts great stuff to help keep me focused. As for a painting, my favorite is "The Kiss" by Klimt."

Do you have a hero in your life or someone you really look up to?
"I have many people in my life whom I choose to learn from, and in some ways model myself after. Most of these people are friends, and business associates. I prefer to listen and learn from those who " walk the walk", rather than those who just "talk the talk". I can't say there is anyone in Hollywood who turns my crank as a hero, however in sports I'd definitely say Wayne Gretzsky is an untouchable example of sportsmanship, competitive drive, and determination to succeed."

Role-related and Misc. Questions--

Whatís your favorite character out of all of your roles?
"Vegeta in an ADR show, and Jetstorm in a Prelay. Both characters love who they are and what they do, so I had alot of fun playing both these guys."

Which of the characters you played do you most identify with?
"I'd probably be admitting insanity if I said I identified with any of my characters. Especially such guys as Venom, Jetstorm & Vegeta. I did however feel that the character "Allan Shezar" in "Vision of Escaflowne" was easier to identify with, based on the type of struggles & successes he had to deal with."

Some roles are rather one-dimensional. Others such as Zechs and Vegeta are major players in a complex story. Do you like to research the story or characters in any way or do you develop it as you go along?
"Initial vocal & character choices are agreed upon by all decision makers involved, and then I have room to develop the character as we go along. We only recieve 1 or 2 scripts at a time, and sometimes on the day of recording, so we have to make choices quickly. There isn't alot of time to do research."

I notice a lot of your major roles are predominantly bad guy-type characters (not that this is a bad thing). Does this get boring after a while?
"Not at all. I love playing "bad" guys. To me they're just a character with a different agenda. That agenda may include destroying a whole bunch of people, or planets, or Maximals, or whatever, but to him, this is a "good" thing. The only down side to the bad-guy parts is they tend to get destroyed or replaced with a different villian, which ussually means less episodes for me to work on then if I was playing a hero (they don't tend to die).

Do you regret the move of Funimation? Do you miss doing the part of Vegeta? What do you think of [Chris Sabat*]? Are you bitter or pissed off at FUNimation? (I donít think you are-- I could be wrong-- but this was asked.)
"Yes, I regret the move. I loved playing the part of Vegeta. I've never seen the show with the new actor in Vegeta's boots. I've only heard some bits off the internet, and they're difficult to assess when taken out of context. I'm sorry he's not as popular as others who've played that role, but I wish him luck none the less. I'm not bitter with FUNimation at all. Making and marketing cartoons is a business, and as actors we can't take business decisions personally. We need to focus on doing our job well. "

Do you think Gundam Wing will become as popular as DBZ? (I forget if Gundam Wing comes out in Canada, but in the states it is a ratings hit on Cartoon Network and has even beat out DBZ which used to hold the number one spot.)
"I have no idea. It was fun to watch while I worked on it so I can only hope that every one else enjoys it as much as I did. I know the Gundam sagas are already popular around the world, so I'm sure the show will do well."

What are your future plans as far as your career is concerned? Do you have any more jobs lined up that we can expect to see soon? (I suppose the answer to this would be Escaflowne, but Iím asking it anyway... =) )
"I plan to keep on working in Voice over, radio, film & tv, as well as invest myself into a few other profitable ventures, just to keep me on my toes. Yes, Visions of Escaflowne should be airing somewhere sometime, and it is definitely a great show."

Do you do conventions and if not, do you ever plan to? (fingers crossed....)
"I haven't done a convention yet, but if the offer should appear, I'd love to. Scott Mcniel tells me they're alot of fun. He's appeared at a couple of Botcon conventions."

How do you feel about having such a fanbase & becoming a sort of "fantasy figure" yourself?
"I think it is very flattering. It is a little strange to me since I see myself as a regular guy who just happens to have a pretty cool job."

Why do you rock so hard? (The guy who asked inferred that he wanted me to take this out of the final set of questions but I thought it was a cute question.)
"It's a Canadian thing."

Many Trans-fans (Transformers fans) loved your performance as Jetstorm and mourn his loss in Beast Machines. If asked, will you work with Transformers again in the future?
"I'd definitely do Transformers again. It was a blast. Sue Blu is one of the greatest Animation voice directors around, and she is a pleasure to work with. The people at Mainframe and the cast were a great group to get to know last year."

You said in your first e-mail that you donít watch a lot of T.V., but do you ever watch any anime/animation on your own-- whether you are in it or not? (If so, what?)
"I watch a ton of animation. As I said I have an almost 5 year old, and an almost 3 year old, so most videos shown in our house are animation(even Pokemon has invaded my home a few times-ahhhhh!). What shows? Lots of feature length stuff from Disney, MGM, and Dreamworks. There's too many to list them all."

What advice would you give to aspiring voice actors?
"Get acting training. Many people think, "Hey, I can do this really cool voice, I should be a voice actor". This is not what gets a voice actor work. Being able to act is the most important. You can learn how to play with your voice later. Also be persistant, and willing to fail. You will eventually succeed."

Do you have an e-mail address your fans can drop you a line at?
"I'm in the process of setting one up. I'll let you know as soon as I'm done."

Oh and finally, can you wish Matt Bouvierís best friend Jessie a Happy Birthday? =) (Sheís a fan of yours celebrating her 16th birthday on April 5th. You can just type out "Happy Birthday Jessie" for this. He wanted me to ask you if you could make a wav. file saying this, but you can just type it out if you want. I felt I should request it on his part anyway.)
"Happy belated Birthday Jessie! I'm sorry I'm late with this. I hope your 16th b-day/17th year is an awesome one. Don't do anything Vegeta would do. Cheers! Brian Drummond."