Bob Bergen is a veteran voice actor, who's provided voices for such animated shows and movies as "Animaniacs", "Space Jam", "The Emperor's New Groove", and "Teknoman", which he actually contacted me about! I had posted a comment on a message board about Cartoon Network picking up the rights to broadcast the now-cancelled "Teknoman" series, and Bob, who played the lead character Slade, e-mailed me to ask if I'd heard anything back from CN. I didn't, but our e-mail correspondence has led to the following interview:
First of all, let's start out with some background info...
I told my parents when I was 5 I wanted to be Porky Pig. This was not something a Jewish Mother wants to hear. We lived in the Midwest til I was 14, when we moved to LA, Ca. I started taking voice-over workshops. My mentor was Daws Butler, who did Yogi Bear, Elroy Jetson, and tons of other characters. When I was 18 a good friend of the family knew Casey Kasem and had him send me an autograph picture. I sent him a thank you note, telling him I wanted to do voices for cartoons. He called me (I'd included my phone number on the thank you note) and he had me send a home made demo. I did about 85 voices on the tape. He gave the tape to his agent, who signed me on as a client. My first gig was Spiderman. But I worked off and on for about 5 years in Vo before I could make a full time living. I was a Tour Guide for Universal those 5 years to pay the bills.
What appeals to you most about voice acting? Are there any downsides?
I don't have to shave!!!!!!! No one cares what you look like. It's just your talent. I love the way we are able to be as creative as we can. No rules! And vo actors are just the nicest in the biz!! The downsides?? Well, none really. It's a great way to make a living.
What's the funniest or weirdest thing that's happened during a voiceover session?
I did a commercial for a local clothing store(radio)where I was to interview a wrestler. The producer called an agent for wrestlers to get a real wrestler for me to interview. Their budget wasn't huge, so the only wrestler they could afford was this cross dressing wrestler. In walked a 5 ft, tall, 5 ft. wide guy in lipstick and a feather boa. He was passing out albums he'd just recorded with a song called "imagine what I could do to you." He was cockney and lisped. That goes down as the weirdest session!
Of all the characters you've done, who are you most fond of, and least fond of?
I'm most fond of Porky Pig. I have no characters I'm least fond of. But I have to tell ya, the hardest work and lowest pay is dubbed cartoons. They pay $60.00 per hour compared to over $600.00 per session for a regular cartoon. And in the regular cartoons you don't have to match sync. the voices are recorded before the animation. Dubbing is much harder and therefore should pay more. BUT-the fans for dubbed cartoons are amazing!!!! That makes it all worth while.
What kind of preparation do you normally go through to get into character?
There isn't much preparation for characters. I look at the pic, the description, and the script and just give em what comes out. First instincts are usually the best.
Who are you most influenced by, in terms of work>
My biggest influences are Mel Blanc, Daws Butler, etc.
You have a pretty diverse resume, ranging from animation, to live-action movies, to combinations of the two. Have you made any famous friends?
Sure. I've worked with a lot of celebs. Some of my friends are celebs, and some aren't in the biz.
Do you have any advice for aspiring actors who want to get into voice acting?
Study, study, study! They are looking for actors first, and voice people second. Don't be fooled with "people always tell me what a great voice I have". It's not nearly as important as what kind of an actor you are. Get Susan Blu's book Word of Mouth. Great book on voiceover. Cartoons are done mostly in Los Angeles. Gotta be where the work is. And you need a great demo and an agent. Just don't make a demo til you are ready. Those who listen will only give you one shot!!!! Since most auditions are done in your agent's office, you have to have an agent to get those auditions. But getting an agent is harder than getting a gig!! If you have a passion for it, and are a great actor, be patient. It will happen in time!
Are you surprised at the fan bases that have formed from your past projects, like "Teknoman"?
I'm amazed at the fan base on projects I've done. Teknoman has such a huge fan base on the net. Bless you all!!! Knowing people like your product is what it's all about. And for those of you who want to see it on again, keep writing those letters! They really do read em all. Write Saban, Cartoon Network, WB, UPN, etc. And thanks again for your loyalty!
Do you have any future projects you'd like fans to be on the lookout for?
Monsters, Inc. comes out later this year. Atlantis this summer. The Emperor's New Groove is just now on video and DVD. Check out LooneyTunes.com for all new stuff with the Warner cartoons. I did a new CD ROM as Luke Skywalker recently called Rogue Squadron 2. Lots of commercials, etc. Oh-and a new children's CD called Joseph's Dreams. I narrated the story. Great for kids!!!! Check it out at www.adventuresinaudio.com. All kinds of stuff.
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