TFW2005: First off, how are you doing after your accident?Garry: Oh, well I’m still in a brace, and I can’t get around. I have to have people drive me around, and a shower is a logistical nightmare. Just not fun. It just always hurts, I hate it. I’ve got it (the brace) on for three months altogether, and then I’m in rehab for five months. I tore my quad muscle 87 percent. It ended up in the top of my thigh and they had to go in and get it to re-attach it. It was just a mess.
TFW2005: So you were just out walking your dogs? Did they ever thank you for that? Say “Hey Dad sorry we did that?”Garry: Yeah, well. Daisy, my female, laid on my neck and Nike was about 20 feet away. They’re very sweet. They didn’t do it on purpose.
Garry: Well, you’ve got a gazillion questions so where do we start?
TFW2005: Well I’ve got my list right here and we can start from the top: First off, how did you get into acting and voice acting?
Garry: How did I get into acting, well I’ve been acting since I was seven or eight years old. My theatrical debut was “The Shoemaker and the Elves” in grade two, and I felt my calling then. Then I sang in a choir that was on TV it was the boys club choir. And then I did theater productions in school, then went and did a bunch of other stuff and decided that I was no good as a stock broker or a restaurant guy or any of those other jobs that I did. So I went back to school to see if I could be a teacher in English Lit and Anthropology, I discovered the Theatre department, went down there, saw the shows, loved it. Said I want to do this. I auditioned for the Theatre Department, at Studio 58, at Langara College in Vancouver. And Anthony Holland who was the head of the Department at that time, looked up at me after I did my audition. He goes, “Well you’ve got some talent, not much, but some. Alright, you’re in.” And Bob’s your uncle.
My first voice job was narrating an informational video for a senior’s home, here in Vancouver, that I got from Anthony at the school. My first cartoon job was a thing called Hiawatha, for Kenner Classics, for Nickelodeon. I did several, 3 or 4 characters on the cartoon, including the title role, Hiawatha. That was back in 1981 or ’82. I thought, oh my god, I might be onto something here, then I went on to do oh I don’t know how many episodes of cartoons. I think a few thousand anyways. And that’s how I got started.
TFW2005: So which do you prefer? Traditional acting or voice acting?Garry: I like voice acting because it’s a lot of fun, it’s easy, and it’s the purest form of acting. You can’t get away with anything. You have to deliver with voice acting because they have to draw around your voice, and people will either believe you, or not. I like voice acting because I like the camaraderie of the cast, and it’s usually a long term venture. It’s lots and lots of fun.
I like film acting because I like the technical aspect of it. I just love performing period. I love being on stage, but there’s no money in it, but I still love being on stage. I just love to perform. I don’t really have any real favorite as long as I get to practice my craft. (into haughty voice) “Practice my craaaaft.” I enjoy it.
TFW2005: Alright, so do you have any advice for aspiring voice actors? Quite a few Transformer fans I know feel that they have a gift, and so is there anything that you can suggest that would help them develop it or to get the foot in the door.Garry: Yes I do. If you want to become a voice actor, remember this. Acting is 90% of it, voice is 10%. If you are a really good actor, and a really good reader, and can get the lines off the page, the acting will cover you. It will carry you a lot farther than your voice will. Everybody can do a funny voice, but can everyone do a funny voice doing Shakespeare, or Chekov? If you can do Chekov as Foghorn Leghorn or some other cartoon character and make it believable and make people care about you then you’re doing your job. So it’s not totally necessary (into deep booming voice) The Voice Of God or (into high voice) a tricky funny voice. What’s really important is to have really good acting chops and really good reading skills.
TFW2005: Great answer. How do you decide on the personality of a character you’re voicing? Is that something that the Voice Director gives you, or do they give you some freedom and tell you “We want a powerful voice, go for it?”Garry: Well, there is that. (goes through different voices) The stock powerful voice, the big boomy powerful, the slow and sweet powerful. What you’re looking for, the tone of the voice is great, if you’ve got a big powerful voice then that’s great. It’s what you do with that big powerful voice that brings me back to the acting. You see, when you find a character you determine what the character is about. Well it sounds kind of method, but they’ll give you a brief history of the character as they envision it. “He hates cats, loves eating ice cream, is delirious whenever he gets his own way, and completely psycho when he doesn’t.” And you determine from that how the voice is going to sound. And as they used to say, if you find how a character laughs, you’ll be on a strong foundation for the character.
TFW2005: Are there any roles that you’ve had before, or people that you use for inspiration, or do you just develop the character from the direction you’ve been given?Garry: Well, there’s several people that I really admire, as far as voicing goes. I’ve always been a huge fan of Peter Sellers, Alec Guinness, and this’ll be a good laugh for you, I love Maurice LaMarche, and Billy West. I think that Billy and Maurice are two of the great unsung voice actors in the US. They’re really tremendous voice actors, and I love listening to them and watching them how they design. I’ve had the pleasure of working with both of them, and I think they’re tremendous. I think that Peter Sellers is, to me, one of the greats. I like watching them. They are, well they are my idols.
TFW2005: Do you ever follow a show after you’ve done voice work on it? Did you actually sit down and watch the Beast Wars shows at home?Garry: I’ve watched most of them, but I don’t make a point of watching them. I do sometimes like to watch Shadow Raiders, because it’s kind of fun and I like the animation on it. And I do occasionally, if they show up on TV, I like to watch the Sonic shows. But for the most part I never get to see them. Like the latest one I did, 3-2-1 Penguins! It’s very funny and I quite like it, but I’m never around to see it.
TFW2005: So not there, excited on the couch with your bowl of cereal first thing in the morning.
Garry: (chuckles) No, no. First thing my wife would tear my head off, if I was sitting watching TV in the morning, because it’s out with the dogs or doing something around the house.
TFW2005: Do you keep in touch with the people that you work with on some of these projects? Will you call up people that you’ve worked with?
TFW2005: That’s really cool. So what character archetype are you most comfortable with, as far as improvising and adding your own touch to.Garry: Straight hero guy. As far as improvisation goes… comic sidekick. You may not know this, but if you ever watched Reboot all the stuff between Hack and Slash, is pretty much all improvised. We made it up on the spot. We’d get a script outline, and they’d say “Just say this, and then make up your own lines.” We’d improvise around that, and more often than not they used our lines because they were pretty fun. I’m quite comfortable with comic sidekicks.
TFW2005: OK then, the flip side of the coin, are there some that it’s just a lot harder for you to get into?Garry: Pixious kind of characters, like Smurf kind of characters. Those voices are usually higher pitched and faster, where my voice is deeper. When I try and do those high voices they just come out kind of strained. So I have a hard time doing those, but for the most part no. I’m really comfortable with any kind of character, except for those, high pitched ones.
TFW2005: What’s your dream job. If you weren’t an actor, what would you want to be?Garry: My dream job? You’re going to laugh, but teaching anthropology, or being an anthropologist. I think it’s the greatest thing. (chuckles) That or being a rock star.
TFW2005: (chuckles) Yeah, well there’s that.
Garry: Being an anthropologist I think is just the most amazing thing. I love the whole idea of being a sort of cultural, historical detective. It’s pretty fun.
TFW2005: Yeah, I kind of do that on the side. I’m a historical re-enactor. French Fur Trade Era here in the Mid-West, it definitely is fun putting that on, and doing it for a weekend or two a year.Garry: Yeah, I love it when they do the Civil War re-enactment. When they do that at Fort Astoria, in Oregon, and the big Civil War re-enactment down there. With the big battlefield and cannons and camp followers, the food and everything. I just find it real interesting.
TFW2005: Yeah it is, I’ve known people that are really deep into it, and know their character’s history and back-story, and can gossip on stuff that their character would have known.Garry: So there you go. Yeah, I know the one. (starts a Southern Drawl) “I’m Cletus LeFond, I’m with the Hundred and First Volunteers CSA army.” It’s just tremendous, I love to go and watch that stuff.
TFW2005: Alright, so now into the more Transformers questions. Do you remember how your original interview went for Optimus Primal went?Garry: My original interview for Optimus Primal… When I went to apply for the job?
TFW2005: YupGarry: Yeah, they went “We like that, can you make him a little older?” I said yeah. Then “A little warmer?” “Yes, we like that, but can you do it with a hint more compassion?” Then they just said “That’s the guy!” And I got hired.
TFW2005: OK, so what was your take on the change from the end of the Beast Wars Primal to the Beast Machines Primal? Going from the leader of your group to a Messiah, if that’s the right word for it.
Garry: Well, a part of me was just wow, this being a Messiah was pretty cool. But the other part of me went, wait a minute, this is an action show. I’m the head of an action team, and now all I do is sit on my butt and contemplate my navel, and listen to all my team members complain all the time. So I guess that was Season 3. I just really was not happy with it. It just became “The Seeds of the Future lie buried in the Past.” “Wait Rattrap.” Instead of “Shut up Rattrap,” it was, “No, choose a wiser path.” I just went aw man come on.
TFW2005: Yeah, I just wanna blow something up.
TFW2005: Yeah I’ve heard that before from other voice actors. They always say there’s a big difference between getting to do it as “Theater in the round” which is how I’ve heard Wally Burr put it a while ago, and just having to match the lip flap.Garry: Yeah! I hated it. Having to match these words in 8 seconds. It always… makes you sound… a little… bit strange. And I don’t like… that because it’s not… my rhythm.
TFW2005: So are there any memorable moments from the recording studio from Beast Wars or Beast Machines?Garry: Crazy stuff that happened? Well we used to have stuff like (chuckles) I think it was Scott one time that fell asleep on the floor of the studio and we covered him with paper. That was pretty fun. Actually, to tell you the truth, nothing really happened in the studio because, I really hate to say it, we’re all a bunch of pros. We just did our job and got out. Though it was a bunch of fun embarrassing Venus Terzo every once and a while. Because she was just the studio fox. Such a hot hot woman. She would get a bunch of teasing, and the bulk of the attention of the studio.
TFW2005: I just have to ask, since you mentioned seeing Scott today, is that crazy in real life? Whenever he’s been at a show he’ll go through 3 or 4 voices and have an argument with himself. Is that just something he puts on?Garry: (chuckles) No that’s just a put on. When you get Scotty at home he’s just Scotty at home. You know, he might have something, and be a bit flamboyant, but when he’s at a show, he’s on a mission. Well, that’s how I’ve seen him. Though I have seen him at a show and just been surprised. He really can go through all of them, but that’s all for the fan’s benefit.
TFW2005: OK, so talking about Armada, Energon, and Cybertron, did you have to interview for all of them, or did you get the role because of Primal?Garry: Yeah, well I did have to interview for the role. But I just went jeez, I’ve been playing the bloody thing for years, what do you want? And so I went in and did the voice they wanted. They said, “Ok, you’re doing it.” And so I got it.
TFW2005: So, the inspiration that you used for the Prime voices, was it different that what you used for Primal? Or was it just “Be strong and watch the lip flap?”
Garry: For the Optimus Primes? I just referred back to the original character, the Cullen character. (in Prime voice) “Just a minute kids, I’ve got to go over here for a moment.” “Jetfire Come here!” Basically that, crack the heroic stance and let it rip. I just found with those, there was no imagination with the voices. Nothing that I could identify with. I hated them actually, to tell you the truth. (laughs) Though that’s just me.
TFW2005: That’s alright, so do you have any favorite episodes from any of those Transformers episodes?
TFW2005: Gorilla Warfare?
Garry: Yeah, that one. That was my favorite one. Oh what else? There were some funny ones in there. Oh it the death of Dinobot.
TFW2005: Code of Hero. Yeah that’s one that I know that there are some fans that can’t watch that particular episode without tearing up because of the way that Dinobot goes out.Garry: Yeah, that was a great great episode. I liked it a lot.
TFW2005: OK, so when you started Beast Wars, did you think that you’d end up with this 5 or 6 or how many ever years that you’d be doing?Garry: To tell you the truth, no. I thought I’d be doing it for a season and that’s it. To tell the truth, I had no idea how big the Transformers really was. I remember that I used to the voice for the commercials way back when. You know (booming voice) “Transformers Generation 2” I used to those thing, but a long time ago.
TFW2005: So kind of a swap then with Cullen then. Where Cullen did the voice back then, and now he’s doing all the bumpers for Cartoon Network.
Garry: Yes, I used to do those, way back when. But I never had any idea how big it was. I got to do it for 10 years, and I was excited about it and enjoyed it very much, but now it’s over.
TFW2005: So did you ever end up with any of the toys?
TFW2005: So did you have a favorite out of all of those?Garry: You know, I like the original Optimus Primal. It was just a neat little machine. But I love the truck. The anniversary edition, the big metal truck. Oh, awesome.
TFW2005: It’s a good thing that you have them, because if you didn’t you’d have to prepare for an avalanche of people wanting to give you some.Garry: Oh I know, I’ve got to tell you I’ve got a great fan out there. I don’t know if I want to give her name, but she’s a huge Transformers fan. She lives in Pennsylvania. But anyways she’s given me a couple of drawings of characters of mine from Transformers. She drew an inked drawing of Primal, that’s just brilliant, and fantastic. And she sent me another one of Slash from ReBoot, and oil painting, absolutely fabulous. I just have to say that she’s a very talented artist. She draws a lot of great things, and just a huge fan. But yeah, they do send me stuff, or give me stuff when I go to show. I know I got a really great response from everyone when I hurt myself. On the websites, that there was a lot of stuff on there about me getting better, and I’d say to them, thanks very much for all your support and well wishing.
TFW2005: So are you following the new Transformers: Animated?
Garry: No, all I know is that David Kaye is playing my part. But I hope he’s doing a good job.
TFW2005: OK, so did you see the movie by any chance?
TFW2005: What’d you think of it?
Garry: To tell the truth, I didn’t like it. I liked it for some reasons, I loved the CGI. The CGI was some of the best work I’ve ever seen. I thought Peter Cullen was very funny, and great as the voice of Optimus. I mean he did it first. But all the other ones were so treated that you couldn’t tell, were there any character differences in those? I couldn’t see, there was just so much treatment. I just found the transformations were just so fast, I just felt that part of watching the Transformers was watching them transform. But these ones transformed so fast you never got to see anything.
TFW2005: I’ve heard that complaint quite a bit.
TFW2005: That could be true. And I have to ask because I’m a Stargate SG1 geek. Did Colonel Checkov die in the Ori attack.
Garry: (chuckles) We don’t know. We think he died, because since SG1 is no longer around, but he died an honorable death. He might show up in some kind of regenerator at Atlantis, but we don’t know.
TFW2005: Aren’t there still 2 direct to DVD movies to be done?
TFW2005: Well, I’ll cross my fingers for Atlantis then. Do you have anything else in the works?Garry: Right at the moment I’m doing a cartoon series called RollBots, which is quite fun. I’ve been doing Care Bears for the last little while, where I play a rain cloud named Bumpety. Which is kind of cute. Other than that I’ve just finished a movie with Michelle Pfeiffer and Ashton Kutcher called Personal Effects. I had a small role in there as a wrestling coach. And I did one with the guy from High School Musical. Corbin Blu. Called Free Style, about moto-cross racing. Beyond that, not much. I’m kind of laid up right now.
TFW2005: Yeah, hard to do much acting like that.Garry: Yeah I’m house-bound basically, with my leg. I just get to go out when someone comes and picks me up. Just slowly but surely, it’s been the worst year for that though. But you know, it happens. Any more questions for you?
TFW2005: No not really, that’s end of my list. But it’s been a real pleasure getting to chat with you. Is there anything you wanted to say, or comment on that I didn’t ask about?Garry: Nothing that I can think of at this point. I’ll just say, keep the faith, and hope you enjoy the new generation of Transformers, and hope it continues on ad infinitum. And we’ll see you at the conventions if they’ll ever have me. Though I don’t go to too many.
TFW2005: Well this year’s is in Cincinnati at the end of April.
Garry: Well then no. I’ve been to I think three of them, maybe four. Well there you go. Hope you have a good evening.
TFW2005: Thanks, you too. And get well soon.