Interviews: Dan Gilvezan (June 2013)

in Generation One


1. Can you tell us about your background and training to become an actor?
I was born in St. Louis, graduated from the Webster College Theater Arts Department in Webster Groves, Missouri with a B.A in Drama, then went on to study for my Masters at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.

2. How did you get started in acting?
Performing seemed to be in my blood from the beginning. I can remember as a youngster putting on shows in my garage for the neighborhood kids: comedy, songs, skits, magic tricks, all for a mere 5¢ admission fee! In elementary and high school I was always involved in plays and/or talent shows. After graduating college I performed professionally in theaters all around the country, then I moved to L.A., and that's when the fun really began.

3. How did you land the role of Bumblebee? Do you recall auditioning for other characters that you did not voice on "Transformers"?
It was an "open call" for a new animated TV series called The Transformers. None of us knew too much about it, just that Wally Burr was holding auditions at his sound studio on Ventura Boulevard. I don't actually recall what parts I read for at the first audition, but they would have been the "lighter voiced" ones. So, more than likely, Prowl, Ratchet, Sideswipe, those types of guys, and of course, Bumblebee. At the callback I was informed that I already had the role of Bumblebee (highly unusual to have this revealed before all the auditions were completed, but certainly welcome news!). The callback was scheduled because they also wanted to read me for the role of Spike. Ultimately, though, because Spike and Bumblebee had so many scenes together, the producers decided on another actor for Spike and the part went to the mega-talented Corey Burton.

4. You have attended Botcon conventions in recent years. Did the enthusiasm for "Transformers" come as a surprise at all?
I was blown away by the sheer joyful energy at my first convention way back in 2004. Since then, at every convention I've attended, I have been impressed with not only the fans' enthusiasm, but also the kindness and respect they have shown me. TransFans, as I have stated many times before, are the best fans of all!

5. It's been thirty years since "Transformers" debuted as of 2014, does it amaze you that the brand is still going strong? To what would you attribute to its success?
Wow, thirty years. That must make me—um, over thirty. It's remarkable that the Transformers has had such longevity. Especially when you consider the number of toy-based animated shows that were being produced back in the '80s. Virtually every toy company in America was producing an animated series based on one or more of their toy lines. So, what made Transformers different? To my mind, it's three things: First—the concept. Robots are cool, but robots that turn into other things is super-cool. Second, the engineering that goes into the design of the characters. And third, the mythology. It's such an intriguing story. A millennia old battle between good and evil. Plus the fact that so many variations can be made following the general outline. It's what's allowed the series to change and evolve over the years. And as far as I can see (and hope) there's no end in sight.

6. What can fans look forward to from you in 2013 and beyond?
I'll be attending the Florida Supercon in Miami over fourth of July weekend, then in August we'll be in Birmingham, England for Auto Assembly. And believe it or not, we're already booked for SavCon in Savannah, GA in 2014. My voiceover career continues to flourish (most recently, as the voice of the Angie's List TV ads) as does my on-camera work. Also, I'm currently at work on my second novel, a sort of light-hearted mystery about a private detective who is also an amateur magician, which I hope to get out early next year. So, as you can see, my plate is full to overflowing.

Note from Ben: Fans, support Dan by ordering his awesome books "Bumblebee & Me: Life as a G1 Transformer" and "Drowned in the Grenadine"!