Interviews: Ian James Corlett (8/99)

in Beast Wars, Interviews


1. Please tell us a bit about your background
I was Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. I have been in and around the 'industry' since I was a kid. in my early teens I used to collect all sorts of Disney collectibles (before it was readily available in Disney mall shops) and had a huge interest in early animation. Now I know that's something that a lot of voice-actors say, and it's usually because it sounds good in an interview. My experience has shown that most of them actually fell into it from some other field. Usually radio or a sputtering on-camera acting career. (How's that for ruffling a few feathers right off the bat? Someone offer me a saucer of milk - NOW! meow...)

In my case it is absolute fact. I also started making student films (mostly animated - some live action) in jr. High school. The year I graduated grade 12, I won the BC Student Film Festival's highest award, "Most promising filmmaker", so I guess it was inevitable that I'd end up in the 'biz' somehow.

2. What type of training did you do to get into the field of voice acting?
Nothing specific. I took drama in school, but just seemed to have a knack for it. My family was always big on imitating dialects and people when I was growing up. We're still like that.

3. What advice would you offer to those who wish to enter the voice acting business?
You better really want to do it, because the competition is fierce now. And secondly, you better have the confidence to know that you CAN do it should an opportunity arise.

4. How long have you worked in the field of voice acting?
After graduating highschool and turning down a filmmaking scholarship, (I didn't think the program would embrace my silly comedies I wanted to make) I went to work in the family business. I sold pianos! Then moved into selling keyboards and pro recording equipment. After doing that for several years I decided to exercise my creative side again and around 1984 I decided to push my way into voicing radio commercials. At that time there was a core group of voice actors doing them here in Vancouver, and our town was pretty busy. I targeted the market, picked a specialty (dialects), made several bad demos, and hammered on every production company and ad agency's door I could. Eventually someone hired me for a radio spot. So what is that, 15 years?

5. What are some of your past roles? Which was your favorite?
Woah, good question. I was "Coconuts" in Sonic the hedgehog. I enjoyed doing that voice mostly because the sessions were fun and I feel very comfortable as a monkey. I was "Bob" in season three of Reboot. I played "Pompeii Pete" in the Wacky World of Tex Avery - I REALLY had fun with that guy, he spoke nothing but pidgin latin-italian which I completely improvised. I was also Dr. Hiss, a flamingly evil character on a soon-forgotten show called ZZBots (BotsMaster). A character named "Elwood" in littlest pet shop - that was another fun voice, a real goof. Unfortunately the show didn't fulfil the promise that the scripts showed, but I did make a nice friendship out of it with Andrea Romano the voice director (WB voice director for Animaniacs, Pinky & the Brain etc.)

Not sure if I have a favorite, But I really enjoyed the final product of a series we did that only aired in Europe, called Captain Zed and the Zee Zone, I played a nightmare named Mutter. It was a very well done series.

6. Which of your roles has personified you the most, if any?
Probably "Wade" in the upcoming Weird-ohs series from Mainframe... no I'm kidding. I don't think there is one... to be truthful I'm probably somewhere between Wade and the Elwood character I mentioned earlier...

7. Why did you choose voice acting as a career?
Hey, why not? See above.

8. How is it working with the cast of Beast Wars Transformers?
The sessions are almost always great fun. I have stood beside Gary Chalk in sessions for years and we seem to have an entertaining dynamic. It's a bit like school - there are finks, clowns, and people that just want to go home... and everyone seems to take a turn at being one of those types at one point or another.

9. Who is your favorite Beast Wars Transformers character?
I really like the look of the new (NEW '99) Optimus. And heck, Cheetor looks pretty cool this year too.

10. On a lot of ensemble cast shows, there is sometimes a bit of comedy amongst the cast. Are there ever any types of pranks or jokes that just crack everyone up? Do any particular stories come to mind?
Not any one thing in particular. Although I'm proud to say that I've authored a few BW "classics". Like the east-indian themed "Blackaracnia-chant" . Try it. Just say BlackAracnia in an indian accent and kind of sing it as you do... see? Isn't it hilarious? OK, so you had to be there... But it never fails to bring in choruses of others when one of us starts it.

And aside from Optimus' occasional bouts of flatulence, I can't think of anything specific. Suffice to say, we usually have a good time. And Sue Blu keeps us on a good leash. She gives us lots of rope, but knows when to administer the choke-chain as well (with love). She's 1st class. A real pro.

11. Are you surprised that Transformers is such a phenomenon? Spanning 15 years, hundreds of toys and several series?
Frankly yes I am, but it's buying my kids diapers.

12. After playing Cheetor three years, what would you say you like and dislike most about the character?
I like the fact that he is challenging Optimus and that they've dropped some of the pseudo-surf-talk from his character. And by the way, no effects have been used to "mature" the voice as he's sort of grown up. It's all me baby!

13. What is it like working with an ensemble cast? Do you prefer it over doing voice overs solo?
As everyone knows in the cast, I don't work well with others. Again, I'm kidding. It's always a lot of fun, but nothing beats working solo when you've got other sessions to do. You can really blast through and it puts pressure on yourself to perform. You can't sigh and tap your foot at someone else blowing lines, you aim that squarely back on yourself.