Interview with David Kaye - 14th January 2004
Special Thanks to Holly Carinci
Okay, this is where we'd usually put a little introduction to the person(s)/company whom we are interviewing. In David's case however we have decided to do things a little differently. Underneath the interview is a little biography (many thanks to tvtome, where we found the information) as well as a few of his credits.
If you don't already know David was the voice of Megtron in various Transformer series, including Beast Wars, Beast Machines, Armada, Energon, Cybertron and the Armada computer game, as well as voicing a few other Transformer characters as well.
We first met David briefly at OTFCC 2003 and are huge fans of his. We hope to speak to him in person at future conventions and would like to wish him all the best with current and future projects.
TF @ The Moon: First of we'd like to thank you for agreeing to giving us some of your time to answer some questions for our website. We hope that you enjoy answering them as much as we look forward to reading your answers.
David Kaye: My pleasure!
TF @ The Moon: First of would you be able to tell us a little about yourself and how you came into the acting / voice acting profession?
David Kaye: I've always been very goal oriented. Even as a young child. I knew I didn't want to be just a number when I grew older. I wanted to do something different and unique. I was always clowning around at a young age with silly voices and the like, mimicking people, etc. There's even a cassette tape of me my mother still has of me mimicking a voice from the radio station I used to listen to as a kid. I was probably about 7 years old at the time. Funny enough THAT radio station gave me my first job as an on air host when I was still in high school. Overnights on the weekend was where I started playing around with my voice. I was AWFUL, with a capital AWFUL, but it was the springboard to what has turned into a neat life.
TF @ The Moon: Looking through the list of credits to your name, both in Animation and live action, we recognise various shows which we have seen you in (Beast Wars/Machines, Armada, Ranma 1/2, X-Files, Outer Limits, Loan Gunman etc). Which would you say you prefer to do, live action or voice acting?
David Kaye: Voice acting, with a capital Voice Acting !!
TF @ The Moon: There are of course obvious differences between the two styles, but which would you can is harder to pull off? Voice acting because you have to portray emotions solely in your voice or acting where you have your whole body to do so?
David Kaye: Wow. Having done both they each have their 'hard bits.' I'm hypercritical of anything I do on camera. I think I'm a very boring actor actually. Behind the mic I feel freer to express myself in various ways I guess. Same can be said for someone who loves their craft on camera. They feel more comfortable there than behind the mic.
TF @ The Moon: Of the various live-action shows which you have done, which would you say is your best performance (something you would recommend fans to see)? We know you did not like your X-Files appearance (from what you said at OTFCC).
David Kaye: Megatron in the Beast Wars/Beast Machine series are my favourites and yes..my X-files appearance was forgettable!! God bless them for hiring me though.
TF @ The Moon: Of the various Anime shows which you have done, which would you say you have enjoyed the most and which one are you most proud off?
David Kaye: I really enjoyed working on Via Video's Ranma 1/2 It was just plain fun to do. It's the people I work with that really make the difference. Toshiba from Via is a great guy and fun to work with
TF @ The Moon: Of all the voices which you have done, which was the easiest / hardest to perform?
David Kaye: Prof X easiest. Some German bad guy in Kong was a pain in the ass !!
TF @ The Moon: Do you ever find that certain words, vows are hard to say when you are in character?
David Kaye: Yes and my peers will agree anything that has me saying 'Saturday' I hate that word!!!
TF @ The Moon: How do you decide which voice to use for a character. Again you have said in the past that you look for any features which would affect the speech pattern (bucked teeth for example)?
David Kaye: It's a visual I either get from an artists rendering of the character or it's a mental image I create.
TF @ The Moon: On your website you have various snippets from Cinema, TV, radio ads which you have done. How did you get involved in going those?
David Kaye: It just all grew from doing commercials, affiliate work for television (promos) etc. The more exposure you get, the more you get hired, the more the clients have you try this and try that. It just builds up over time as your work becomes known. A great agent also helps. I can't say enough about my former agent Ross Rhodes and William Morris Agency in New York and LA. They're fantastic.
TF @ The Moon: Have you ever turned down a TV role / animation role?
David Kaye: Yes. After awhile I got sick of doing anything that had anything to do with 'newscaster' 'Reporter,' I bore easily and need to move on and try different things.
TF @ The Moon: When you are contacted regarding a role (for example Beast Wars), what information were you given as to the story / setting and character which they wished you to play?
David Kaye: In that series we were given EVERYTHING. Relationships to other characters in the show, what the characters look like. Back history, you name it..
TF @ The Moon: Were you offered any other roles in any of the Transformers cartoon other than Megatron?
David Kaye: I also was called back to read for the role of Optimus Prime. Also, I was cast as Noble in later episodes.
TF @ The Moon: In the upcoming Transformers series Energon you are scheduled to play Unicron, the ultimate Transformers bad-guy. Have you decided which voice to give to him, and will there be any 'digital enhancements' to the voice (as there was with Armada)?
David Kaye: Don't know right now. I think I start working on that in a few weeks (February)
TF @ The Moon: Can you tell us what other voice actors from Armada, or Beast Wars / Machines are working on the upcoming Transformers: Energon show?
David Kaye: Again, I'm not sure yet. Haven't been in touch. I know I've completed work on the new Transformers Video game. It looks pretty cool!!! TF @ The Moon:Legendary voice actor Frank Welker voiced the original Megatron (throughout the 98 episodes). You have now voiced Megatron for 128 episodes (Beast Wars, Beast Machines, Armada, Energon) and have (in our opinion) surpassed Frank's work and solidified yourself as the true 'voice of Megatron'. How do you feel about being compared to someone like Frank Welker?
David Kaye: There's only one Frank Welker. If you use my name in the same sentence as his, I shiver. He's a hero of mine. I didn't realize who Frank was until I became more involved as a voice actor and a part of Transformers. Now I realize what a legend this man is.
TF @ The Moon: During the Q&A session at OTFCC 03 it was mentioned that the voice actors involved with Beast Wars were able to alter the script of their characters, allowing you more control over the development of the character. Could you tell us if there were certain characteristics, which you bought to the character of Megatron which, were not originally written in? (for example ending each sentence with yesss).
David Kaye: The Yess was kind of created by fooling around with the original script in recording. It all started interestingly enough with that first scene where the Predacons are on the hill fighting with the Maximals. It was the speech with commander rat trap. The YESSS and sometimes Noooo were used from then on.
TF @ The Moon: Both yourself and Garry Chalk have become firm fan favourites, along with Scott McNeil, and would be the first choice for any Transformers series. What are your opinions of the Transfomers series (as it's one of the longest series which you have worked on as a voice actor)?
David Kaye: It's been most rewarding. One of the BIIG reasons is because of the enormous fan base and people like yourself that keep it going. Toy sales is another reason, then again only because of the fans support
TF @ The Moon: With the upcoming CGI Transformers Movie scheduled for a release in 2005 we would love nothing more then to see you continue your role of Megatron on the big screen. How would you feel if you were asked to do this?
David Kaye: I'd fall off my chair!!!
TF @ The Moon: Have you seen any of the original Transformers cartoons, and Transformers the movie?
David Kaye: Very little. I just really haven't had the opportunity
TF @ The Moon: Did you do any research into the story behind Transformers before you started to voice Megatron in Beast Wars and / or have you done any since?
David Kaye: No, none whatsoever. I came with a clean slate and in hindsight I'm glad. It would have coloured my audition I'm sure, if I knew.
TF @ The Moon: As we mentioned in the initial contact with yourself we are huge fans, and feel the voice you use for Megatron suites him perfectly. It is a mixture of intellect with a touch of madness. In your interview with Cold Hard Slag you mentioned you based the voice on a mixture of Anthony Hopkins, Alan Rickman, Sean Connery and a lizard (quiet an odd picture). The end result was fantastic bur did you try any other voices for Megatron which resemble other characters which you play in other shows?
David Kaye: Sometimes you want to use the 'megs' voice, but if I feel I'm sliding into it, I need to pull myself back. I want each character to be as different as I can. Sometime it's tough because his voice is in my head and easily called upon.
TF @ The Moon: Another show which we are fans of is Ranma 1/2, in which you play Soun Tendo in the English dub. Your voice is instantly recognisable on the show and we wondered what you thought of that show?
David Kaye: Like I said, it was fun to do because of the people involved. It's pretty goofy but loveable.
TF @ The Moon: There were quiet a few 'old faces' in the voice acting talent on Ranma. Girl Type Ranma was of cause voiced by Venus Terzo, Haposi was voiced by Paul Dobson and Scott McNeil appeared in later series. Was it odd having the same people around doing something completely different?
David Kaye: I never saw them, being a 'dub.' We all get called in separately to record. That show for us ran 7 years to the completion of it for the English dub.
TF @ The Moon: During the Ranma series you voiced the Card King, utilising a Sean Connery accent, which we found superb! With you already stating that he was one of the actors you based Megatron's voice around we assume that you are a fan of Sean. Is this the case?
David Kaye: Yup!!!
TF @ The Moon: If so, would you take the role of James Bond if offered to you? (images Megatron in a Tux dropping one liners!)
David Kaye: In a second!!
TF @ The Moon: One thing which we wanted to ask at OTFCC but never got the chance was to see if we could get a recording of you saying a little quote as Megatron, utilising both Transformers and Ranma 1/2. The quote we were thinking off was Megatron commanding Genma to transform .. 'Genma Saotome, Beast Mode!'. (for those who have not seen the series, Genma is a man who turns into a Giant Panda). Is there any chance you could record that line for us?
David Kaye: If I see you and you have a digital record device, done. Invite me to England and I'll do it for sure ! (hint hint)
TF @ The Moon: Back onto Transformers. Were there any character changes which you, as the voice actor, did not agree with, or thought 'he wouldn't say that'?
David Kaye: Yes, there were a number of little things throughout. Sometimes I just didn't feel right and the director would consult producer and we'd all either agree and change it or give it a try and see how it sounded. That stuff happens later in a series when one is more comfortable with a character.
TF @ The Moon: On a personal note, would you like Hasbro to commission Mainframe to do another CGI series (like Beast Wars / Machines) or would you be happy with the current trend of dubbing Japanese Animation? Beast Wars seems to have been more popular outside of America then in it (with many fans preferring the Original Cell based animation). The opinions seem to be a divide between those fans who want more characters in the show (which results in less character per character) and those who preferred Beast Wars few characters but more depth to the characters. Which do you prefer?
David Kaye: Personally another CGI show would be cool. I liked it a lot.
TF @ The Moon: When voicing more than one character in a show do you ever get confused as to which voice you should be using at any given point?
David Kaye: Not really. You just have your mental switches. That's a good question for Scotty !!
TF @ The Moon: If the opportunity arose would you be willing to attend a Transformers convention outside of America?
David Kaye: Uhhuh ! See above answer that says 'Invite me to England' I'm actually going to be in Auckland New Zealand this April for 'Armageddon pulp culture expo. ' April 14th to 16th Stargate folks, Lord of the Rings' Sean Astin will be there, etc etc and they invited me as well. Can't wait.
TF @ The Moon: Beast Wars was fully of great characters, Waspinator, Tarantulas, Inferno for example. Most of the 'definitive characters' of this, and most shows, seem to be the bad-guys. Do you find that strange?
David Kaye: No. Bad guys are always more interesting to play !!
TF @ The Moon: Off the track of questions (if you're still awake at this point), what do you do in your free time, if you have any?
David Kaye: I'm a gym rat. Lift weights, kick box, play tennis, squash and ski (Love the powder). I usually spend what free time I have working out or with my family.
TF @ The Moon: Is there anything you would like to say as a parting gesture, anyone you'd like to thank?
David Kaye: I'd just like again to thank the fans. You guys are awesome and great fun. It's just so cool to part of something like this.
BTW GREAT QUESTIONS !
Again we would like to say a big thanks to David for taking the time to answer our questions, and hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as we have.
Biography - Info from TVTOME
Birthday: October 14, 1964
Birth Place: Peterbourgh, Ontario, Canada
A man of a thousand voices - and a growing number of faces - actor David Kaye was already a radio professional by the age of 16. Working summers and weekends during his high school years in Peterborough, Ontario, he dropped his plans for a psychology degree to pursue a full-time career on-air.
Kaye's breakthrough came as a radio personality on a station in London, Ontario, and he followed that with a move to Vancouver's CKLG. There he handled every shift before joining the popular "Morning Zoo" crew, for which he came up with zany characters like the drawling "Cowboy Dick" and "Stunt Boy" with the latter providing him an excuse for remote broadcasts from odd locations.
Writing and improvising material for the Zoo soon gave him a taste for more challenging fare, so he undertook acting studies. Kaye has since worked non-stop as a voice actor. He began by supplying vocal personalities to cartoon characters on series like G.I. Joe (the Canadian's first cartoon character was as the "great American hero" General Hawk!), "G.I. Joe Extreme" (1995); David played the infamous Megatron on "Beast Wars: Transformers" (1996) (also Beast Machines; Beasties; Transformers Armada); D'Myna League (Barry), Kleo The Misfit Unicorn (his character Slim shares star-billing with a character voiced by Mickey Rooney), "StreetFighter: The Animated Series" (1997) (Akuma), "Kong: The Animated Series" (2000) (Ramone De La Porta), "Exosquad" (1993) (Hallas, Draconis) a series directed by Gordon Hunt (Helen Hunt's, of Mad About You fame, father). He was also cast as Akela The Wolf in "Jungle Book Shonen Mowgli" (1989), starring 'Charleton Heston' as the narrator, and is the narrator himself on MGM/Sony's "Bible Story" (1998) series. And that was just the very beginning of his career. Fast-forward now through over a hundred characters to his most recent ones and you get to the voice of Professor Xavier on WB Kid's animated "X-Men: Evolution" (2000) series; Major Powers for Hasbro's toy 'Major Powers'; Dragon, in Mattel's new cartoon Barbie as Rapunzel; Clank, in the popular Playstation 2 game, 'Ratchet and Clank'; Sesshoumara in the new hot anime "Inuyasha" (2000); and he's still Megatron, this time on "Transformers: Armada" (2002). Finally, fulfilling another lifelong ambition, David Kaye recently received his first paycheck from "the mouse", for a Disney Christmas project 'Mickey Mouse's Twice Upon A Christmas'. And this breakdown of characters only touches the list of voices Kaye has provided in animation ... a list impressive enough to land top talent agency, William Morris in both L.A. and in New York.
But more than 'toon-town beckoned. As part of North Vancouver's First Impressions theatre company, Kaye landed key roles in classic plays such as Noises Off, Of Mice and Men, Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, A Streetcar Named Desire (he played Stanley Kowalski), and Harvey (he played Elwood P. Dowd). Early television auditions yielded supporting roles in the series Northwood and M.A.N.T.I.S., and in TV-movies like Someone Else's Child and Zalinda's Story for ABC's Lifetime. On the big screen, he was often cast - not too surprisingly - as TV reporters (in Tailhook, Sliders, and Adam Sandler's Happy Gilmore, among others, he played glib commentators).
Over the past six years, however, he has been recognized for his growing skills with lead, co-starring and guest starring roles in The Outer Limits, So Weird, The Sentinel, Viper, Dead Man's Gun, The Twilight Zone; features such as Carpool, Prisoner Of Zenda Inc., Dead Like Me and the TV movies Murder In My Mind, Ladies and the Champs, MVP II: Most Valuable Primate, and Live From Baghdad. He performed the lead role in The Love Charm, a half-hour independent film which won the Best Short Film Award at the Leo Awards (Vancouver). The actor also co-starred in the TV movie Prince of Mirrors: The Rich Donato Story, and Mermaid (starring Ellen Burstyn) in which he played a supporting lead role.
The six-foot, brown-haired Kaye comes by his flamboyance naturally, since he counts Captain Blood - the infamous model for Errol Flynn's most swashbuckling role - as one of his family ancestors
1. Transformers Energon (2004) - Megatron
2. SoulTaker (2003) - Zabo
3. MegaMan: NT Warrior (2003) - ProtoMan
4. Inuyasha (2002) - Sesshomaru
5. Transformers: Armada (2002) - Megatron
6. Zoids (2001) - Count (Leader of the Backdraft Group)
7. Mobile Suit Gundam (2001) - Char Aznable / Caspar Zeon Daikun
8. Kong (2001) - Prof. Ramon De La Porta
9. X-Men: Evolution (2000) - Prof.Charles F. Xavier
10. Gundam Wing (2000) - Treize Khushrenada
11. Kong: The Animated Series (2000) - Voice of Professor Ramon De La Porta
12. Beast Machines (1999) - Megatron
13. Beast Machines: Transformers (1999) - Megatron/Noble
14. Monster Rancher (1999) - Mono the Monolith
15. RoboCop: Alpha Commando (1998) - Additional Voices
16. Cold Squad (1998) - Daniel Wilkie
17. Mummies Alive! (1997) - Talos / Additional Voices
18. Dragonball Z (1996) - Recoome / Burter
19. Beast Wars (1996) - Megatron
20. Skysurfer Strike Force (1995) - the voice of Jack "Skysurfer 1" Hollister / Noxious [ 2 ]
21. Ronin Warriors (1995) - Narrator
22. Kishin Corps (1995) - Daisaku Sakaki
23. Street Fighter: the Animated Series (1995) - Akuma
24. Ranma 1/2 (1989) - Soun Tendo
25. Eat-Man '98 - Bolt Clank
26. Fat Dog Mendoza - Additional Voices
Guest Starring Roles
1. X-Men: Evolution - Apocalypse - Ascension (1) (2003)
2. Dead Like Me - Brad - Pilot (2 hours) (2003) 3. Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law - Announcer, Officer - Deadomutt (2) (2003)
4. Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law - Officer - Deadomutt (1) (2003)
5. Jackie Chan Adventures - Santa / Elvin Elf - A Jolly J-Team Xmas (2002)
6. The Twilight Zone (2002) - Mr. Cromwell - Future Trade
7. Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction - - Episode 41 (2002)
8. The Lone Gunmen - Pilot - Pilot (2001)
9. X-Men: Evolution - Sgt. Hawk - Survival of the Fittest (2001)
10. The Outer Limits - - Down to Earth (2000)
11. Beast Machines - Noble - Prometheus Unbound (2000)
12. Beast Machines - Noble - Savage Noble (2000)
13. Monster Rancher - Monolith - Moo Revealed (1999)
14. So Weird - Kevin Barret - Nightmare (1999)
15. Ranma 1/2 - Gambling King - The Dumbest Bet in History! (1999)
16. ReBoot - Head Spectrol (voice) - Where No Sprite Has Gone Before (1999)
17. Viper - Mayor Tillman - Seminar from Hell (1999)
18. Dead Man's Gun - Prof. James Bevington - The Collector (1998)
19. Viper - John Gibson - What Makes Sammy Chun (1998)
20. The Sentinel - Agent Danforth - Red Ice (1997)
21. The Outer Limits - News Anchor - Music of the Spheres (1997)
22. The X-Files - The Doctor - Apocrypha (2) (1996)
23. Strange Luck - Sanders - Last Chance (1995)
24. Sliders - Reporter #1 - The Prince of Wails (1995)
25. The X-Files - Reporter - Firewalker (1994)
26. M.A.N.T.I.S. - Brandon Murphey - Tango Blue (1994)
27. Ranma 1/2 - Gambling King - Tendo Family Christmas Scramble (1993)
28. Breaking News - Rick Feldman [Darci's agent] - I24gate (0)
1. Baby Geniuses 2: Superbabies (2003) - Kahuna (voice)
2. Mobile Suit Gundam:Char's Counterattack (2002) - Char Aznable
3. Barbie as Rapunzel (2002) (1997) - Hugo/General (voice)
4. Live From Baghdad (2002) - Ben Dupont
5. Sanctimony (2002) - Tom's Attorney
6. Video Voyeur: The Susan Wilson Story (2002) - Lavalle Salomon
7. Ladies and The Champ (2001) - Bud Brickner
8. Ladies and the Champ (2001) (2001) - Bud Brickner
9. MVP 2 (Most Vertical Primate) (2001) - Dave Bruce
10. Casper's Haunted Christmas (2000) - Narrator (voice)
11. Mermaid (2000) - Wade
12. Mobile Suit Gundaming: The Movie - Endless Waltz (2000) - Additional voices
13. Escape From Mars (1999) - Steve Yaffe
14. In a Class of His Own (1999)- Lance
15. Roswell: The Aliens Attack (1999) - Radio voice over
16. Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge (1998) - Pyron
17. Dragon Ball Z - Recoome / Burter