Scott McNeil Interview
Reprinted from Animerica magazine, Vol. 4, No.11 (November 1996) This article appears for informational purposes only.

Yep, that's right, it's Piccolo's NA voice actor! Scott was interviewed by Animerica a couple years back, and he had a bunch to say about his career, his methods, and the state of the voice acting business.

Before you read the following interview, I'd like to warn you about a few things from the outset. First, he doesn't mention Dragon Ball Z at all, and I'm assuming that's because the interview was conducted before he was cast in the show. Second, the interview is primarily biographical. And third, it's fairly lengthy. For those reasons, many of you probably won't be interested in it. But for those of you (like me) who are fans of his work in DBZ and other shows (Beast Wars, Mega Man, Ranma 1/2, Monkey Magic, and dozens of others), I thought you might find it enjoyable.

Interviewed by: Toshifumi Yoshida
What are some of your previous voice-over roles that you've done? The ones you would consider to be your major rolse.
You know, I actually had my voice-over resume in my pocket today. Um... Transormers: Beast Wars, we've just been doing, CGI. "Dinobot," "Rattrap," and "Waspinator." That one's gonna be huge--it's all computer-animated. Reboot, I worked on, ah... Conan the Adventurer, G.I. Joe...
Didn't you do "Rath Amon,"...?
"Rath Amon," from Conan the Adventurer, Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars, The New Adventures of He-Man, Double Dragon...
You play "Jimmy," or...?
"Jimmy." "Jimmy" and "Sickle" on Double Dragon. Lord, what else? Hurricanes, and...
Do you ever get the leads?
No, I never get the leads, I never get the guy who, you know, the series is named after. I always play like the best friend of the guy who the series is named after.
Or the bad guy
Yeah, that's true, I do play a lot of bad guys. I like bad guys.
In Mega Man you had a couple of...
In Mega Man I was [DR. WILY VOICE] the evil "Dr. Wily"! [MANIACAL LAUGHTER] and "Protoman."
All the bad guys.
Oh yeah, bad guys are us. "Rath Amon" was fun, Rath Amon was my first foray from the [DUMB SIDEKICK VOICE] Duh... what are we gonna do now, boss? to actually being the ["RATH AMON" VOICE] the cruel one in charge. [SATISFIED LAUGHTER]
Your favorite movie or movies of all time...?
Of all time? I think the funniest movie ever made was The Producers. That and/or The Party starring Peter Sellers. I don't really have favorite anythings. I hate "favorite" questions.
Well anyway...what was your favorite cartoon when you were growing up?
When I was growing up...that's assuming that I actually have grown up now. I liked all Warner Brothers stuff. When I first saw it when I was really really little, I wasn't crazy about Rocky and Bullwinkle, ["BULLWINKLE" VOICE] because I think it was too sophisticated, I didn't quite get all the jokes. ["BEATLES" VOICE] When I was a young man, young, early, early, you know, like nine or ten, Battle of the Planets used to be on. And I loved that show. I don't know why, I just loved it.
That was Japanese animation
Yeah, I know.
They cut bits and pieces of that one...all the death scenes were cut out.
Really? So that was actually ADR, then? [Automatic Dialogue Replacement]
Yeah, they killed off one of the main characters in the last episode, then brought him back...
[GASP] So all the neat stuff got cut out.
What did you want to do when you grew up?
Again, you're making the assumption that I grew up. I knew from an early, early age that I was going to be ["STAGE" VOICE] an actor. I started doing stage stuff when I was three years old, and I always knew. The last thing I honestly expected I was going to be when I was growing up was a cartoon voice-over actor. 'Cause who knew you could? Now I'm doing for a living what I used to get kicked out of school for.
Who was your childhood hero?
I wasn't a big-on-heroes kind of kid. I was one of those geeky kids that read a lot.
You're kidding.
Oh no. Not at all. Fat geeky kid. Books. [WOODY ALLEN VOICE] I was a bookish little nebbish kid, wasn't very popular. Lots of imagination. So, I don't know, authors, I guess. Like Jules Verne. I read each and every one of the Tarzan books, oh twenty, or thirty times when I was a kid, all twenty-four of them. Sort of gung-ho adventure kinds of stories, or anything--I read anything I could get my hands on.
What about hobbies?
Now? Well, bowling--I'm a league bowler--working on my house, renovating away there, working on my motorcycle, renovating away there.
You seem to be a real Harley man.
Oh yes. Listen to the squeak of the leather. [SQUEAKING NOISES]
Do you believe in love at first sight?
I would have to say yes, actually. If not exactly love at first sight, at least connection at first sight. Because the day that I sort of connected with my wife, I knew that we would end up together forever and ever. Therefore I put off all contact with her for like a year, because it was my one time for being a single man in my life. And damned if I was gonna give that up at that point. But right off the bat, I knew if we ever kissed...that's it, we're together forever, so I stalled as long as I could.
Do you ever watch soap operas?
[LAUGHS] No. I watched the tail end of The Young and the Restless last night because my wife got off work early. [SOAP VOICES] Oh, Brick...Oh, no! Oh, Monica, how could you? But I've got double amnesia! But in fact I'm a twin! [NORMAL VOICE] I don't like soap operas.
What do you most remember about your first love?
["BEATLES" VOICE] Me first love? Me first swerious love, I mean I had a girlfriend when I was like in Grade Four...[TOUGH-GUY VOICE] My first love, alright, let's get right to the chase. Cheryl Thompson, Grade Three. I was crazy about her. Oh yes, I was. She wouldn't give me the time of day! Then, they had a fair at Queen Elizabeth mall. Suddenly, sweetly, she asked me to take her to the fair. "Okay," I say, my little heart going pitter-patter, pitter-patter. I go to my bank...my bank account, my wealth, my sum total of wealth in life--four dollars! I take out three dollars of my...my life savings! I take her to the fair, [SOB] I spend all my money, and she leaves me. She used me. She used me! But I'm really pretty much over that now. It's true...god, that's pathetic!
How did you get started in voice acting?
Voice is something I've always done, I mean, I literally used to get in trouble in school in Grade One for doing goofy stuff. I'd been a professional actor--a largely unemployed professional actor for a number of years in town--and people kept going, "You do these voices, you should be doing voices!" Which at that point meant doing radio spots. So I phoned up my agent and said, "Look, you know, this is goofy, I can do it, so find out what's happening in the way of voice-over."
What was your first role?
First thing I went out for commercially was a Levi's ad, and they wanted a "Jim Burns" type, and I walked in just as Jim Burns was walking out...well that was neat. But at that audition I met Doug Parker, and this was just when the industry was starting in Vancouver, and we started just talking, and I said just the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, to the right person, and it was like, "God, I wish I'd met you before, I just cast this"--I think it was G.I. Joe, actually--and I was like, "Woah, you mean that's done, like cartoons?" Then I auditioned for another thing and got it, which was The New Adventures of He- Man, and so for like 65 episodes of that I was "Flipshod," "Cracks," "Visor" and "Butthead," or as we had to say for the networks, "BH." And it just sort of escalated from there, and in a couple of years I was one of the crusty old veterans of the industry.
Do you do anything special to prepare yourself for a role? Research?
Yeah, I smoke a lot, and I drink a lot of coffee. Sometimes I come in drunk...Ohmigod, is this thing on? To prepare myself for a role? Other than just reading--I'll get the script like a day or two in advance...are you talking about an audition or a role?
Well, for a role, once I've got the thing, I like to be familiar with the scripts--I read the scripts, I want to know exactly what's going on, exactly where the storyline is going. And then figuring out how I interact to everything, what my character's basis is...in a lot of respects it's like preparing for any acting job. And then go in, and BAM, do it.
When you're doing a characer translated from the Japanese, do you like to go out on your own, or hear how the Japanese actor handled it?
I do like to hear the Japanese actor, actually. If it's like a show like this one, where it's kind of a live-action type of show. [This interview took place during the recording of Galaxy Express 999] It isn't like one of the [WACKY CARTOON VOICE] total zany, cartoony ones, you know, where you can just come up with your own stuff [NORMAL VOICE] but the reality-based ones, yeah, because I think that gives you a very good indication of what the animators and original directors and producers were trying to get across with that character. You know, so you can get an idea of the tonality of the guy, whether he's a loud, screaming guy, or quiet, gritty, intense, whatever. But yes, I don't know if other people do, but generally I like to hear a little bit.
With all the voice-acting you do, do you ever watch the series you're in?
You think I'm up that early? Yeah, I do, actually. If you're doing a run where there's sixty-five episodes of a show, I don't necessarily see them all. But yeah, I get excited about every show...Ooooh, it's on! It's on! I get to see what it looks like. Whee...! So, you know, if nothing else, I make sure I watch the first few, and I tape the first bunch, I'm not necessarily gonna tape all of them. But yeah, I love watching 'em.
And you watched animation before you got into voice-acting.
Oh yeah, I still do. That's one of the great excuses of my work. I'm not wasting my time watching cartoons, I'm doing research.
That's right, I watch cartoons and read comics and get paid for it. That's what I always tell my mother. On a new subject, what type of characters do you normally find yourself going out for? Everything?
Yes, I'm very lucky, because I'm sort of at the perfect position, rangewise, for voice-over actors. I can play the young, manly hero guys, all those sort of straight, action characters, and also can do the real zany goofball, cartoony voices [HIGH, TINNY VOICE] you know, the tiny, high-end voices, whereas I can also [LOW, HUSKY VOICE] drop right down and do all the...Uuugh! [NORMAL] So, when I go in and audition for a part--ask any actor who's ever had to follow me in--I read for every single character that's on the script. That way the law of averages will dictate that something will perhaps stick.
Do you have a favorite character that you've ever played?
I have a couple--"Deadeye Duck" from Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars. He was a riot, and that was actually the one show that most sort of adult people will, like..."What shows do you do?" "Well, I've worked on blah, blah, blah, Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars." "Really? REALLY?" Because that one was based on a really strong graphic novel, and some people really dug it. "Really, you were 'Deadeye,' oh, wow..."
What's the strangest role you've ever played?
Strangest role I've ever played was on one of those Japanese ADR shows, where I played a woman, except that she probably weighed about 890 pounds, the most, buff, bodybuilder ["AHNOLD" VOICE] huge...massive...BEAST!
That must have been Project A-ko.
Yeah, that's right. I was going, Well, I got the Captain part out of that, and then I'm looking at the thing, going, "That's not a...whah?" I got weird information from my agent and whatnot, so I came down and said, "I'm playing this character and I think it's a woman...?" So that was one of the weirder ones.
Of you live-action work, you've been in Highlander...I've seen you get killed by MacLeod.
That's right. [SCOTTISH VOICE] Bisected by MacLeod, my cousin. Bastard. Almost everything I do on television, I end up dying.
Like what?
Oh, like every show I've ever worked on. Actually, no, on The Commish, Highlander I did, boom, bang, shot. The last gig I did was an Outer Limits, and I took it specifically because it was an interesting way to die. "Well, I've been shot, I've been stabbed, I've been beheaded, I've been bisected, I've been hit by...Oooh, vaporized by aliens. That's good. I've never done that one yet." It's going to be my biography...A Million Ways to Die.
You had that one major role in a TV movie, back when your hair was still long...
Sleeping With Strangers? That was actually a real-live feature-type film. Hell, it's on Super Channel all the time now.
Was that a Canadian feature?
Yeah, it was a Canadian/British co-production. That was fun, 'cause I got to play someone who was totally fun, totally, likeable, a comedy character and he didn't get shot at the end.
How do you think voice-acting compares to live-action work?
Voice-acting is pound-for-pound, the most fun, I think, you can have. Because it's just fun and it's silliness. Television--to be perfectly frank, most of the television roles are pretty dang two-dimensional, like "Hey, have you got the stuff?" "Right, yeah, oogh, aaah." So TV you do kinda for work. Stage and cartoons are the two things that I prefer to do that I get the most pleasure out of doing. 'Cause cartoons are just fun. It's just goofy--I get to act like a kid and get paid for it.
Do you get fan mail?
Uh...no. I have got one, I got a couple of requests for autographed pictures from people in New York in L.A. and whatnot, for cartoon stuff, I think. There's guys that just scan the credits of every single TV show, and every name they see, if they haven't heard of it, they write that one down, they find out where that person's from, they find out their agency and they phone...they must have warehouses full of autographed pictures, thinking, "Well, if they make it big, then I'll have all these pictures that I can sell for big bucks." So they're trading in autograph futures.
Do you have a closing message, or any words of advice for aspiring voice actors?
Don't do it man! God, no...there's too many of us! No, really, practice, practice, practice, listen, listen, listen...'cause the most important thing you've gotta have, probably, is an ear. Watch cartoons, find out what's working, what's happening. There're some really good actors who've tried to get into animation and they just suck at it, 'cause it's a different energy--it's a different approach to acting, it's a different style. And so, watch cartoons, learn, practice. Be the guy who sits there at the stoplight in your car making insane...that's where I've come up with virtually every voice that I invent. It happens in the car.
Or on your Harley.
Hardly on the Harley, 'cause if you do that you get bugs flying in your throat, which gives you a unique kind of quality, but one that's hard to reproduct in the session. But yea, do that, get a tape together, get an agent, start pounding it out and dropping off tapes. If you get a chance to--this is something I advise a lot of people--find out which shows are being recorded in your hometown, or in the area closest to you. Then get in touch with the studio or the production companies, and find out if you can just come down and sit in the control booth and watch, sit in on the sessions. 'Cause you'll probably learn more that way than doing all the workshops...but workshops are also a great idea because they give you on-microphone experience.
Fan mail for Scott McNeil can be sent c/o: Northern Exposure Talent Management Group, Suite 6, 1155 Melville Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6E 4C4.

Whew! Typing that was utter HFIL! I had no idea that was going to be so monstrous! Well, I got started so I couldn't stop halfway through, could I? Anyway, I don't have much more to say since this interview isn't really about DBZ. Pretty interesting though, wasn't it? Seeing "the man behind the voice" is always kind of a nifty experience.

Too bad he jinxed himself by saying that none of his characters had ever died by being vaporized by aliens...

Heh. See you next time!