Interviews: Scott McNeil (11/99)

in Beast Wars, Interviews

1. Please tell us a bit about your background.
I was born in Vancouver but moved to Australia shortly after that. Stayed there until I was three years old and then came back to Vancouver where I was raised and received my education.

2. What training did you undergo to become an actor?
Spent three years in full time theater school in Vancouver. That was followed by another four to five years in ongoing training with acting coaches and other such instructors.

3. What type of education would you recommend for someone to become involved in if they wish to pursue acting as a career?
Pursue some level of higher education, preferably in acting. I went through eight to nine years of "paying my dues" until I reached a level of success. Don't expect a "flash in the pan" to happen overnight. This is a profession you have to work at to succeed in.

4. When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
My first time on stage was when I was four years old in a school show. Years later, I did high school plays and plays outside of High School. My original intention was to become a stage actor. I even studied Shakespearan theater. My voice acting career began about eleven years ago, starting with a radio play that a friend wrote. Eventually, after a few auditions I met Doug Parker, who was casting G.I. Joe at the time. I got my first big animated series with "The New Adventures of He-Man" as four different characters as voice work began to flow into Vancouver.

In many ways, I believe voice acting is the most pure form of acting. You don't have just your "eyes" or "body" to convey your acting, it's all in the throat. I think the Mainframe animators have changed that slightly since their animation gives the characters such wonderful expressions. They actually taped a lot of the physical motions we make in the studio and worked them into the character's motions to help make them distinctive characters.

5. What "pre-Beast Wars" role was your favorite?
Dead Eye Duck from Bucky O' Hare and the Toad Wars. The series only lasted thirteen episodes, but it was fun to do.

6. After three years of voicing characters on Beast Wars, how do you feel about having been a part of the Transformers "legend"?
We do our thing and come out and we aren't aware if there's an impact or not. The first time I got an inkling was when I saw your site and saw the impact and then Botcon drove the point home. It definitely felt like I was a part of something, and in most animated shows, you don't usually get that type of feedback. Shows disappear and appear all the time.

7. Have you ever seen the original Transformers show? If so, what did you think of it?
I had, but at that time I was a bit older. I thought it was impressive, especially with the toy tie ins (which at that point only Masters of the Universe and G.I. Joe did as well). It is an industry standard to have toys for a cartoon now, but not back then.

8. Have you ever played with the original Transformers toys? If so, what did you think of them?
I have actually, but I couldn't figure the things out. I needed an eight year old to help me out! With the new Beast Wars toys, my nephew (one of the biggest Beasties fans around) showed me a toy, I couldn't figure it out but he did it in no time!

9. How is it working with an ensemble cast such as that on Beast Wars Transformers?
I love it. Most shows are done that way with a bunch of actors in the studio. I prefer it over being alone in the studio. I have fun at work and get up every morning enthusiastic about it. Sometimes if another actor can't be in the session, other actors will read lines in for the scene which really helps the flow of the acting. It's always nice to have someone reading back lines to you than just being in a booth alone.

10. What is your favorite episode of Beast Wars Transformers? Any particular reason?
The series is so well done, it's hard to say. Despite what a lot of fans say, I thought "The Low Road" was funny as hell. "Code of Hero" was a favorite of course, but it was difficult to do with all the joking around in the studio! I would say "Hey, cut it out, I'm trying to die over here!" as the others were laughing up a storm.

11. Are you surprised at all at the fan reaction to Transformers and the actors who voice them?
I'm hugely surprised. It's also interesting to see that parents are beginning to get drawn into the world of fans as well. When I did "Mummies Alive", I found two little girls with father who have set up site for show. TV may be doing something right for a change.