Earlier this month I had the pleasure of interviewing some of the talent behind the new Ratchet and Clank movie out in theatres now. During that interview with Bella Thorne (Cora), James Arnold Taylor (Ratchet), and Director/Writer Kevin Munroe I learned 7 Things I didn't know about Ratchet and Clank.
Voicing a video game is very different than recording for film
James Arnold Taylor said the approach for voicing video games versus a film is pretty different, even though you might not think so.
“Video games, you’re isolated, you’re all alone; you’re recording in your little padded room, talking to yourself, just a director feeding you lines. And in the film, we got to work together,” said Taylor. “Jim Ward, who plays Captain Qwark, and of course David Kaye, doing a wonderful job as Clank, we all got to work together; and Kevin giving us direction—that was fun. Totally different than a video game. Animated series, you work like that. So it was wonderful that we got to do it that way.”
Encouraging people to follow their dreams is a core theme in Ratchet and Clank
“I think it’s pretty awesome,” said Taylor. “It’s this wonderful thing of the underdog. I kind of look at myself like that, too, as I’ve always wanted to do these things. It’s been my dream to be a voice actor since I was 4 years old. And here we are now with this. And I get to have my name on a poster with Bella Thorne. That’s pretty darn cool. So dream achieved. I think it’s really important. And I think it’s a wonderful theme that kids, and families, and families can go together and see this movie. And they can see that sometimes your heroes aren’t exactly what they thought, and you can still pursue your dreams, and be the good guy, and save the day.”
Snacks and being a bad-ass female character are the most fun part of the project
When Bella Thorne was asked what the most fun part of the project was, she said, “The snacks. The snacks. It’s very fun.”
“The most fun about playing it was probably playing like a bad ass female, getting to stress my personality to its limits, just because I wasn’t playing so different of a character from me.”
Taylor said she does an amazing job at it. He said he was afraid of her character, in every way. “It is great to be able to do that. That’s the most fun thing for me, is very similarly, being the character of Ratchet is my regular voice. And that’s kind of a first for me. I’ve been Fred Flintstone, and nobody expects Fred to come out of me, or Obi-Wan Kenobi. But Ratchet, I get to be me. It’s very cool to get to do that and get to work with these people and get to work with Kevin again. We worked together on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So it’s just been a blast to see this transition.”
Bella Thorne is a tomboy, just like Cora; Ratchet is an underdog kind of like James Arnold Taylor believes he is
“You probably can’t tell from the way I’m dressed,” said Thorne. “In my personal life, you know, I definitely wear what she’s wearing in the movie. She’s not afraid to boss Ratchet around. At the end of the day, she might, shoot first, and then ask questions later, which isn’t the best thing, but I think in her case it works. And at the end of the day she just wants what’s best for the team.
“It’s just one of those cool things,” said Taylor, “to walk into a character that really is the guy that’s the underdog, and he wants to do the right thing, and he wants to save the day. He wants to have everybody like him, but at the same time, he also wants to be doing cool things. And that’s kind of how I am, and that’s why I get to be a voice actor, because I get to be superheroes and stuff. And so it’s a great combination of life, and unreality.”
Voice recording in a studio with jewelry is noisy business
“When you’re acting, you’re not acting with just your voice; you’re acting with every part of you, which is really small things like, ‘Wow, would my character grab her hair this way? Maybe she wouldn’t because she’s very naïve, and she’s this, and this, and this’,” said Thorne. “There’s a lot of things that go into consideration. But really on this one, I’m watching a character and I’m just trying to be as most like her, make her come alive, as I can. So yeah, it’s pretty different [between recording voice in the studio and acting on screen], but I still use my body a lot because just in the fluctuations of your voice, they change so abruptly when you just move your shoulder forward, just the smallest bit. But the most annoying part was, I wear a lot of jewelry that’s under here. And every time, I’d be like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m gonna go kill him right now,’ then it would be like, ‘Clink, clink, clink, clink.’ That would be annoying.”
There are nods to the gamers in this movie
We noticed Sly Cooper and some other Easter Eggs in the movie.
Munroe mentioned that they were hoping to make some more Ratchet and Clank films. “A lot of it depends on how this does, because it’s a model,” said Munroe. “I get it. I get that we’re going in, and we’re saying we can take really successful video games, and tell really compelling stories that want to go to the theater and see, like the film version of it. We’re all ready to go. I think it’s just a matter of just waiting until someone says, ‘Yeah, we’re doing it’.”
Following your dreams and finding your dreams are other key take-aways from Ratchet and Clank
“Life will make you think that you’re supposed to be dreaming about something else, and really, if you just listen to yourself and know the things that make you happy, and know what you can do to make the world a better place, that’s what your dream should be,” said Munroe.
“And I think that’s totally what Ratchet learns in it. Not the big things, the right things.”
Ever want to know how talent makes it big or what inspires them? We asked them some questions of a more personal nature about what inspires them and how they balance it all.
A positive attitude gets you more opportunities
Taylor believes he’s gotten a lot of the opportunities he has because of his positive attitude.
He wrote a book “365 Daily Inspirations for the Pursuit of Your Dreams.” It’s a journal.
“I want other people to be able to achieve what I’ve achieved in my life, as a kid that sat there at 4 years old going, ‘I want to do voices,’ and I pursued it with a passion,” said Taylor. “And here it is. I tried to stay positive. I had a lot of crazy stuff going on around me as a kid, and stuff that kids shouldn’t see. And so I thought, ‘I want to stay positive.’ It was really what kept me alive in some of those instances. So I know for a fact that it plays a part in my life, and it plays a part in my career. And I’m so grateful to be here with these incredibly talented people.
On how Bella Thorne balances it all
“I guess you’d have to ask my manager’s assistant, Joey, because I don’t know. I don’t know how he puts it in the schedule, to be completely honest. I have a goals list that I just started on my phone, which is pretty cool. And I’m just trying to do everything. I make personal time for myself when I’m on sets, which is good,” said Thorne. “I’ll be on set, but then I’ll have, like, a buddy come by and spend time with me while I’m on set. So that’s kind of how I balance my personal relationships a bit more. But I just want to do everything, more directing and writing, specifically.
Big risks pay off
“Fred Flintstone [was the biggest risk that paid off] going for that, because nobody thought I could be the voice of Fred Flintstone, 5’4”, looking like Barney Rubble, you know. So the director literally looked over me in the first session. He went, ‘Where’s the actor? Where is—n no, not you—can you get…’ ‘It’s me.’ So it was a risk.
On Bella Thorne writing and directing her own film
“My goal was to have my first self-directed short film premiere at SXSW next year and hopefully some other festivals. I love the creative process. One of the unfortunate things about this film was this character was already created when I came in, and stepped foot inside her,” said Thorne. “So that was fun and interesting, but I would love to do some more live-action animation, where I actually get to go behind the scenes and really go and literally create this character, because anything behind the scenes, to me, is just so cool. I’m never in my trailer. I’m always right behind the director, seeing what he’s doing. They probably think I’m annoying.”
On best advice for wanting to be a voice actor
“When I was 19 years old, there was a fellow by the name of Don Messick,” said Taylor. “Now, some of you may know Don, but you certainly know his voice. He was Scooby Do. He was Papa Smurf. He was Mr. Ranger. He was Boo Boo Bear. And he lived not too far from me. I grew up in Santa Barbara, California. He lived there. And I was working in radio. And we did a commercial together in his home studio. And I went, ‘This is the best thing in the world. I’m gonna do that someday.’ So I called him up—he was in the phonebook. And I called him up after we worked together, and I said, ‘Hello, Mr. Messick, we worked together. And I was just wondering if maybe I could take you to breakfast some time, and I’ll buy it. You know, it’d be wonderful to talk to you about voiceover, and it’d be really great if you could just talk…’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, sure, fine.’ I went, ‘Okay.’ And he took me to breakfast, and talked to me, and told me stories about being Droopy Dog, and Scooby Do, and all of that. And it was so inspiring, and he was so wonderfully humble, and giving of his time. And I thought, ‘I gotta do that’.”
Ratchet and Clank Official Trailer:
Ratchet and Clank “Meet Clank” Clip:
Ratchet and Clank “Awesome” Clip:
Voice Cast: Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Bella Thorne, Rosario Dawson, Jim Ward, James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Armin Shimerman, and Sylvester Stallone
Directed by: Kevin Munroe
Written by: T.J. Fixman, Kevin Munroe, Gerry Swallow
Produced by: Kim Dent Wilder, Brad Foxhoven, David Wohl