The Voices: Talking to Yuri Lowenthal & Tara Platt

Talking to Yuri Lowenthal & Tara Platt

If you hadn’t heard, Superman relocated to Hollywood. He flies about town fighting the neverending battle. When not, he can be seen in a voice booth under the secret identities of Sasuske Uchia, Ben Tennyson or Bobby Drake. When he goes home, he’s greeted by Wonder Woman. She’s also been known to go to work as Temari of the Sunagakure or Dream Girl of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Actually, those are just some of the roles Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt, two of the fastest rising stars in the voice acting world have had in recent years. Since the turn of the millenium, they have been part of a brash new batch of voice actors whose roots were in anime, and are rapidly expanding into other arenas.

The fans are noticing it, too. When Yuri and Tara recently appeared at the recent Florida Supercon, the line at their table stretched out of the room, with fans asking for autographs on pictures of the characters they’ve voiced - anime, animation, gaming or otherwise.

The two have been married since 2002.

This interview was conducted just before the holidays. Here’s what they had to say:

Newsarama: It looks like you two started your careers around the same time.

Yuri Lowenthal

Yuri Lowenthal: It really started building up with the turn of the millenium. Both of us were working primarily in New York, doing theater, off-Broadway stuff and student/independent films that no one has ever seen. We even produced our own plays.

NRAMA:So when did you two finally feel like you’ve made it?

Tara Platt: It probably started around a year, year-and-a-half ago. That’s when we started to get asked to go to conventions and do autographs just because we are who we are. That’s when we started feeling like we were getting recognition for the overall work we were doing. Nothing really changed in our lives. We still have to work hard to make a living. It was just that change in the situation brought an added kind of ‘Oh! That’s kind of cool’ feeling.

YL: It was definitely took a while for the work to build up. Then we both hit a kind of point where the public started to pay attention to just who we are personally. It was also when we started getting different kinds of work. Personally, the first year when I started making enough money just from acting, by that I mean not doing anything else but acting, was around 2003.

TP: Yeah. That’s when I feel we did it. We’ve been basically doing nothing but for the last five years.

YL: Obviously, for the longest time, that’s always been the dream, to not have any other kind of job.

NRAMA:And how does it feel to be in that position?

BOTH: Great!

YL: Are you kidding me? It’s the dream and I’m thankful for it every day.

TP: Of course, it also always comes with a little bit of fear because we still never really know where the next job is coming. I always live with the feeling of ‘OK. I’ve done this so far but what’s next?’ It hasn’t gotten to the point where you go from this to this to this, and you’re almost assured longevity. We still have to figure out what we’re doing next January.

YL: I think where we are we’ve made getting more work about half of our job is hustling more work.

NRAMA:Would you say Naruto was what put the hammer to the head as far as recognition?

TP: Absolutely.

YL: As far as anime is concerned, yes. Not as much for other animation stuff. It’s funny. You never really know what show is going to hit, and that show was what did it for us.

NRAMA:Yes, but it seems like after Naruto, the bigger domestic studios started paying more attention to you and a lot of other members of that cast. I mean, after that Yuri, you started doing Superman in Legion and Ben 10. Tara, you also started doing Dream Girl in Legion. So do you think that got you name recognition?

TP: I don’t know. It’s hard to say because it felt like a whole lot of things came to a head at the same time. To us, it felt like we were building together and it all culminated simultaneously. I would say though the more recognition you get in one arena, the more other people start to pay attention to you in others. I wouldn’t be surprised that what happened was a lot of producers’ kids started watching the show and the producers started associating our names to the voices they heard. Next thing you know, we became familiar to them.

Tara Platt

It’s the same thing we try to do with on camera work. We try to take one success and use it to build another. Next thing you know, you become known for one thing and you do your best to make that work for you.

So I agree that it didn’t hurt us at all. I also will say that we’ve been slaving away for a while and it’s all happening simultaneously.

YL: I would just add to that. The line between anime and regular animation is very difficult to cross, even for people who have been doing anime successfully for years. I think it’s because we were pushing on all fronts. We just wanted more.

NRAMA:Well, isn’t always the ambition of a truly good actor to jump from one field to another?

BOTH: Yes.

NRAMA:Keeping on the Naruto front, you stated that you started recording Temari again. That means you must be working on the sequel, Shippuden

TP: It’s been awesome. What I enjoy about doing Temari is she’s now a bit more mature, she is a bit more aware of who her team are. After all, when Naruto started, they were all young kids. They were trying to make their mark on the world. For them, they were young ninjas and everything’s great as long as they were fighting.

Now the stakes have gotten so much greater. That means there is much more room for the emotional life of each character and relationships. Those elements, which were only hinted at before, are going to be a lot of fun to explore.

NRAMA: The Shippuden manga has been out for a while. Do you find it interesting to have fans asking you questions about things you haven’t even recorded yet?

YL: Absolutely! I honestly think the fans get excited telling us what’s going to happen even before we see the scripts. It’s safe to say they are pretty savvy at this point. They know they know more than we do. So they like giving us that information.

I mean it’s always easy to get the information if we want it because Viz is more than willing to give it to us. That doesn’t mean we want to have it either.

NRAMA:Tara, you mentioned at the convention that you loved playing Temari because you love playing characters that kick butt. Is that continuing in Shippuden?

TP: Definitely. Now that we’ve started doing the Shippuden stuff, I won’t say my character is fighting as much, but I am doing a lot of story. I mean we’ve just started. We’ve only done about five episodes that Temari’s been in. So I’m still in a position where I’m starting to verify what Temari’s role is in all of it. I’ve actually been learning a lot about what has happened to her in the last three years, where she has been going, what she’s done, who are the new people that are being introduced.

As many probably know, just about every character has moved up in rank except Naruto. So a lot of these little Genin ninjas are now more powerful than in the first series. So there’s a lot explaining going on. Also, there are hints of her having a relationship.

What I’m enjoying is in a way, Temari’s siblings and I, you know, Kankuro and Gaara, have kind of switched sides. They have become the good guys now. So there’s a lot of time spent on that and building that up. While I personally haven’t participated in a lot of action yet, I have the feeling that’s just around the corner and it’s going to be some really exciting stuff. I mean, if you read the manga, they are talking about the death of one of my siblings (Gaara). So there’s also some heavy emotional stuff going on.

YL: And if I’m not mistaken, Shippuden marks a time jump for a lot of the characters. So there is a lot of information to catch up on regarding every character.

NRAMA:Speaking of characters, Yuri, what about Sasuske? Have you gone back to the booth yet?

YL: Just a little bit. I’ve only done him twice, so far. One was for the very first episode, where there’s sort of a flash forward, a bit of what’s to come. You’re going to see that there’s some bad, bad coming. It’s very powerful stuff. I also was involved with what I think is Naruto having a hallucination. He imagines Sasuske and all the other people in his life. He hasn’t really come back full force yet.

NRAMA: So are Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Liam O’Brien and the rest of the crew still involved?

YL: As far as I know, except for some new characters, all the original production crew and voice cast are exactly the same.

NRAMA: This has turned into a very steady gig for you guys, that’s for sure.

TP: Yeah. No complaints here.

YL: Unless you’re a character like Sasuske who does one major arc then disappears for 60 episodes at a time.

NRAMA: Not that it’s been going against you, Mr. Superman and Tennyson.

TP: He’s always been the busy bee. Still, you should see what happens when he’s in front of a lot of fans. The character of Sasuske is still his best known, and so loved and hated at the same time.

What’s really funny is when kids come up to us and ask us what it’s like being a millionaire. I mean it’s really great that they are great fans of us, but the lifestyle still isn’t as awesome as they might think. They have this vision of Yuri working every day as Sasuske, making millions of dollars.

YL: What’s also something to think about, when you look at the character of Sasuske, he’s really the quiet, sullen guy. He doesn’t talk a lot anyway. So when it comes to me playing that character as opposed to someone like Maile Flanagan playing Naruto or Kate Higgins playing Sakura, it’s not a lot of work. They don’t have me standing in front of the microphone staring sullenly at the world. He’s more the Clint Eastwood type.

NRAMA: So what you say has to count.

YL: Exactly. And that role is what got me invited to a lot of conventions.

NRAMA: Moving on a little bit, you worked with Glen Murakami before in Teen Titans: Trouble In Tokyo. Now you’re working with him on Ben 10: Alien Force. What’s it like working with him?

YL: I love Glen to pieces because he’s a big nerd like me. We speak exactly the same language. I remember one of the things he said early on in Ben 10. You see we didn’t know each other that well. I had only a small part in Trouble In Tokyo, so I didn’t get that much time to forge a relationship with him.

So, getting into Ben 10, he told me that Ben was now a little bit older, not quite as prone to say a wisecrack like he would before. At the same time he said “I don’t want him to veer into the whining, Luke Skywalker ‘I got to go to this space station to pick up some moisture evaporators’ kind of character.” At that moment I fell in love with Glen Murakami. He knew exactly how to talk to me!

NRAMA: What about Dwayne McDuffie?

YL: Dwayne’s a little quieter when we go into session, but he always has input. He’s always there. He’s also a big geek and certainly speaks my language. It’s kind of a dream job in that respect. I go to work and get to hang out with nothing but my kind of guys!

NRAMA: How does it feel that Alien Force is renewed?

YL: We’ll see. I’ll ride it as long as I can.

NEXT COLUMN: We move on to Wolverine & The X-Men, Wonder Woman, their own production company and lots, lots more. .

4 KIDS STARTS NEW SKED THIS WEEKEND.

Last Weekend, 4Kids Entertainment, unveiled its new lineup of programs for TheCW4Kids, its five-hour children’s program block airing Saturday mornings (7:00 AM- Noon) on The CW television network..

On that date, Chaotic:Marrillian Invasion and Sonic X, two of the most popular series that aired in the 4KidsTV block on Fox, moved over to The CW. In addition, the live action Japanese import, Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight, and Huntik, a new series about a group of “seekers” traveling around the world in search of an ancient amulet with the power to control monsters, will premiere.

4Kids also announced the launch of a brand new video streaming portal at 4KidsTV.com. The portal will be home to many of the shows from 4Kids TV, the four-hour kids programming block currently airing Saturday mornings on Fox, which had its final broadcast the weekend of December 27th, 2008. The streaming video portal will also offer free streaming of many series from TheCW4Kids lineup, as well as exclusive content that can’t be seen anywhere else.

“TheCW4Kids’ 2009 lineup represents the strongest group of shows we could pack into ten half hour slots of programming,” said Norman Grossfeld, President, 4Kids Productions. “With several new series debuting in 2009 and a brand new streaming video portal for kids to watch their favorite 4Kids programs 24/7, 4Kids continues to offer compelling kids’ programming across all media.”

For more information about TheCW4Kids or to further explore the 2009 program lineup as well as the library of 4Kids series, visit www.CW4Kids.com.

TheCW4Kids 2009 Lineup (The CW Network) – Effective January 3, 2009

7:00AM - Will & Dewitt

7:30AM - The Spectacular Spider-man

8:00AM - Sonic X

8:30AM - GOGORIKI

9:00AM - Dinosaur King

9:30AM - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Back to the Sewer

10:00AM - Chaotic: M’arrillian Invasion

10:30AM - Huntik

11:00AM - Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s

11:30AM - Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight

MONSTERS V. ALIENS AT SUPER BOWL

DreamWorks Animation and PepsiCo’s SoBe Lifewater announced they have joined together with Intel Corporation and NBC to create a first-of-its kind, nationwide ‘Monstrous’ 3D event for Super Bowl XLIII. This first-ever all 3D Super Bowl commercial break event will mark the debut of DreamWorks Animation’s premier 3D movie trailer for its upcoming feature film, Monsters vs. Aliens, which comes to theaters in the U.S. on March 27th.

In addition, the timeslot will feature a 60-second 3D SoBe Lifewater commercial marking the return of the ultra-hip SoBe lizards. DreamWorks Animation’s history-making 3D movie trailer was animated using Intel’s latest, high-performance processing technologies and will be broadcasted along with the SoBe television spot at the end of the second quarter of the game, which airs on NBC on Sunday, February 1, 2009. Viewers will also have the opportunity to re-use their glasses for a special 3D episode of NBC’s hit comedy Chuck, airing Monday, February 2, 2009 (8-9pm ET.)

Intel has produced over 125 million pairs of 3D glasses, which are being distributed by PepsiCo through the SoBe Lifewater brand. The glasses will be disseminated via 25,000 SoBe Lifewater retail displays in grocery, drug and other retail venues beginning in early January and will be Free to consumers. Should a display’s supply of glasses run out, consumers can call 1-800-646-2904 in order to obtain a pair.

NBC viewers will be alerted to the SoBe Lifewater Super Bowl Displays via a series of tune-in spots airing beginning on January 19th. The SoBe Lizards and stars from DreamWorks’ Monsters vs. Aliens will dance alongside current NFL stars in what promises to be among the most highly-anticipated commercials on Super Sunday. The spot features a modern interpretation of the famed ballet Swan Lake, and the rhythmic effects when the players and creatures are infused with the refreshing and re-invigorating impact of SoBe Lifewater.

ANIBOOM ANNOUNCES NEW CONTEST WINNERS

The winners of the aniBoom Awards 3 were announced over the holiday season. The contest received entries from 1300 entries from 93 cities in 27 countries across the globe. After aniBoom’s immense online animation community and a panel of high profile judges voted, the grand prize was awarded to Joaquin Baldwin from Sherman Oaks, California for creating “Sebastian’s Voodoo,” a touching story of a voodoo doll who sacrifices himself for his friends.

As the grand prize winner, Baldwin will receive a $25,000 investment in commercial development and a distribution deal with aniBoom that will give him significant career-making exposure through a variety of outlets and channels. In addition to the grand prize, three Community Favorites, three Top Selections by the judges, and 50 community picks were also selected for prizing.

Following the highly successful Radiohead video contest, Baldwin was inspired to enter “Sebastian’s Voodoo” into the aniBoom Awards. Currently working on his Masters of Fine Arts at UCLA, Baldwin has been involved in computer animation since high school when he and friends would tinker with different programs and learn with the help of online tutorials.

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