Jeffrey Harris: What can you tell us about your character in Transformers: Rescue Bots, Heatwave?
Steven Blum: Well, he's brave, loyal, cranky, holds a lot of water, and gets to say cool things like… "Rescue Bots, Roll to the Rescue!" It's nice to play a heroic character without so much baggage. And a true joy to be able to bring the Transformers universe to a new generation in a family friendly, but hugely entertaining way.
Jeffrey Harris: When you got the role to play Starscream in Transformers: Prime, was there a certain way you wanted Starscream to sound or a specific vocal quality or characteristic for him to have?
Steven Blum: Like any character I approach, I start with the first voice that comes to me. I rely heavily on instinct, and through the years it's served me well. With Starscream, I knew the sound of the character's previous incarnations (i.e. Chris Latta, Tom Kenny, Charlie Adler, etc.), and wanted to give it my own take. The character design is different in Prime, hence the deeper snark and violence, but when I can, I pay a bit of vocal homage to my predecessors. Out of respect for them and for the fans. Fortunately, it seems to have worked out.
Jeffrey Harris: Starscream always manages to get out of scraps by the skin of his bolts but just barely. Does Starscream just have the devil's luck or is he really that smart and resourceful?
Steven Blum: A dollop of both, I believe. He's a bright, powerful, and dangerous bot! He simply makes bad choices. Maybe if he had been hugged more when he was a little scraplet . . .
Jeffrey Harris: What was it like going to BotCon last year and doing a live reading on stage with the likes of Jeffrey Combs, Ernie Hudson, Peter Cullen, and the rest of the Transformers: Prime cast?
Steven Blum: Oh my God. One of the best moments I can remember! Before I comment on that particular day though, let me take this opportunity to give some props to my cast mates…
Andy Pessoa (Raf) – what a great kid. Very professional, very smart and always enthusiastic. It's a challenging role and he does it extremely well. I learn a lot from him. Especially about air soft weapons. Dude knows his stuff.
Tanya Gunadi (Miko) - Ok, let's face it. She IS Miko! Mischievous, funny, adorable. Sometimes I can't handle all the cute. I want to adopt her.
Josh Keaton (Jack) – I'm a big fan of Josh. Met him working on Spectacular Spiderman (he's Spidey) and have loved his work ever since. He's become a good friend. One of the coolest people I know.
Jeffrey Combs (Ratchet). WOW. I used to work as a mailroom clerk and driver for the company that made the classic horror film Re-Animator (Jeff was the star) back in the 80's. Even though he was the star of our biggest film, Jeff was a gentleman then and still is. Seeing him as Poe in his one-act play "Nevermore" is transformational in itself, but NO-ONE could play Ratchet like Jeff. Great actor, great friend, great human. Kind of a geektastic full circle in my life to actually work beside him.
Kevin Michael Richardson (Bulkhead). One of my very favorite voice actors in the world, period. Giant, diverse, brilliant talent, and so funny, I have literally peed laughing when he gets on a roll. And one of the warmest hearts I've ever known. Bad boy in the studio, but man he makes it fun. He's family to me.
Peter (freaking) Cullen! (Optimus). That voice is NOT human. I worked opposite Peter for the old Toonami block of cartoon programming, but didn't get to work with him in the same room until this show. Peter is class, hilariously funny, insanely talented and amazingly kind, patient and enthusiastic, considering he's been doing this role for 751 years. Oh yeah, and he's a legend. Yeah, it doesn't suck working next to him.
Markie Post (June Darby – Jack's mom) To be honest, I had a huge crush on her for years from her hit show Night Court. I still can't believe I'm working with her! She definitely classes up the room.
Ernie Hudson (Fowler). Love that man! Have since Ghostbusters. He surprised me the most, I think. Here's a celebrity, who comes in very quiet, with no attitude, delivers an understated performance, and in the finished production, his character stands out as funny, bold, stupidly brave, and incredibly entertaining. Top that off with the fact that he's a really nice guy, and wow. Just wow.
So that was the group that performed at Botcon. I need a whole other interview to talk about the rest of the cast. Among them are my all time V/O heroes (Frank Welker, Daran Norris, Clancy Brown) and my new favorite female badass of all time – Sumalee Montano (Arcee) (I'm buying her action figure). But I'll gush on them another time.
Anyway, what was it like doing a live read with this cast at Botcon? Still gives me chills. I'm thrilled that the diehard TF fans have embraced our show with such excitement. Kudos and thanks also to our producers, directors, writers, artists and crew for mixing up this masterpiece and letting me come along for the ride.
Jeffrey Harris: You've actually played quite a few Cybertronians actually going back many years, but at the end of the day does your heart belong to Starscream?
Steven Blum: Um, yeah. I'm so honored to be any part of the Transformers universe, but Starscream is probably my favorite *NaughtyCon of all time. (*coined by Frank).
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