Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek

Transformers News: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek

Monday, January 8th, 2018 1:40AM CST

Categories: Cartoon News, People News, Digital Media News, Interviews
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Recently Den of Geek did an interview with the one and only Peter Cullen. In the article he talks about his role as Optimus Prime and Ironhide throughout the franchise, including the most recent Titans Return animated series. He reflects on the moment when he got word that Optimus would be written out of the Transformers: The Movie (1986). He goes on to talk about how he portrays Optimus and Ironhide in the live action films by Michael Bay.

He later gives some advice in the article to those who aspire to be voice actors. It is worth the read for those who are thinking about being the voice of a character in a show. If you would like to check out Peter Cullen's latest work, Transformers Prime Wars: Titans Return is available on Go90.com.



I was a 1980s kid, and I remember seeing Transformers: The Movie and just being devastated by the death of Optimus Prime. How did you first find out about this plot point, and after Optimus died did you find yourself grieving for the character?

I was stunned when I first read about it. I was reading the script, getting ready to go into recording. I was with Frank Welker and I got to the page, and I just read it and when the dust settled in my brain, i said "wait a minute, this is it, I’m not coming back. Oh damn." Or whatever curse words were available at the time, I chose those that were appropriate.

It was disappointment for sure. As an actor you either learn to put up with rejections or disappointments or you’ll break, you'll succumb. I'm used to that. Most actors are used to that, getting hired for something that means a lot to them. You hope, you hope, you hope. Your hopes shouldn't be dashed because you didn’t get the part. But in my case I was a little disgruntled because there was no explanation, there was no intended meaning behind it, other than years later to find out they were just trying to create a new character to sell more toys. But at the time you interpret that as being “my character sucks, God I must have been terrible in this role.”

We didn’t get fan mail. I never received a letter of fan mail although I was told it did come. And we didn’t have the internet so there was no thermomenter to judge how popular or unpopular something was. So move on, go on to the next job.

Of course now you realize how beloved Optimus is. Jumping ahead a few years when you were first cast for the Michael Bay Transformers movie, was your approach to the film version of Optimus different than his cartoon counterpart?

I think the answer is a two-fold answer. The character traits were ultimately for me going to be the same, but how to enact them and make the change from a small television screen with painted pictures to a full-on, blown up 45-foot character who is talking to human beings in real-life form in a believable way, that was something that had to be contended with. And I might add that Michael Bay and the people in his department were very concerned whether or not Peter Cullen could act. In other words could he act in a real-life situation and the way they were going to conceive it and portray it?

I had to audition a total of three times, they weren’t quite convinced. I don’t blame them, because at the audition Michael asked me if I played any other characters and I said yes, I played Ironhide and Ironhide had a scene with Optimus Prime. There was a girl reading Ironhide not giving it any dimension. I assumed that Michael Bay was at least aware of some of these characters so I said “if you don’t mind I’d like to read that part, I did him two and half years on the television series." She said ok.
Credit(s): Denofgeek.com
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Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930428)
Posted by Sabrblade on January 8th, 2018 @ 7:41am CST
Jess Harnell was Movie Ironhide. Cullen just read Ironhide's lines during his audition for Optimus.
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930577)
Posted by King Kuuga on January 9th, 2018 @ 6:36am CST
It's Tuesday, where's episode 10? Did I miss a memo about its delay?
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930578)
Posted by Sabrblade on January 9th, 2018 @ 6:44am CST
Surprisingly, it isn't up yet on go90.
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930593)
Posted by Autobot N on January 9th, 2018 @ 8:53am CST
Episode is up now.

Windblade wrote:Somebody explain what just happened!
Sums up what I think of the series so far.
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930597)
Posted by o.supreme on January 9th, 2018 @ 9:42am CST
"All Things Must Pass" ....so many jokes/puns could be made here, but I'll leave that for others...

Well, that was something. Actually something I think I may have not entirely disliked...not sure yet...It certainly did make the end of the battle with Trypticon anti-climactic, but in an odd way, I feel it was kind of like the end of LOTR. There was nothing really the armies of the world could do to stop Sauron, but the destruction of the One Ring did bring it all to an end, as did giving the Matrix to Trypscream.

Oh and we see Overlord, make sure you don't forget him :roll: . Megatron, what terrible language ;) . Also is that Mark Hamill voicing Megatronus? Just a shot in the dark, probably not, but just going by my initial instinct.

Are there any Mazinger fans here? I Initially thought of the Mikene Emperor with the flaming face, and oddly enough, Megatronus had a Mazinger-ish head in his robot form, which is again a completely new design not based on any previous rendition of Megatronus/The Fallen.

No surprise about Evil Rodimus, though they must have done this before getting renders from Hasbro about Rodimus Unicronus. Though the face-plate reveal in PotP could come complete with evil goatee.

This felt much more like Episode 1 of PotP than the end of TR, but it is what it is...Oh and it definitely was also very much like the end of Pirates of the Caribbean "Dead Man's Chest" (the 2nd one). -The Hero is dead, the Villain comes back and asks if the crew is willing to go to the place they need to go, to do the thing they need to do...It's just too bad that Optimus' Death means so little now, its pretty much a staple of every series.

I'll admit I'm more optimistic about PotP now, than I was for TR at the end of CW, but just a bit more. 8-) .
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930602)
Posted by MrBlack on January 9th, 2018 @ 10:48am CST
o.supreme wrote:"All Things Must Pass" ....so many jokes/puns could be made here, but I'll leave that for others...

Well, that was something. Actually something I think I may have not entirely disliked...not sure yet...It certainly did make the end of the battle with Trypticon anti-climactic, but in an odd way, I feel it was kind of like the end of LOTR. There was nothing really the armies of the world could do to stop Sauron, but the destruction of the One Ring did bring it all to an end, as did giving the Matrix to Trypscream.

Oh and we see Overlord, make sure you don't forget him :roll: . Megatron, what terrible language ;) . Also is that Mark Hamill voicing Megatronus? Just a shot in the dark, probably not, but just going by my initial instinct.

Are there any Mazinger fans here? I Initially thought of the Mikene Emperor with the flaming face, and oddly enough, Megatronus had a Mazinger-ish head in his robot form, which is again a completely new design not based on any previous rendition of Megatronus/The Fallen.

No surprise about Evil Rodimus, though they must have done this before getting renders from Hasbro about Rodimus Unicronus. Though the face-plate reveal in PotP could come complete with evil goatee.

This felt much more like Episode 1 of PotP than the end of TR, but it is what it is...Oh and it definitely was also very much like the end of Pirates of the Caribbean "Dead Man's Chest" (the 2nd one). -The Hero is dead, the Villain comes back and asks if the crew is willing to go to the place they need to go, to do the thing they need to do...It's just too bad that Optimus' Death means so little now, its pretty much a staple of every series.

I'll admit I'm more optimistic about PotP now, than I was for TR at the end of CW, but just a bit more. 8-) .

TFWiki credits Hamill for Megatronus. So, credit to Hasbro again for upping the voice budget.

His design definitely evokes Mazinger with the helmet and the neck spikes. I guess it looks a bit like the movie incarnation filtered through the RID art style.

Not sure what I think of this. It was certainly a bold way to end this chapter. Megatron continues to entertain, so I guess that's enough for me.
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930604)
Posted by o.supreme on January 9th, 2018 @ 10:53am CST
MrBlack wrote:TFWiki credits Hamill for Megatronus. So, credit to Hasbro again for upping the voice budget.


oh wow, I was right for once. ;) . Still this is not his first gig in Transformers, he was Chief Burns brother in Rescue Bots.
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930620)
Posted by Rysquad on January 9th, 2018 @ 1:11pm CST
When I saw this: https://i.imgur.com/JhKnYpL.png

I thought of this:



and this:

Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930658)
Posted by Burn on January 9th, 2018 @ 3:09pm CST
Final episode? You mean "How much can we cram into this one episode because we ran out of time?"

Just like that, Trypticon falls over dead, Ghost Starscream goes flying off, and a flaming eyes and mouth that made me wince.

Basically this entire series was a set up for Megatronus to get his hands on the Enigma of Combination and The Matrix? ugh ...

At least we got a glimpse of Rodimus Unicronus, I thought for sure they'd just skip over that little plot point.

Now that they've discovered more money for the voice actor budget, can they find some money for the script budget for PotP?
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930659)
Posted by Rysquad on January 9th, 2018 @ 3:15pm CST
Will there be a new Megatronus toy?
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930660)
Posted by o.supreme on January 9th, 2018 @ 3:17pm CST
Burn wrote:Now that they've discovered more money for the voice actor budget, can they find some money for the script budget for PotP?


Same writers....so I'm going to say no. But, to be fair, I'd say overall it was better than CW (I know not saying much...) But if the trend continues, we could actually, potentially, maybe...live in this crazy world where PotP may end up better then the worst of the Unicron Trilogy...( everybody's opinion of worst is different , so take your pick..) just sayin' ;)
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930664)
Posted by o.supreme on January 9th, 2018 @ 3:20pm CST
Rysquad wrote:Will there be a new Megatronus toy?


That was my initial thought, but Hasbro hasn't revealed anything beyond the Prime Masters as representing the Prime's themselves (Megatronus is said to be with Bomb-Burst in wave 3 of PotP). Though I must say that Megatronus had that "Toyetic" (points if you know where that's from) look.
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930669)
Posted by Bronzewolf on January 9th, 2018 @ 3:37pm CST
Another Tuesday brings another episode of Machinima's Titans Return animated series. We're finally up to the final episode this week, episode ten, and boy are we in for a big one. That's not necessarily saying it's good or bad, just that it's packed to the brim with new, interesting, and slightly confusing moments. So without further ado, let's take a look at the final episode of Titans Return!

We rejoin the action with Trypticon having just eaten Victorion, the Enigma of Combination, Perceptor, and the Matrix of Leadership. This is obviously too much power for even the giant Titan, so he automatically rejects them all, coughing up the two Autobots and the two relics. Starscream's ghost is also released from Trypticon's body, and he falls, having basically been turned into an empty shell. The former council member says his final words to the Megatron and the rest of the cast, and then disappears into the ether. Sort of an anti-climatic end to the main plot thread of the series, but it at least makes some sort of sense. For the first time in a few episodes, Overlord is shown again, now overlooking (badumtiss) the aftermath of the battle.


"Well ain't that downright...finger lickin' good."

Victorion tries to retake the Enigma, but it catches her on fire, burning her right forearm, an entire half of Dust Up (Who may or may not exist as a separate personality in this continuity, given this series' track record with Combiners), completely off.

She recoils from the attack as the fire spreads, creating a ring around both the Enigma and the Matrix. The fire climbs higher and creates the shape of a...fairly non-threatening smiley face?


"Children of my third cousin twice removed's wife's sister's bank teller!"

The Emoji from hell reveals himself to be some sort of God to the Transformers, and Optimus wants to defend Cybertron from his obvious evil intentions, but Megatron convinces Prime to let him talk to the mystical being first. As Megatron approaches, the being reveals himself to be none other than Megatronus. Megatron speaks to him, reminding the God that he has, for eternities, fought under his name with respect and honor, and united the Decepticons Megatronus created. Megatronus tells him to move on to his point, so Megatron continues.

I have a few issues with Megatron's speech here.

The first is that Megatron curses Megatronus, saying "Goddamn you!". It caught me so off guard that it totally pulled me out of the episode. I haven't really shared my thoughts on the PG-13 nature of this series' dialogue yet, so I'll throw those two cents in now. It's not the principle of swearing that bothers me specifically, I think it's fine to use for effect, but in this series it feels like they're including it just because they can. There's no drama to it, no anguish, it's just there. Not only that, but in this specific case it makes no sense, as he's the God doing the damning. Perhaps it would have been more of an effect had he said "Primus Damn you!" or something to that effect, referencing a power higher than Megatronus. I digress.

My second issue with this scene is Megatron himself. Megatron's voice actor is one of the best parts of both this series and its predecessor, Combiner Wars. The sarcastic and flippant take on the classic character is seriously one of the best Megatrons we've seen since G1, but in this specific scene, it doesn't completely work. He's lamenting to his God and Idol about all of these things he's done to try and honor Megatronus, but he still maintains his indifferent exterior. It actually would have been an interesting scene to have him perhaps become slightly vulnerable at the feet of his idol when he's so buffed against vulnerability toward everyone else. It would have deepened his character, and would have really shown that he felt betrayed about doing all these things to gain approval of Megatronus just to receive nothing in response.


It's awesome to see our podcast staff in official media...

Anyway, Optimus and Fort Max use this opportunity to try to attack Megatronus, and it ends, uh, very poorly.

Fort Max actually uses the Master Sword, which is pretty awesome to see in an American series, but Megatronus easily blocks his attacks. He then gets rushed by Prime, though Optimus is similarly no match for the god, and gets blasted through the chest by a lazer. Yep, we get to deal with this again.


Oh, guys, no. Why? Didn't Transformers: The Movie teach you anything about what happens when you kill Optimus Prime?

As the life drains from Optimus's eyes, Megatronus warns of an apocalyptic event that will bring an end to the Transformers. With that cryptic warning, he disappears. Megatron realizes he knows where to find Megatronus, and asks the rest of the team to follow him there, promising the new adventure for the cast in the next series.

Overlord is still on a nearby hill watching what's transpiring before him, and for one final twist to this huge episode, it's revealed to us that he has turned Hot Rod into Rodimus Unicronus. With that, the episode, and the series, ends.




While on the whole this was a very enjoyable episode, there were bits and pieces that irked me. Line deliveries, pacing issues, the norm for this series. It answered a few questions and ended a few plot threads, but started quite a few more, but does lead in to a cliffhanger to transition into Power of The Primes. The amount of new characters and plot twists has definitely peaked my interest, and was an exciting episode, but I feel that spreading some of them out over the past couple of episodes would have been better. Some of the more recent installments have felt a bit too dull and filler-like, but it did make for quite a nail-biting episode today, like I said. And if there's one thing you can say for these Machinima shows, they're always unpredictable.

Looking at the series as a whole, it was not bad by any stretch. I've maintained since the beginning that it is leagues ahead of Combiner Wars, and it really is. In voice talent, animation, pacing, even the mouth movements on the characters, everything is a huge improvement. I can say unequivocally this production team learned a lot from their past mistakes and tried to remedy some of them. There lies the problem, though: They didn't fix enough of them. The pacing still feels off, some of the conversations need, desperately, to feel more natural and flowing. Character movements need to be more natural, and need to express more emotion when someone's talking. It's all very close to being good, and they have made vast improvements and learned a lot, I just think they need to learn a bit more.


Thanks for reading this review, and, as always, please share your thoughts down in the Energon Pub forums. Sorry today's review was a tad longer than what I normally do, there was a lot to unpack. Tell me if you agree with the points I made, or if I'm way off base. See you later this year, with the release of Power of the Primes!
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930670)
Posted by Burn on January 9th, 2018 @ 3:39pm CST
o.supreme wrote:
Burn wrote:Now that they've discovered more money for the voice actor budget, can they find some money for the script budget for PotP?


Same writers....so I'm going to say no. But, to be fair, I'd say overall it was better than CW (I know not saying much...) But if the trend continues, we could actually, potentially, maybe...live in this crazy world where PotP may end up better then the worst of the Unicron Trilogy...( everybody's opinion of worst is different , so take your pick..) just sayin' ;)

Keep my expectations low then.
Not like it was going to be any other way.
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930671)
Posted by primalxconvoy on January 9th, 2018 @ 3:42pm CST
o.supreme wrote:Well It was kind of cool to see Fort Max as a fully powered Titan, able to stand up to Trypticon even with augmented Powers. Having Trypticons transformation again shrouded was disappointing. They should have just made this an actual animated series instead of a cheap web-series. Of course when I say full animated series, I mean with professional level writers, directors, animators etc...Yeah I know Hasbro would never go for it, that's why we cant have nice things.



I would have been happy with just an animated comic style affair, with great voice acting and some nice effects. There was a pretty good motion comic a while back about the War Within that seemed better than Machinima's efforts.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JPeHw4laWos
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930672)
Posted by o.supreme on January 9th, 2018 @ 3:47pm CST
Fan made videos are fine. I have ma favorites also.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYny1tadpPM

but, for better or worse, I always keep them separate form official media.
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930673)
Posted by primalxconvoy on January 9th, 2018 @ 3:54pm CST
o.supreme wrote:Fan made videos are fine. I have ma favorites also.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYny1tadpPM

but, for better or worse, I always keep them separate form official media.


I meant that Machinima could have used this style of animation to save money and spend more in the writing, visual effects, voice actors, length, etc.

Some might say that there are practically no differences in frame rate between a motion comic, and what we have got right now ;)
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930678)
Posted by chuckdawg1999 on January 9th, 2018 @ 4:30pm CST
I feel bad for the voice cast on POTP, because Joe's gonna kill them.
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930680)
Posted by o.supreme on January 9th, 2018 @ 4:37pm CST
chuckdawg1999 wrote:I feel bad for the voice cast on POTP, because Joe's gonna kill them.


I haven't watched rasslin' since 2002, so I have no idea who this guy is. After looking him up online, he seems like a good fit for Predaking.
Re: Peter Cullen Interviewed by Den of Geek (1930682)
Posted by Sabrblade on January 9th, 2018 @ 4:39pm CST
That wasn't even Rodimus Unicronus at the end. We got cheated out of even expecting that since that was just Nemesis Hot Rod.
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