Transformers Prime Q&A with Steve Blum

{mosimage}The Transformers Facebook page has posted the latest in a series of Q&A sessions with the cast of Transformers Prime, this time with Steve Blum, who voices Starscream in the series. Mr. Blum talks about his idols in voice acting, how he approached the role of Starscream and more.

View the Q&A here.


Edward C. Sizeland asks: How were you approached for the role? Given the nature of the character, as well as the history of the actors portraying him, how did you feel taking on that role?

STEVE BLUM: Along with all the other voice actors in the country, I auditioned from my home studio back in 2009, was fortunate enough to get a callback, and incredibly lucky to ultimately land it. This was one of the few characters in my career that I was actually nervous about. I have a huge respect for the franchise, for the fans of it and for the voice actors who originated the role. Taking on a character as iconic as Starscream is… in a word, humbling. I didn’t try to copy anything done before me, but I was well aware of the brilliance of my predecessors in their portrayals. Most notably in my mind – Chris Latta,Tom Kenny and Charlie Adler. I’m a huge fan of all three and Tom and Charlie are good friends of mine. Charlie is still voicing Starscream in the Movie franchise, so my first instinct upon getting the gig was to make sure Charlie was ok with it. I have tremendous respect and love for him as an actor and more importantly as my friend. I was relieved when he gave me his sincere blessing – and without a moment of hesitation. Class act, that guy. Anyway, that freed me to dive into Starscream head first and simply add another dimension to what had been done before me.
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Zach Fine asks: With Transformers voice credits ranging back to Robots in Disguise, to the recent video games, to Prime, and now Rescue Bots, do you believe your voice is becoming as iconic to the franchise as the likes of Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, and David Kaye?

STEVE BLUM: Ai yi yi! That’s a big question. Just to have my name uttered in the same paragraph as those guys still kinda gives me the 8-year-old fanboy squealies. I would never presume such a thing. I’m simply grateful to be part of it all and will continue to do what I can to honor the fans and creators of the show to the best of my ability. How my performance is ultimately perceived in the Transformers universe is up to you guys.
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Guy Cole asks: Do you always manage to leave the character behind when you leave the studio? Or have you ever had a little Starscream 'moment' afterwards?

STEVE BLUM: Funny question! If I do have Starscream ‘moments,’ it’s usually involuntary. It usually comes out when I’m by myself in my car, cursing in traffic in a stream of nasty non sequiturs. I would imagine Starscream’s internal dialogue would be very similar.
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Vera Didenko asks: My VO idols growing up included Mel Blanc, Casey Kasem, Charlie Adler, Jim Cummings, and Tress MacNeille. Who were your VO idols growing up?

STEVE BLUM: Well all of the above are WAY up there on my list too, among many of their contemporaries and successors. My earlier faves include June Foray, Sterling Holloway, Billy West, Peter Cullen, Maurice LaMarche, Rob Paulsen, Frank Oz, Jim Henson, Jack Angel, Paul Winchell, Don Messick, Daws Butler… WAY too many to name. In recent years, Tom Kenny, Bob Bergen, James Arnold Taylor, Kevin Michael Richardson, Tara Strong, Grey Delisle, John Dimaggio, Dee Baker, Jeff Bennett… ok, this list is impossibly long – and I LOVE the casts I’m working with now, so I’ll continue in another interview, but you get the idea… As soon as I realized that Frank Welker did every animal, sound effect and creature voice in creation AND Scooby Doo, Freddie, and most of my favorite Disney characters, I’ve been fascinated with his work – and an enormous fan. Just on technical ability, range and richness of characters, he is my ultimate V/O hero. Getting to work with him and Peter is better than I ever imagined. It shocked me how kind, generous and fun they are – in every situation – no matter who they’re working with. Absolute pros. I think I can safely say that Frank and Peter are an inspiration to all of us. Yes, I still do have my fan boy moments, even now. I don’t take a second of this experience for granted.
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Rick McDowell asks: You've been a renowned voice actor in animation for years. I've followed many of the series you've lent your talents to, including shows like Samurai Champloo, Cowboy Bebop, The Big O, and Naruto. How does playing a sniveling backstabber like Starscream stack up with some of the more heroic characters you've fleshed out, like Spike Spiegel? Do you have more fun playing a bad guy of Starscream's calliber?

STEVE BLUM: Sniveling Backstabber… hmmm good name for a band! Rick, I chose your question because I thought it was interesting that an Anime fan asked it. Thrilled to have my otaku brothers and sisters tuning in!! As many of you know, I got my start in the business doing anime and have a special fondness for it. The depth of character development (warts and all) in the context of a cartoon is something that has often been present in Japanese animation, and thankfully in the better American shows too. I believe that we all have light and dark sides and I strive to explore both in my work – and all shades in between! Heroic characters like Spike Spiegel or even Wolverine also have a very dark side! They simply end up leaning toward the greater good. I enjoy playing stupid, and/or fun characters too! It’s the variety and complexity that gets me excited, no matter which direction of morality, sanity or competence is represented. Though he’s technically a robot, Starscream is a cornucopia of emotion. He may not have a good side, but there are so many levels to his bad that he’s one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever voiced.