For those of you who don't know Scott McNeil, he is an actor working in Vancouver B.C. who's specialty is performing voices for animation. Some of his most popular roles include Dinobot, Waspinator, Rattrap, and Silverbolt from Beast Wars and Beast Machines, Duo Maxwell from Gundam Wing, the original English voice of Piccolo from DragonBall Z, and Wolverine from X-Men: Evolution, among others.
I have been a fan of Scott's, and the other voice actors working in Vancouver, for many years. I had met him briefly before, at the Transformers convention in 1999, and he was a great guy, so I was looking forward to seeing him again.
On Friday afternoon, after a significant wait, the doors to his Q & A session finally open. Of course, there is a large scrambling of con-goers as we try to get the best seats. In the midst of this, cameras flash and pictures are taken. Scott sees me aiming my camera and shoots a smile, saying "Hey, how' re you doing?"
"Good!" I say. Woah, he didn't just, uh, recognize me, did he? Nah, no way! That was 2 years ago!
So Scott goes through some of his roles and mentions shows that he's been on. Gundam Wing gets big applause and many screams from the large female portion of the audience. And Beast Wars gets big applause and many screams from Ninjatron.
The panel starts and I was snapping pictures and taking mental notes, chiming in with a few questions of my own. He was very animated and constantly changing his voice.
He got his acting start at a school called Studio 58 in Vancouver. It's a hardcore school where the students take classes all day and work shows all night. He was originally wanting to become a serious actor and do Shakespeare and all of that. However, he was kicked out of the school and told that he'd never make it.
His first voice acting audition was for a Levis commercial. They wanted a Jim Byrnes style voice (Jim Byrnes plays Joe Dawson on the Highlander TV series and was the voice of Inferno and Thrust on Beast Wars/Machines). So Scott was preparing by trying to make his voice more husky to sound like Jim's. He went to the audition and when his turn came up, Jim Byrnes walked out of the booth. Neither of them got the gig. Heh heh.
But that introduced Scott to Doug Parker (known to Beast Wars fans as the voice of Terrorsaur) who said "I wish I had met you a week ago, because I just finished casting GI Joe." "What, the cartoon?!" Scott said. Well Scott eventually auditioned for a part in The New Adventures of He-Man and got the job, his first voice acting role. He actually did wind up working on GI Joe, playing Storm Shadow among others, and even working with Chris Latta (the original Cobra Commander, as well as Starscream from Transformers) before he passed away.
I asked him if he could tell some funny stories of working with the other voice actors in Vancouver. He told the one about when a script called for a burp, and Gary Chalk (Optimus Primal) said that he'd do it. He drank a can of Coke and prepared to let it loose, but instead foam started pouring out of his mouth and nose.
When asked if he was friends with the other voice actors, his immediate response was "No, I hate 'em!" But seriously, he's great friends with his coworkers and they have so much fun together that they like to hang out even after work.
When asked if he ever confuses voices while recording, seeing as he often plays many roles on one series, he said "No! Yes! Never! Shuttup!" That drew some big laughs. Usually while acting he can completely transform himself from one character to another, often by changing the way he moves his hands while behind the microphone.
The character that he relates to the most is Duo... but when he was younger. He sees himself in many other characters as well, including Wolverine and Rattrap. He loves the fact that he's Wolverine now, and it seemed like he was a big fan.
He made a point to mention that he likes chickens and kayaks and bees. He also collects swords. He's got a motorcycle that he cherishes, but he's been in a few accidents. He used that experience as inspiration for when he dubbed the scene in Gundam Wing where Deathscythe was being destroyed.
Lots of fangirls got hugs. One asked to marry him. He gave a "sure, why not?" kind of shrug. He later got down on his knees in front of her. Of course, it was all just for fun. Sorry ladies, but he is already married.
I asked him if he would say infamous the "(hungry) talk for you!" line from one of my favourite Beast Wars fan fiction, the Worlds Worst Fan Fic. He said "This doesn't have anything to do with a Rigid Grill Structure, does it?" But he did the line. I had to explain to him that it was written by someone who had a very weak grasp on the English language, and has since been parodied many times.
When talking about his role as Piccolo in Dragonball Z, and the new cast that replaced the he said that replaced the originals, he said that it was one of the only times he's every been involved with a show packing up and moving somewhere else (Texas). When told that Dragonball Z dubs were playing at the convention, he said "Which version? The good one?" and looked around playfully like he wasn't supposed to say that. "We all know it's true!" was my response. He appreciated that. But the good news is that DBZ has moved back to Vancouver, and he's playing Piccolo again!
He was asked if he knew anything about the online Gundam Wing community, specifically some of the fan fiction. He was then introduced to "Yaoi" (don't ask, please), in the form of a picture of Hiro and Duo in a rather... friendly position. Scott looked at it for a long time. A very long time. He was looking slightly disturbed, but in a funny way. He said that he had never gotten the indication that any of those characters were, you know... "that way". Well, except maybe Quatre.
His inspiration as a voice actor is Maurice LaMarche, otherwise known as the Brain. Brain is also his favourite character, and the one character his ultimate wish would be to play. He does a pretty good "Try to take over the world!" impression too. He also put over Rob Paulsen and Frank Welker and said he'd love to work with them. He would love to work with Jim Cummings the most and thinks that he's the best voice artist in the business right now. Of course, he says that Mel Blanc was the best of all time, because he was able to make fully developed characters.
When asked if he and the other actors liked the changes made to their characters in Beast Machines, he looked around cautiously as if to check if anyone from Hasbro was listening, leaned in close to the microphone and said "No". He wondered why the new writers felt the need to change the characters that had already been well established. Gary Chalk was especially disappointed in the direction his character took. Scott said it was frustrating because he felt that nothing really happened throughout the whole series. But he still loved Beast Wars and said it was one of the few shows that he had actually become a fan of.
He likes working in the voice business because it's the only job where you can do most of the work naked. Then he mumbled something about Venus Terzo. I think I was the only one who picked up on that. He said that it was so much fun, and to think about how much fun it could possibly be and that would only be half as much fun as it really is.
His advice on being a voice actor? #1 is to learn how to act and go to a formal acting school, and #2 is to own a car. The car doesn't even need to have an engine, you just have to be able to sit in it, because that's where he comes up with all of his voices.
The panel ended and Scott wanted to go outside for a smoke. Some of us followed him there, but he didn't mind. He was goofing around with everyone along the way.
And here he is doing a trick with some rubber bands. The blond girl looks really impressed.
Here he is checking out some of the customized Gundam models.
He was happy to just hang out, answer more questions, and sign autographs (having skipped the autograph appearance he should have been at then).
Then, he turned to me.... and shook my hand.
Let me reiterate on that. He shook my hand, not the other way around!
"I know that we've met before." He said.
Holy cow!I played it cool, and we chatted for a bit, but inside... I was like "Woah!" He said he was looking at me in the audience and recognized me from somewhere. Wow. Scott McNeil knows this ninja!
He talked about how he played Bonesteel on Ninja Turtles : The Next Mutation, both the live action and the voice. He was my favourite character. He talked about how he passed out on the set due to all the sudden neck-cracking movements he had to make.
Someone asked him, obviously referring to Duo and the aforementioned fan fiction, how he felt about playing a homosexual character. His response: "Which one?" While he had no intention of playing Duo "that way", he's done other characters, like the blue guy in Dragonball Z, where it was pretty obvious that they were "a little light in the loafers", as he put it.
He kept on hanging out and taking pictures and getting hugs from girls for awhile. Chicks sure dig him! I wanted to get a picture with him too, and he was happy to oblige.
"How's my hair look?" I said. He told me he was trying to figure out what style it was when he saw me during the panel. But he liked it.
This picture made my whole weekend. It's not every day that a guy gets to hang out with one of his heroes. Shawn and I were planning on seeing the movie "Spriggan", but hanging out with Scott McNeil was way more fun, so we didn't.
Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from the Saturday panel. It's too bad too, because I asked him if he would do me the honour of holding up a picture of Cyan, the SykoGrafix mascot, while I took his photograph. So on Sunday, I waited in line just so that I could take another one. Who am I kidding, though? I would have waited any ways.
He spent a lot of time with each fan, which made the line go kinda slow, but it was cool all the same. He took the time to make everyone feel special.
When it was my turn, I told him that I lost the pictures I took the day before. He said that a lot of people had been telling him that they lost all of their pictures. I didn't think he'd mind taking another one, because he said the first time that "She's kind of a Hottie!". He reinforced that statement again this time and said "Beautiful Digital Chaos!" in a cool voice. Yeah!
First he made me take this goofy picture. Heh heh.
"Two out of three Scott McNeils prefer Beautiful Digital Chaos!" -Actual quote!
I said "Thank you very much, sir!", and he said in a tough guy voice "One more time with the 'sir' and I'm commin' out from behind this table to get ya!" So I said "Ok then, thank you very much, buddy!" And he goes, "Well, that's a little impersonal!" He also doesn't like being called 'Mr. McNeil'.
As the convention geared down I wanted to say goodbye before I left. He was still hanging out with fans.
One of them drew this great caricature of him, and he loved it. I had him hold it up while I took his picture. Unfortunately I didn't get the fan's name, but I'd be happy to give her credit here if she's reading this.
One of the coolest things he did was sign an autograph for a youngster who had been turned away from the autograph line because it was too long. He didn't have any Gundam stuff on him, so another fan gave him an extra Deathscythe trading card. That was really classy.
He headed back outside and again he was followed. And look, they were even nice enough to hold the door open for him.
He said that he really wanted to come back again next year, and bring everyone else with him too. I suggested that he tell Venus Terzo to come, to which he responded with a wink and an enthusiastic nod. Whoo hoo!
I shook his hand and told him that I was headed out. He said he hoped to see me again. I called him "sir" again. Whoops!
So I walked over to the subway station and reached into my bag to get a cell phone. But then I saw something else in there. Something I wanted to get signed. So, I walked back.
"Scott, I was just about to leave when I noticed this in my bag. Will you sign my spork?"
The whole spork thing is a long story, and even though I was there when the story first started, I still don't know what the deal is. Neither did he, but he got a kick out of signing it. The other fans thought it was funny too. And no, this wasn't the first spork he ever signed. Roseangelo of The Splunkyard owns the other one.
This was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had. As I've said before, Scott is a hero of mine. But not because of any aspirations of being a voice actor. What I really want to do is be the guy who creates the ideas that people like him will give a voice to. Rather, I respect him because he is one of the best at what he does, he's certainly one of my favourites, he respects the animation industry a great deal, he displays such patience and a casual attitude with his fans, and he loves his job. That, my friends, is certainly something to emulate.
Back to Articles.