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Interview: Dick Gautier

Written by Darren 'Starscream' Jamieson on January 23, 2003 | Features,Interviews |

Dick-GautierOur hob nobbing with the famous continues as we present our latest interview, this time we talk to Dick Gautier of Rodimus Prime fame.

Could you start by introducing yourself and tell us a few of your voice work credits?

My voice credits are extensive, you’d best look on my web site under RESUME. I can’t list them here. Bad typist.

What character are you most proud of that you have given life to in your career and why?

The original Conrad Birdie in BYE BYE BIRDIE on Broadway (Tony nomination) and HYMIE on Get Smart.

How did you get started in the business and who were your greatest influences?

I sang with a band when I was 17 and then did stand up for about four or five years before doing Broadway and becoming an actor. Sid Caesar and Danny Kaye were big influences on me. As were other odd, weird and bizarre comics that you’ve never heard of — Theodore and Lord Buckley.

Rodimus Prime was despised by some Transformers fans for replacing Optimus Prime, and this was something that was even written into the script with Rodimus living in Optimus’ shadow. How was it for you replacing Peter Cullen as the lead on the show?

It wasn’t Peter Cullen, it was Ted Schwartz and all I know is that Wally Burr, the director, said “Okay- you’re Rodimus Prime. I had never worked with Ted nor met him.

How much of the voice of Rodimus Prime was yours, and how much was influenced by Judd Nelson’s portrayal in Transformers the Movie?

It was all mine. I never saw the movie, the series and didn’t even know who Judd Nelson was. I’ve seen him in the interim as an actor, he’s not imitatable because his voice and personality are not clearly defined.

Are you aware of the revival in the Transformers toy line, comics and TV series – largely generated and supported by the online community?

Yes – I attended a convention last year in Indiana.

Which do you prefer, acting on stage, acting for television, voice over or drawing?

All of it. Why not? If you can do all of it — do it. Why inhibit yourself? Although I prefer stage to TV and movies. more challenging, better writing.

The world of film and television is filled with big egos and bad attitudes, is there anyone you’ve worked with that you wish you hadn’t?

Egos? Hollywood? What on earth do you mean?

Have you any tips or advice for anyone wanting to become a voice artist?

It’s best to develop ORIGINAL voices, not Bugs Bunny, Etc. they’re covered. Be unusual and creative, that’s the strongest weapon you have. I taught VO for awhile and one of my best bits of advice was IF YOU DO A BAD IMPRESSION OF A FAMOUS PERSON SO IT’S UNRECOGNIZABLE MAYBE YOU’VE CREATED A NEW VOICE!

Who are the most talented people that you’ve worked with?

Frank Welker is very talented, so is Peter Cullen, Maurice LaMarche, there’s a mess of ’em. Jack Angel, too. Charlie Adler is great. And me. I’m not too bad.

Is there anything that you’ve done career wise that you’d like to forget?

I’ve done some bad movies. I’ve been miscast – the Doris Day show I was a Mideastern terrorist. Bad! I was the Governor in a Billy Jack movie. Not good. I’m sure there’s more.

What projects are you working on right now?

I just finished a new book (number 15) a compendium, of humorous poetry dealing with contemporary issues large and small. with illustrations by moi of course.

Is there anyone who you have not yet worked with but would like to?

Oh too many to name. I’ve been lucky to work with some greats – Barbra Streisand, Jimmy Stewart, Dick Van Dyke, Chita Rivera, Paul Lynde, Nicholson, Jane Fonda, Jason Robards, ETC. ETC. ETC.

We want to say a big thanks to Dick for the interview, you were great. Best of luck in the future and we hope your latest book does well. Don’t forget you can check out Dick’s website here.