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 411mania » Movies » Columns

411mania.com Interviews: The Voice of Megatron, Frank Welker
Posted by Jeffrey Harris on 03.14.2013

For decades, voice over genius Frank Welker has been the voice behind many of our favorite cartoon characters. Since the 1960's he's been the voice behind Fred Jones of Scooby-Doo, and for the last decade he's been the current voice of Scooby-Doo as well. In the 1980's, Welker was the original voice of the Decepticon leader Megatron in the mega-franchise known as Transformers. His other credits are too numerous to mention but to cover things briefly he's also voiced Nibbler on Futurama, Dr. Claw in Inspector Gadget, Totoro in the English version of My Neighbor Totoro, and other live action and animation credits too numerous to mention. Currently, Welker is voicing good ol' Megs again in the hit series Transformers: Prime on The Hub network. The show enters its third and final season this month, dubbed Beast Hunters, as the conflict between the Autobots and Decepticons reaches its climax.

Recently, 411mania got the chance to catch up with Frank Welker one-on-one in an exclusive interview.

Jeffrey Harris: First of all, congratulations on all your continued success. It's been great to see you back with Peter Cullen on a tremendous show like Transformers: Prime. What have you liked the most about getting to play Megatron again in this serialized story format?

Frank Welker: Thank you. It is a treat to be working with Peter Cullen again and a new cast of wonderful talented actors. I enjoy seeing the youth with such enthusiasm and cell phones and iPads…we used to bring books and newspapers for the down time. Now we see the top of heads as our youngsters fingers fly!!! I have enjoyed the longer story lines and the ability to develop the character against the situations the writers put Megatron into. The growing relationship with Starscream and Optimus keeps things interesting and fun.

Jeffrey Harris: You actually came back for Megatron for the Transformers ride based on the live action movies and also voiced Megatron for the videogames based on the live action movies as well. Unfortunately in the trilogy it was Hugo Weaving voicing the character. After Weaving's rather negative outlook on the role he made public, if you were ever asked to play Megatron or perhaps some iteration of Megatron or even Galvatron for the fourth Transformers movie would you do it (Considering you did play Soundwave)?

Frank Welker: You bet, on the first theatrical version I never had an opportunity to meet with Michael Bay because of schedules but both sides tried hard but we just couldn't get together. Later for the next features we finally got together and he put me in both of those films. I think Peter and I could have a blast working the big screen and take advantage of the promotion angle if a fourth feature comes along and the powers to be ask me. But yes, if elected I would serve and I would be happy to lead the Decepticons.

Jeffrey Harris: You've consistently voiced Fred Jones in Scooby-Doo animation for over forty years. Has anything amused you the most about how Fred has evolved or changed? I think making his obsession with traps more overt on Mystery Incorporated was very clever as well as the weird romantic relationship with Daphne.

Frank Welker: Oh my…yes!!! When the new scripts were coming in and we saw what we were doing and saying--things that were oblong to say the least…the cast was a little shocked and surprised but we loved working with our producer writer Mitch Watson (a real nut and comedy savant). Ultimately, we made the creative mistake to trust him and go with and enjoy this new and different show. The show is very edgy but also very funny and interesting. It was great fun and the producers seemed to delight in making Freddy and yours truly squirm. When you think Scooby Doo with its many iterations is in its 44th year…it's just a great tribute to all of those writers and producers who have had the joy and creative ideas to keep it going. I was worried the first time they took off my ascot…but through the years it has been on and off and off and on and the fans seem to roll with whatever the studio throws at them. Of course Joe Barbara and Bill Hanna and Joe Ruby and Ken Spears all had the good insight to see a good thing and lovingly develop and nurture it.

Jeffrey Harris: What was your very first acting job?

Franke Welker: I was the Lion in the Wizard of OZ at Santa Monica City College-non professional. My first on camera professional job was a TV commercial for Bold detergent. I was a boy scout being instructed by the camp leader on how to wash clothes without mom. First voice over I believe was some animal sounds in the feature, Dr. Doolittle. First cartoon series…."Scooby Doo!!!"

Jeffrey Harris: What kind of mayhem will Megatron be up to on Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters?

Frank Welker: Well, I am not going to spill the beans of course…you have to see the shows, but as the title might imply, Megs will go to any lengths to get the upper hand even if it means recruiting and manipulating Beasts….hmmm?!?

Jeffrey Harris: More so than the original Transformers series, we hear more of the actors' performance in the voice and there has been less of a modulation for the Autobots or Decepticons to make them sound altered or mechanical. Do you like that for this Megatron when we hear the voice it's all "you" and not necessarily extra sound effects altering the performance?

Franke Welker: I think a little make up never hurts but I do like the sound and the great look of the new shows. You can play much more with the dialog in the CGI version. If Soundwave ever speaks I would love to do the voice again and I would hope that they would use some electronic tweaking. G1 version had a lot of action in flat animation. For its time it was great but we had to really drive the characters through that action and noise with speed and velocity. But don't get me wrong, I loved every minute of those sessions and I miss that cast of really fun actors and friends. I am sure if it wasn't so expensive a reunion show would be done.

Jeffrey Harris: In recent years, Megatron got his own catchphrase, "Decepticons! Transform and rise up!" How did you like that last season you finally got to record Megatron saying his own personal equivalent of "Autobots! Transform and roll out"?

Frank Welker: Forgive me, but I haven't locked on to anything just yet…I still am happy with "I am Megatron leader of the Decepticons" but waiting for a new catch phrase…I am very hard to please you know, I think a contest should ensue and once I am satisfied I shall exclaim in all my evil glory: "………………" Megatron.

Thank you to Frank Welker for taking the time out of his schedule to speak with us. The third and final season of Transformers: Prime premieres with the first Beast Hunters episode on March 22 at 7:30PM ET.


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