The cast of Voltron Legendary Defender was at this years Wondercon and Jay Snook was able to ask them some questions
The cast of Voltron Legendary Defender was at this years Wondercon and gave a ton of information about this new series. There was a packed panel where fans of all ages were able to ask some questions and be the first to learn a ton about this new cartoon. There was a press round table after the panel where Jay Snook was able to chat with Lauren Montgometry (Co-Executive Producer), Joaquim Dos Santos (Executive Producer), Tim Hedrick (writer), Kimberly Brooks ( Princess Allura), Rhys Darby (Coran), Josh Keaton (Shiro), Tyler Labine (Hunk), Jeremy Shada (Lance), and Bex Taylor-Klaus (Pidge). Attendees got some video clips, some new photos and also were the first people to see a trailer that gave them an idea what to expect from Voltron Legendary Defender which debuts on Netflix June 10, 2016. You can learn more about this reboot here.
Read the synopsis for Voltron Legendary Defender here:
“From days long ago, from uncharted regions of the universe comes the Netflix Original Series, VOLTRON: LEGENDARY DEFENDER! DreamWorks Animation reimagines one of the most popular fan-favorite shows of all time in this all-new comedic action-packed show from executive producer Joaquim Dos Santos (The Legend of Korra, Avatar: The Last Airbender) and co-executive producer Lauren Montgomery (The Legend of Korra).”
“Five unsuspecting teenagers, transported from Earth into the middle of a sprawling intergalactic war, become pilots for five robotic lions in the battle to protect the universe from evil. Only through the true power of teamwork can they unite to form the mighty warrior known as VOLTRON LEGENDARY DEFENDER.“
Were there any challenges in bringing Voltron Legendary Defender to life?
Lauren Montgometry: I mean for sure. It is a beloved property to many people. So the challenge is always going to be there. We need to make a new show that brings in a new audience but we also need to please, we feel a responsibility to please the fans of the original. As fans of the original ourselves we would want people to do that for us. Our hearts are really in the old show so we needed to update it but still keep it true.
Joaquim Dos Santos: The show is about five robot lions that forms a big robot to fight other big robots and monsters. You know this is the first time we have been the head of production and had to be mindful of budgets and things like that. That is a challenge too, making sure that we can wrangle this giant epic story line into a show.
How did you find a way to make Voltron Legendary Defender a show all fans want to watch?
Lauren: It is just navigating those waters, like every choice you make comes with the thought of “who is this making happy?” Is it making kids happy and the fans happy and you can’t always get everything with every choice. So we just have to make the choices that we feel are best for the show.
Joaquim: I think you can’t just worry about that all of the time when you are making decisions. What you can trust in is the fact that we are both genuine fans and that we just have to go with our gut sometimes, with what feels right. Because we know as fans what we want to see. Even if stuff diverts from the original series we just need to make sure that it feels right as a fan. That it is not something that makes you say “Oh, that would never happen” and “Those characters would never do that” . So it is really going with your gut a lot of the time.
What is the message you want kids to get from Voltron Legendary Defender?
Lauren: I would guess the one thing we have been trying to get across is that even though Voltron is made up of five different parts and even though everyone wants to be the head it is really all about teamwork. I want everyone to have a different favorite line. I remember being young and many times there is the very clear hero guy and it is clear the rest of them are just supporting characters. We really wanted to make each of our characters unique and special on their own so that each of them could be someones favorite. It won’t just be everyone running towards the hero, and wanting to be the head of the robot. For me if I could see people cosplaying and buying the toys of every character that would make me really happy.
Joaquim: We were lucky enough where is can be a burden and can be a sort of benefit to do stuff like kids testing when you are trying to get the show out there. We were so overjoyed to find out that there wasn’t just one character they liked, it was sort of equally dispersed. Everybody sort of learned how to be every character. Everybody gravitated to the one they related to best. So really fleshing out those characters further than just being the generic hero guy or girl making them somebody that everybody could relate to and that was very exciting.
How did Voltron Legendary Defender challenge you as a voice actor?
Jeremy Shada: Interestingly enough, with Lance on Voltron at least, it is probably the closest thing to my normal voice I have done before. Specifically I was like I wanted to do something like lower sounding on the general so I don’t kill my voice. I still scream in a very high pitch all the time (laughs). The nice thing is that for Lance, getting into character for it is kind of simple. When I first auditioned for him I pictured he sees himself as a Captain Kirk type of person so he is very wannabe suave. He is not that way but he sees himself that way. He thinks he is a very suave ladies man.It is fun getting to play more of a comic relief character and it is very enjoyable to play him. Throughout the series with each character what you see in the beginning, the essence of the characters and then you really get to peel back the layers and see the kind of background provided that way.Then with all of them they have their character arcs and they kind of change throughout the course of the show.
While you were working on Voltron Legendary Defender were there any scenes or lines that made you think this reboot will do well?
Jeremy: The project itself is just amazing with the writing, the animation style although we didn’t see that until much later. That also is when you saw the whole thing come together you were like “holy crap”. I think very early on one of the coolest things that stuck out to me was literally just the bond with the whole cast. How we were goofing and bantering with each other at the studio and how that really kind of seeps into the actual show.
Rhys Darby: I would also say just the comedy. We didn’t know it was going to be funny. The original wasn’t really funny. Yet this has action and adventure but it has comedy too. Comedy is what brings the human element to the show because we all have a sense of humor, every human does. So when you watch a dramatic shows where no one is cracking a joke and you think “well that is not real life”. Or is it just me that cracks jokes all of the time (laughs). Also the attention to detail is what made me think “wow this is actually going to make a difference” and this is going to be a special show. Once we saw the animation it was like the icing on the cake.
How did you get involved with this Voltron reboot?
Tyler Labine: I am more of an on-camera actor, I have dabbled with voice work since I was a kid. I heard about this being done and I asked desperately if I could come audition for a 17 year old character on the show. It was met with some initial resistance but I came anyway and I just really wanted it. Nobody reached out to me I just really, really really wanted to be a part of Voltron. I love the series, I loved the original series and to play Hunk was like a huge deal for me. I came in, I read for it and they put me through the wringer. I had to read for him a few times, they also re-recorded (laughs) a few times, young me up a little bit. But yeah I just fought for it, I really wanted it and I couldn’t be more ecstatic to be a part of it, means a lot to me.
Josh Keaton: I also originally came from on-camera as well. When this came through I really wanted to be a part of it. It is an unbelievable show, it is one of the shows I always watched as a kid and I played with all of the toys. Then when I found out when I was auditioning to play the leader I was like “Come on I have to get this now”. It was a really kind of a grueling casting process.I think when I first auditioned it was for Shiro and then I got a call back. I had to go back in for it and at that point they gave me Keith to read. Then they told me two weeks later that they went another way and that I wasn’t going to get cast for Shiro. Then six months later I got a call from my agent saying “They want you to read for Shiro” and I was like “Wait, What?” I thought they definitively had gone another way. So this time when I went in I wasn’t auditioning in a recording studio it was at a conference room at Dreamworks. There were mics set up and it was pretty intimidating. It was crazy, I had never done an audition like that before. They came back saying I got it, well kind of anyway. We are going to have you record a few episodes and see how it meshes with the rest of the cast. So for most of the season that we were recording I kept thinking they were going to replace me. But I am here and the stuff is up there so I guess I am still here. But yeah it was a part that really played with my emotions (laughs). It all worked out and I love working with everybody on the show. Everybody is fantastic, everybody plays their characters amazingly.
Tim Hedrick: I would say Shiro is a really tough part to play. Because a lot of the lines on the page I would say as a writer are kind of lame a lot of the times (laughs). You have to have some kind of gravitas because this guy really is the leader, everyone is going to follow behind him. It is very difficult and Josh just nails it so hard. Tyler we always wanted because Hunk is a real strong comic character and obviously has that great sensibility and he is incredibly funny.
Did any fears or doubts come up while working on Voltron Legendary Defender?
Tyler: Well the initial process of coming in and reading, recording the show and watching the cast come in and out and literally be I don’t want to say fired but everyone was being tried off. There were so many moving parts and it was very obvious to me that they all wanted to get it perfect it needed to be the way it needed to be or it just wasn’t going to be worth it at all. I tend to agree with it although it sucks to lose a job. You never wanted to be a voice in a cartoon that stood out as the shitty one. So yea there was some pressure. I mean we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as performers always regardless. But we also had a freedom to create the depth of the character, the depth of the show. There was a lot more insight of who these guys are then I ever experienced with the original Voltron. We were able with the writing and direction and everything we were sort of able to create a new thing.
Tim: There is always a bit of pressure whenever there is something that has such a big fan following but all of us were fans of the thing as well. It is almost a self imposed pressure because we wanted to live up to what we remember. But I have to say from the first script that I read, the first time I stood in the room with all of these guys and we did an episode all of my worries, fears and pressure and all of that just kind of evaporated.
Check out the intergalactic teaser below: