LRM Exclusive Interview: Voice Actor James Arnold Taylor for RATCHET & CLANK

– by Gig Patta

Our famous Lomax is back and not on a video game.

In RATCHET & CLANK, the heroic duo must stop a nefarious space captain from destroying the universe. He must join a team of galactic heroes in order to stop the invading forces.

The 3d CGI animated film features the voice of James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Jim Ward and Armin Shimerman from the video games. They are joined by cast members of Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Bella Thorne, Rosario Dawson and Sylvester Stallone.

RATCHET & CLANK is currently available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download today.

Read the full transcript below.

LRM: Thank you for speaking with me. The last time I’ve talked with you, I had you and your counterpart together for an interview. It’s interesting to talk to Ratchet and not Clank.

James Arnold Taylor: [Chuckles] It’s strange to have Ratchet and not Clank around me. I’m telling ya. It’s great though. When did we talked though? It was in the last few months I would imagine?

LRM: It was for this movie. And it was at WonderCon.

James Arnold Taylor: Oh, yeah! Great! I’m excited about…..

LRM: About this movie?

James Arnold Taylor: I’m definitely excited about this movie. It’s the fact that it’s coming out now. Everybody keeps asking me, “When is it going to be out? When is it going to be out?” Now. It’s out on DVD and digital HD, which is great. I’m a downloader myself. That’s what I’m going to be doing. I will definitely, of course, get a copy of it somewhere. I want to see again. I want to experience all the fun we had.

LRM: How many times have you’ve seen it already?

James Arnold Taylor: I’ve seen it three or four times…..maybe four times now. It’s been really fun. It’s clearly that so many actors will tell you, “Do you ever watch yourself?” and they’ll respond, “No, no. I’m too cool to watch myself.” I love watching this stuff. That’s why I became a voice actor. I love seeing the characters. I don’t watch it for me, but I watch it for the story. I’m a fan of Ratchet and Clank. I’m a fan of David Kaye. I’m a fan of Jim Ward and Armin Shimerman. They all do an amazing job. It’s so great to work with all of them again in this context of the movie rather than just the games. We had a blast doing it, so it’s fun to watch this stuff.

LRM: What makes it so special to see it three or four times? I’ve seen it before, but I would like to hear it from you.

James Arnold Taylor: [Laughter] Well, the cool thing is that it’s fun and a buddy movie. There’s action. It’s comedy. It’s like the games if you’re a fan of the games. I hear from those who play the games like via Tweets once a year saying “It’s time for my yearly playing through all the games again.” I see this a great opportunity for people to be watching the movie or playing in the background. They get to relive this again. As a kid, I always had RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, which I had it on a loop on my video tape. I just wore that thing out. I just love watching it over and over again.

I think for those kids who want to be adventurers or dreaming of something fun to do—that’s what Ratchet is doing. That’s what this story is about. I thought it was a very sweet movie. It was very good and had a very good moral message to it. I think we need more of those. It was awesome.

LRM: Absolutely.

James Arnold Taylor: Obviously, I’m going to say that. C’mon! [Laughter]

LRM: I don’t know. The words came out pretty well out of your mouth. [Laughter]

James Arnold Taylor: [Laughter]

LRM: Why do you think Ratchet is such a lovable character after all these years?

James Arnold Taylor: Well, thanks. I’m glad you think so. I think he is an everyman even though he is a Lomax. He is all of us. He wants to be the hero. He wants to do the right thing. He wants to impress people and please people, but he has a really good right and wrong scale with him. He tries to put aside the ego and still has one to get caught up in that. I think that’s very real. That’s all of us. I certainly do that. I know so many of us that can. I think that’s a relatable trait.

I also think that he’s got cool weapons. He knows how to do all these fun stuff and knows how to fly a ship really well. And he got his buddy Clank to be his right hand man.

I don’t know specifically. It’s all these cool gadgets, cool adventures and funny stuff. All of that makes up for a cool story. That’s why he takes all the credit for being a cool character. [Chuckles]

LRM: I’m curious. Since you’ve been doing this very many years now, do you ever play the video games yourself? Or do you say to yourself that “I’m just voicing a character, coming to work and moving on.”

James Arnold Taylor: Oh, no. Never. Again, like with the movie, I always get excited to see this stuff. When you work on something for a year or more and you work with someone like T.J. Fixman, who wrote the games and first draft of the film—you want to see what they put together as well. Of course, working with our director Kevin Munroe to see on how Kevin’s vision came together. You want to see on how Insomniac’s vision for the game came together.

It’s fun. I definitely play it whenever I get the chance. I’m the product of the 80s. I grew up with Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Defender. We got an old stand up machine here in the house. I teach my daughter on how to play it. She could pretty much wipe the floor with me on these games. I still love playing them.

The cool thing about RATCHET & CLANK is that it’s more of an adventure. It’s not so much like “You have to beat this thing or else.” It’s not like you’re spending all night to beat one boss or something. You can get through the games. Of course, I have to put it on easy mode. I still get through them.

LRM: [Laughter] You’ve been voicing this for fifteen or sixteen years now. Do you ever get tired of your own voice?

James Arnold Taylor: [Laughter] Actually, the cool part about Ratchet is that he is my own voice. He’s really one of the characters I do who really is [my voice]. I’m fortunate to be a voice actor for so many iconic characters from Fred Flintstone to Obi-wan Kenobi to Johnny Test. Now I have MARVEL’S GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, in which I’m Yondu and Cosmo on there. Most of my work is being other people. Never I get to beyond closer to my regular voice and this is the closest to my regular voice you’re going to get. It’s really great.

I have fun with it, because it’s a rare opportunity for me. It’s what interesting for me too. It’s doing the games and the movie—it’s on how Ratchet would do this? It’s how James would it. It’s not the confines of how Johnny Depp or Christopher Walken would say or do. I do all their voices when these people are not available. I don’t [changes to Christopher Walken’s voice] have to do Christopher Walken’s voice as Ratchet, but it’ll be fun. [Changes back to normal voice] But, it’s crazy.

LRM: So a decade and half ago, when you auditioned for RATCHET & CLANK, they said that your voice is just fine? That’s it? You didn’t really have to develop a voice at all?

James Arnold Taylor: Yeah, no. [Laughter] I pretty much went in and asked what you guys are looking for. They said that we liked the quality, texture and tone of your voice. That’s what we liked about you. And it’s based on my acting ability and where I could take things.

For voice actors, we go into the studio and get the script right then. You have to give them an A, B and C take for everything. It means there’ll be three different options. I’ve been doing this for almost thirty years now. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.

They were happy that I was able to give various options to every line. It’s really on what they were looking for and plus it’s my voice. So it works!

LRM: Is there a difference between recording for films and video games?

James Arnold Taylor: There is indeed. Generally, it was a much bigger difference than it was for this film and this game. The coolest thing about it was that they kept it both very similar. The sessions felt like they overlapped in some ways. The biggest difference, which generally doesn’t happen for a movie, was that you are alone in the studio—just you and the director. That’s the same in video games. It’s just ourselves with the writers and directors.

But, for this particular film, we were all there—David Kaye, Jim Ward and myself—in the room. It was really cool. Generally, when you are doing a game, you are plowing through as many lines as you can. With a film or TV show, you get a little more into character. That’s been the beauty of the RATCHET & CLANK series. That’s credit to people like T.J. Fixman and the writers for making it really more a story. It’s never like you just get punched. Ugh! Or now you jump. Wuh!

It’s actual storylines. I think that’s why the franchise has stayed on for so long. It’s really a great adventure.

LRM: So in the case for the movie, did you bound off with your counterpart, David Kaye, quite a bit?

James Arnold Taylor: Yeah, David and I were there. We were all in this big recording studio. They had me in a big isolation booth, because when you’re recording something like this—they don’t want the actors’ lines to overlap each other. They want more control of things, such as if an adlib pops up and they go “Oh! Do we have this? Is it clean?” They want to make sure no one else’s voice is on it.

So they would put me in this glass bubble while they were out in this larger room as with Jim and David. I had lines with both of them than they had with each other. We were all there together and we had a blast doing it. It was fun, because it was the first time we ever done that.

I met David after the sixth or seventh game we’ve ever recorded. [Chuckles] Which is crazy.

LRM: How does this relationship work then? You’ve been working with each other for so long. Do you even get to hang out with each other afterwards like co-workers?

James Arnold Taylor: As voice actors, we all know pretty much of each other. It’s a small group of people in the world of Hollywood who are voice actors. We all know each other pretty well and sometimes we would hang out or grab a bite with each other. The beautiful thing about RATCHET & CLANK is that David and I get to do all this press for it. We get to know each other for so much more. We had such a great time and or friendship even blossomed even more. That’s why it’ll be important for us to keep continuing to work on this for years to come. We are such good friends. It really is fun.

LRM: Do you ever do live acting? Or is voice acting primarily what you love to do?

James Arnold Taylor: Yes, it’s always what I loved to do. It’s something I always wanted to do. I’ve developed a stage show called TALKING TO MYSELF, in which I’ve taken the performance all over the world. For the last six years every summer, I was performing at Disney for five to six weeks. I’ve even hosted it at a Star Wars convention called STAR WARS CELEBRATION. I did my performance there. That’s my chance to do my performance in front of people stuff.

I sometimes do in-front of camera stuff for friends’ movies or get asked for a cameo favor. But, it’s really not that much. My focus is really with the voiceovers.

Now I’m doing a lot on a YouTube channel I’m working on. You can see me now. For the longest time, due to my vocal range from Fred Flintstone to Johnny Test, I usually want to stay behind the scenes since I don’t want people to see on what I looked like. People judge you by the way you look. I do so many different voices—I don’t want people to judge me on they I look.

The cat is out of the bag, so now I’m doing a lot more hosting and live events. It’s a lot of fun. And the YouTube channel is a great way for people to see me behind the scenes, particularly in my voiceover studio.

LRM: This is great. What is this YouTube channel? And what is the typical reaction when they see you in person?

James Arnold Taylor: [Laughter] For the YouTube channel, you can just go to search James Arnold Taylor for users. I put out one to three videos a week about my life as a voice actor. Most of them are vlogs called “A Day in a Life of a Voice Actor.” I take you behind the scenes as much as I can into a life of a voice actor. I also have a show on the channel called, “A Certain Point of View.” It’s a Star Wars debate show, in which I host. I bring in friends who are celebrities in the worlds of Star Wars and we debate topics. I also do short stories, films and all sorts of fun things on the YouTube channel. It’s a great exploration. I am working on a new show interviewing other fellow voice actors, in which that’ll come out in a month or so.

It’s been a great little side project. It stems from my social media on Twitter, in which people can follow me @. People just want to interact. People want to know more about voiceovers.

So what’s their reaction when they see you? It’s fascinating. People are always fascinated by on who these people are behind the microphones. Now when people do meet me now, they are like “Okay.” They are surprised sometimes. For Ratchet, they’re not as surprised as someone like [changes voice] Obi-wan Kenobi or [changes voice] Fred Flintstone. [changes back to normal voice] They don’t expect me to look like Fred Flintstone. You can blow these kids minds when they have to put it all together. They go “Oh? It’s that guy. I always thought it was a real character.” It’s fun. It’s fun.

LRM: Terrific! Hey James, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you. Hopefully, I get to meet you again next time.

James Arnold Taylor: Yes, absolutely. Thank you for the time. I really appreciate it.

RATCHET & CLANK is available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download today.

Source: LR

Film, Interviews, LRM Exclusives James Arnold Taylor, Ratchet & Clank