General Grievous may not be the best Star Wars villain given his track record of failure, but he ranks near the top for the coolest. Part man, part machine, Grievous swings his quad lightsabers at the Jedi forces with vengeance. While many know this character, many may not know the backstory of how Matthew Wood transitioned from the control room to the recording booth. This is the last article from the jam-packed information drop known as ComiCONN. ComiCONN always has plenty of Star Wars actors to their roster with last year being Ray Park (Darth Maul) and this year bringing in Matthew Wood (Supervising Sound Editor and voice of General Grievous) as well as Mark Dodson (Salacious Bread Crumb). In an exclusive interview with Wood, he discussed how he became the voice behind the mask.
LRM: Grievous has always been one of my favorites. How did you originally get involved with “Star Wars”?
Matthew Wood: I worked in Skywalker Sound. I’m a Supervising Sound Editor there for about 28 years. But I’m also an actor by trade and those two things were a confluence of two good events with George Lucas. He was looking for a particular voice, we’ve gone through 50 different actors and they ended up casting me. I did it through an anonymous audition, so he cast me and that opened up a lot of doors. Now I do a lot of voice acting for video games, TV, and film so that’s been a good sort of second job to my sound job, as it uses the same equipment but with a different part of your brain.
LRM: With Grievous being part man part machine, what kind of voice were you trying to go for with the character?
Matthew Wood: Obviously, he’s a General in charge of an army. It’s a Droid Army they’re kind of useless but I always kind of did a performance from a yelling place. I wanted to be gruff and yelling like he has a lot of history and has been through a lot. Also, he has an accent, I just got back from vacation in Eastern Europe I was in the Check Republic and Prague and some of that accent came back with me to try out for this audition. George said, “he wanted something very vampiric” kind of Bela Lugosi-like and that’s kind of where that went. It’s just those everyday life events, like going on vacation, as well hearing directions from George who was very clear on how he wanted me to do the part and was there for every recording session.
Later, Wood and Dodson appeared on a panel together where they detailed their Star Wars careers. It was an amusing panel that revealed a lot about how the actors were originally involved with Lucas—turns out carpentry is a good way to get your foot in the door. There was additional information provided on how Wood became Grievous complimenting the above interview. In the anonymous audition, Wood used a pseudonym that he forgot when it was selected to voice the character. After looking through the list of actors who sent in submissions and not finding the name he remembered he used the chosen pseudonym for his submission.
According to an archived post from The Guardian, Gary Oldman would have played the leader of the Droid Army before backing out of the role. With the iconic voice, Wood gave Grievous this would surely have provided a different feel to the character. Let us know your thoughts. What are your feelings toward General Grievous?