The name Rob Paulsen might not sound familiar to you, but just about any English speaking child of the 80s and 90s will know his voice. The veteran voice actor has over 250 characters to his name and 377 acting credits on IMDB. Pretty impressive no matter how you look at it. To mention Yakko Warner, Carl Wheezer, Raphael, Pinky, Dr. Scratchensniff, P.J. Pete, Mark Chang, even Spaceball with Comb (“Not a thing sir!”) doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of his career.
So the story goes that I stepped out to take a break from Comic Con and headed across the street to where Namco Bandai had a free arcade setup, cuz I just can’t resist a good game of Dig Dug. Working with ShiftyLook, Namco Bandai is scraping the archives to pull Bravoman, an arcade platformer from the late 80s, back into the light of day as an animated web series. There wasn’t a big crowd, but a few people were gathered to watch a live streaming vidcast on TwitchTV. I wasn’t paying attention until I heard “Narf!” coming through the speakers. Then my ears perked.
ShiftyLook turned to Paulsen to voice the new toon’s namesake: Bravoman. He talked about his genuine excitement about adding a new character to his repertoire, especially one that started as a video game, went into obscurity, returned as a web comic and is now becoming a cartoon.
What I really want to talk about though is Paulsen’s passion for what he does, the people he works with and the appreciation he has for his fans. Where many performers would roll their eyes and walk away from requests to run lines from previous roles, Paulsen is more than happy to perform because he just wants to see the smiles. He wants to hear the laughs and see people’s eyes light up. And if there’s one thing I’ve seen him do to light up the faces of an audience, it’s when he sings The Nations of the World as Yakko Warner from Animaniacs. He was all too eager to do it again for us.
Keep in mind, this wasn’t in the convention center, this was across the street with a crowd of maybe 25 and, as a testament to Paulsen’s fan appreciation, he asked the interview organizers if they could set something up for him to meet and sign autographs for the people there. He struck me as genuine: a celebrity minus the ego. An actor who cares more about the characters he creates than the checks he is cut. Anyone who’s attended the con will know that even the most obscure celebs will charge big time bucks for autographs and though Paulsen does ask for $25 bucks for his headshot and signature (online), he donates the proceeds entirely to The Wounded Warrior Project and Operation Smile charities.
I feel privileged to have chatted with him, brief though it was, about his characters, his friends in the industry and his upcoming projects. My two regrets: not having more time with him and not having an audio recorder to capture the conversation.
Thankfully, I have a signed ComicCon badge and a photo to remember the day. Oh and Rob, if you’re reading this, know that you’ve become my answer to “If you could have dinner with any celebrity, who would it be?”.
Rob Paulsen can be heard this fall as Donatello in the new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” series airing on Nickelodeon. “Bravoman: Cartoon of Unequaled Excellence” will appear on Shiftylook.com in 2013. Also look for Rob in the upcoming “I Know That Voice” Documentary coming in 2013. Finally, if you’re a voice over fan, don’t miss Rob’s weekly podcasts with industry friends by visiting robpaulsenlive.com