Today we are joined by the amazing voice actor Neil Ross, the voice of our childhood! Check his IMDB and you will see all the amazing shows and movies he’s been in!
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Neil Ross – Interview
[00:00:00] Jeff: Hello listeners, a spoiler country today on the show.
We have the fantastic Neil Ross. How’s it
Neil Ross: going, sir? Well, I don’t know if I’m quite fantastic, but I’ll shoot for that. It’s it’s going well. How about
Jeff: you doing very well? And I had a, I was able to peruse your amazing career and I will say fantastic is the right word, the amount of stuff you have accomplished the length of your career, the amount of TV, TV, and other things that you have done announcing for and voice work is tremendous.
Neil Ross: I have been very lucky and very blessed. I must, I must say I got no complaints
Jeff: and absolutely talented. I would say more, probably more talented than any than lucky or blessed. I would imagine.
Neil Ross: Well, that’s a, that’s something for you to decide, not me.
Jeff: So, so I read that growing up, your mother was an English stage actress and your father was a salesman, is that correct?
Neil Ross: Yes. And what the hell they had in common? I’ll never know, but yes, they, they came to, well, it was, it was the tail end of world war two bombs were [00:01:00] falling. It was a very romantic period. So they, they got together, as I said, at the tail end of world war II in England. And I was the result of that.
Jeff: So interestingly, I’m thinking about obviously the kind of advice they could give you.
One in actors who experienced onstage, another one in sales, which I do some for some reason think is also an important aspect of performance or there’s a performance aspect to it. What kind of advice did they give you about being a performer?
Neil Ross: You know, it’s astonishing and I’ve often wondered about it.
Nobody gave me any advice at all from either one of them. I, I CA I, I looked at the time. I didn’t give it a great deal of thought my father, well, my initial ambition in life was to become a disc jockey, which neither of them was terribly thrilled with. And he just sort of made fun of it. And she just sort of adopted this attitude of, well, you’ll go [00:02:00] ahead and fail and then we’ll see what happens next.
And that was pretty much pretty much it. And I have often wondered knowing what I know now, why she never gave me the welcome to show business speech. And I think maybe there was a wee bit of jealousy. Involved. I think she was the star of the family and she didn’t need another star usurping her place.
I don’t know. I don’t know, but I, I got, I got no advice.
Jeff: Wow. That’s amazing. Because you would think that someone who. Has taking the risks that it does take to become a performer in, in, in, in any field, including stage acting or, or as a, as a voice actor or this jockey, I’m surprised she wasn’t more understanding and tolerant of someone who was also wanting to take that risk.
Neil Ross: Well, of course she didn’t choose to take the risk. I don’t cover it in my book, but she, what happened to the family was desperately poor. And when my mother was about 12 years old, she began to exhibit some [00:03:00] talent in the performing area. And there was a, there were some jobs available at the old Vic theater in London.
They needed children to come in and play pages and children and this sort of thing. And th and there was some money involved. So my mother’s schooling ended at the age of 12, and she was put into show business. And I don’t think, you know, she was not somebody trapped in an algebra class saying, I hate this.
I hate this. I want to be on stage. She just got thrust on stage and, and the decision was made for her. And I’ve often thought perhaps that’s why she. Had the attitude that she had. I don’t know. But now please understand being raised more or less backstage in a Shakespearian theater company, you would have, if you met her, you would have said, well, obviously this woman went to university somewhere.
She’s so well read. So articulate, but no, no more formal schooling after the age of 12. It’s fascinating. [00:04:00] Could
Jeff: you tell whether or not she loved what she was doing?
Neil Ross: Again she was very reluctant to discuss it. I didn’t even find out she was an actress till I was about, I don’t know, five or six years old and my dad brought it up and of course I was fascinated.
She just did not seem to want to talk about it. When she met my father and her mid to late thirties, she, I think she was just fed up with the actor’s life. Cause it’s not terribly glamorous, unless you’re a star. He was just going from town to town, living in crummy little temporary apartments and not making that much money.
And I think she wanted the house with a white picket fence and the family. Well, what she didn’t realize was all the women who had that would have killed to go on stage. So, you know, the grass is always greener. Exactly. But she was very reluctant to talk about it. So how did your
Jeff: father, as a salesman feel about.
The celebrity of your mother or [00:05:00] the, or the performance aspect of, of, of your other mother. Because back then it wouldn’t have been, it wasn’t normal, usually for the wife to be either the one making more money or definitely not, or being the worker as well. Is that true?
Neil Ross: Oh, that’s my understanding of that time period.
Of course it was war time. So a lot more women were working. In fact, that world war II kind of helped women break into the workforce because suddenly it was you know, we need workers at the aircraft plant and all it’s available are women. And suddenly they couldn’t say, Oh, you’re too delicate to work in a factory.
Cause thousands of women showed up and did a wonderful job. So that, that kind of changed society. But now as soon as they got together my mother stopped working and my father became the sole support of the family.
Jeff: That’s fascinating. I mean, it seems like there’s so much interesting psychology going on in that situation.
That it, it just, it’s just, that’s absolutely fascinating. I also read in your book, a vocal recall that you [00:06:00] mentioned. It’s skill of yours in, in language and specifically grammar and spelling. So how does that skill translate to the kind of voice work that you later did?
Neil Ross: Well, I guess it just, you know, everything I do involves reading.
And so you’ve got to be good at sight reading a lot of the time, a lot of the time, they just shove a script in your hand and say, go, there’s not even a rehearsal. You don’t have time to read it ahead of time. You’re you know, that the information being imparted is as big a shock to you as it is to the listener.
And I think just having a facility with language helps in that department, one of the best pieces of advice I got. From a chap, my first radio mentor, who I mentioned in the book, a guy, wonderful guy named auto Miller. And he said to me, the first couple of jobs you get in radio, they’re [00:07:00] not going to give a damn if you’re funny or clever.
And in fact, they’d probably prefer if you didn’t try to do that. What they’re concerned about is can you read 60 seconds of copy without butchering it so bad? The sponsor cancels. Can you read a five minute newscast that you’ve just torn off the wire service without sounding like an idiot. And he said, I advise you to practice reading out loud and it was boy.
That was good advice now. A few years now, maybe a decade or so later, they gradually stopped having DJs do live copy, which I always lamented. But by this time, I don’t know you had a new crop of talent and they weren’t that good at reading out loud and they would make a lot of mistakes and there’s just pre-record everything.
But, you know, I loved live copy cause you could sort of inject little one-liners in between what was written there and have some fun with it. And it was another way to inject your personality on the air. And anyway, the first [00:08:00] couple of jobs, they didn’t give a damn, they didn’t want to hear a tape. They didn’t want to look at my resume.
They would just hand me two or three commercials and a five minute newscasts and say here, read this. And I would more or less flawlessly because of thanks to auto. I had been practicing and they’d smile and go, Oh man, maybe we got something to talk about now. And it sounds pretty good. And that’s really how I broke in the ability to sight read.
And I’m sure my facility with the English language had to play into that.
Jeff: And, and you would also must have an incredible ability to comprehend the sentence that you’re reading. I mean, we’d have to, I guess if you, especially, if you’re reading it alive, it has to be almost immediate knowing when when do you use emphasis the tone that you need to use as you’re reading different sentences?
I mean, it must be almost instantaneous
Neil Ross: with you. Yeah. And it actually helped, helped me to develop some really bad habits when it came to voiceovers because You develop what [00:09:00] the late great Daws Butler referred to as the cosmetic read. It’s a read that you hear a lot of the time on radio guys kind of read things in a very pleasant and friendly manner.
But the fact of the matter is they’re not thinking about what they’re saying at all. They’re thinking about what they’re going to have for dinner tonight, or maybe something else, but they’re not thinking about what they’re reading, because they have just developed this ability to read and spew it out.
And it happens. It’s like driving a car, you know, after you’ve done it for a while, you’re more or less on automatic pilot, unless some weird thing happens. You know, you’re not thinking I’m going to make a left turn here. I need to turn the wheel. I mean, you just do it. And this is what happens with live copy or did in those days, the trouble is.
Now you get into the voice-over business or you’re trying to get into the voiceover business. And the first thing it says at the top of the copy is not a radio announcer because they don’t want that cosmetic read. They want somebody to sound like [00:10:00] they understand what they’re reading and really care and are sincere about it.
And that involves going, Oh, wait, I got announced. Think about what this stuff actually says. Hmm. And I had developed this bad habit, as I said, of being on automatic pilot when I read stuff, but it was all flawless, no mistakes, and it all sounded very smooth and professional, but that is not what the buyers wanted in voiceovers.
And they still don’t want that.
Jeff: Yeah. I always find discussing language fascinating. For my day job, I’m an English teacher at a, at a high school and talking about language and the understanding of centers comprehension is a kind of fascinating topic to me. And the fact that once again, having to be in your position, especially when doing voice that kind of voice where having to think speak and kind of, I guess it’s almost answering let’s do we, as separate entities you’re, you know, as your mouth is obviously moving the voice in your speaking, your brain is almost doing a separate multitask.
Neil Ross: Yeah, [00:11:00] I’m trying to analyze what I do and I’ve been doing it so long. It’s hard to, but it’s almost as if I’m, my eyes are sort of a sentence ahead of my mouth. I sorta mini memorize one sentence, and then while I’m saying it, my eyes are looking at the next one, scouting the territory, as I think that’s how I do what I do.
But as I said, I’ve been doing it so damn long that it’s hard to analyze it.
Jeff: Well, another thing that I read that you were very good at, you said you mentioned a love for accents and the, I love from mimicry of those accents.
Neil Ross: Yes, that arose more or less spontaneously when I was, gosh, I don’t know, five, six, seven years old.
We didn’t have a television set in the house. So it was mostly the radio and this little record player I had. And I just seemed to have this compulsion to try to reproduce some of the voices and accents that I heard coming out of [00:12:00] the little radio. In fact, I, you know, I’ve music board me at that point.
So I would tune around just listening for voices, even if I couldn’t understand the topic that was being discussed. I still saw, I found this more interesting than music. And as I said, I would try to reproduce these voices and accents, and I never knew how good I was doing until one glorious weekend.
When my father brought home this tape recorder from the office, and this was back when nobody had a home tape recorder come on, that’s like having a rocket ship. And this was a giant thing in a suitcase. And he God bless him. He let me fool with it. And I recorded the Sunday funnies from the Montreal star, and then I played it back.
And what a treat to hear a playback and and to realize, yes, that more or less sounds like what I was shooting for. It’s just, it’s hard to describe what it, what it was like to, to first time ever hear [00:13:00] something that I had recorded played back for me, Jen. No, go ahead. I’m sorry
Jeff: that your ability to mimic to mimic, was it, you think that that helped you increase your voice range?
Or could you do it cause you had that natural skill of that voice range, like which one you think came first?
Neil Ross: It’s an, it’s an interesting question. Somebody wants to ask me, can you teach me to do voices? And I said, I honestly don’t know. My S I suspect if you are destined to do this strange thing for a living, you will have been doing it since childhood.
I haven’t really talked to most of my fellow actors about that, but I bet they would say, yeah, yeah, absolutely. I was doing it when I was six years old. It’s just a compulsion that you have, and you, you just sort of experiment, you know, you hear an old guy on the radio and you what do I need to do in a nice world to make, make me [00:14:00] sound like that soda that I heard on the radio?
Yeah. And it’s, it’s it’s a combination of instinct and and experimentation, which continues to this very day. I keep, I’m still constantly trying to tease some new kind of voice out of my throat.
Jeff: So like when, when you’re not. Acting are you at home just randomly experiment with different sounds, different voices, or do you only do it when you have a character to
Neil Ross: performance?
You know, I probably should practice more than I do. It happens spontaneously. I, my wife. Came into the room. And did you say something to me? And I said, no, no, no. I was just I was just making fun of the television. You know, somebody had said something that I thought was stupid and I responded to it in a, in a, in a character voice and, you know, poor [00:15:00] woman of one time.
I, I got locked into this Henry Kissinger impression and I couldn’t stop doing it. I mean, it really was a compulsion to house. You’re not talking like this and calling her Nancy, which is not her name. Right. Wife’s name one point. She said, if you don’t stop this, I’m leaving. Oh shit. Yeah. Yeah. I saw, okay.
Jeff: Well, Damn. If you ever deal with schizophrenia, you have your own excuse already. Ready? Who are you talking to? I’m just making voices, man. I’m just pretending.
Neil Ross: You’re totally fine. An interview with, with the wonderful Rob Paulson. I’m sure you’re familiar with the name Animaniacs and pinky and the brain.
And he said you know, I get, I get paid for doing stuff. I got kicked out of a seventh grade math class for doing
Jeff: yeah. Like I said actually Rob Paulson, like he’s been a guest on our show before, and I must [00:16:00] admit, I noticed in doing some of our interviews that the voice acting community is pretty tight.
Is that true? Or is it just something that just seems that way?
Neil Ross: The voice community of that era, the eighties, nineties, maybe even the early O’s there weren’t that many of us, and yes, we were very tight. I’ve always said the nicest people you ever want to meet. They’re just no ego trips. And I don’t know why.
Exactly. Maybe it’s because we’re not judged on our looks, but people are just so friendly and generous and, you know, I’m I on, I don’t know how many voiceover people I’ve met in there’s maybe one and a half who kind of got on my nerves, but everybody else was absolutely lovely and warm and generous. And, and sometimes on camera, people would stumble into our world and they would just be amazed at this.
They would say, this is nothing like on camera, that’s a cutthroat business. [00:17:00] You guys seem to like each other as well. We do, you know, and but you know, now well there’s a lot of work done from remote studios and I don’t meet that many people and there’s a ton of new people. And so I don’t know exactly what the scene is today.
I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s about the same.
Jeff: So do you think that as you mentioned that, because unlike the on-screen personalities voice work, this it’s sort of, it’s not anonymous, but once again, you have a less trappings of celebrity because you’re not, you don’t, you’re not visibly recognizable.
Your voice is recognizable.
Neil Ross: Yeah. That’s all that’s that actually is not my Syria casting person once opine that she said, I think it’s because you’re not judged on your looks and maybe she’s right. I don’t know it. We just have, there’s just relatively, no jealousy. That’s like, if. [00:18:00] If Rob Paulson and I are up for the same part and he gets it, I go, well, of course he got it.
He’s great. I think, and I’m sure if situations were reversed, he would not be resentful toward me. And we, we just sorta had this lackadaisical attitude of, well, these jobs they’re like buses, you know, this, this one, there’s another one coming, just sit on the bench and we’ll be here for a few minutes.
Jeff: And, and, and, and it must be once again, as you said, it’s purely the, the job, whether or not you get it or not, it’s purely judged on the skill of doing it. It’s not one person’s younger has this liquored that look is purely on who created the best voice of that moment. It must be it’s more pure competition
Neil Ross: in my opinion.
Yes, it was the only exception to that of course, are celebrities who Get hired primarily for their names. Now some of them make wonderful contributions to the voiceover projects to get involved in, but others, in my opinion, [00:19:00] don’t, and it’s just, it’s not the same. It’s like, if somebody said, well, we’re going to use you on camera.
I’d say, well, I need to take some classes. I need to get educated in this on-camera world really quick. Cause I’m not making the mistake of thinking just because I had a successful voiceover career. I would know what to do on it. On an on-camera project. Voiceover is a little bit different from on camera.
You know, I’ve never forget Wally bird talking to me while Hebrew was the director of transformers in GI Joe. And he talked about working with a celebrity. And when you said the guy you never told me who it was. It doesn’t matter. He said, the guy did the line and while he got on the button, then he said, that’s exactly what I’m looking for, but I need two, three times the energy.
Can you give me that? And the guy was okay, take two. He said, he read it exactly the same way as take one. And while you’re getting a little more energy and he says, I got to [00:20:00] about five, six takes. And I realized that’s all I’m going to get out of this guy. Things were happening on his face, but the voice didn’t change.
And the first thing you, I mean, it would seem obvious there’s no camera there, but you know, if you’re a, a face actor as we call them you know, the camera is, is 90% of the action and take the camera away. You got to do it all with your voice. And some people figure it out. And some people don’t, you know, are.
Jeff: Without getting into any kind of trouble. Is there resentment in the voice community with when actors who don’t have your talent are getting voice acting jobs because of either the name or recognition of who they are and their voice kind of carries along with that recognition?
Neil Ross: I think there was when this first started to happen in the early two thousands, but it’s, you know, the ship has sailed.
We’ve just learned to live with it. I got a little irritated if [00:21:00] I read, you know, some celebrities saying, well, we just did a cartoon. That was fun. I mean, we didn’t need the work, but we thought it’d be fun for our children to hear us in a cartoon. And I’m sitting there thinking, yeah. And I know a few, a voice actors whose children would be thrilled if they could pay the rent and put food on the table.
But you know, you go ahead and have fun darlin you for this job. You didn’t need wanted your kids to be thrilled, you know, but. No, it is what it is and we deal with it.
Jeff: I can totally understand that completely, completely, I guess I think I would be a little annoyed with some of that stuff. You know, I mean, honestly, there’s some good ones who can do both.
Then another interesting thing is that, like, as you mentioned earlier, your interest in voice acting started as a disc jockey. And if it was from listening to, I read KFW B radio, is that true?
Neil Ross: Well, th th the interested in disc jockey and yes, I, what happened was the first thing was I fell in love with the music.
I heard this song by little [00:22:00] Richard called 2d fruity, and it was the first time I ever really enjoyed listening to music. I mean, I cannot describe the endorphin rush. This two minute 42nd record gave me, I mean, it started in the tips of my toes and went all the way up to my. Do my hair, I just was transfixed.
And I had to hear more of this, which meant I started listening to music radio. But what was known in those days is top 40 radio. And of course not all the songs were rock and roll songs and not all the songs were that good, but it was the, you know, it was better than anything else in town. So I listened to that.
And by this time we had moved to Southern California and this brand new top 40 station went on the air in Los Angeles, K S WB channel 98 color channel 98 as they called themselves. And I listened to that station compulsively. And eventually one night I was listening to my favorite DJ bill balance and he [00:23:00] described what he was going to do when he got off the air that night, he said he was going to get in his brand new sports car, pick up his starlet girlfriend who was under contract to Warner brothers.
And they were going to cruise the strip. And I didn’t know what the hell cruising the strip meant. I didn’t even know what the strip was, you know, at that point. But I thought what a life this guy is having. And then the next thought that popped into my head is maybe I could have a life like that. Maybe I could be a disc jockey.
Cause I did seem to make people laugh in the lunch.
My teachers had told me I had the gift of the gab. She said it with a frown on her face, but she did say it. Yeah. And so that was, that’s what got me interested in being on the radio. And that’s all I want to, I want her to get up to Los Angeles and work for KFW. Be trouble was by the time I got within spitting distance of that, they’d changed the format to all news.
So I never did get to work for KFW FWB, but I got to work at [00:24:00] some other pretty good places. And then at a certain point, I began to become disenchanted with the radio business. And I discovered that this business called voiceovers existed back then, and nobody even knew the business was happening. I just heard the term voiceover from a record promoter who came down from Los Angeles and I said, you mean, there’s a whole people are making a living, just doing voice work.
He’s making a living. And he cited a guy named Danny dark, who was one of the most successful voiceover people in the sixties and seventies. He’s making millions. And I said, well, I don’t think I’m ever going to make millions, but God I’d love to be in that business. It sounds like the perfect job for me.
I mean, cause I, I was, I was somewhat frustrated by this time with radio, I felt I was only using about 30, 40% of what I had to offer. And I thought if there’s any business in the world that would allow me to utilize as close to [00:25:00] 100% of what I got it, it would have to be voiceovers. And so from that point on, that was my new goal.
Jeff: Is that when you decided to move out to New York to attend a broadcast school or was that,
Neil Ross: that happened before I got into radio, that was, I was fresh out of high school. Now the plan to get into voiceovers in those days, there were really only two cities where it was happening to any great degree in that those two cities were Los Angeles and New York.
And I decided to try to get to Los Angeles primarily because that’s where all the animation work was. And I felt like, and this is actually what happened. That probably the bulk of what I would do would be animation. And that’s how it ended up. I’d probably, I don’t know. It’s hard to guess, but I probably did 60% of what I did was animation and the rest was commercials, narrations, promo trailer.
I leave anything out and announcements at the bus station. [00:26:00] So the, the, the, the deal was to get to Los Angeles. But how does one support oneself in Los Angeles, which even then was expensive and the way to do that would be to have a radio job so that I put on a full court press. And thank goodness. I managed to land a radio job in Los Angeles.
And within a week of hitting town, I was in a workshop and, you know, starting the, starting the transition. So
Jeff: now that you, when, as you were getting to voice work, how did you go about. Honing your craft. Did what advice have people give you about how to best do it?
Neil Ross: Well, I I was very lucky. I managed to get a meeting with an agent, a voiceover agent, and the deal then, and today is send us a demo or demos.
If we’re interested, we’ll call. If we’re not, we won’t. Well, the problem with that is if they don’t call, you have no feedback. You [00:27:00] don’t know why they didn’t call. So you don’t know what to do, what you need to fix. And through a connection, I managed to actually have a face-to-face meeting with this agent and he played both of my demos, the commercial demo and the animation demo.
And he hated the. The commercial thing, cause it was all radio commercials. I didn’t know. I thought I was great, but he listened to about 35, 40 seconds and he snapped it off and he glared at me. And with this tone of voice, you’d use to say child molester. He said, you sound like a God damn radio announcer.
What’s wrong with that. And he tried to explain, and I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. Then he played my animation demo and he perked up. He kind of liked that. And I, that was great to know that actual professional voiceover agent thought my animation demo was pretty good. But [00:28:00] he said, you need to fix your commercial read and I recommend you take a workshop and he recommended a workshop and it was run by a chapter.
You may be familiar with his name, Brian Cummings and a lovely, lovely, well, they’re all lovely, but anyway, Brian’s another great guy. And he’s the one who began me on, on the long, long, long journey to Well, another coach that I’ve worked with Maurice Tobias describes people like me as recovering broadcasters.
So I, I am still, I guess, a recovering broadcaster, but Brian put me on the road to that. It’s like going to an AA meeting instead of telling stories about how drunk you were, you, you read commercials, but other than that, hi, my name’s Neil and I’m a radio announcer. Hi Neil.
Jeff: That’s cool. It’s funny to think that there’s [00:29:00] within the boys community there.
Once again, there’s also I guess the classes I was at where, you know, radio announcer, voice actor, you know, things of that nature. I mean, I
Neil Ross: assume, right. I’m sorry. I lost the thread of your question.
Jeff: Within the voice acting community, not theirs. I guess a class system, some as well between voice announced radio announcers, and then higher up, you have the voice actors and things of that nature.
And I guess, and how you guys look at each other, I guess differently.
Neil Ross: Yes. Yes. It’s it’s, it’s just a whole different thing. And back in the day, most of the people that you, in fact, all the people you met, came from some other field, the only person I know who started in voiceovers and never did anything else was an actor named Corey Burton.
And he somehow discovered voiceovers at the age of, I don’t know, 14 and running. It was in 15 or 16. He managed to get in a workshop with Daws [00:30:00] Butler and then he got in the business and you know, but everybody else you would meet. John. I used to be a desk jogger. I was an actor. I was this I was at, but I used to describe the people in voiceovers as.
Radio announcers X radio announcers, who learned a little bit about acting and actors who learned a little bit about announcing the voiceovers is this weird hybrid where you’re not quite an actor. You’re not quite an announcer. You’re it’s voiceovers. What can I say? Of course, I’m talking about commercials now.
I’m not talking about animation. That’s a whole other thing, but so
Jeff: when, when, when you do start moving into animation, how once it has to be able to have just another level of performance. But now once again, you’re trying to embody a fully fledged character. So when, when you’re doing that, not only are you doing one character for a show, in many cases, you’re doing multiple.
I think I saw for transformers, you had like [00:31:00] 13 or 14 different characters you did during the series. It wasn’t
Neil Ross: quite that many. I forget exactly, but yes, of course not every character was in every show. But basically the deal was then, and it still is they’re allowed to ask you to do three different characters without triggering an extra payment.
That’s nice. You know, and so, you know, you’re playing a major character in the show and then Wally, or whoever’s running it say, can you double as the parking lot attendant? And he’s got three, I bought your car, sir. You know, and he might ask for it, could you be the cop on the corner what’s going on here?
You know, this kind of thing. And that, that’s how I got a fair amount of work for a while. I became known as one of I wasn’t the only one, but one of the people who could reliably show up and do three different characters. And so I would get hired to work on a show that I was not [00:32:00] a regular cast member of.
I would just come in and do these incidental roles. And that was rather nice.
Jeff: So w when, when you are doing a voice for a character, is it difficult to find the voice again for a later episodes? I mean, cause you’re going back and forth with so many different characters, so many different
Neil Ross: times. Yeah. At the height of my powers, which would have been the, maybe the late eighties I was in or mid to late eighties, I was in so many shows that I carried this little cassette recorder around with me.
And I had this cassette that had voice samples of all the different characters that I was playing. So I would sit in the parking lot before I went in the studio and I would queue up the character or characters I was going to do that day. And I would listen to them just to refresh my memory. And most shows they keep what, what they call reference recordings.
[00:33:00] And they’ll ask you, do you need to hear a ref? Yes or no? You know, your call. And usually that references is the audition that you got, the got you the job in the first place. So that they’ll help you remember. That’s
Jeff: amazing that the reference calls, I mean, is it, is it hard? I mean, is it, is there a level, is there embarrassing to say you don’t remember, and that’s why you prepare it ahead of time or is it just understood that because you are so prolific with about a voice as you’re doing that, you can’t be expected to remember.
A voice of one particular character. I know
Neil Ross: it’s sort of loosey goosey. I would, as I say, I carried that cassette around as insurance, once in a while, there would be a show where they didn’t have ref references available. And I wanted to be able to say, well, I’ve got one right here. If somebody said, I don’t think that sounds like the character he’s there.
Well, let’s listen to the reference boys and girls, you know, maybe they’re right. Maybe they’re wrong, but you know, most, most cases they had the reference tapes handy. So, and no, but [00:34:00] nobody’s going to give you a hard time. If you don’t specifically remember something, if you haven’t done it for a couple of weeks or months, you know,
Jeff: did did you find that your ear for the voices was better than the directors or the people who you’re doing the voices for?
Neil Ross: Oh, it’s, it’s sort of varied. Most of the directors were pretty good. They, they, if you, if you were drifting off into some other character, they would spot it and ask you to. Redo the line and maybe listen to the reference.
Jeff: The only thing about doing a character voice work is not only are you creating a voice, but you’re creating a voice that has to have a range to it.
You know, happy said yelling quiet. Is it when you’re creating a voice, are you also thinking in terms of how to make that voice character and then give them the range of those sounds and emotions that he would require? Is that the end is, does that make it even more difficult for you?
Neil Ross: Well, of course, yeah.
That’s the $64 question. In addition to, can you do the voice? Can you [00:35:00] act? And that that’s something that a lot of people trying to get in the aspiring people trying to get in the business don’t grasp, it’s more than just creating some sort of a silly voice. Then that silly voice has to act in a believable way, albeit a bizarre believable way because it’s animation, but you have to be able to act.
And you know, one of my pet peeves in the old days, in the old days, when you went into audition, they would present you with an audition that was maybe three paragraphs and each paragraph would be a different emotion, you know, angry, sad, happy, and, and you would perform them separately. And what it gave the buyers was an indication, not only do we like this voice, but can this clown act and now they’ve gotten so [00:36:00] lazy, they just take a few pages from the script and send them, and you’re reading these lines out of context.
And I’ve literally had auditions where it’s like six lines and two of them are oops. And I do it. And I’m thinking, how in the hell are they able to make a decision off of this little material? Why don’t, you know, how long, how hard would it be to sit and write two or three paragraphs? So, so you’re really giving me something to work with so I can show you what I can do, but that’s, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s back in the day.
Nobody, nobody bothers to do that now. So shame.
Jeff: So when you’re doing the voice work, you’re not seeing the animation, right? You’re doing it based on the script alone, correct?
Neil Ross: I’m sorry. Say again,
Jeff: When, when you’re doing the act, when you’re actually reading your character, you’re not doing it while watching the animation, your
Neil Ross: script.
It’s interesting Jack angel and other name that may be familiar to you. Pointed this out. I’d never thought of it this way [00:37:00] before, but he said every other phase of voiceovers were about the last thing that happens before it goes on the air. You know, if you do a television commercial the visual is already there.
The music’s there, everything’s there. All you do is the voiceover. They glue it on the thing and it goes on the air, but animation we’re one of the first things that happens. The first thing that happens is somebody dreams up a concept. The next thing that happens is somebody has to write a script, but then income the actors, and they record that script.
And the animators animate to the voice tracks and. Fact when it became feasible, they began putting cameras in studios and a videoing, videotaping the sessions. And the animators were sometimes use things that were happening on the actors, faces to guide them as to how to animate the character, if that makes sense sense.
[00:38:00] And so, yeah, we’re one of the first things. So really when you, when you, when you work, all you have is a very basic drawing of the character, maybe in profile, maybe full face and a one or two paragraph description of what they are and what they’re like. And, and that’s all you have to go on. There’s not a frame of a film or tape that’s been created at that point.
You’re in a real
Jeff: way. Are you when you’re doing the character and the situation, are you. Kind of designed the story in your head as you’re going, then you’re kind of creating, what does this probably look like? What’s the background look like? You know, all the
Neil Ross: details, but that’s, that’s part of the director’s job.
The director has a storyboard. I’m sure. You know what those are, they’re using it. Yeah. They use them in movies and television too. And we don’t have that all. We have our line scripts, [00:39:00] occasionally they’ll, they’ll give you a script that has the action described on it. I w I’d rather, they didn’t do that. I just have to Wade through all that, trying to find my next line.
No, that’s what happens at rehearsal. The director walks you through it and all right, now you’re climbing this steep Hill. So I need, I’m going to need you to Huff and puff, and then you fall off this cliff. So I, but it’s not that big a cliff. So don’t give me that biggest scream and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
I mean some Wally Burr, some of the rehearsals lasted longer than the recording sessions. So you could go on at great length about what was taking place.
Jeff: You, you actually did this on the voice work of one of my favorite childhood movies growing up transformers, the movie which is, I must admit, even as an adult, I still watched the movie. I haven’t I bought, I bought it from Amazon and I watch it. It’s a, it’s, it’s phenomenal. It’s a really phenomenal movie.
And I know you had done some transformers work prior [00:40:00] to being Springer on transformers, the movie. So what were you told about the movie when you received the role, did you know what was going to be when when they hired you for it?
Neil Ross: No, we just knew there was going to be a movie and we were all very excited and until we got to look at the script.
And all you heard was, wait a minute, my character dies. How’s this about,
you know, that basically they were. I’ve been on panels at conventions where the the writer of the Flint Dilley talks about. And he was basically assigned this job to write this script, to kill off all these characters so they could introduce new characters so that they could sell new toys. And I, you know, I’ve had people tell me at conventions that the death of optimist prime, as one of the [00:41:00] major traumas of their childhood, you know, once the word got out, Hey, everybody dies in this thing.
People stayed away in droves and the movie did not do that well as a result, but over time it has been rediscovered thanks to the video cassette and then the DVD. And the fans have grown older and are able to accept what happened. And so the movie is quite revered now, but at the time it was relevant.
So all did so poorly that they were going to do a GI Joe movie and they pulled the plug on it because of how badly transformers did they did. They did end up recording the script, but it went on as a mini series on television and they did the same thing in that they killed off Michael Bell’s character Duke.
Well, Oh, go ahead. Sorry. No, I’m sorry. That’s well, th th
Jeff: the thing about transformers being, it was a huge way for us, but unlike a lot of the [00:42:00] characters were killed, you were given a character that would become extremely prominent in the series.
Neil Ross: Yeah, I am really lucked out and I don’t know what the thinking was.
Basically what they did was they created these new characters who were played by celebrities. So Leonard Nimoy was in the show and Oh, I’m forgetting now, but a bunch of celebrities came in and play these parts, but then the plan was once. We go back and make the television shows the celebrities will be replaced by some plain rap actors.
So why they didn’t give Springer to a celebrity? I don’t know. Maybe the part wasn’t quite big enough, maybe the fact that I had already been doing it on the television version. Although I don’t know if any of those episodes had aired at that point. I don’t know why they let me do Springer, but it was a tremendous gift.
It wasn’t a huge part, but it was pretty decent. You know, the other characters I played in and transformers had [00:43:00] maybe two lines, you know, but, but Springer, and that was a solid part in, and then the one line that the fans love. Which is I’ve got better things to do tonight, then die. Yes. You know, at the premiere of that in Westwood, when that line hit the speakers, the whole place went nuts.
I stood up and cheered for about two minutes and I thought, I think I’m onto something here.
Jeff: Well, I will say, as you were talking about Springer at that line was when I popped in my head, I got better things to do tonight than diet. It is a classic hero line. It’s because it’s kind of gallows humor a little bit, but it’s still very heroic.
Neil Ross: Oh, it’s right up there with, well, I don’t know that it’s right up there, but it’s my my version of make my day.
Or, or do you feel lucky punk.
Jeff: Right. And I think it’s, it’s amazing to think. Looking back just how momentous that movie was to a [00:44:00] lot of dinner generation. I like that. And talking about, like you said, the is lender Nimo you also had Eric idle in it, it Orson Welles do a
Neil Ross: voice in it.
Jeff: Yeah. I think judge Nelson, I think it was, yeah, I think it was hot rod.
I think if I’m remembering
Neil Ross: Nelson. Yeah. I actually worked with him and yes, maybe people have forgotten, but he was he was a fascinating guy. I got to work with him. So
Jeff: when, when you were, did you get a chance to work alongside or Cinderella to let him know you might win them?
Neil Ross: No, no, no, no, no, no. The only thing I know about yours and Wells thing is it’s all anecdotal second hand.
I don’t know how true any of it is, but this is what I was told. He said he was given the opportunity to work with the other actors and he allegedly said, I don’t work with other actors. They waste my time. So he came in and did his stuff all alone. And he had a moment with Wally Burr. You know what a line reading is [00:45:00] a yes.
Yeah. Well, for those who don’t it’s, if the director says, read the line this way, and then. You know, to have you go round the back, the rest of you come with me. That’s how I want you to, well, actors resent line readings, you know, I’m the actor. Don’t tell me how to do this line. Anyway, Orson is recording his part and if you’re playing a scene and the other actor is not there, the director, if you want it as a courtesy, we’ll read the other actors line to you over the talk back to give you something to react to.
So Wally hit the button and said, Oh, Mr. Wells, would you like me to read you in a Wells? I don’t know what he thought, but he misunderstood and said yes, yes, yes. Of course. Of course, of course. So while he starts doing the other actors lines, well, Orson thinks while he’s giving him line readings. So glaring through the [00:46:00] glass or some stairs at walling and says, are you tempting to line read me?
And while he no, no, no, no, no. I was just reading one. Don’t do that. Then he got mad again. I wasn’t there, but I’m told he got mad at the engineer’s slating. You’ve seen slating and movies where the guy walks out with a clapboard scene five. Well, there’s a, there’s an audio version of that, which is basically a line 75.
Take three. Just so the editor can find the damn stuff, right? Hmm. Well, you know, the guy got a line to take one. Is he going to keep doing that? Well, we have to slate the material, Mr. Wells, because they’re no, no, I, I don’t want him doing that. So apparently an hours worth of tape went back East with no slates on it.
And some poor engineer had to figure it all out [00:47:00] again. I wasn’t there, but those are the stories we heard. So at the end, Oh, that was there’s. There’s some controversy about this. It may have been Mr. Wells, last job. Hmm. He also did a voiceover for a television show called moonlighting, and that may have been his last job.
But anyway, that started the line circulating around the cast that Wally Burr had killed or said,
Jeff: Oh, that’s awesome.
Neil Ross: Michael Bell actually yelled at him once. Announced don’t mess with me while I, everybody knows you’re the man who killed or something. We fell on the floor
Jeff: now. I mean, you were very successful already at this time.
Were you still at any level of star struck with Eric idle and let her new mind?
Neil Ross: Well, again, we didn’t meet these folks. They worked separately. The only celebrities that I encountered were Judd Nelson and
[00:48:00] I have yet to meet any at well, I’m obviously never going to meet Leonard Nimoy and never met Eric idle. So
Jeff: yeah. So what, when you had the character of, of Springer. What kind of direction would you, where are you told about his character? Like what kind of what were they looking for in the
Neil Ross: character of Springer?
You know, action hero attitude, you know, he was nothing phased him. He was he was the action hero. That’s what they wanted. And luckily they liked what I did
Jeff: think it was Springer. Wasn’t it? When you’re in a movie like transformers, there are a lot of transformative. I mean, there’s a lot of heroes and transformers, you know, obviously you have hot rod, you got cop, you had all these other type of carers who are as what would be described as the hero.
How do you go about differentiating your hero from them?
Neil Ross: Well, there’s all kinds of different heroes, you know, optimist prime, for instance I’ve read Interviews with [00:49:00] Peter Colon, where I believe it’s his brother who was in the military. And he Peter talked to him about this party was going to play.
And the brother said, you know, real, real soldiers don’t scream and yell. In fact, he said that the great leaders that I’ve worked for served with actually spoke very quietly, but they did it with tremendous authority. And that’s what that’s what Peter went for. He almost never raised his, you would think a big character like optimist prime.
Most actors would try to play him like this, but Peter bullet way back and did it like this, a Springer was just this. 100% positive bang, bang, let’s go, I’m ready. It’s at that. And the other thing, so, you know, I just concentrated on, on, on what I was doing with him [00:50:00] and I really didn’t think a great deal about the others.
Jeff: Well, the other thing I kind of know that I might be reading too much into it, but in the movie I felt like there was an implied connection or they’re trying to create an imply connection between the character, the Springer and the female autobody, RC. That’s something that was discussed at all. Or it was just even script or non-encrypted you just kind of played the
Neil Ross: lines.
We just, you know, it’s so long ago, I don’t remember, but I know, yeah. A lot of people ask about that and I always say, well, a gentle robot doesn’t tell tales out of school. So I don’t know if there was any canoodling or not. I don’t even know how to robots GoNoodle.
Jeff: Cause then it was only one woman and a whole lot of men probably frequently, I guess.
But yeah, I think Springer was once again, one of the great characters and I think it was a great thing that he can use into the regular series as well. And that you can, you were one of the few [00:51:00] voices that you carry over.
Neil Ross: Yeah. As I say, it was just a tremendously lucky break and I don’t know what the thinking was on the part of the powers that be, but I’m just glad I got to do the role.
Jeff: Since you do some, you do so many different roles than you’ve been in. You’ve done so many different things. When you’re in something like transformers, the movie, do you mean, is there that kind of investment in it? You know, how’s it doing? Do you think it’s just another job you just go to your next job? I mean, is there like an ownership to the character and the, the film that you’re in,
Neil Ross: I’m not, not quite understanding what you’re asking. Are you do you mean, are we emotionally invested or
Jeff: cause like I said, I mean, I know when you talked to, I talked to Angie, some actors, they made me do one movie a year, so they tend to be very invested into that one role in that one movie. But there’s a voice actor who does so much, do you get that invested into that one role or that one movie and how it’s doing and that kind of thing?
Neil Ross: No, I, [00:52:00] I think you’re right. We bounce from one thing to the next. And obviously if something we do becomes successful, I mean, we’re hoping for success for everything that we do, but you know, you. You get disappointed sometimes. I mean, there are shows I can mention that you’ve probably never even heard of.
And I assure you, I put every bit as much thought and energy into those as I did in, into transformers in GI Joe. And some of these other shows that have been successful, but for one reason or another, it didn’t catch on with the public and the show is long forgotten, but I pushed just as hard on that one as I did on anything else as though, you, you, you, you just you’re right.
If you’re an on-camera person and you’ve spent six, eight months working on a movie and now it’s coming out, of course, you’re wanting to know what the box office was. And you know, it’s huge, but you know, by the, by the time [00:53:00] the animation gets finished and the thing actually gets on the air or gets on the screen, you’ve moved on by this time you’ve done 50, 60 other things.
Jeff: So when, when you, when you did do something like transformers and looking back at it, are you surprised by the longevity of those characters?
Neil Ross: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. The you know, the conventional wisdom at the time that we did GI Joe and transformers was that most shows, you know, the kids would outgrow them when they got to be about 17.
They wouldn’t have any interest in animation anymore. And their younger brothers and sisters would want new shows. And so, you know, if you got two, three years out of a show, you were lucky the idea of a show could last 30 plus years, like the Simpsons has, was just unthinkable in those days. The longest running show I was aware of was the Smurfs.
They got seven seasons out of that. And, and the conventional wisdom [00:54:00] was once the show went off the air, it would be quickly forgotten, shoved in a vault somewhere and never heard from again, So here we are 30, 35 years after doing those shows. And my God hold conventions are based on them. It’s it’s astonishing.
What a wonderful gift. You know, all my old radio buddies, they were writing on water. It’s gone. Nobody even remembers except other old radio guys, but here I’ve got a, and not just me. A lot of other actors have these these wonderful shows that have this tremendous fan base. It’s such a, such a gift. And, and there’s absolutely no way we could have anticipated it back when we were doing it.
Jeff: Yeah, I will say I mean, I’m 41 years old and like I said, I still purchase transformers on Amazon. I have a song saved on there. I got the DVD, it to me, it holds up to me, you know, it doesn’t hold up as just entertainment, but the nostalgia [00:55:00] thing really does help as well. Then you do remember watching as a kid.
And you remember the excitement. And like I said, the character like Springer was one of my favorites. He was, he’s just such a strong character, you know? Yeah.
Neil Ross: I’ve often said that when it comes to transformers and to a slightly lesser extent, GI Joe, I think transformers is more popular than GI Joe, but both of them are pretty popular.
And I think that either by accident or design, the producers put together a team of writers and illustrators and animators and actors and directors. And I hope I’m not leaving anybody out where the whole became greater than the sum of its parts. And they wound up doing a couple of shows that were somehow transcended what they had in mind and they ended up with something infinitely better.
And it was just a strange kind of alchemy, all the right people coming together in one place and doing [00:56:00] something.
Jeff: And, you know, and talking about like looking back and now style Jah you wrote a fantastic book autobiography called Voco Rico. When, w why did you write the book when you did, like, why not five years ago, 10 years?
What led you to want to do it when you did it?
Neil Ross: It originally started as a comedy monologue. I was going to book myself into places and do my monologue, and then take questions from the audience and I’m writing and I’m writing. And I suddenly realized this is either the world’s longest monologue, or it might be a book.
I didn’t have the courage to admit that I might possibly write a book. So I just played a game with myself. I would say, I’m just writing this chapter. And if nothing else happens after that, so be it. So I would write that chapter and then I would get an idea for another chapter. And I would think, well, I’m just going to write this chapter, but I’m not writing a book.
And I got, I don’t know, three, [00:57:00] 400 pages in. And then I finally admitted to myself, I guess I am writing a book and I kept going.
Jeff: So when you’re writing the book and like I said, having once again, such an amazing career so much stuff, we’re not, we haven’t even touched on like, Tom and Vietnam, things of that nature, but was it hard deciding what to keep in the book and what you take out?
Neil Ross: Yeah, it’s quite a long book as it is, but it would have been a lot longer. Trust me. No, I had to be, you know, brutal and go through and cut things out and try to tighten it up. Yeah. There are some good stories that didn’t make it in, but for one reason or another.
Jeff: Were there memories that you almost forgot that you had remembered until you started thinking back and putting the pieces together of everything
Neil Ross: that’s happened?
It’s interesting. People will say, well, you must have a great memory. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I just, what I would do is I would think about a particular time period that I wanted to [00:58:00] cover in that chapter. And I would just think about it, you know, if I’m jogging or doing laundry, I would, in my mind, I’m writing lines.
I’m thinking, I’m thinking, Oh God, that’s right. I remember now that happened. And then that happened and it all would sort of marinate in my brain for a week or 10 days. And finally I’d hit critical mass and lunged for the keyboard to get it all down before I forgot it. So I think if most people, if you just think about a period of time period in your life and think about it and think about it and you’ll, you’ll discover, you’re starting to remember things you didn’t even realize that you did remember.
Yes. That’s how it works for me.
Jeff: Well, and there’s a, there’s a great quote that you have in your book. Then if you don’t mind, I’m just gonna read the quote that’s okay. You you’re describing how you know, your fascination with voice acting the car and the actor, Peter Sellers, and you wrote whether you knew it, it was him or not.
What struck me was how well defined the characters were with just an [00:59:00] adjustment, his voice and his amazing skill as an actor. So those create a character so real, you can see them in your mind’s eye. They weren’t just silly voices. They were sill believable characters and seem to actually exist now. I assume that’s kind of that informed you, right.
And how you went about
Neil Ross: things. That’s what I was striving for. And that’s the part that I, I mentioned about acting, you know, it’s not enough just to do a silly voice or an unusual voice or what, any kind of voice you have to be able to create a living, breathing character within the parameters of whatever show you’re on.
Obviously a Archer is going to have a different point of view from the Simpsons. So you have to sort of lock into the point of view of your show, but then you have to yes, yes, absolutely. I mean, that was the part that fascinated me about Peter Sellers in this show called the goon show, which I mentioned, which is from England.
I mean, he would come up with these insane voices, but [01:00:00] somehow they seem to live and breathe and exist. You, you would get a mint, it was a radio show. You would get a mental picture in your mind of this character. They became very, very real. And that’s what I always strove for when I worked is not just do the voice, but try to bring that voice to life.
Jeff: So when, when you did have a character, how do you go about not finding the voice, but finding the character? Is it, is it through a full script reading? Did you like underlying key characters, characterization moments? How do you go about literally finding the character or discover the character for yourself?
Neil Ross: Well, it’s always been relatively simple for me. It’s you know, you have a character and you have a script and there was a story taking place and your character is part of that story. And somehow I just know how to read the lines or how to perform the lines, I should say. Based on the context of the the episode I’m doing or the moving I’m doing [01:01:00] and the the traits of the character that have been described by the people who created it.
And it just as Ernie Anderson said to us once, and it’s sounded deceptively simple, but he’s right. He said, just read the words and, and that’ll tell you how to say them. You have to think the thought behind it, you know, the characters pissed off. Why I, if you analyze why, and now you have a reason to be pissed off and, and, and you portray that, you know,
Jeff: I really do like the knife.
And I really appreciate that because I do wonder if sometimes. The people are so caught up in just doing the line that they’re not thinking about the lines themselves, especially considering how many, like you said, you guys can be working 40, 50 jobs in a year that I wonder if everyone takes the effort that you do in creating your
[01:02:00] Neil Ross: characters.
I think they do. I think most of my fellow actors understand how this works. It’s sometimes it’s very difficult, especially when you’re doing lines out of context. I have to look at the, I have to understand the story I have to read the line and the other character is gonna say, even if it takes up time, and then I got to think, how, how did, how, how are they, how is that actor going to.
Play that line. That’s why I don’t like working alone. I like working with the other actors. Cause sometimes their line reading gives you a whole different way to go with your line that you hadn’t thought of until you hear the way they say the feed line. It’s almost like a tennis volley, a really good tennis volley where you don’t even care who wins.
It’s just such a great volley, you know?
Jeff: And I said that, I just think that it’s just, it’s really kind of fascinating do, when you are doing the lines, are you able to add Lebar? Is that something that you do as well? Like try living it or do [01:03:00] you stick to the script usually?
Neil Ross: You know, if I think of something that I think is really killer I’ll ad lib.
And sometimes they’ll say, Hey, that was funny. Yeah. Well, let’s leave that in other times. They’ll say Neil, could you just do it as written please? And you’re okay. I guess that line didn’t. But we mentioned Rob Paulson earlier, he had, he had lived a lot of stuff when I worked with him on the mask.
Just brilliant, just brilliant. And so usually usually if and, and most of them are pretty good people, you know, the director is open to something that if you get a really good idea, you throw it out there. So, as I said, sometimes they’ll say, please do it as written.
Jeff: Once again. You also mentioned your book, a very prominent moment in your life.
You were in 2003, the announcer for the 75th. Academy awards, Oscars and you experience, I kind of found it fascinating that you compare the [01:04:00] experience. You said to a near death experience and you and your life kind of like in the way that your life flashes before your eyes doing it. Yeah. What flashes more readily?
The positive moments or the negative moments?
Neil Ross: Probably a mix of both. And sadly, I tend to focus on the negative. You know, the last five, 10 minutes before you go on the air, this is a worldwide telecast. And in addition to the 30, 40 million people who are watching it in the United States, it’s, I don’t know how many more in the English speaking world.
And in the auditoriums, that’s the cream of Hollywood and you want to be the last person who screws up in that situation. So it really is the last five or 10 minutes. You’re, you’re just going out of your mind. It’s like waiting to be executed, you know? And so I just found myself ruminating on, on the, the strange circuitous [01:05:00] journey it had taken to take me from a 250 watt, daytime, only radio station in Arizona to this worldwide telecast.
And then sadly, because of my negative personality, I thought of all the people who had tried to tinkle on my parade over the years, And I put them in an imaginary set of bleachers and I had them sit there and then I spoke to them and I said, I am going to do something in a couple of minutes that not one of you in your wildest dreams could ever think of doing.
I’d just sit there and watch me do this and watch me do this flawlessly. And thank goodness. That’s the way it worked out. Thanks. In large part to my co announcer, Randy Thomas, who got me through it.
Jeff: Well, why don’t you think, as you also mentioned I mean, I, it has to be an extremely nervous situation.
[01:06:00] And as you know, anyone knows when you are nervous, the one way your, or the primary way your nerves tend to show in people is in their voice. How have you learned to control that part of you that doesn’t reveal the nerves in your voice? But like I said, that’s usually the telltale sign of nerves. Is that sound your cracking voice.
Maybe it’s almost, it could be a starter view or one of those and you start, like I knew. And so how, how do you not, how do you hide that part of you when that your job is to talk, which is the revealing aspect of it?
Neil Ross: I think it’s just the fact that I’ve done it a long, long time. And once in a while, I’ll go into the panic mode and I have to take a quick meeting with myself and say, listen, Charlie Brown, you’ve been at this a long time.
There is no reason for you to be nervous and will anybody give a damn about any of this in a hundred years? So just settle down and do your job. And then that’s, [01:07:00] that usually seems to solve the problem.
Jeff: So the, the book that you wrote a vocal recall is a phenomenally well robe, a well-written book. It’s also a fascinating journey through the history of voice work as well, because I mean, you’ve been doing it since you’ve been doing it for so long.
Are you going to write another?
Neil Ross: I don’t think so. Unless I get some really great idea, but no, I don’t seem to, it’s funny. I probably could have made my living as a writer, but I’m just really lazy. I really had to force myself to do it. And you know, you got to, if you’re going to be a serious writer, you have to carve out a three, four hour period every day and write.
And no exceptions, you know, and I’ve just, I just don’t have that discipline or that desire, but I’m, I cannot tell you how delightful it is to have an English teacher telling me the book was well-written. I appreciate that. Well,
Jeff: it was my pleasure. It was my pleasure to read it. [01:08:00] There’s, like I said, in, in, in when I’m going to do these podcasts, I got to read a lot of stuff and watch a lot of stuff and it’s not always good, but, but the book was
Neil Ross: fascinating.
Oh, thank you. I appreciate that. I really do. That’s. That’s good to hear. This is my pleasure.
Jeff: So what, what are you working on now?
Neil Ross: Most of a lot of what we do, they ask us to sign non-disclosure agreements because they they’re afraid of having their ideas stolen. And I’ve gotten to the point where I’m terrified to talk about what happened in gym class in high school, because I signed an NDA for that. The one thing I think I can talk about is the game show, press your luck is coming back for a third season.
Congrats. And I’m the announcer on that. And I also do the voice of the whammy and I try to speed it up. So you wouldn’t know it’s me, but I can tell you about that. But everything else, like I [01:09:00] have to keep under wraps. Well,
Jeff: can you at least hint, are you doing something that’s already established or is this something new, like a new program or an established program?
Neil Ross: Oh, I, you know, I’m mostly games now. And you know, when those will see the light of day, I have no idea. Sometimes it takes them years before they put them on the market. So
Jeff: is that hard to do something and knowing that they’re like, how do you mentally get, get used to knowing that the work you do now may not see the light of day for an extended amount of time?
Neil Ross: You know, you live with it. I mean, you know, the, the animation stuff, a lot of the time we did, we never even saw it because it ran in the afternoons and we were all working. So it was a lot of GI Joe. I never saw it as a lot of transformers. I never saw they don’t, they don’t
Jeff: give you free copies.
Neil Ross: No,
[01:10:00] Jeff: that’s up to them.
That’s unfortunate. But I will say Mr. Ross, it was a great pleasure to talk with you, your license. You’re absolutely fascinating. And like I said, you you’ve done some voice work on some of my favorite characters growing up, so thank you for helping my childhood
Neil Ross: develops. Pleasure. Thank you for making my middle age.
Jeff: So, thank you so much, sir. It was, it was a great pleasure.
Neil Ross: Can I work in a plug for the book, a shameless plug for the book you most certainly cancer have alluded to it. It’s called vocal recall subtitled the life and radio and voiceovers by yours, truly Neil Ross. There’s a website you can go to, to find out more.
And that would be www Neil book.com and I L B O O k.com. And yes, there is an audio version and yes it is available on audible. So it’s a there’s an audio version. There’s a print version. There’s a Kindle [01:11:00] version, whatever you want. And I will, if you need smoke all
Jeff: well, I will point out for our listeners as well.
If you check this interview, the links will be provided underneath the underneath the show. Sounds good. All right. Thank you so much, Mr. Razi. You are fantastic,
Neil Ross: Jeff. I appreciate it. It’s good being with you