Interview With Ian Corlett
Now this was just a complete damn surprise. I was sitting there blissfully checking my mail one day, watching as the usual subject headers trickled in. "Your Site," "DBZ," "Opinion for the Site," "MAKE 5000 DOLLARS AN HOUR WITH OUR MONEY-MAKING SYSTEM!" and so on. Then I saw "hey," and I happened to glance at the sender. It read "Ian James Corlett."

"Hmm" I thought to myself "I'd better read that again." Still there. Ian James Corlett. Alright, third times the charm. Surely the hallucination will wear off on the third glance, curse that Mountain Dew anyway, I've been drinking entirely too much of that stuff. And the fact that I've been playing Arkanoid for the past two hours straight probably isn't helping either." But... it was still there. Either some little bastard fanboy was playing tricks on me, or by some insane twist of fate, Ian Corlett himself, the first and by far the best of Goku's 3 English voices, had decided to e-mail ME.

So I read the message.

It was him. I could tell. It just had that "Ian Corlett" aura about it. Heh. OK, OK, so I'm full of crap, there was no Ian Corlett aura. But several clues tipped me off to the message's authenticity, so I just went on the assumtption that this was indeed the real thing. His message was short, thanking me for the compliments on my site about his performance, and (gasp) OFFERING ME AN INTERVIEW! "Unthinkable" I thought. "Not only does the guy e-mail me, but he's actually giving me an open invitation to rattle off my inane questions to him!"

Well this was all just unbelievably cool, so I started on the interview immediately, got sidetracked for far too many days, and finally got the thing off to him. Within four days, I had his responses (the guy's fast!).

So, without further ado, I now present the second exclusive "DBZ Uncensored" interview. Ladies and gentleman, the TRUE English Goku, Mr. Ian Corlett!

First of all, I'm dying to know, how did you find my site? And what on Earth posessed you to write to me? It was quite a shock to say the least.
Don't you ever punch your name into a search engine and see what happens? Basically I guess it's equal parts paranoia and ego which brought me there. I thought your opinions where worth replying to.
For the benefit of those who don't know your work all that well, what are some of your other voice credits?
I was "Coconuts" in Sonic the Hedgehog. I enjoyed doing that voice mostly because the sessions were fun and I feel very comfortable as a monkey. I was "Bob" in season three of Reboot. I played "Pompeii Pete" in the Wacky World of Tex Avery - I REALLY had fun with that guy, he spoke nothing but pidgin Latin-Italian which I completely improvised. I was also Dr. Hiss, a flamingly evil character on a soon-forgotten show called ZZBots (BotsMaster). A character named "Elwood" in The Littlest Pet Shop - that was another fun voice, a real goof. Unfortunately, the show didn't fulfill the promise that the scripts showed, but I did make a nice friendship out of it with Andrea Romano, the voice director (WB voice director for Animaniacs, Pinky & the Brain etc.) Not sure if I have a favorite, But I really enjoyed the final product of a series we did that only aired in Europe, called Captain Zed and the Zee Zone, I played a nightmare named Mutter. It was a very well done series.
How did you get into the voice-acting business, and more specifically, how did you land the role of Goku in Dragon Ball Z?
Around 1984 I decided to weasel my way into voicing radio commercials. At that time there was a core group of voice actors doing them here in Vancouver, and our town was pretty busy. I targeted the market, picked a specialty (dialects), made several bad demos, and hammered on every production company and ad agency's door I could. Eventually someone hired me for a radio spot. In the late 80's animation work started to come to town and I was already in the loop. The dubbing side of things began around '93 I think. My history with Dragonball goes back to FUNimation's beginnings. BLT productions had lured them to town with a package of studio, voice talent and professionalism. I met with Barry and Gen when they first came to town eager to learn about dubbing. You see I'm also a writer (see the early episodes of DB credits) and we were hashing out a lot of things. They looked like a couple of accountants to be honest. Really good guys. I ended up getting along with Barry very well.
Why did you leave the show? Was this your decision or someone else's? The generally accepted reason is that you could no longer do the show because of "other commitments," and I'm wondering if that's the truth.
Without blowing my own horn too hard, I'm very good at dubbing (speedy). But dubbing work is grueling. It's quite likely to sit in a dark booth for a full 8 hour day, grinding out multiple episodes of a given show. That's what DBZ was like. Honestly it all came down to $$. Especially when the project moved to the Ocean Group. They are notorious for chiseling and paying fractions of what actor's are paid elsewhere. To their credit, that's how they get the work. The Ocean group and I don't really see eye to eye. But I simply got tired. I drew the line on all dubbing work after that (at Ocean that is). Without going into the gory details, basically I asked for about $250 more per episode - and that's CANADIAN $$!! (I think that works out to about .29 cents US. no?). I guess my "other commitments" where to anything else willing to pay what I'm worth - and my sanity, of course.
In your initial message to me, you said that we (the fans) should "let FUNimation know about it" if we preferred your work to that of your successors. Any particular reason why you said this? Are you indicating that you would like to return to the show?
Hey, I love to work. And as I said before, my relationship with Barry and FUNimation was good. I just think it's cheesy when actors are replaced because of what amounts to chump change. I mean I wasn't pulling a "Seinfeld" by any means. They also realized I was prepared to walk. I could make more $$ washing windows for goodness sake!
As I'm sure you're aware by now, Japanese anime fans take the art form very seriously, and are quite protective and critical of the North American adaptations of these shows since they are so often treated with disrespect. Knowing that you will be more closely scrutinized, do you approach your work on an anime series with a different attitude than you would on an American show like Beast Wars or Reboot?
No. Every job is important. I'm just happy and intrigued when people really get turned on by it.
Do you ever listen to the Japanese performances or try to emulate them?
Occasionally, but only when a translation isn't working out.
How is doing ADR for a Japanese show different than the normal "record the voices first" kind of production? Which do you enjoy more?
I guess I've kind of answered that. Frankly, I prefer the "prelay" work more. You can be more creative vocally. That said it's all a balancing act. I liked dubbing and was one of the best in town at it but I'm in the voice BUSINESS, and it just wasn't doing it for me.
Have you seen the Japanese version of DBZ? What do you think of the censoring and alterations?
Not really. I'm not against taking out the "pee pee", "tinkle," and "undies" stuff. I never really did see the appeal of that.
What do you think of FUNimation's decision to move the voicing of DBZ from Vancouver to Texas? Have you seen the new episodes? If so, what do you think of them?
Frankly I didn't even know that until you mentioned it. Sounds like a business decision to me. Barry must've gotten tired of the flights. I don't blame him. And I haven't seen any of the episodes, no.
I have heard on many occasions that North American voice actors (especially the Canadian studios) are not treated well by their employers. It is my understanding that there was even a strike recently for better pay. I noticed that your name isn't even listed in the voice credits for Dragon Ball Z, and (as is the case with too many shows) none of the actors are credited specifically by character. All of this suggests to me a chronic lack of appreciation for voice talent in the industry, a "who cares who these people are" mentality. Is this actually the case?
You're right on all counts. See above.
Do people ever recognize your voice?
Rarely. The odd commercial VO perhaps. Heck, my mom never recognizes it. The other day my wife was telling me about this funny TV ad she saw. SHE didn't even recognize that I did the VO on it!!
Out of everything you've done in your career, what is the role that you are most proud of?
Not really sure. Again, see above (question 2?)
I would like to end this by saying that we, the fans, miss the Ocean Group very much after hearing the new cast. And we have been missing you ever since you left the show. I think it's safe to say that everyone, from the Japanese version purists to the newbies, thought that you were perfect as Goku. Good dubbing is a rare and precious thing, and it is deeply appreciated by anime fans. Is there anything else you'd like to say to the readers of this site?
Thank you.

That's about it! Again, as with the Peter Kelamis interview, I'm extremely pleased that Ian Corlett was nice enought to take the time to do this for us. So on behalf of the fans and myself, thank you VERY much Ian! You are, truly, "the man."

I hope you guys were happy with the way this one turned out, because I'm actually feeling a bit...unfulfilled. And not with Ian's responses by any means, they were great, and I found them to be very intelligent, informative, and well thought out. I just wish that I could have come up with some better questions, but I had a hard time thinking of any that (1) I hadn't asked Peter and (2) would be relevant to the site. Oh well. For some reason, I felt like I had to get this thing up as fast as possible, and it probably would have helped if I had waited a bit longer. Or asked for question suggestions from you guys like I did last time.

That's not to say I'm completely disappointed in the results. Far from it, I love to hear about the particulars of the voice-acting business. And we learned some good stuff here. That Gen and Barry look like accountants. That Barry is a nice guy (I really shouldn't have railed on the poor fellow so much!) Most importantly, we finally know why we lost Ian after all. The Ocean Group apparently doesn't believe that their talent deserves more than slave wages. Good for you Ian, leaving was the right thing to do. You deserve better, most of the original cast deserved better, in fact.

And hey, any interview in which someone says "pee pee" is pretty damned fantastic in my book. You're just not going to see something that cool in Newsweek.

I think my next interviewee should be someone who actually pulls the strings on the show itself, a FUNimation employee. The voice actors are certainly an important part of the show, and I love to hear their side, but I want to start asking the hard questions... the ones that we've all been waiting for answers to for the past 3 years. Only those involved with the actual production can supply them.

Finally, once again, none of you would-be stalkers will be getting Ian's e-mail address. He asked me specifically to keep it in confidence, and I fully intend to do just that. But if you feel there's something that you absolutely MUST say, feel free to send it to me and I'll be happy to forward it.