Katie Griffin Interview

Hey, fans! We have another interview for you. This interview was conducted via e-mail shortly after FanExpo 2012 (which occurred in August).

We’re pleased to bring you the final version now. Katie was wonderful about answering lots of questions for you!

Katie Griffin

Moon Chase: How did you get started in acting and what was your first big break in acting?

Katie Griffin: When I was 15, I did a play at Ryerson Theatre (just auditioned for the fun of it, but ended up getting the role), and from there I got noticed by my first Agent. I was then auditioning and booking various commercials, and small parts on Canadian Television and movies-of-the-week. I stuck with that Agent through high school, but then started to feel like I could handle bigger things, so I moved on to a different Agent. I started to book bigger parts, and really felt as though I was making some head-way, but Canada is a very interesting place to have a career. There is no ‘star-system’ here in Canada, so you can book a lead in a film, and it really doesn’t mean anything. Your resume is really only as good as your last acting job. So, what was my first real break? I don’t really know. My very first series lead was Sailor Moon!! That felt pretty great!! But, to tell you the truth, when I booked it no one told me (how could anyone have known) that it was going to be an insanely popular show!! Sailor Moon had a huge impact on my career, because I honestly feel that I got the confidence I have now, from that show. That show led to other animated series, and kick-started my voice-over career. ….which quite frankly I’m far more proud of than anything I’ve ever done in front of the camera. I’ve been with my voice Agents, Edna and Paul my whole career. I owe them a lot.

Moon Chase: Over the years you have worked with a lot of “big name” actors such as Nicole kidman, Taye Diggs, Billy Ray Cyrus, Glenn Close, and Alicia Silverstone to name a few. Which one stands out in your mind as your best film experience and who did you learn the biggest lesson from?

Katie Griffin: I worked with Rob Lowe, playing his love interest in a movie called, “Too Late to Say Goodbye”. I had a fantastic time working with him. He’s actually hilarious. Very down-to-earth, and just an overall great guy. The biggest lesson I’ve learned probably came from Nicole Kidman. Not that I could ever be the ‘high-maintenance’ actor on a film set, my mom would kill me, but Nicole was simply lovely to everyone around her. She respected everyone on that film set, from the Director to her fellow actors as well as the crew. I will always show up to a voice record or a film set on time and with a smile. This is a crazy industry to try and make a living at, but if you enjoy being there, and respect the people you’re working with, the whole experience becomes a lot more enjoyable.

Moon Chase: Who would you like to work with in the future?

Katie Griffin: Hmmmm, good question. I’d like a crack at a juicy, emotional scene with Meryl Streep. I’d also like to star in an animated Disney film, or Pixar. ….mostly so that I could go and see it with my boys. 🙂

Moon Chase: Many of our readers don’t know that you are also a singer! How did you come to record your first album, “Kiss Me Chaos” and how did you come up with the title of that album?

Katie Griffin: My first album was born out of a fluke! I was recording an Excel gum jingle for a friend, and at the end of the session, I played a few of my songs for him on a guitar. I asked him if I should turn them into a demo, just to have, and he suggested I meet with a musician/producer friend from the band, JAMES (Laid) who had just come back from the U.K. That was Michael Kulas. Michael and I hit it off right away, and he really liked my songs and wanted to produce them! And, VOILA! ….then I married him. (tee hee hee….what a cliche) The name Kiss Me Chaos, basically came from a Taming of the Shrew reference. Growing up I was a pretty strong kid, and my mom sometimes referred to me as “Kate the Shrew”. Anyway, long story even longer, there is a musical based on this play, called “Kiss Me Kate”, and it’s a play on that.

Moon Chase: Many years ago, there was talk of a second album. You wrote a beautiful song for your nephew that you performed at Playing for Parker that had The Rivoli in tears – is there any chance of this track being released?

Katie Griffin: Ha! That second album is still being talked about. I have six songs. Four more, and it’s an album! Work and having two boys just seemed to get in the way. Making an album is an all or nothing process for me. If I can’t commit 100% of myself, I just don’t want to do it. Oh, did I mention I’m a perfectionist. lol. Awwww, that’s so nice that you remember that song. I actually did record it. If I were more technically inclined, I would somehow post it for you, but I really have no idea how to do that. Send it as an attachment?? The track will never be released on an album, but it’s a very special, personal song, and I’m glad I have it as a demo.

Moon Chase: Which do you prefer – acting on camera or acting in voice for cartoons and why?

Katie Griffin:I would be a complete hypocrite to say that I didn’t want to act on camera any more, but the truth is, I’m pretty sure I’m a better voice actress. I love being a cartoon. I’m kinda good at it, and I’m a lucky duck to be able to make a good living at it, so if for some crazy reason I HAD to choose, I’ve had a much better relationship with my voice career, and that’s where my loyalty would lie.

Moon Chase: The Rhythmoband method isn’t in use much any more, but some actors preferred this method over the beep method (and found it more fun to record using Rhythmoband). Which one do you prefer and why?

Katie Griffin: I prefer to do original animation!!! Hahaha. Rythmoband or ANY form of dubbing is a challenge, because aside from stifling your acting, it’s a challenge to be that accurate, while giving a performance you’re proud of. The beep method is a little easier, though.

Amanda: When is your birthday?

Katie Griffin:January 14th, 1973. Yup! I’m turning 40 in January!!! AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!! ….I’m really not looking forward to it.

Moon Chase: How did you find out about the auditions for Sailor Moon and what was the audition like?

Katie Griffin: The original Darien/Tuxedo Mask, Rino Romano and I were good friends, and he suggested to the Producer that she should audition me. I got the audition, and truthfully I didn’t think much of it after I left. I couldn’t believe it when I booked it!

Moon Chase (and Corey): Was Sailor Mars the only character you auditioned for or played in the series?

Katie Griffin: I think so. Susan Roman said she auditioned for Sailor Moon, but I’m pretty sure I auditioned for Sailor Mars from the get-go.

Moon Chase: How did you come up with the right voice for the role? Was it hard to come up with a voice that could be sort of a bully, yet sweet at times?

Katie Griffin: Ha! When I auditioned I no idea she was a bully. I actually never saw her that way. I always felt like she and Serena were just different personalities, but they loved each other like sisters, and FOUGHT like sisters do. I always felt like they were the closest of friends.

Moon Chase: How many episodes did you record a week? Was it hard to sustain her voice for long periods of time (especially when she had to yell a lot)?

Chris T: Was it difficult to take care of your voice while playing Raye/Sailor Mars (because of all the shouting)?

Katie Griffin: It was sooooooo long ago. I was just a pup. My voice could really endure a lot. Now, I take care of it a lot more. …tea, rest etc. We sometimes recorded two or three episodes a day, but I don’t remember ever feeling like my voice was strained. I play Alex on Totally Spies, and her voice is super high-pitched. I can really only record a couple episodes at a time.

Taylor: Your rendition of “Oh Starry Night” is extremely beautiful and is one of my absolute favourite moments from the show, is there a reason why your version was never released?

Katie Griffin: I remember singing Oh Starry Night, but I can’t remember if it was ever recorded????? I know that when I suggested to the Producer that I could sing it, she told me it had already been recorded. Weird , that they never asked me if I could actually sing.

Moon Chase: Raye was a unique character because she was also a miko (a shrine maiden) in the cartoon. Was this a bit of a culture shock to get used to? Did you do any outside research into Japanese culture to better understand her character?

Katie Griffin: Sadly, no. I wish I had known a lot more about her character back then. It was all pretty fast and furious with the records.

Moon Chase: Do you yourself have anything in common with Sailor Mars’ character?

Katie Griffin:I fight for what I believe in. I’m strong. I’m loyal. …and, I can be a bit stubborn. 🙂

Moon Chase: Sailor Mars was the bully of the group at times. What is your take on the friendship between Sailor Moon and Sailor Mars? Did you base your portrayal of her character on any “mean girls” that you knew? Were any of the scenes involving Serena and Raye challenging from an acting point of view?

Josh2Darien: What were your views/thoughts on the love/hate relationship between Serena & Raye?

Katie Griffin: I never really saw her as a bully. In the beginning, they were fighting over the same guy, so I just thought it was a ‘typical’ girl-battle. But, the truth is, I think that Rei and Serena were best friends. And, best friends fight. It was a personality clash, sometimes. Perhaps, viewing it that way, having that internal back story made the fighting easier to digest.

esahC: What exactly was the illness that cause you to not voice Rei for “The Lost Episodes”?

Katie Griffin: There was a lot of speculation as to why I didn’t record some of the episodes. The truth is, I went to L.A. for a while, and the show wouldn’t do a ‘phone patch’ while I was there. My good friend Emilie stepped in for those episodes until I got back. She is a tremendous actor, and I thought she was brilliant as Rei!! When I came back, she actually continued on as Sailor Venus!

ChibiGinger: Was it hard getting back into voicing Sailor Mars, after hearing someone else do her voice?

Katie Griffin: Nope. I had done so many episodes at that point, that I felt pretty comfortable coming back. Also, the truth is, I didn’t actually hear Emilie’s voice as Rei until much later. I thought we sounded pretty close!!

Moon Chase: Do you wish things would have worked out for Raye and Chad in the end? Or do you think she could have done better than him?

Katie Griffin: I totally wish that!! Chad was awesome, and he reeeeeeeally liked Raye!! (or Rei….I guess the English version is spelled Raye 🙂 )

Moon Chase: In December 2010 in Japan, the 5 actresses who played the 5 Sailor Scouts all got together for a reunion to celebrate the launch of the half-season boxsets in Japan. A lot of them spoke about how they felt for their characters during the worst battles they had to fight – did you ever feel like this was the case for you sometimes during the recording sessions?

Katie Griffin: This is a tricky question. I guess my honest response is, obviously I wanted Raye to come out strong, and survive, but I never got the script ahead of time, so I really didn’t have a lot of time to digest what was happening! I had to just hope for the best, and go for it!!

Moon Chase: What was your most memorable experience recording the series?

Katie Griffin: I had really great time recording this series. The people made it memorable for me. I can’t think of one specific moment. I just felt good going in and coming out of each and every record.

Salvatore: Do people recognize you as the voice of Sailor Mars?

Katie Griffin: Not really. My everyday voice is a lot different than Sailor Mars. Unless I specifically do her voice, I remain anonymous!!!

Anne: Did you have a favorite episode or scene? What was it like recording it?

Katie Griffin: I really liked the Raye/Chad/ Grandfather scenes. I can’t think of one specific scene, but I liked taking a breather from always butting heads with Serena.

Josh2Darien: Have you ever seen the final season (Sailor Stars) of the show? If so, what are your thoughts on it?

Katie Griffin: No, I haven’t!!! I would love to see it! I should try to find it.

Moon Chase: Did you ever think that this show would have become such a huge phenomenon around the world?

Katie Griffin: I knew that it was huge in Japan. There was just soooooooo much merchandise out there. But, never in a million years could I have predicted the impact the show would have on so many people. When I was in Vancouver a few weeks ago, I was blown away by the support for the show!!!
Note: Katie is referring to her appearance at Anime Revolution 2012

Tpirandsailormoon: Have you read [any of] the manga or [watched] the original Japanese anime of the series?

Katie Griffin: Truthfully, no. Vancouver was the first time I had ever even heard of the manga! I watched the original Japanese anime series every week during our recording sessions. We would watch the scene in Japanese first, and then record it in English.

Moon Chase: Do you have any Sailor Moon merchandise?

Katie Griffin: I have a TON of Sailor Moon merchandise! Because it was my very first series, I was very proud to be a part of it. I went to little China here in Toronto, and bought sooooooo much stuff. I have posters, backpacks, glasses, trading cards, keychains. My favourite is this comb/mirror set. Sailor Moon had the coolest merchandise ever!!!

Moon Chase: What do you think made Sailor Moon a special cartoon when it first broke out onto the scene?

Katie Griffin: I think Sailor Moon was special for a few reasons, first of all I found it pretty empowering that GIRLS were fighting all these bad guys. When this series came out, most of the action animation were guys fighting evil. Second of all, there were different Sailor scouts with different personalities, so girls (and guys) could relate to their favourites and role play! And, finally I think that each of the Sailor Scouts had very detailed back stories, and it became more than just a show. The characters were very REAL!

ChibiGinger: Were you upset that the last season was never [dubbed]? Did you even know [anything about it]?

Katie Griffin: I was upset when it ended. I didn’t even realize there was another season. Politics entered the picture, and that was the end.

Moon Chase: What do you think is Sailor Moon’s legacy, almost 17 years later?

Katie Griffin: Hmmmmmm, good question. I’ll have to think about this one. I’ll come back to it.

Moon Chase (and everyone else including Zozonae, Ecoreck, Jigglypuff2cute, tpirandsailormoon and Anne): If there was a complete redub of the series or a dub of the very last season, would you reprise your role if given the chance to?

(Note: one of the fans chose to extend this question…)

Jigglypuff2cute: and do you think they should just [rate] the last season as PG-13 [because] of certain things in it? … If they try to keep the last season (if they decide to air it in the US) rated for kids, it just wont be the same and there will be A LOT of confusion from all the [cuts]. I know I was kinda confused when I saw the sailor scouts first die. I didn’t even know they were dead untill I saw the ghosts giving princess Serenity power.

Katie Griffin: I would absolutely reprise my role, if asked!! It’s all going to depend on who gets the series. If it’s done in the US, I’m quite certain they’ll recast. I’m also pretty sure that regardless of where it goes, Canada/US it will get a PG-13 rating. I wish they would just leave it as is, but as ‘free’ as our countries are, there is always censorship. It’s a shame. I would love to see the show left in its truest form.

Moon Chase: Michie Tomizawa, the woman who played Sailor Mars in Japan commented at the event that she always features Sailor Moon on her resume because it has such a leading presence – do you share the same sentiments?

Katie Griffin: I don’t really have a voice over resume. Sailor Mars is a huge part of me, and if I’m auditioning for any form of animation and someone asks me what I’ve done, I always say Sailor Moon first. But, in Canada your voice resume (which people don’t really have) and on camera resume are totally different.

esahC: Did you [use] your experience on Sailor Moon to your advantage for other [shows], like your role in Totally Spies?

Katie Griffin: Not really. Maybe, I used my confidence from Sailor Moon, but Alex and Raye are soooooooooooo different. The only thing they have in common is the ability to kick some ass!!

Taylor: You’ve played goofball roles like Alex from Totally Spies, mean girl roles like Nina from Braceface and the mix of the two in Sailor Mars’ character, what kind of character do you like playing most?

Katie Griffin: Nina from Braceface was really fun to voice. I don’t think I have one single thing in common with Nina, so it was fun playing that role. I guess in the end, I like playing badass kind of characters. I was the original Ruby, on the show, Max & Ruby, but there was nothing badass about that bunny, and I really didn’t enjoy playing her that much. I also played Zair on Redakai. She’s pretty badass. Fun to play!!

Moon Chase: Of all the cartoon characters you have played, which one is your favorite and why?

Salvatore: Would you say playing Raye was one of your favorite roles?

Zozonae: What would you say was your most favourite role as a voice actor/actress and why?

Katie Griffin: Raye was my first voice over character ever, so she’s always going to be one of my favourites. But, I love Alex on Totally Spies because she’s such a sweetie, and a little ditzy. ….and yet, you wouldn’t want to mess with her.

Moon Chase: A long time ago you used to teach through Voiceworx – what was this experience like and do you have any inspiring stories from the classroom?

Katie Griffin: Teaching at Voiceworx was a little outside of my box. I loved sharing knowledge to people just breaking into the business, because it IS such a tough nut to crack. Hopefully, I was helpful to some.

Moon Chase: We came across an old interview you did with Animerica Magazine where you said you were training in Kung Fu and at the time you had a Blue Belt (this was waaayyy back in 1997). How much farther did you get? (NOTE: We have this scanned).

Katie Griffin: Ooooooh, I miss Kung Fu. I was obsessed. I was training for my brown belt when I left. I started to feel like the place I was training at was corrupt. I got a little disillusioned by it all, and took a break. ….a really looooong break. I’m going to train again someday. I love Kung Fu. I own over 80 Kung Fu movies!!! A lot of Golden Harvest productions from waaaaay back. Five Deadly Venoms is the BEST!!!

Moon Chase: Did you ever have any moments when you were training or sparring where you felt like Sailor Mars in the midst of battle at all?

Katie Griffin: Always. (wink)

Moon Chase: Any other upcoming productions that your fans can see you in?

Katie Griffin: I just recorded a Christmas special for CBC called, “The Magic Hockey Skates”. Not sure when it will air, but I play Mom, and a couple other characters. Also, if you’re in Canada I have a couple of commercials on the air right now, Wallmart (where the little boy is deciding between a ganola bar or a fruit cup) and a Baby Tylenol commercial, where it’s me and my real son, Wyatt!!! (that will be the only time I put him in the business, until he can decide for himself. My agent kind of talked me into bringing him, and I just looked at it as, ‘bring a kid to work’ day!) Oh well, it’s a start to his University or travel or whatever fund! My other little man, Jett, has absolutely no interest in acting.

Moon Chase: And with that, we have to blow out the temple flame! Thanks again Katie for this interview and we wish you the best of luck in the future!

Katie Griffin: Thanks!!! xo

An Interview with John Stocker

Hello Moon Chasers! Emily here. I had the opportunity to sit down with John Stocker at FanExpo Canada 2012 in Toronto for an interview. I took notes during the interview and I have typed up everything below. We hope you enjoy this interview, and we think you’ll be happy to read about how much he still loves Sailor Moon! You can also find more information about John Stocker’s voice acting and directing credits on his website.

And now on to the interview…

John Stocker

Natalie Brady: One of the biggest mysteries of Sailor Moon was who did the voice of Princess Snow Kaguya in Sailor Moon S The Movie: Hearts on Ice. Linda Ballantyne is sometimes unofficially credited as the voice actor for this role, but she said in an interview that she can’t remember if she voiced this character. Do you remember who provided the voice of Princess Snow Kaguya?

Due to a chaotic production schedule, where episodes and movies were randomly recorded at the same time, John is not surprised that Linda Ballantyne is unable to recall if she played the part of Princess Snow Kaguya. He said that some roles were uncredited simply because it could be difficult to attribute specific roles to specific actors/actresses after the fact. He also commented that he’s sure he has uncredited parts throughout Sailor Moon as well.

Natalie Brady: What was your favorite memory from working on [the Sailor Moon] movies?
Moon Chase: What were your favourite and least favourite parts about directing Sailor Moon?

His favourite memory of working on Sailor Moon, in general, was working with a wonderful cast. He likened the recording of Sailor Moon to a production line, as it was pumped out very quickly. Production values were not high for the series, and he found the popularity or “cult following” as he called it, to be random and surprising. Sailor Moon was also his first adventure in voice directing and happened rather unexpectedly after the previous voice director left the show.

He continues to work with some of the cast, which he enjoys. For example, he noted that he would be working with Katie Griffin on the Tuesday after FanExpo, and that they also worked together on Totally Spies! He also mentioned that Karen Bernstein is a talent agent now and he often sends his talented students to her agency.

His favourite moments were interacting with the cast. Although they didn’t hang out after recording sessions, many of them are still friends. He sees Katie, Susan, and Ron often.

His least favourite things about working on Sailor Moon were the high tension level of sessions and dealing with negative energy during production. For example, some people were fired on the spot or had to hear comments that they weren’t any good.

Moon Chase: If you could have played any character in Sailor Moon, which character (or type of character) do you think your voice would have suited the best?

Although John played some uncredited voices in Sailor Moon, he commented that he likes playing villains. If he could have played a recurring character, he said he would have liked to play Wiseman.

Moon Chase: Which character in any cartoon that you have acted in seems the most like your own personality?

After giving it some thought, John said that the character he’s played that seemed the most like his own personality would be Newton Gimmick from Teddy Ruxpin.

Moon Chase: We have heard that you were the voice of the original Mr. Mini-Wheats. Does this encourage fans of your work to give you gifts of Mini-Wheats?

John never receives gifts of Mini-Wheats, but he’s okay with that! He said the cereal is too sweet for him and he considers it a junk food. However, he very much enjoyed doing the voice!

Moon Chase: If more episodes of Sailor Moon were made, would you want to direct Sailor Moon again?

John responded to this question with a very enthusiastic “Absolutely!” He also said he would like to approach it in a different way and make it more edgy. He is willing to travel to direct more Sailor Moon, and would jump at the chance because he would love to work on it again. Production studios – take note! John Stocker really wants to direct more Sailor Moon. You can find his contact information on his website, and we’re sure he’d love to hear from you!

Moon Chase: When putting together the dubbed episodes of Sailor Moon, how much improvising was allowed for the voice acting cast in the studio?

In dubbing, John said that there is no improvising at all. They used the rhythmoband method at the time, and the script was very strict and based on lip flaps to match mouth movements on screen to the spoken dialogue. The only place they had flexibility would be when a character was seen from behind or you otherwise couldn’t see their mouth.

Moon Chase: You have worked with the voice cast of Sailor Moon in other productions as well. How have you noticed voice talents changing (theirs and yours) over the years?

Over the years, John feels that everyone has gotten better. He also noted that the voice business is highly competitive and there is little loyalty. Thus, it is necessary to keep improving all the time. He still works with talent from Sailor Moon because they are good at what they do, including Katie Griffin and Tony Daniels. He hasn’t worked with Vince since Sailor Moon though.

He also commented that some of the cast had worked together before Sailor Moon, and some of the voice talent sounded very similar. For example, Tracey Moore and Terri Hawkes both played the same character in Care Bears, called Shreeky (the nemesis of “Beastly” who was played by John), and their voices were almost identical in that performance. Likewise, they both played the title character in Sailor Moon, and fans often don’t notice where the switch happened (Tracey voiced the first 14 episodes, then it switched to Terri)

Moon Chase: What are some of the qualities that you feel a great voice actor needs to make it in the animation industry?

In order to make it in the animation industry, a great voice actor needs to have a very good understanding of context to play their part well. They need to be willing to do their homework, including reading the whole script and not just their own lines. They should also be able to read lines as though they are their own dialogue. Related to this, John mentioned that the cast of Sailor Moon would watch the episodes in Japanese before recording sessions, to hear the original emotion and inflection for each role in different scenes.

Moon Chase: What do you think is Sailor Moon’s legacy almost 17 years later?

John considers Sailor Moon to be a very iconic series, and expects it to be around for several more generations. He thinks that even if it isn’t airing many years from now, it will continue to be referenced.

Moon Chase: Have you heard about the Sailor Moon revival? How do you feel about Sailor Moon returning to countries around the world and being aired for the first time in some countries that never aired Sailor Moon before?

He has heard about the revival and he thinks it’s great, although he was a little disappointed that he didn’t get to join the anniversary event at Anime Revolution in 2012. He said that the hype that is preceding Sailor Moon right now is going to generate a lot of interest when it comes back to North America. He also said one of the things he loves about Sailor Moon is that it’s harmless and purely entertainment.

Moon Chase: What is your educational background and what kinds of influences led you to working in anime and cartoons as well as directing?

John has always liked doing voices and has a facility for it. People who hired him in the past noticed his talent, but he was also lucky to be in the right place at the right time. He feels very blessed in his career.

He also likes to make people laugh. He said he prefers to have some fun at work, and make people laugh at work for a positive environment. He says that animation is a light form of entertainment and it “won’t change the world” so it doesn’t need to have a serious approach. He feels that it is important to have fun with it because it is a fun medium. He also said that a cure for cancer or having no more war would change the world, not whether Sailor Mars turns left or right.

Moon Chase: If you can choose a series to direct, what kind of series do you find the most creatively satisfying to work on?

John loves to work on series for “really little kids.” He doesn’t like these shows to be overly simplistic, he likes them to be a little edgy and push the envelope a little. He thinks kids can understand more than they are often given credit for, so he likes to work on shows that are catered to their intelligence. He also loves being able to work with kids too, because they’re very off the wall and spontaneous.

Moon Chase: What advice do you have for fans aspiring to work as a voice actor and/or director?

John’s advice for getting into the business and working as a voice actor and/or director is not to do it, because you’ll be taking away some of his work! In all seriousness though, John’s advice if you would like to succeed as a voice actor is to take lessons, study, and practice. He said you should be diligent and be ready to sacrifice a lot because your time will no longer be your own. Also, you will need to have a flexible day job, at least when starting out, so that you have time for taking lessons and going to auditions.

Moon Chase: Anything else you’d like to share with the readers of Moon Chase?

John’s final thoughts for the readers of Moon Chase – if anyone has any influence when it comes to Sailor Moon, he would love help to get the chance to direct more Sailor Moon. And he will repay the favour with laughter and love!

Moon Chase: Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview you! It’s been a pleasure and we are sure fans will be happy to hear how much you still love Sailor Moon! We hope to hear that you will be directing more episodes in the future!

Photo courtesy of John Stocker. Used with permission.