Hey Moonies! We now present you with the first part of our exclusive interview with Ron Rubin (Artemis)! Ron speaks of his early days in acting and writing, beloved characters from the many cartoons he has acted in, and the very famous celebrity Artemis’ voice is based on. Who is it? Read on and find out!
MC: Thanks Ron for doing this! How is your summer going?
RR: It’s my absolute pleasure. Thanks for contacting me … it’s great to know that Sailor Moon and its Moonies (is that correct to say … hope I didn’t insult anyone) are still going strong.
First of all, I really have to apologize for the delay in getting this back to you. But I’ve been dealing with some back issues and that has had me sidelined for a while.
Anyway, my summer was nice … got in a bit of traveling and worked on a few new cartoon series.
MC: How did you get started in acting?
image from enotes.com
RR: I think I caught the ‘bug’ very early in life at a summer camp I used to go to. I went there for a few summers between the ages of 10 and 13. We would put on plays and do sketches…
it was a very creative atmosphere. That’s when I started doing voices and impressions. Now cut ahead a decade to when I was going to university. Myself and my friend started a half hour weekly comedy show at the campus radio station. We wrote, directed and voiced it. That’s when I really started working more seriously on my craft. The radio show turned into a stage show that toured around the country. The year I finished my university degree I moved to Toronto (from Winnipeg) and began doing improv with Second City. Then I hit the “Stand Up” stage and toured North America as a featured performer. I spent most of my early twenties on the road doing my voices and telling my jokes to all sorts of audiences in all sorts of places. I think I was 23 when I decided I wanted to become a more “serious” actor, so I moved to New York and was accepted at a wonderful acting school … The Neighborhood Playhouse. It was a great time in my life … a very creative time … doing acting classes by day and performing at the comedy clubs at night.
image from burnallzombies.com
When I moved back to Toronto I landed a bunch of national commercials and a few television shows. But more importantly I booked my first cartoon series. It was ‘Beetlejuice’ and Tim Burton was at the helm. I played half a dozen different roles in the series and totally fell in love with the genre. Back then (mid eighties) there were only a handful of us voicing cartoons in Canada and the work was plentiful. Beetlejuice was followed by C.O.P.S. and Police Academy and Stckin’ Around and Stunt Dawgs and … a whole lot of other series. Then I had the opportunity to work with Stan Lee and Marvel comics in the X-Men and Avenger series. And of course, who can forget Sailor Moon. (sorry, I think I was rambling on there).
MC: We’ve learned you were also a writer for Sharon, Lois, and Bram’s Elephant Show. Did writing for TV shows influence your decision to act?
RR: Actually writing came as a result of acting. I was hired to be the guest star in the Elephant Show. I had so much fun doing it I kept thinking of ideas that I could write and perform. I came up with a concept of doing an old time radio show … the kind with the old fashioned microphones and casting myself (of course as the one doing all the voices and sound effects. They loved the idea and so I wrote the script and we shot it. If I’m not mistaken, I think it won an award for best children’s show that year. I’ve also written several other shows as well as sold pilots for television series. Some sold, others didn’t. I spent a short time in L.A. writing a series. That one sold … but never got developed. I love writing … I should be doing more of it. I’m working on writing a new cartoon series currently … I’ll let you know if it goes anywhere.
Editor’s Note: Watch him in this show here! We especially love his singing of Skidamarink at the end!
Esahc: What would you say is your influences for your writing career?
RR: Probably similar to my early comedy career. I grew up watching a lot of the old time masters … W.C. Fields, the Marx Bros., Charlie Chaplin, etc. Also the stand ups of my generation … early George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Robin Williams (who I got the opportunity to perform with later in my stand up career), and of course the impressionists … I was always fascinated by the voices they could make. I tried (for hours on end) to attempt to imitate them. My parents had an old Rich Little Album (I don’t know what’s dating me more here … Rich Little or the fact it was an album) … I spent a whole summer memorizing his set and doing all his voices. But my biggest influence (not in writing but in voice work) was Mel Blanc. He did all the Looney Toons characters … Bugs, Daffy, etc. When I was really young I once saw him being interviewed on Johnny Carson … I couldn’t believe my ears … I was absolutely fascinated with all the different voices coming out of him. I think right then I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. And hey, by some weird luck and circumstances … I’m lucky enough to be doing it.
MC: We also read you used to make comedic home-videos with Canadian TV producer Allan Novak (The Party Time series) – can you tell us a little more about what these were?
RR: Boy, you guys are good with your research … how did you even know about that!
Allan and I shared a house together and every year we would throw a big party for our friends. Allan was working on and editing ‘Kids in the Hall’ at the time and had access to camera’s and studios. So each year we wrote and filmed a somewhat elaborate video that was shown at the party on monitors placed around the house. It got quite a following. Boy, that memory brings me back a lot of years.
MC: Will you ever do comedy again?
RR: Do you mean ‘stand up’ ? If so, I’m not sure. It was great in my twenties but it takes a lot of commitment and you’re on the road quite a bit. That being said, I miss doing it. Performing live in front of an audience with material that you might have written the same day was an amazing experience. I miss the adrenaline buzz … and the creative process. Don’t know if I’ll ever do that again. But I’m sure glad I experienced it when I did.
MC: Why did you make the transition from on-camera work to voice work? Will we ever see you on camera acting again?
RR: I did a lot of on-camera work earlier in my career. In my twenties and early thirties I performed in quite a few national tv commercials, a few television series and the odd movie. But after being introduced to the world of animation I truly fell in love with it. Slowly but surely I found myself doing more and more animation and less on-camera work. I eventually made the transition to voicing cartoons and commercials full time and stepping away from the camera. I’ve been lucky enough to make my living solely on voice work. I may one day return to television or film again … never say never … but for now I’m very content working behind the microphone as opposed to in front of the camera.
MC: In 2007 you were nominated for an ACTRA Toronto award for your work on Erky Perky as the very conniving Frenzel (even though you didn’t win you are still a winner with us)! What made this role special for you?
RR: I didn’t mind losing that award. It went (posthumously) to a dear friend of mine (Len Carlson) who unfortunately passed away the year prior. He was a mentor to me … taught me a lot about the business of animation and voice work. Frenzel was a really fun character … one of my all time fav’s. He was a really gross bug that had ingested far too much insecticide. He was gross and slimey and weazly … and I tried to create a voice to match his personality. I hope I did.
MC: Now it’s time to talk about Sailor Moon! We’re trying to bring the fans as many stories as we can of the show since this year marks the 15th anniversary of the show. What do you remember about the casting call and the auditions? How did you get the role?
Salvatore: How did you get the part of Artemis? Did you audition?
RR: Boy, Sailor Moon takes me back quite a few years. I did audition … I think. I remember they wanted a cool laid back voice for Artemis. There was a television show on at that time called ‘Moonlighting’ … it starred a very young Bruce Willis (and Cybil Sheppard). They referenced Bruce’s voice … low key with a bit of attitude. That’s what I went for. There were so many characters in Sailor Moon who were very expressive … even over the top (in a good way) … so it was kinda fun and interesting for me to keep Artemis’s voice lower both vocally and emotionally.
EcoReck: Due to the very limited numbers of male roles in Sailor Moon, how hard was it to get a role in it?
RR: I don’t remember it being ‘hard’ per say. Maybe I was just at the right place at the right time. I don’t recall there being a lot of call backs. I went into the studio … incorporated the voice direction I was given … and then tried to make it my own. Kind of what I try to do with every audition I go to. I booked the part … so I must have done something right.
MC: How did you come up with the right kind of “gentlemanly” voice for Artemis?
RR: As I stated earlier … I referenced the low key, laid back (but with some attitude and cockiness) style of Bruce Willis from Moonlighting. Of course I tried to add my own flavor to the character … and in time it developed into Artemis.
MC: You are one of the few actors who was with the character since the beginning. What was the biggest lesson you learned (if any) from your character and/or working on Sailor Moon? Did your voice also grow as the character grew throughout the seasons and the movies?
RR: Yea, like with every cartoon I think the actors voice and performance gets more comfortable as the series goes on. When I hear the really early episodes of Sailor Moon versus the later ones I can tell the slight difference in Artemis’ voice. I think I “cooled’ him down a bit over time.
Salvatore: You’ve been involved with the series for quite some time, do you notice any changes while working on it? (Such as direction, or how the dubbing was handled?)
RR: Well, some of the actors (Sailors) changed … a fact that I know you’re very aware of. Also, the style …. solo … ensemble …. rythmo ….
And with that, we conclude the first part of this interview. Due to Ron’s very busy schedule (and numerous questions), we will post the second part of this interview at another time.