04th Jun2018

MCM London 2018 Q&A: James Arnold Taylor

by Xenia Grounds


How are you finding Comic Con?

James Arnold Taylor: It’s awesome. I’ve been to so many different comic cons and this is my first time in London. I have to say everyone is wonderful. I feel like I should be talking like Obi-Wan Kenobi all the time but it is really fantastic. I just did my stage show on the main stage and had a great time doing that. Everyone has been phenomenal.

What did it mean to take on a role like Obi-Wan?

It was 2001 when I first got to play Obi-Wan. It was one of those things when your mind is kinda blown that you actually get to do this. When I first auditioned, I had no idea that it was gonna be for a series. I got the call from my agent that it was a cartoon. My worlds collided with Star Wars and animation. Now we take it for granted but back then, there was nothing. It has been a wonderful experience and wouldn’t trade for anything but also could’ve never imagined as I’ve been able to voice more Obi-Wan than any other actor. I’m just humbled. I pinch myself every day and I’m thrilled to be involved in it. It’s been going on almost eighteen years.

Since you’re a member of the Star Wars family, did you speak about maybe introducing your interpretation of Obi-Wan or just stay with the George Lucas version?

Yeah, you never want to argue with George Lucas. I think that was the most phenomenal part about it. Originally, he came on and said he would only be there for a little bit then let the other guys take over. Then he got so involved in it, he loved it so much that he was there every day. We would go up to the ranch (Lucasfilm). It’s the strangest thing in the world as a fan of Star Wars to walk in a theatre to have George Lucas behind you watching Star Wars. To hear him laugh on stuff you do or comment on it, it’s very surreal. George and Dave really had the vision. However, whenever we were in studio doing things, Dave was always wonderful to say ‘put your own spin on this.’ And I would say ‘Well, it doesn’t feel like the way Obi-Wan would say that line’ and we would talk about it. But for the most part, it was really George Lucas pushing that storyline through.

Moving onto gaming now, you play Ratchet. How was the whole journey and experience?

Again, I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. Here I get to do all these fantastic franchises and be involved in them and I can walk down the street and no-one knows who I am which is great. Except at Comic Con, I get to be a rock star for a day. Ratchet is one of those characters that is so near and dear to my heart. For one, because it’s my regular voice. So when I read the script and it’s like ‘How would James say that?’. I never knew my father. I actually never met him and Ratchet is a bit of an orphan so I kinda related to him like with Tidus in Final Fantasy X. Both of those characters, I related to on an emotional level. When we got to do the movie, we got to explore that a little bit more. I’ve been playing Ratchet for sixteen years or so and we’ve done sixteen or seventeen games including cameos. He’s beloved and I’m seeing that here. Anytime they call me up to do a Ratchet and Clank game which I hope they call for another one soon.

How did you get into voice acting?

I’m kinda of a rare breed in the world of voice acting because from day one, I wanted to be a voice actor. Since I was four years old and I realised ‘That wasn’t Bugs Bunny talking’ but a man doing a voice in a room with a microphone. I pursued it ever since then so I got into radio. A year before that, I got into stand-up comedy and I did voices in my own act. From radio, I kept pushing and pushing knocking on doors with my demos. I’m dating myself here but we would put them on cassette tapes and I’d hand them out to agents and hope someone would call. I did this bit called ’60 voices in 60 seconds’. You could start with Michael J.Fox and drop it down a little and it’s Shia LaBeouf. That kinda got me a name as someone who can do voices. From there, Obi-Wan, Ratchet and Tidus. Tidus was the first character that got me any recognition

Speaking of Tidus, he was the first voiced protagonist in the series. Was there any pressure after you found that out?

*sarcastic* Oh, no pressure at all. It was a lot of pressure to do it. I knew the games. Final Fantasy VII is still a favourite of most people. The thought was ‘Can they do as good as that and with voices?’ I got the director, Jack Fletcher and I were working on several projects at the same studio. I was doing a show called Atlantis based on Atlantis: The Lost Empire. I replaced Michael J.Fox in that and Jack was like ‘You’re a pretty good actor. I want you to read for this character. His name is Tidus’. I had no idea that three and a half months later, I had a phone book sized script, we would complete this game. I am amazed here at Comic Con at how many fans of Final Fantasy there are still. What a neat journey. I know I’m a broken record here but really I am the most grateful person in the world to do what I love.

Is there a franchise that you really want to work in that you haven’t had the chance to yet?

Man, I’ve been so lucky. Even Back to the Future, I got to play young Emmet Brown in the video game. I’ve done Michael J.Fox’s doubling in the past but how do you make him (Doc) sound seventeen years old? I took him and threw in a little Marty Mcfly in there. I was thrilled to be in that franchise. I was the Fallen in Transformers. From X-Men to DC, I’m the Flash. There’s none that come to mind.

Were you tempted to take anything from Lucasfilm garage?

*Laughs* Well, they have cameras everywhere. I could use the Jedi mind trick to stop them. Yes, I was tempted but I didn’t take anything. Although at the ranch there, it’s a beautiful place and it’s like a hotel. Each of the rooms is designed after someone George admires. They have the Hitchcock room. So when you stay there, you get to see which room you stay in. As a cast on Clone Wars, we would all get together and be there. I would make pasta for everybody in the kitchen. It was a crazy time. We were like a family on that show.



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