Interview with Sailor Moon and Star Wars voice actor John Stocker
Cornwall Ontario – Sailor Moon voice director and Star Wars: Ewoks and Star Wars: Droids voice actor John Stocker is returning to Cornwall on April 22nd and 23rd 2017 at the Benson Centre for the third annual Cornwall and Area Pop Event.
The very talented John Stocker, who was a guest at the first ever CAPE two years ago, has over 130 credits on IMDb including The Real Ghostbusters and X-Men (both shows have just been added to Canadian Netflix).
However, he is best known for his roles as Beastly in Care Bears, Newton in The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin, Basil in Babar, Mr. Owl in Franklin and Friends, and Toad in the Super Mario Brothers.
Before adding his voice to two Star Wars cartoons, John Stocker had a role in a movie with legendary Star Trek actor William Shatner best known as Captain James T. Kirk.
“I had a pretty good sized role in the movie The Kidnapping of the President, and a lot of my scenes were with William Shatner,” John Stocker recalled.
Years before John Stocker was the voice of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man on the cartoon show The Real Ghostbusters, he was on a television show with future Ghostbuster actor Dan Aykroyd. The show, titled Coming Up Rosie, also featured future comedic legends John Candy and Catherine O’Hara.
“Coming up Rosie was a sitcom that stared not just me and John Candy, but it also had Catherine O’Hara, Dan Aykroyd, and our guests were Dave Thomas, and Joe Flaherty. When it finished most of the guys went to Saturday Night Live or SCTV. It’s remarkable in the fact that it spawned something that became North America famous,” John Stocker stated.
Despite having success as a traditional actor in front of the camera, John Stocker soon realized he had a knack for voice acting, and it really appealed to him and brought him joy.
“I always had a facility for it (voice acting). It wasn’t that I didn’t think I was going to make it as an on-camera guy. It’s just a matter of appeal. I simply like the whole voice thing better. I was told that I have a very warm and appealing voice. I also had the facility to do all kinds of weird voices which were popular at the time, but not quite as popular now,” John Stocker responded.
Voice acting offered John Stocker better work hours, it kept him busier, and the work itself was more satisfying.
“I realized I could do a lot more with my day and my time. I hated waiting on set. In the voice industry, if I’m called at 2pm in the afternoon, I know they start around 2pm, and I’ll be done by 4pm. That’s my work time, and there is no question about it. Sometimes you could do two, three sessions in a day, sometimes more. Throughout the 80s there wasn’t a busier performer than I was in Canada, and once I even did seven voice sessions in a day. I loved it, and it was great,” said John Stocker.
Over the span of John Stocker’s forty-four year career (and counting), his favourite role has been doing the voice of Mr. Beastly on the Care Bears. Beastly was the side kick of No Heart, the evil wizard who was the main antagonist of the Care Bears. According to John Stocker, Mr. Beastly wasn’t really a bad guy at all.
“My favourite role was Beastly on Care Bears. Beastly was just such a wonderful character who was to me, the ideal cartoon character. In cartoons, when you have a bad guy and he has a side-kick, the side-kick is always a good guy, just a sweet guy. Even in Babar where I played Basil, I was the little Rhino, and he was a really nice guy. Same with Beastly, he wasn’t a bad guy, he would just tell the Care Bears what No Heart had said. He wasn’t very convincing about it either. He would tell the Care Bears that you can’t do that because… because… why not? Because you can’t! He tries to be bad, but he’s really a sweet heart. I think I still like it because it still entertains kids. Kids just love Beastly. That’s a part of the joy for me, and what I’ve done. What I have done is a speck, it’s a drop in the ocean of life, or even of the industry. I think there is something rewarding about knowing you entertained. I would reprise the role in a heart beat if I could,” John Stocker reflected.
The character of Mr. Beastly is one of John Stocker’s most revered roles among pop culture fans. Once a fan even made him a very special gift, something he still has and cherishes today.
“Someone even made a Beastly stuffie. I was at a con and I saw this girl walking by, and I was like that looks like a Beastly doll under her arm. When she got closer, I said I don’t know where you got that, but can you tell me where you got it. I would love to have it. Before I could even say that, she said I made this for you. She gave it to me. It sits on my dresser. I’m 69. I’m probably the only 69 year old who has some weird little stuffie animal sitting on his dresser, and still has his mind of course – and doesn’t touch it inappropriately,” John Stocker joked.
In part what makes John Stocker’s character so memorable in the Care Bears is the dynamic and conflict created between the characters of Shreeky and Beastly. The two created some of the funniest moments in a children’s cartoon show.
“With Shreeky and Beastly, the personalities didn’t waiver. The conflict remained constant. It’s funny, I did a few cons with Tracy Moore who (was one of the actresses who) played Shreeky, and the dynamic was still there. We had the Care Bear scripts with Beastly and Shreeky dialogue and we did some of them and it was really amazing to see the wide eyed audience listen to us. It was quite rewarding seeing them so captivated. It was real fun to do, after all these years,” John Stocker remarked.
What’s really interesting is that John Stocker did not record in the studio at the same time as Tracy Moore. The voices were recorded separately.
“Tracy Moore played Shreeky, and so did Terri Hawkes. They sounded virtually the same on the show. They were also the first two to voice Sailor Moon. There aren’t a lot of people who can tell them apart. But in terms of what I created, or what she created in the studio, when we were doing Care Bears, we didn’t work together. I’d see her the odd time. But I don’t recall ever working with her in the studio. It’s having a good voice director, and a good editor too, who knows how to put them together, so the timing is right, there is enough pausing, and enough air between lines to make them sound plausible and possible. Also, and this might sound egotistical, we were very accomplished performers. I’m a voice director now, and one of the marks of a really good voice performer is that they read the whole script, so they know in their heads how the other person is going to read their lines. You react thinking of how that person would deliver that line, even when they are not in the studio. That helps you to deliver your line in it’s proper context,” John Stocker observed.
While Terri Hawkes and Tracy Moore went on to each play the character of Sailor Moon, John Stocker became the voice director of that same show.
“Of course when I directed Sailor Moon, I directed more episodes than anybody, and it was my first voice directing gig, and I learned from the people before me, and from all the performances that I have done. I knew how to involve myself and how to deal with performers when I was on the other side of the glass. These were my contemporaries and my colleagues. As a director I had to learn a good mic-side manner (as opposed to bedside manner). When I had to direct, and when I had people in the studio, and I had them one at a time, I had to gauge how they’d interact once everything was mixed together, that’s what a director does,” John Stocker explained.
Sailor Moon, through its popularity, helped to make the Japanese cartoon style of anime mainstream in North America. John Stocker never imagined anime would take off the way it had.
“Did I ever imagine anime would take off the way it did in North America? Absolutely not, no way. Nobody did. I’m sure that some of the Japanese animators and creators were praying that it would. But we had no idea when we were doing Sailor Moon. It’s huge now. As a matter of fact, it’s the biggest draw at the Cons, they’re the big draw. All the guys and gals who do the dubbing, they’re the huge draw. We who do animation, original voice animation, or prelay as it’s called, we’re secondary. I’m invited because of my history and because of Sailor Moon,” John Stocker revealed.
John Stocker has toured across North America with cast members of Sailor Moon, but he laments that there wasn’t much interaction between the cast when the show was actually happening.
“I did some touring with the Sailor Moon cast members, and I have been all over North America with the other cast members like Linda Ballantyne, Tracy Moore, who were a couple of the Sailor Moons, and Toby Proctor (Tuxedo Mask), Katie Griffin (Sailor Mars), and Susan Roman (Sailor Jupiter). We did Los Angles, Dallas, all over the place. I listen to them tell the stories of how it was recorded and everything else. A lot of it is to please audiences a little bit. It’s not that it’s wrong necessarily, but there are a lot of stories, things that went on behind the scenes which would really surprize most people. The interaction? There was very little interaction in fact. We all went in on our own,” John Stocker reminisced.
Sailor Moon had a story arc, where a young immature girl grows up to become a queen, mother, and leader. Teddy Ruxpin, like Sailor Moon, had a story arc, and it was one of the first children’s cartoons to ever have that. Unlike with Sailor Moon, the voice cast of Teddy Ruxpin wass a much closer tight knit group of actors. According to John Stocker that made playing the character of Netwon Gimmick a very rewarding experience.
“It was fabulous working on that show because there was a story arc, and because you’re right, the characters grew. I loved it because it was the only show where we went from episode one to episode sixty-five and there was this wonderful story. Teddy was looking for his dad, and at the end it was all resolved. And of course the whole way it was done was lovely. The music was pretty special too,” John Stocker stated.
“Phil Baron, who was the voice of Teddy, was involved in molding the character if you will, and he and Will Ryan came up from Los Angeles. The story was that we recorded every second week in Ottawa, and every other Friday I would go to the airport and they would fly me to Ottawa, and every Sunday night I would fly back. We did three, four episodes, whatever they had planned for us, and then the music had it’s own sessions. The commendatory that we had was really wonderful and we had an opportunity to get to know each other. It was basically the three of us and some Ottawa and Montreal actors got to work together on a regular basis, and we saw each other on a constant basis. We spent a couple of years being together every other week. It was a great relationship. The story came off as very sensitive and sweet because we all got along and because we were all dedicated to the show. We interacted, we did a lot of the work together in the studio,” John Stocker stated.
Teddy Ruxpin is making a come-back. A new toy is set to be released in 2017. Instead of plastic eyes and a cassette deck, this 21st century Teddy Ruxpin will have LCD eyes and a 4GB hard drive.
“Teddy Ruxpin might be back, they’re bringing the toy back this year. They’re bringing back the talking bear. I’ve been reading about it. It’s pretty bizarre looking. It’s almost scary looking. It’s not like the original Teddy which was nice and soft. The eyes are really weird. They’re going to have to do something about it because they sort of look like alien eyes,” John Stocker remarked.
Teddy Ruxpin isn’t the only series from that era making a comeback. Last year Star Wars and Ghostbusters both made a come-back of sorts, and John Stocker was involved in the cartoon versions of both those franchise in the 1980s.
The cartoons Star Wars: Ewokes and Star Wars: Droids both came out after the original Star Wars movies. George Lucas was the creator of both cartoons and an executive producer on Droids. John Stocker was a fan of the original trilogy, but he enjoyed doing the two cartoon shows even more.
“I was a fan of the very early Star Wars, but I probably enjoyed doing Ewokes and Droids more than I enjoyed watching the movies. They were really fun. I still get people who talk to me about it at Cons, it’s really peripheral. For me it was a great experience, working for a great company, of course it was Nelvana. The voice director would call me in and show me a picture of that week’s villain or one of the leads. He wouldn’t tell me what it was before I came in. He would show me the character and ask what do you got? We would find a voice, and he’d say yup that’s it. I would then go into the studio and record. Of course Willy in Ewokes was a pretty regular character, while in Droids I didn’t have a regular character, I just did guest roles,” John Stocker explained.
In addition to two Star Wars cartoons, John Stocker lent his voice to one of the two most iconic ghost in The Real Ghostbuster series. He was the voice of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
“In the cartoon series, The Real Ghostbusters, I shared the billing with Frank Welker for the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. He did a couple of episodes, I did a couple of them. I really didn’t say anything in the series. It was just growling. That’s all I did, which is fine, because the cheque didn’t bounce. It was a great gig,” John Stocker recalled.
The Real Ghostbusters also featured legendary voice actor Gerald David “Lorenzo” Music who voiced Peter Venkman, and Lorenzo is probably best known for his role as Garfield the cat.
Another huge phenomenon at conventions are comics, especially the creations of Stan Lee for Marvel. John Stocker lent his voice to the Marvel universe on three different cartoon shows. He was Ultron in Avengers, Ivar in the Silver Surfer, and Graydon Creed (son of Mystique and Sabretooth) in X-Men.
“I got to play Graydon Creed in X-Men, while in Avengers I remember playing Ultron. Only four people have played Ultron, and it’s an iconic series. I loved Ultron because I got to do the weirdest voice. There was a great group of guys, they all came up from the States to do an episode at a time, and we worked really hard. They had a tough voice director who wanted it just right,” John Stocker reminisced.
John Stocker also voiced a character on a cartoon show based on the most iconic video game in history. He voiced Toad in the Super Mario Bros. Super Show. The character of Toad first debuted in the game Super Mario Bros. which came out on the NES in 1985. In the American sequel Super Mario 2, Toad was a playable character. However, John Stocker never played the Super Mario video games, and he never experienced playing as Toad on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
“I played Toad in the The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, but not in the video game. Did I ever play the video game? No. I’m not a gamer. I use to direct some video games, and I don’t anymore, because the game directors are all gamers. They are actors and voice directors, but they also play the games… I did half a dozen, but the mechanics of the game didn’t interest me. You couldn’t get me to pick up a paddle. So I don’t get that work, and that’s okay,” John Stocker stated.
John Stocker is looking forward to returning to Cornwall Ontario for the third annual Cornwall and Area Pop Event.
“Come out. I love when I get a full house. I love a full house when I do my panels. I love conversing. Come on out and enjoy the whole show. But if you have to pick one person, make it me. Fill the room, come and lets sit and talk, because god knows I can talk. A full house makes it enjoyable. When I was there a couple years ago it was a lot of fun, and from what I understand it is substantially bigger now,” John Stocker concluded.
John Stocker also played Thompson in The Adventures of Tintin, Mayor Rosenbaum in Mona The Vampire, BiriBiri in Sailor Moon, Melvin in Tales in the Cryptkeeper, Kutlass in Donkey Kong Country, Bartholomew Batt in Beetlejuice, Sgt. P.J. ‘Longarm’ O’Malley in C.O.P.S, The Tin Woodman in The Wizard of Oz, plus Crandall J Crummington, III in Today’s Special, and Sol in Look Who’s Talking Now starring John Travolta and Kirstie Alley.
He also contributed voices in My Pet Monster, ALF Tales, Garbage Pail Kids, Clifford, Barbie and the Rockers, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Hello Kitty and Friends, Spawn, For Better or for Worse, and countless other cartoons.
Other guest attending CAPE 2017 include Kimberly Leemans (Walking Dead and Vampire Diaries), Yanic Truesdale (Gilmore Girls), Sean Gunn (Gilmore Girls and Guardians of the Galaxy), Michael Copon (Power Rangers Time Force, One Tree Hill), Michael Koske (The Walking Dead, Captain America: Civil War, and Guardians of the Galaxy), and Don Teems (Walking Dead and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire).
CAPE 2017 takes place April 22nd and 23rd 2017 at the Benson Centre. For more information visit their website.