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SDCC2011: Toonzone Interviews Voice Actor Kevin Michael Richardson

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Photo by Gage Skidmore
via Wikimedia Commons

While at the San Diego Comic-Con, Toonzone was able to catch up with animation voice over veteran, Kevin Michael Richardson. The long-time actor can currently be heard as Bulkhead on Transformers: Prime, Jabba the Hutt on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Cleveland Junior on The Cleveland Show. Most recently, Richardon portrayed Bishop on Wolverine and The X-Men and Roadblock on G.I. Joe: Renegades.

TOONZONE NEWS: I think you might be working on more shows than anyone previewed at Comic-Con.

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:Really? My goodness.

TZN: Right, there’s The Cleveland Show, American Dad, Family Guy, Transformers: Prime, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and soon ThunderCats. Have you ever thought that you probably can’t turn on a TV without finding a show that you’ve worked on?

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:Well I hope that’s a good thing. I really just don’t have the words other than just complete gratitude that I can work in a business that makes kids happy and adults happy and just doing these characters and these voices.

TZN: You started playing Cleveland Jr. on The Cleveland Show, you didn’t play the character on Family Guy, right?

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON: No, I believe Mike Henry did that voice. And he was telling me, (in Cleveland Junior’s voice) “I’m Tiger Woods! I’m Tiger Woods!” That’s what he said he did. So no, I just play him on The Cleveland Show.

TZN: How do you find that crazy voice for Cleveland Junior?

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON: It was a combination of my interpretation of what Cleveland Junior would sound like as fourteen year old and a character I did on E.R., the third season of E.R., Patrick. He was a mentally challenged guy who had a football helmet and would run around the hospital, just like bumping into stuff. Stuff like that. I ended coming up with, “Daddy, are we still going to Williams-Sonoma?” That kind of thing, so that was fun playing it.

TZN: Does Cleveland Junior have a bit of a daddy complex? Is he a daddy’s boy?

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:Yeah he definitely loves his daddy, and the thing is he’s like super bright. So he’s like incredibly intelligent and incredibly naïve at the same time. He knows about science and math, but nothing about girls. You know what I mean? Or sports.

TZN: I dunno, he was free-style rapping against Kanye West like nobody’s business, and that was over a girl.

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:Yeah he gets to pull a rabbit out of his hat sometimes, you’re right. And thank goodness for the excellent writers that write the show.

TZN: Was that a career highlight, having a scene where you are freestyle rapping with Kanye West, the self-proclaimed voice of a generation?

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:Yeah (laughs). I was like, “Oh my God.” He was sitting at the table read right next to me. I could not believe it. I was like, oh my Lord. And nobody mentioned that we were actually just going to do it. Nobody gave us a rhythm, nobody gave us a beat. We just had the script, and “Oh my God. We are going to do this right here, right now.” That was great.

TZN: I loved the premiere of ThunderCats. In the show you are playing a fan favorite character in Panthro. We only got to see a tiny bit of Panthro and hear only a small sample of your voice as the character in the premiere.

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON: How was the response?

TZN: Great. I got my own Sword of Omens.

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:(laughs hysterically)

TZN: The animation was fantastic. I knew Andrea Romano on the show would make it perfect.

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:Yes, yes. I totally agree with you.

TZN: I loved the show in the 80’s, but watching the show now it has this great writing and voice acting that you all bring to the table. Andrea Romano is a wizard.

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:She is.

ThunderCats! Ho!TZN: So can you shed any light on when we meet the real Panthro, what is going on with him in the show?

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:You will see him; I think it might be the third episode. I believe it’s the third episode. I had a sneak preview of it and I was very pleased. I don’t want to spoil it for you because it was a very cool intro when I saw it and a cool entrance. He’s little more rugged. He’s tougher and a lot more no nonsense than the original one, and I thought the original one was tough and he was cool. I loved listening to him, I think played by Earle Hyman. He was fantastic. But he had a little more light-heartedness to him which I thought was cool. There’s a dash of that with this Panthro, but a lot more no BS. You’ll see some battle scars too which is pretty cool.

TZN: You are also the Principal of Steve’s school on American Dad. How did you like getting to do that little tribute to the DJ in the movie The Warriors in one episode?

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:That was fun. And unfortunately I didn’t get to see the episode, but I barely remember recording it. Those guys like to throw a lot of curve balls at me, so I get a kick out of hearing what they are going to throw at me more so than actually doing it. It’s fun man.

TZN: When you do the Animation Domination shows, do you ever get surprised by some of the stuff you have to say or the situations?

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:Yeah, yeah. Stuff that makes me laugh too, like Cleveland Junior would say, (in Cleveland Junior’s voice, click to listen): “Just because I’m a virgin don’t mean I won’t kick your ass!” I love lines like that. They always throw some curveballs, and that just goes to show you the great writers that they have. They are a brilliant team of writers, and without that you wouldn’t have much of a show. Yes you could have some characters and voices, but that chemistry together, that’s what makes it what it is right now.

TZN: I really like G.I. Joe: Renegades where you play Roadblock. In real life, you kind of look a little like Roadblock in the show. Have you ever thought about maybe going to a G.I. Joe convention dressed as your version of Roadblock?

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:(laughs) I was thinking about it. I thought about growing the mutton chops because I think I already got the shaved head…”They grow ‘em big in Biloxi.” You’d like that. I’m really sorry to see that show go because it was only for one season. I was really hoping to go back, and never say never. You never know. That was very upsetting to hear because that was a lot of fun playing that guy and I love playing him. I love playing that big country, southern cooking eating, rock ‘n roll listening kind of guy. But thanks for saying that.

They grow 'em big in...uh...CyberTronTZN: But I imagine you are back working on season 2 of Transformers: Prime at the moment?

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:Yeah, playing Bulkhead. And that’s fun to do. I love playing Bulkhead because I love the chemistry with him and Miko. That little girl Tania [Gunadi] who plays Miko, she’s great…that’s one of my favorite shows to do because the cast, Tania, Jeffrey Combs, Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, those guys are amazing man.

TZN: Your publicist said her favorite impression you do is of Scarface. How do you do Scarface?

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:(in Scarface’s voice, click to listen) Well I want to talk like this, OK? Sometimes I like to bring out a little Tony Montana. So that’s how it goes.

TZN: Do you ever like telling a dirty joke as Captain Kirk? You do a great Captain Kirk.

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:(laughs and then in Captain Kirk’s voice) “I’ve never thought about it. I’ve got to give it a try.” I’ll give it a try. (click here to listen to the joke)

TZN: What other shows are you working on right now?

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON: Kilowog. I play Kilowog in Green Lantern.

Kevin Michael Richardson
Kevin Michael Richardson at San Diego Comic-Con 2011
(Photo by Jeffrey Harris)

TZN: Tell us about your Kilowog, I’m very curious.

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:Kilowog, oh boy, he’s from Bolovax Vik I believe. He’s a character who is a drill sergeant and trainer to Hal Jordan played by Josh Keaton. He’s got this gruffness, almost like a Brooklyn brawler, kind of almost like The Thing from Fantastic Four. I’m not allowed to say what episodes we did, but he does this great thing with languages when he’s trying to learn different languages. That should be a lot of fun.

TZN: Is there anyone you would like to thank?

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:I just want to thanks out to my mom and dad for all their support and love. And my family. And my wife, Monica.

TZN: Can you take us off with your favorite line as Cleveland Junior?

KEVIN MICHAEL RICHARDSON:(click to listen) “Daddy. Would you wipe me?”

Thank you to Kevin Michael Richardson for speaking with us at the convention. ThunderCats featuring Kevin Michael Richardson as Panthro premieres July 29, 2011 on Cartoon Network. Transformers: Prime with Kevin as Bulkhead is broadcast on Saturday on The Hub, and American Dad and The Cleveland Show are broadcast Sundays on Fox.

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