“There You Go” with Dino Andrade: Part 3

First parts of the interview here and here.

MadameAce: Now the Scarecrow, he’s a Batman villain that has been re-imagined a lot, over and over again. How did you envision him when you first started playing him? I know you talked about the demon in the human body and whatnot, but I’ve just seen so many different versions of him.

Dino Andrade: Being a long-time Batman fan, the first thing that I did was look back at the first, the original Arkham Asylum graphic novel which then I got the script and discovered that the two had absolutely nothing to do with each other. After that, I started looking at darker versions of the Scarecrow. One of my favorite versions of the Scarecrow, although he’s not in it for very long, is in the series Batman: Vampire where Scarecrow has human fingers sewn into his costume and stuff like that. He’s this terrifying character and I really liked that interpretation.

That was kind of my jump off point from there because I knew that Arkham Asylum was going to be much grittier than anything that had been seen or done before on video games or comics and so on because, of course, Chris Nolan’s Batman, which took a grittier tone, was so successful. I believe that was part of the mandate for Arkham Asylum: to go for darker territory than Paul Dini and company were allowed to do in previous television incarnations. That’s why I purposely studied Batman: Vampire which is probably the darkest Batman story there is.

Stewi: My active imagination, I just imagined you in Batman Begins and it is hysterical.

MadameAce: I was doing that this entire conversation actually.

Stewi: Really?

MadameAce: Yes.

Dino Andrade: What was the name of the actor who…?

MadameAce: Cillian Murphy?

Dino Andrade: Oh, right, right, right. He was sufficiently creepy all by his lonesome. It was a very interesting interpretation.

Stewi: But, come on! A short, Latino Scarecrow? That’d be genius.

Dino Andrade: Yeah, I really liked what Murphy did. I actually tried my best not to do that. [laughter] It was very tempting to copy his voice, but instead my prototype for the voice of the Scarecrow was actually actor Malcolm McDowell, whose register is not that far from mine. So I kind of had him envisioned as the prototype for the voice.

MadameAce: Out of all the Batman characters you could’ve played, if you didn’t pick Scarecrow or Crane which one would you be?

Dino Andrade: I’d be the Joker.

Stewi and Ace: The Joker?

Dino Andrade: The Joker was what I originally read for. At the time the auditions were done Mark Hamill, for whatever reason, was not attached to the project and I don’t know if it was because they didn’t know if they could get him, he hadn’t been signed yet or what I don’t know, but I did audition for the Joker. That was the role I really coveted and I worked very hard on it. As someone who does a lot of villains, the Joker was the Holy Grail. I was only reading for Scarecrow as an afterthought. Then when my agent called and said that I had gotten Arkham Asylum I immediately was like, “did I get Joker?” They told me that, “no, you got Scarecrow,” and that hadn’t told me who had gotten Joker.

Stewi: So what did your Joker sound like? I’m curious now because I didn’t know that, personally.

Dino Andrade: I’d have to warm into it but it was actually very close to Mark Hamill’s Joker because that’s what they asked for.

Stewi: Okay, so they were actually asking for his.

Dino Andrade: They said specifically they were looking for Mark Hamill’s Joker. So it was very close to that.

Stewi: So you were going for that [Joker impersonation] “Hello, Batman.”

Dino Andrade: Somewhere in the neighborhood. Let’s see if I can give you a little sample…ah. [Joker voice that sounds terrifyingly close to Mark Hamill’s] Outside a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read! [Joker laugh] It was what I wanted and then when they told me that I hadn’t got it, that I had gotten Scarecrow I was actually disappointed. But then I read the script and I’m not disappointed anymore [laughter] because Scarecrow was amazing! His part in the game is amazing! Then I find out that the part of the Joker was picked up by Mark Hamill and there is absolutely no shame whatsoever in losing the Joker to Mark Hamill.

Stewi: I’ll always remember him on The Muppet Show.

MadameAce: Out of all the characters you’ve played which one do you find to be the most memorable?

Dino Andrade: That’s got to be the Scarecrow. But I also have a great fondness for the voice of Professor Putricide from World of Warcraft, he’s so much fun. Also Mekkatorque and Mimiron from World of Warcraft. But Putricide is a blast because the audition copy said what they were looking for was a very evil Professor Farnsworth from Futurama [laughter]. That’s what I gave them and that’s just so much fun to do. So, I have a great fondness for the World of Warcraft characters, especially Putricide.

Stewi: So, did they give you an unlimited subscription to WoW, then?

Dino Andrade: They did not.

Stewi: “They did not”?!

Dino Andrade: They sent me a copy of the game, but that is really about it.

MadameAce: Out of all the different fantasy worlds and science fiction worlds you’ve been in which one do you think you’d want to live in?

Dino Andrade: Wow, that’s a really good question. The world of Batman would be incredibly fascinating except for the fact that Gotham City doesn’t look like a fun place to live. It seems kind of dangerous to be there.

MadameAce: I always wonder who moves to Gotham….

Dino Andrade: Definitely not the world of Hellsing. That would be absolutely no fun at all. But honestly, I guess I would have to say Gotham. It’s such a fascinating world. The truth is that a lot of the games I’ve done and a lot of the shows I’ve done have been very dull worlds. World of Warcraft is magical and very Lord of the Rings-ish , but also a fight for survival kind of dealio. It’s not like I was in Disney’s Treasure Planet where I could look at that fantastic fantasy realm. It’s not like I’ve worked in Star Trek: Online which, hands down, I’d gladly be in the world of Starfleet

Stewi: Amen.

Dino Andrade: That would probably top my list right there.

MadameAce: In the future, what kind of character do you think you’d want to play?

Dino Andrade: I probably gave a little bit of that away with the mention of Star Trek. I would love to be in a situation where I could play a Starfleet officer. I’m hugely influenced by Star Trek, big, big fan. Especially The Original Series. I could do anything connected to Batman for as long as I live: I love that character.  But if I had my druthers, I would love to be a cast regular in a show like Futurama. It’s something that’s right up my alley as an actor who’s done a lot of comedy. I love character work and that’s all Futurama is, is great character work. It’s a very funny show and it’s connected, obviously, to fandom and science fiction. That would be my dream gig.

Stewi: I can see you fit into that because, like you said, you imagine the character and everything and so being a regular on a show you’d be able to invest more into that character.

Dino Andrade: Absolutely. If you look at any animated series—The Simpsons, for example. You look at what the actors did in the first season and you compare it to now, you see the characters are completely different. It’s one thing to deliver the voice that the casting directors are envisioning and looking for, it’s another to live with the character after a while and let that personality develop. Homer Simpson is a great example.

Homer Simpson, for the most part, was Dan Castellaneta’s impression of Walter Matthau and that’s what you hear in the first season. He seems to have lost a few brain cells between then and now and Homer is now who Homer is. He’s gone from being an impression to being a completely well-rounded character. That’s pretty much what’s happened to everyone in the cast of that show if not pretty much all shows. That’s just how it works.

MadameAce: Within geek culture, what do you enjoy the most?

Dino Andrade: Science fiction films and television shows: I’m very much into that. I also am very much a huge fan of film scores of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy films. My collection is enormous. I mean, it goes from the score of Bride of Frankenstein to Patrick Doyal’s score to Brave. I fly a lot with my film scores. I have quite a number of collectibles; a lot of stuff related to The Nightmare Before Christmas and Disney’s Haunted Mansion, the attraction not the movie. Those are areas of geekdom that I’m really into, that I really enjoy.

I could still say that I’m a comic book fan, although I don’t buy anywhere near as many comic books as I used to. [laughter]

And I absolutely love and adore and devour the books of Terry Pratchett: the Discworld novels are just… I read them aloud every night, I use them as part of my training as an actor, and even if I didn’t, I would still be reading them every night anyway. I think they’re marvelous works of genius. Anyone who’s never read a Terry Pratchett novel, try to imagine Lord of the Rings as written by Douglas Adams. They’re funny and the characters are rich and wonderful, and they’re terrific parables about what’s going on in the world. Terry Pratchett is by far and away my favorite author. As far as shows are concerned, I’m a big Star Trek fan . Love Twilight Zone. Big Doctor Who fan going all the way back.

Stewi: Can you tell us about…you founded SoulGeek.com, right?

Dino Andrade: I did, which is basically Match.com for geeks. For fans of science fiction and horror and fantasy, animation, comic books, conventions, signings, film scores, webcomics, whatever. If you’re into geek culture and you’re looking for someone to share that with you, SoulGeek.com is the place to go. We average about three weddings a year and we’ve only been around a few short years, so we’ve got quite the track record. There’s been fifteen or so weddings so far.

Stewi: Was there anything that inspired you to do this or were you just like, “Boy, there’s no place for geeks to hook up,” or what?

Dino Andrade: There is a story behind it. It’s not the happiest story, but it does have a happy ending. If you know of or have heard of voice actress Mary Kay Bergman—she was one of the top five women in animation, voted on by the Hollywood Reporter, in fact—a week before she passed away in November of 1999, she had done something like forty animated series, thirty animated feature films, hundreds and hundreds of commercials, video games, she was one of the best there ever was. At the time of her passing we had been married for ten years. She was more than my wife, she was my best friend and one of the things that we reveled in was a love of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. We collected animation cels, we collected comic books, we went to Disney Land at the drop of a hat.

We were the very, very best of friends and I was in oblivion for about five years when a gal came into my life that I hadn’t seen in twenty-six years, she was my old high school sweetheart. We just ran into each other at a party and she basically helped heal a shattered heart. We fell in love all over again and it was the two of us who created SoulGeek.com because when I first decided I wanted to reconnect with humanity I went to some online dating sites and it was horrible. I went to every major site there was and at the time there was nothing for geeks. There was no way for geeks to connect and it was terrible. I had told her, my gal, Casey, we were at a Battlestar Galactica convention in Los Angeles, that somebody oughta do something, create something like this and she said, “why don’t you?” So I started researching and I researched for a year how to get a site like this built.

Website technology has changed so much in the past five years that it would have been impossible to do now, but back then everything had to be completely originally coded. I did all the research and was undecided whether or not to do it and we were at a Dodgers game for my birthday—I’m a big, big baseball fan, particularly a Dodgers fan—we were at Dodger Stadium and we saw a guy in a Dodgers jersey where the name on the back was “Yoda”. [laughter] I said to her , “geeks are everywhere, let’s do it,” so the decision was made on my birthday in 2006 at Dodger Stadium to build the site. It took us about thirteen months to build and the site went online and it’s been doing fine.

Like I said, we’ve been very proud of the fact that there are fifteen weddings to our credit. The site was very much a work of heart: it’s dedicated to the memory of Mary Kay Bergman and it was very much the idea of trying to make something good come out of tragedy. I couldn’t think of anything better, a better monument to my late wife, than to have other geeks find what I have been lucky enough to have twice in my life.

Stewi: It is truly amazing that some of the greatest things that we have today, there’s horrible tragedies behind them. I just recently watched this quick video about the history of Lego and just how many horrible things happened to them and now look at them.

Dino Andrade: Hm, I’ll have to look that up!

You know, it’s part of the human experience that we have to decide what it is that we’re going to do with ourselves afterwards. Like, Casey, my gal and I, we have a son. He’s two and a half years old and he’s just the greatest gift in the world. The fact of the matter is he wouldn’t exist if my first wife were still here. I don’t mean to imply that I’m saying it’s a good thing my wife died or my son wouldn’t be here because the fact is my son isn’t here because my wife died, my son is here because after my wife died I chose to re-embrace life. That’s the difference. That’s the real difference there.

Stewi: Well, if anyone tries to argue I will personally slap them.

Dino Andrade: I feel like I’m a very lucky guy despite the fact that I had been widowed in my thirties. It’s all about how you decide you’re going to live your life.

Stewi: It’s more about your reaction than what really happens to you.

Dino Andrade: Exactly. On a side-note— it kind of relates to it, I just can’t help but think about it— the fact that Neil Armstrong just passed recently. I was five years old when Apollo 11 landed on the moon: it was an amazing moment, I still remember it. I actually didn’t understand what I was watching on TV as Walter Cronkite was on there talking about “we’ve done it, we’ve landed on the moon,” et cetera, and my mother actually took me outside and pointed out the moon, which you could still clearly see in the afternoon sky, the moon was that close on that July day, and said “they’re up there,” which was phenomenal to me. That opened a lot of my imagination.

What was astonishing about that was the entire world stopped to watch this event, and I cannot think—in fact, it’s done beautifully in the movie The Dish, which I highly recommend—you can’t imagine what it would be like to see the entire planet stop to watch something. The reason why I flashed on this in connection to SoulGeek is the fact that a lot of people could say, “well yeah, that’s happened before. Like 9/11,” and things like that, but these are all events that are connected to some horrible tragedy, some awful thing that’s happened that everyone now is tuned in, watching the footage on the internet or what have you. This was something entirely different. This was a positive event. This was mankind deciding we were going to accomplish something that has never been done before, we’re reaching out to another astral body: this was a moment of human achievement. Not a war, not a natural disaster, not some horrible thing, this was watching mankind do something phenomenal and the entire world stopped to watch it. The entire planet was glued to their televisions.

People today cannot imagine what it would be like for the entire world to stop what it was doing, turn on the TV, and watch as a human being stepped on the moon. It was an amazing moment and it didn’t matter whether you were a conservative, a hippie. It didn’t matter, we were a united people. This is something marvelous and positive. There’s something powerful about that. And I guess the reason why I flashed on it is what we were trying to do with the creation of SoulGeek was not try and do something designed to make money. It wasn’t designed to be solely a good business idea, it was designed to create something good out of tragedy because I knew that something positive needed to happen. Again, it’s only just the loosest tissue to the passing of Armstrong and what happened, but I just remember how powerful that was for the entire world to embrace something that was positive.

I know I’m probably just waxing poetic and “oh my god, is he really comparing SoulGeek to landing on the moon,” but I’m not. [laughter] It’s just a damn website, but it’s just when we lost Neil Armstrong, it made me think about that, it made me remember my childhood and that astonishing moment that a lot of people will just never experience again in their lifetime. Especially now with everything being so time delayed. I mean, people are like, “why watch something when it airs? I’ll just watch it later on YouTube.” There’s no communal experience like that anymore except for disaster. Yeah, the whole world tuned in for the World Trade Center disaster, but this was different. This was a moment of achievement.

Stewi: Thank you very much for your time.

Dino Andrade: Sure! I would like to say, just so people know, the way this whole interview came about is, of course, that I started working with you [Stewi] as a student, and for anybody who’s wondering ‘student of what’, I do train actors in character animation voice-over. If anyone else would be interested in that, I train actors over Skype, let them know that they can go to DinoAndrade.com. They can click on the links for VO lessons and workshops, there are links to the Skype classes. A number of my students have gone on to have terrific careers in the industry, so I do know what I’m talking about. People like Roger Craig Smith, Karen Eileen Gordan: these are all students of mine that I’ve trained that have gone on to have terrific careers. If any of your readers are interested in careers or just want to see what it’s like I’m always taking on new students. Just go to DinoAndrade.com, click the tab that says “VO Lessons & Workshops” and check it out.

MadameAce: On behalf of Lady Geek Girl and Friends, I would personally like to thank you for allowing us to conduct this interview with you.

Dino Andrade: This has been a pleasure.

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