Interview with Scott McNeil
(June 26, 2005)

Interviewer: Outtsyder


Just about any TransFan who’s watched a post-G1 cartoon (besides RiD) is familiar with the name Scott McNeil. Adding his work in other cartoons such as X-Men: Evolution and myriads of anime dubs, McNeil’s résumé is simply too long to list completely. This interview was held after a voice-over workshop at Kozmic Sound Studios in Vancouver, BC, Canada, which I attended. McNeil and I were outside the studio’s door, after the workshop ended and the studio was closed for the remainder of the day.

A few pre-interview notes: During the workshop, McNeil said that he was no longer voicing Jetfire in Transformers: Cybertron. That role is now being performed by Brian Drummond. McNeil said that the directors wanted the new version of Jetfire to have a little Australian accent inserted into his voice… which is ironic, considering McNeil is from Australia, though his "normal" voice – whichever that may be ;) – doesn’t have an Aussie accent.

I transcribed this interview as faithfully as I could from the audio recording, but a few words here and there may have been missed for one reason or another. And it’s almost impossible to NOT laugh while McNeil is talking, which partly explains why I kept in some parts where I was laughing during his interview. They also served as breaks when McNeil had any long answers, making it easier to read.

Also, shortly before the interview, McNeil unexpectedly got a peek at my interview note sheet, and spotted Venus Terzo’s name on it. You’ll find out what that started up, later in this transcript….



OUTTSYDER: Okay, just to assure you, this interview will not involve a highlighter or a box of Fruit Roll-Ups.

McNEIL: Damn…

OUTTSYDER: *chuckles*

McNEIL: (hillbilly voice) ’Cause I got beaned in the head with a box of Fruit Roll-Ups…!

OUTTSYDER: Yeah, I read about that interview, too.

McNEIL: (hillbilly voice) Yep! She beaned me goooood!

OUTTSYDER: Okay, so if we shall begin… You began acting when you were three years old, and your original aspirations were to act live on stage.

McNEIL: Yeeesss…

OUTTSYDER: Then you ended up going into animation voice-acting, and did that for about seventeen years, along with some film and TV acting.

McNEIL: Yeeesssss…

OUTTSYDER: With all the years of voice-acting work you’ve done, do you ever get the urge to try tackling live theater again?

McNEIL: Oh, God; I’d love to do live theater again. I was actually; I just got flown out to Toronto for a... I had a callback for (noble voice) "Lord Of The Rings: The Musical."

OUTTSYDER: Are you serious?!

McNEIL: Dead serious; straight up!

OUTTSYDER: Which character, by the way?

McNEIL: "Across the river lies the realm of Mordor. Friends... I will not claim that our situation is better than it is." It would have been Aragorn; it would have been sweet. But they put us through boot camp and I almost died.

OUTTSYDER: Hoo, man… You’ve got the look for Aragorn, too.

McNEIL: Well, yeah; the hair. I mean, it’s all about the hair, right; they can’t put on fake hair in theater! No, ah… you know what, I went and saw a show that actually had Matt [Energon Ironhide] Hill was in the other night, at the [missed word] Cultural Center. It was phenomenal and I really enjoyed it. The whole time I was watching, I was sitting there going… "RrrrrrRRRrrrrrRRRrrrrrrr…!" (big whiny voice) "I wanna do this again!" (normal voice) I did a play here at the Stanley about four or five years ago, and I had a ball doing that.

OUTTSYDER: So what advice would you offer to aspiring voice actors, both in helpful hints as well as pitfalls to avoid?

McNEIL: (panicky Old West coward voice; no hesitation) "Run! Flee! Don’t do it; it can’t be done! They torture you; they have spines and picks and electrical conduits!"

OUTTSYDER: (laughing)

McNEIL: (normal voice) Advice to voice actors. (slightly fast) "Welcome to "Advice To Voice Actors, from Scott McNeil! Well, it’s hard to get from there to here, I’ll tell ya that…!" (normal) Short form answer? Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice. The more you play with your voice, the more fun you can have with your voice, the better you will be. Second short form answer is the important part of voice ACTing. If you can catch the verbal hint when I say "voice ACTING"… is the "ACTING" part in "voice ACTING". If you can do voices, wonderful; if you can’t act, you can’t work. If you can act brilliantly, but you don’t have the greatest vocal range in the world, you can still work. The best people, and I’ve said it before; Mel Blanc was the greatest of them all, because he was the greatest actor… of them all. He created… wondrous, incredible characters that were all vastly different, and had just completely unique souls of their own.

OUTTSYDER: Did you have any role models while you were working your way into the, uh, the entertainment industry?

McNEIL: Did you say, "into the adult entertainment industry?!"

OUTTSYDER: I messed up there; no, just in the general entertainment industry…!

McNEIL: (drab-ish voice) "I really wanted to be Tiffany Towers; she was always my fav—" (normal) Well, Mel Blanc. Mel Blanc was the guy that I grew up just in awe of and idolizing and wanting to be, never having any dreams that that was something that would actually happen in my life. But that, and the moment, the Moment, The Moment… that I discovered what voice acting really was. I was obsessed with Disneyland when I was a kid, and The Haunted Mansion is one of my favorite things there, and Pirates Of The Caribbean. When I found out that the guy who was the voice you hear throughout The Haunted Mansion… you know, (deep smooth voice) "Look up; There IS A Way Out…!" (laughs)

OUTTSYDER: Mm-hmm, Thurl Ravenscroft…

McNEIL: (normal) … was also the voice of the Pillsbury Doughboy.

OUTTSYDER: (jaw drops)

McNEIL: And when I found that out, it was literally one of those moments in my life when I went… (angelic vocal) "Aahhhhh-ahhhhhh-AAAAhhhhhh…!" (normal) And the clouds parted, and I went, "That’s the same guy?! You mean… you can do that?! And people don’t just yell at you in class?!"

OUTTSYDER: (laughs)

McNEIL: "Oh, my god"; it was a real epiphany for me when I found that out! And I just went… (low voice) "That’s cooooool. I want to do that." (long pause) And now… I do.

OUTTSYDER: Now how did you get the inspiration for the types of voices for all four of your characters in Beast Wars; Dinobot, Rattrap, Waspinator and Silverbolt?

McNEIL: You know, the scariest one of the bunch was probably Silverbolt, because they just wanted my own voice. And if anyone who knows me knows… (scared voice) I don’t know if I have my own voice! (normal) I was more scared doing that; he came up in the second season, and I auditioned for these two new characters, Quickstrike and Silverbolt. And I auditioned for them both, and I thought, you know, (hick voice) "Heeh; we’ll git us some Quickstraahke!" I love the character-y stuff, is more what I do. But for some reason, they cast me as Silverbolt, and I was in there going like, "Wow, I have to be… *sigh* me. Normal." He locked in when I used the word "citizen" one day in the studio, and the writers were there, and I just, y’know, sort of went, well, it was kind of one of these, you know, like… (Silverbolt voice) "All right, citizens," (normal) and they went, "Ooh! That’s good!" And I went, "Yeah! That felt good!" Inspiration for the others, I dunno; I mean, Rattrap was kind of easy because, just the way he looked, the way he was, y’know… they described him as this little sort of streetwise, kind of wisecracker, and I went, y’know, some naturally… the idea of kind of, y’know, a Brooklyn-ese accent in there; I thought (Brooklyn accent) "Yeah, we’ll make ’im kind of a little wise-@$$," (normal) and then like, "Oh, he’s the smallest one," so (higher-pitched Brooklyn accent) "Y’know, uh, we’ll put ’im in here someplace," and he’s a rat…!

OUTTSYDER: (laughs)

McNEIL: (continues) Y’know, so, (Rattrap) "Aww, maaaan; we’re all gonna die! Y’know, he sorta became this guy, and like, ‘whaddya-gonna-do ’bout it dere, Dino-boob?!’"

OUTTSYDER: (laughs)

McNEIL: Waspinator was purely Doug Parker’s inspiration. He was the one who said, "Use your little helium voice," and I went, "What?! He’s a bad guy!" And he went, "Yeah, but make him evil!" And then, y’know, make him sinister and he’s a wasp, so… (high helium voice) He kinda went from doing "hello!" to doing… (lower helium voice) "Hello," to doing… (Waspinator voice) "Hell-OOOooooo…! Wazzpinator drag himself off to CR chamber…!" (normal) A lot of the characters on that show came from the writing. ’Cause they were there and they went, "Oh, that’s fun; y’know what? We should maybe make him a bit more of a boob, so…"

OUTTSYDER: (laughs)

McNEIL: (continues) They made him a little more of a comedy foil and stuff. Dinobot, was actually... I had the privilege of playing Cobra Commander very briefly for G.I. Joe. And Dinobot is basically a sustainable version of that voice. Y’know, if you take that voice and you drop it by two octaves. When I started off, I wanted to do the full shred, and then just I kind of went, "Augh, boy, that’s gonna hurt." And then, he’s a bigger guy anyway, so I sort of went from… (Cobra Commander voice) "COOOBRAAAAAA!!!— (gradually lowering pitch over the next words) and just brought him down a bit—(Dinobot voice) into a slightly more… *snort* acceptable r-r-range!" (normal) The little snort, I don’t know where that came from. The first time I saw it animated, I just about died. Just a little… *snoorrrts* as he was breathing, and "that is soo cooool, man!!!"

OUTTSYDER: Yeah, like in that one point in "Double Dinobot" where you see the clone in there, and he was like….

McNEIL: (Dinobot voice) "It wassss.. deliciousss."

OUTTSYDER: (playing along) "You’re disgusting."

McNEIL: (repeating) "You’re disgusting…" And then, ehhh… What was it; that was it.

OUTTSYDER: Yeah, that’s all four of them, yeah. So… next year will be the 10th Anniversary of Beast Wars—

McNEIL: Really?!



OUTTSYDER: And if there were any chance or any plans to produce an animated special, like a one-time-only—

McNEIL: (jumping in) Yeah,Iwould!

OUTTSYDER: (laughs)

McNEIL: There’s also talk; I know they’re doing a live-action movie, too…


McNEIL: And of course, "Are you gonna be in this?" I’m like… "Dude, if it was up to me, yes. If they ask me, yes. Otherwise…."

OUTTSYDER: You don’t have any control over that!

McNEIL: Exactly. (hard-to-describe voice) And Orson Welles isn’t around anymore; maybe they’ll use me.

OUTTSYDER: For Unicron?

McNEIL: Or... Marissa Marsh, probably… because Orson Welles is perfect, so…

OUTTSYDER: It’s been confirmed that most, if not all, of the cast from Transformers Energon will also be on the voice cast for the new Transformers series Cybertron. Now apparently…

McNEIL: (mock indignant curses that sound something like) Durggin’ friggin’ riggity-biggity-slaggity…!

OUTTSYDER: (laughing) Apparently, something apocalyptic happened, and you’re no longer playing Jetfire. So which characters will you be voicing in the new show?

McNEIL: I just started on the new one; I am Snarl, now, which is fun. And then *sigh* I’m gonna kick myself…. Back… "Backbite"? I think his name is Backbite. And he is, he’s cool; Snarl’s pretty straightforward, y’know, he’s… (pauses)

OUTTSYDER: He’s the wolf, right?

McNEIL: Yeah. He’s, eh, y’know, we almost... y’know, we went in and it was kind of snarling and growling, and I went, "Oh, boy, that’s getting… *Ahem* a little too much into Old Chopperface’s territory." So I actually stopped the session and went back and I said, "You know what, I don’t… y’know, it’s… it’s too close to what I’ve done before; I don’t want to do this this way." And of course, I didn’t know he was a wolf when I started. And then I went, "Oh, geez, now I gotta stay away from any flying wolf references!" So I gave him (low-pitched dark voice) "y’know, he was a little more…" (normal) We’ve just started off, so I haven’t sort of really knocked all the rough edges off. And the other guy, he’s kind of this… I dunno, (deepens voice) eco-warrior type, this sort of priest-type, so (adds accent) "I ended up giving him a bit of an African accent. Which is sort of, y’know, he’s talking about the Jungle Planet he comes from, and stuff." (normal) It came across, I was actually kind of pleased, because it was one of those ones that just… they said, "Oh, by the way, you’re also playing this guy," and I went, "Oh, okay; waitaminute, what’s he like; waitWaitWAIT!" "Okay, go." "No, WAIT!"

OUTTSYDER: (laughs)

McNEIL: So I looked and I saw, y’know, there was kind of some hints in his dialogue that he was this sort of… peaceful warrior, custodian of this planet. Of the Jungle Planet. (low-pitched African-accent voice) "When you go to the Jungle Planet, I will tell you this…. it will be…" (normal) And it sort of evolved from that, so I’m hoping he comes back; I have a lot of fun doing that.

OUTTSYDER: Now The Transformers Convention Once Again Known As BotCon will be taking place in Dallas this September.

McNEIL: Really?

OUTTSYDER: Now a question I’ve been hearing a lot in the last few months has been, "IsScottGonnaBeThere? IsScottGonnaBeThere? IsScottGonnaBeThere?"

McNEIL: (enthusiastically) If they invite Scott, Scott will go!

OUTTSYDER: Well, I guess, in a way, you already answered the question, because the question was going to be… "To ease some of the anticipation among the fans, have you been approached by the BotCon organizers regarding an appearance this year…?"

McNEIL: I haven’t yet.


McNEIL: No, but I’d love to go; I’ve had a good time at every BotCon I’ve ever gone to. I like the TransFans; (hick-geezer voice) "They’re jest a leetle more peculiar dan de rest of ’em…! Som’in’ wrong wit’ dose folks, an’ ah like it, ’cuz it’s like ME!"

OUTTSYDER: (laughing)

McNEIL: People driving by now, and they go, "What is wrong with that man?!" "Honey, don’t look, there’s a crazy man in a hat."

OUTTSYDER: And a topless Corvette.

McNEIL: And a topless Corvette; that sounds more promising than it actually is.

OUTTSYDER: If you could choose to work with any cartoon voice actor who’s ever lived – besides Mel Blanc – who would it be?

McNEIL: There’s several now that... I would love to have worked with Paul Winchell [voice of Tigger]. *sigh* Alack and alas. Maurice LaMarche, it’s no secret, I think he’s kind of my personal hero; "good Canadian kid, there, too…" I’ve actually met Maurice briefly out here, and he left, and I was sitting here, like,… "(mumbles) See ya, Maurice… (realization moment), what; wait, waitaminute, that was…! GAH!!!" ‘Cause I think his work on Pinky & The Brain was brilliant; whether he knows me or not, I don’t know. But I just did a thing for Coconut Fred, where I play Rob Paulsen’s partner in the thing, so I can official say that I worked with Rob Paulsen, even though he was in L.A. and I was up here. (bizarre Dr.Evil-like voice) "Played this weird little fruit bat… Slurpy… come along… look at them... teddy… look at how beautiful they are…." (normal) It was sort of a weird cross between Orson Welles and Dr. Evil and Peter Lorre. But yeah, there’s a lot of people that I would like; I get a chance to work with a lot of people that are the best in the business up here, so I’m really fortunate that way. But yeah, (Southern accent) Some of the Down South-boys, I really... admire greatly. (normal) Jim Cummings is brilliant. His politics are not necessarily my politics, but… can’t have everything in life!

OUTTSYDER: Yeah, that’s true. Out of all the animation productions you’ve worked on, which one did you enjoy the most that you wish lasted longer than it did? And conversely, is there any project that you wish you could banish from your résumé for the rest of your life?

McNEIL: Oh, there are lots of those…! But the honest answer, actually, to the first part of that question, is Beast Wars. I think I am more proud of that show, because the writing on it was so exceptional. It’s the only show that I ever worked on that I really became quite a fan of the show, outside of the fact that I was in it. Y’know, like, (hyper-enthusiastic voice) "Wow, it’s Thursday; I gotta go and watch my show, man! (pause) What happens to Rattrap this week…?" Y’know, I go to anime conventions, and it’s still, y’know… completely out of the realm of anime, but there is still so much fan response for Beast Wars. I think it will be... this all sound so very…. (snooty-actor voice) "Hmm-hmmm… If I am to be remembered for anything in this life… I think perhaps that it shall be… for that." (normal) I had more fun working on that show... I think it was the best-quality show I’ve ever had a chance to work on… the writing on it, again, I mean, it was more like anime writing; it wasn’t like little 22-minute soundbites, let’s save the world in half an hour or less—

OUTTSYDER: And sell the toy…

McNEIL: (continues) Yeah, exactly; it had a… well, it did that, too…. It had a story arc that continued throughout, especially the first three seasons, before the bad thing happened. *cough*BeastMachines*cough*

OUTTSYDER: Eh, I don’t think the show was that bad, but y’know….

McNEIL: It looked amazing. Oh, the animation on it was rich-&-tasty, but, eh… Y’know, and it’s still; like, I mean, I can’t believe it’s been ten years, but it’s still as though… it’s the show that people come up on the street and it’s like, "Omigawd, you were…!" Y’know, it’s like, "Whaddya do?" "Oh, I do cartoons." "Oh, what have you done?" "Well, I’ve done this, that, this, this, this... uh, Beast Wars—" "*GASP!!!* Beast Wars?!"

OUTTSYDER: (laughs)

McNEIL: Y’know, I still get fan mail. (hold up imaginary letter, "reading" in light voice) "Dear Rattrap… can I call you Rat?" (smart-aleck voice) "No, you can call me Mr. Trap. (pause) With the accent on "Shut Your."

OUTTSYDER: (hysterical laughter; I almost couldn’t breathe!)

McNEIL: (normal voice) Oh, that was so uncalled for…. (chuckling along) This is off the record, right?

OUTTSYDER: (still laughing, finally calms down)

McNEIL: So y’know, I’m just astonishingly flattered every time. Like that BotCon, or the OTFCC [2004], when it was, okay, auditioning for the thing that you ended up doing. I was just staggered; I was almost embarrassed at how everybody came up and did Waspinator. Y’know. Michael [McConnohie] and the other guy [Dan Gilvezan] from Gen One were like… "Hoooooo, boooooyy…! Who is this guy…? Who’s this Canadian in the hat; why are they all doing his character…?" It was really shocking. I was like, "Oh, my…." And that was… five years ago, when we finished doing the show, so; or six years, now.

OUTTSYDER: Yeah, the last season of Beast Wars ended in 1999; the last Beast Machines ended in... 2001, I think.

McNEIL: Yeah, we did three full seasons of Beast Wars, then we did the two seasons of Beast Machines all in one year. So we technically recorded over four years.

OUTTSYDER: Okay. Now while you’ve been a performer for so many years, have you ever considered trying your hand at other aspects of the entertainment industry, like scriptwriting, directing, music, set design, etc.?

McNEIL: It’s amazing how much set design there isn’t in cartoons. You hardly ever have to pull out a hammer in a cartoon studio. Music, I’ve done a bunch of; I’ve done the opening song for this, uhh… it’s a documentary called "Thirty Minutes", by the guy that did "Super Size Me."

OUTTSYDER: Oh, yeah!

McNEIL: I’m the opening music for that. I’ve done a bunch of singing in anime and I did the theme song for a thing called "Chinese Ghost Story" and a bunch of stuff. I mean, music’s always been kind of a big part of my life, so I’d like to, you know, it’s always flattering getting the singing gigs; it was a real tickle. I was like, (goofy voice) "Woo-hoo! Look, I’m a professional singer now!" (normal) Directing, I would very much like to do. I would very much like to do that. The rest of it… hmm… I’m too scattered mentally to do writing. It’s like ADD Poster Child; "’Kay, I’m gonna sit down, and (gazes at imaginary pen he’s holding) "OOOOoohh, shiiiiineeeeyyyyy…!" Plus, if I get near a computer, I end up (*ahem!*) (semi-shy defensive voice) Perhaps a tiny bit a gaming…. I’m geekish that way; yes, I know what "hit points" are; yes, I know what "armor class" means… (trails off)

OUTTSYDER: Well, you know a lot more than I do, but that’s okay. So, over the last few years, the Canadian dollar has been getting stronger, or the US dollar weakening, depending on how you look at it—

McNEIL: (sudden) Yes, it has hurt our industry.

OUTTSYDER: (chuckles, trying to finish the question, but lets the man talk) :)

McNEIL: Immensely. The saddest [Vancouver] Province paper headline I ever read in my life… it was a two-part headline. "Arnold Schwarzenegger Elected Governor Of California", and "Canadian Loonie Hits All-Time High", all in the same page. Everybody in the motion picture and entertainment industry in Vancouver went…. (long breath) "We’re dead." Oh dear. But it’s bouncing back nicely now, but it took a while.

OUTTSYDER: Yes, it’s good to hear about the bouncing-back. For the question—you already mentioned the slump part that was in the question—but has the change in dollar values affected your career much, both in just voice-acting and in other aspects of the industry?

McNEIL: Yeah, actually, it has, because of… especially when the dollar was really peaking up around 81, 82 [cents US]… realistically, it is one of the big incentives for US companies to come and work here. We have a good talent pool, and we’re comparable to, I think, anywhere else; but… if they’re saving forty cents on the dollar straight off the bat, who wouldn’t come to Canada? Now, it’s a little more difficult, and there’s different provinces in Canada that are offering better incentives than we are… so yeah, it did definitely did take a bite out. There’s still work, but certainly a lot less than there used to be. Hopefully that’s changing; it seems to be swinging around again, at least for the motion picture industry; there’s a lot of stuff slated for this year that’s in production now, so… (British upper-crust voice) "Hopefully that continues upwards; whether again we ever reach the halcyon glory days; those days of wine and roses from the mid-’90s, we shall never know."

OUTTSYDER: You have a hammer, a ferret and a roulette wheel.

McNEIL: (quick mock-surprised insert) How did you know that?!

OUTTSYDER: (continues question, chuckling) What are your plans for the evening?

McNEIL: (another funny voice I can’t really describe) "Well, friend, I don’t think I need to explain that one too in-depth…!" (normal) A hammer, a ferret and a roulette wheel…? You can’t ask my kind of mind that sort of question…!

OUTTSYDER: (laughing) Did you want to skip the question, then, or…?

McNEIL: Well, clearly... we, the ferret and myself, are going to get out my carpentry tool belt, and do some repair work on the roulette wheel so that it always stops on double-zero!

OUTTSYDER: (cracks up laughing)

McNEIL: And then... I’m going to take the ferret, and… (mouth moves, but no sounds spoken) … and… ("silent speech") … th… ("silent speech") …with the hammer twice… ("silent speech") … an… ("silent speech")… th… ("silent speech") … all the way around the roulette wheel.

{Imagine a faulty signal breaking up. That’s how Scott’s speaking on purpose in this part of the interview!}

McNEIL: Of… ("silent speech") Did… ("silent speech") it’s startin’ to… ("silent speech") … smoke comin’ outta the… ("silent speech") …chine!

OUTTSYDER: Real..? ("silent speech") Is… ("silent speech") Is this thing o…? ("silent speech")

McNEIL: Seems fine now.

OUTTSYDER: Okay, one second; (into recorder) Can you hear me; can you hear me now? Good? (talking to the recorder) Don’t do that, all right?

BOTH: (chuckle)

OUTTSYDER: Some of your weirdness is rubbing off on me now.

McNEIL: That may be the oddest question I’ve ever been asked.


McNEIL: Yes!

OUTTSYDER: Even weirder than your opinion of flamingos?

McNEIL: Yes. It’s three-part odd.

OUTTSYDER: Point taken. So with those questions out of the way, the last bit is the Word Association section, and you’re not limited to just one-word answers; you can say as much or as little as you want to on each thing. (pause) "Dinobot."

McNEIL: (without hesitation) Venus Terzo.

OUTTSYDER: "Silverbolt."

McNEIL: Venus Terzo.

OUTTSYDER: "Jetfire."

McNEIL: (pause) Bloody Australians…!

OUTTSYDER: Ho-hoooo, boy…. "Piccolo."

McNEIL: (Piccolo voice) "It ain’t easy being greeeeen…." (normal) That, and the "Cucumber Song." (Piccolo) "I’m a cucumber; I’m a—"

OUTTSYDER: (laughs)

McNEIL: (normal) That seems to have become synonymous; people now give me jars of pickles when I go to conventions! And cucumbers; I’ve signed cucumbers!

OUTTSYDER: Are you serious?

McNEIL: I’m dead serious.

OUTTSYDER: That’s… interesting, for lack of a better term. "Wolverine."

McNEIL: (Wolverine voice) Sweeeet…. (hysterical voice) Greatest phone call of my life..! (Wolverine voice) And… Venus Terzoooo….

OUTTSYDER: (laughs, then settles) "Garry Chalk."

McNEIL: (Ed Norton-type voice) "Garryyyyyyyyyy! Look! I’m a monkey!" (neurotic voice) This is revealing too much of me, psychologically…!

OUTTSYDER: "Susan Blu."

McNEIL: Dee-lightful.

OUTTSYDER: "Trevor DeVall." [Alpha-Q]

McNEIL: Dee-lightful.

OUTTSYDER: (cracks up again, then regains composure) "Mel Blanc."

McNEIL: (breath, sigh) Irreplaceable.

OUTTSYDER: "George Carlin." (comedian)

McNEIL: Life-shaping, for me. Y’know, I’ll give you the long-form answer to this one. I grew up listening to Carlin when I was a kid; my sister who was older had all the albums, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah…. I had no idea; they ran a bunch of his live concert footage recently on TV and we were sitting there watching it, and my wife sort of turned to me, slightly ashen-faced, and went, "Omigawd… (long pause) I understand where it all comes from!"

OUTTSYDER: (loud laughter)

McNEIL: And I went, "What?!" And I then I went, "Omigawd… my whole attitude about everything… was shaped by George Carlin!" (Carlin voice) "Did you evah wondah… D’you evah notice…?" (normal) Yeah, I was; I had no idea. But I found it out late in life, that he is solely responsible for the mental illness that [I can’t get the word here; I’m laughing too hard; sorry!] my existence to this very day.

OUTTSYDER: "Sarah Michelle Gellar."

McNEIL: (long sigh, is really struggling to say something, and then….) I can’t.

OUTTSYDER: (chuckles) Well, if you don’t want to, then…

McNEIL: BLEEP! I’m pleading the fifth!

OUTTSYDER: Okay, we’ll pass on that one. "Rowan Atkinson." (Mr. Bean and Blackadder)

McNEIL: (British accent) Br-r-rilliant!!!

OUTTSYDER: "Venus Terzo."

McNEIL: Veeeee-nuuussss; Hurrrrrrrrrr…! (Homer Simpson drooling sound) Scrump-tilly-itious…!

OUTTSYDER: That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that word.

McNEIL: That’s a Dairy Queen word.

OUTTSYDER: Heh, shows how often I go to Dairy Queen…

McNEIL: I have worked with Venus for almost twenty years.

OUTTSYDER: That long?

McNEIL: Mm-hmm. And Venus… does not look one lick different than she did the day I met her.

OUTTSYDER: That’s amazing.

McNEIL: She is still the ever delightful Venus Terzo. The most often question I get at BotConventions from like, young guys… (cracking adolescent voice) "Mr. McNeil, sir, Mr. McNeil…! Uh..! Scott McNeil!" (normal) and I’m like, "*ahem* Yes, can I help you?" (same adolescent) "Um... yeah, I have a question… what’s it like working with Veeenuuuusss Terzoooooo….?! (Homer Simpson drooooling noise)"

OUTTSYDER: Hooo, boy… Gee, several reasons why that question gets asked… certain characterization connection, there…

McNEIL: Yeesssss….

OUTTSYDER: Pretty obvious reasons…. "AC/DC."

McNEIL: Venus Terzo.

OUTTSYDER: (by this time, I’m about to lose it)

McNEIL: (Aussie accent) The greatest rock-&-roll band in da world…. I have seen them in 1977, I saw them again in 1998…

OUTTSYDER: Oh, both the Bon Scott days and the Brian Johnson days!

McNEIL: Yep, I have seen, yep… honest to God, I’ve got very eclectic tastes in music; I like, y’know, everything. But! In my CD player in my car right now… is AC/DC.

OUTTSYDER: Hoo, my gawd!

[NOTE: I did NOT expect this co-incidence, I didn’t even know McNeil’s musical tastes.]

McNEIL: I’m talkin’ Bon Scott AC/DC; though (Brian Johnson speaking voice, not singing voice) "I got a definite soft spot for Brian Johnson, too. It’s lit’l-know’ fact, normally I wear like a tweed cap like that; I’ve got a wife-beater; people like, ‘Ya look like the guy from AC/DC.’ Greatest line I evah heard a rock singer say, he was talkin’ about his audition and he just said, ‘Wuh… I just wunted to git out theh an’ sing my b***s off fer these guys.’"

OUTTSYDER: I might have to censor this bit… (chuckles)

McNEIL: Yeah; sing my BEEP!

OUTTSYDER: While on the subject of AC/DC, do you ever play guitar at all?

McNEIL: I am the world’s worst guitar player.

OUTTSYDER: Okay, so obviously, there’s no point in asking if you include the schoolboy jacket and the tie, and the…

[At this point, McNeil starts "singing" the guitar riff and drum beat from "Back In Black", and starts mimicking the Angus Young walk, and I just join along with him. I’m so glad nobody was driving along the road in that moment!]

McNEIL: When I was recording, when I was working on, I guess, uh, the New He-Man Adventures or G.I. Joe, something like that, and we recorded at Little Mountain Sound in Vancouver here, which is now where GGRP is. That was, at the time, the top, like, hard rock recording center in North America. So we were in there at the same time as AC/DC. And Poison. My very first thing that ever happened to me as a voice actor—literally, no word of exaggeration, my very first day on the job… I’m walking in the door at the studio. I go… (pretends to enter an imaginary door, and accidentally bumps into an imaginary person exiting) "Oh! Oh, I’m sorry… (pause) Steven Tyler from Aerosmith…!"

OUTTSYDER: (cracks up laughing)

McNEIL: (has his back against the studio door, is slouching, acting like a star-struck fan, making all sorts of bizarre unintelligible sounds, reaching out in shocked gestures; it’s a moment that needed a video camera to capture the full spirit of this spontaneous act; recovers a bit, then stands up again) I was a little star-struck.

OUTTSYDER: I figure you would; then again, so would anybody. "Harley-Davidson."

McNEIL: (Wolverine-esque) Rusting… (normal) which is what mine is right now, because the electrical system’s fried!

OUTTSYDER: Oh, nice. "Steven Spielberg."

McNEIL: (long pause) And a ferret, and a hammer, and a roulette wheel!

OUTTSYDER: (laughing)

McNEIL: What would you do! What would you do…? I think… brilliant. Y’know what, in his own way. Brilliant.

OUTTSYDER: And finally, "Scott McNeil."

McNEIL: Unknowable. Undecipherable. (scratchy voice) "I have no idea….! (gradually adds a Southern accent) I’m still trying to figure out who the hell that feller is, but one of these days, it’ll all come clear…. I’m hopin’ I’m gonna like ’im when I meet ’im! He seems like a decent person; peoples thats met ’im says he’s real nice!"

OUTTSYDER: I think he’s okay.

McNEIL: (normal voice) Eh, he’s all right.

BOTH: (laugh)

OUTTSYDER: Okay, that wraps up this interview, so thank you for taking the time out for this little soirée, and…

McNEIL: (butler-esque voice) "’Twas my pleasure, sir…!"

[Both shake hands.]

OUTTSYDER: And we’ll have the occasional chat and try to regain contact and, well… whatever works out.

McNEIL: All right!

OUTTSYDER: Excellent.

McNEIL: (baby voice) "We love you, Transformer people; Bye-Bye!"