Q&A: Shooting the breeze with Megatron

GameSpot chats with Frank Welker, the voice of Megatron in the original animated series and upcoming Transformers game and movie.

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Luke Skywalker had Darth Vader, the Road Runner had Wile E. Coyote, and Optimus Prime had Megatron. As the leader of the evil Decepticons, the Transformers' Megatron embodied everything a good villain needs: ruthlessness, power, and, of course, his unforgettable voice.

The man behind Megatron's screeching and bellows is voice actor Frank Welker, who today was--along with Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime--announced as lending his voice to the upcoming Transformers: The Game from Activision. GameSpot had a chance to talk to Welker about the role and his start in the animated series.

GameSpot: What do you remember about getting into the whole Transformers thing in the first place? Was it just another job for you?

Frank Welker: Well, actually, it was. I had never heard of Transformers or the franchise or anything until I actually went in to interview for the show. The voice-over actors were called in on a general meeting and looked at the photographs of the characters. And that was the first time I saw them. There was a whole bunch on the table, and there was a sign that said, "Pick three."

So I thought, "I'm going to really push the envelope here." And I picked about seven or more and [the director] was cool with that. There weren't a whole lot of people waiting, so I ended up reading for just about everything I could get my hands on and ended up getting a lot of them, and it was great fun. But I mean I really had never been exposed to Transformers at all until that very moment.

GS: How did you end up with so many bad guys?

FW: Since I've always been doing dads and dogs and nice guys like Freddie from Scooby Doo, who is a very straight character very close to my own voice, whenever I have an opportunity to do something that's a little different, I kind of go for it. And I really liked the looks of some of the characters.

[It was] an absolute blast trying to come up with a unique sound for [Megatron] and then keeping all the guys separate--making different bad guys. So I was just like a kid in a candy store, and I think that's the way most actors feel, especially voice actors that kind of get a little bit typecast.

GS: Did the producers give you pretty free rein to shape those voices the way you wanted?

FW: Actually they did. In this instance, there were so many characters and not a lot of time...so they were kind of anxious to get going and there wasn't a whole lot of piddling around. Like a lot of times you go in and the directors piddle with you, "Try that more as a Frank Fontaine and a Jack Nicholson rolled into one and yet you're a dwarf," or whatever.

But in this instance they pretty much let us do what we wanted to do, and then if they liked it, they recorded. And then they just approved them from there. So really it was not a lot of interference, which is really nice because your instincts are there and they were kind of going with what you chose to do. You just look at the photograph then do it. I think that they picked a lot of the unusual sounding voices because of what the characters were. And Megatron being the leader of the Decepticons, the voice seemed to work really well with that. So I was very pleased.

GS: Did you think it was going to be so popular?

FW: No...it's amazing. And I know Peter [Cullen, voice of Optimus Prime] and I have both talked about this. I mean we looked at each other one time. We just shook our heads. We could not believe it [got so big] and had no idea because for some reason we never got fan mail. And I talked to Peter about it and he said the same thing. He never got any fan mail. I never got any fan mail. And I guess wherever that went or anything that had to do with the show went back to the toy people or the studio or whatever. But anyhow it never got down to us.

The only way that we really could tell that we had any kind of success or following was by being picked up for another season. So really we had no idea other than just going to work and guys saying, "Hey, you're working again next week."

Then somebody contacted me about one of the Bot Cons or one of those shows, and I had never heard of those before. And I called Peter and I say, "Hey, would you like to go and do one of these?" And he said, "Yeah, but why would they want us there?" And I said, "I don't know."

We were both really in the dark, and then he ended up going and I couldn't go. I remember he was very upset with me because here he was there and we thought it'd be kind of fun to go together and read some copy and just fool around. So he hasn't forgiven me for that yet. [laughs] Actually he has.

So really we had no idea, and I'm very, very, very surprised and pleasantly surprised that there is a big fan base, and now being on the Internet, I can see that there's a lot of people out there and a lot of sites and it's really cool.

GS: You're best known in the Transformers world just for playing Megatron, but you played all those other characters too. Who was your favorite one? Megatron?

FW: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Megatron was so much fun first of all because of the voice that came to me and trying to throw in different elements that would make it sound unusual and have a little bit of pain and to keep the evil quality and still be able to make a sound that would be different than what any other actors were doing. And that was my goal. What can I do that looks like this picture that has that evil and scratchiness?

I started playing with the voice and started getting a little bit of this. [In Megatron's voice] Maybe it sounds almost like there's four or five people talking at the same time. And it kind of has a scratchy quality. But you can get evil with it if you need to. You can get powerful or you can become very, very sinister.

It was a gas to do, and I thought they loved the voice and I knew that it was the kind of voice that maybe some people don't like, but some people do. My quote is, "If that voice was in the room, you know it's in the room."

GS: Absolutely! I was doing my best to keep a straight face just now, but my mind is officially blown. That was excellent.

FW: But yeah, it was really a lot of fun to do that character. And then playing against Peter and everything, we had a lot of fun with it.

GS: So how did you get involved with the game? There's this whole new resurgence of the franchise here.

FW: Well, Activision came to me and said they were doing the game and, "Would you be interested in it?" So we started working together, and they laid down the lines and showed me the game. It was just so cool to have an opportunity to revive the character again and to play it full-out in this game because the game is awesome. There's just so much to do and so many different modes and things, that it really gave Megatron a whole new life. And it gave me a whole other chance to do it all over again in a setting that is just so perfect because you got these little short bursts of things to do.

GS: So what did you think of those new character designs when you saw them, and did that have any effect on the way that you did your work for the game?

FW: Actually what I tried to do is just do exactly what I did in the [Generation One] stuff. And I tried to make it as close to Megatron as possible.

GS: Would you mind giving us just a real quick tease of the kind of work of yours that we might hear on the game?

FW: Sure. What is nice is that it's very similar to what we did in the original stuff and keeping with that. [As Megatron] "Pathetic. Imagine you thinking you could defeat me. Pathetic!"

One thing I liked is the ranges. I played him just maniacal and then some just right in the middle and then some very low. You don't have an opportunity to do a whole lot in the television series because we were pretty much a "go" the whole time. It was always like, [Loudly as Megatron] "Bring them over here!" [More subdued] Well this time I have some opportunities to be a little more subtle.

GS: Thanks for talking with us.

GameSpot also talked with Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime.

Discussion

57 comments
predcon1
predcon1

Here! Wile E. (Ethelbert) Coyote hasn't got an "Unforgettable Voice". He hasn't even got just "a voice". All he's got is those signs he holds up. Well, except for his episodes with Bugs.

pimp_daddy_g
pimp_daddy_g

and i thought transformers were secretive not going on rampages through the middle of a city welll as long as u can blow **** up i dont care

Deyyhayederaned
Deyyhayederaned

The Fox Tail: This game does look quite impressive I can only hope that the trailer is a brilliant remdition of the actual game. With transformers you dont need to know the story you just need to know that the battle will build to one final battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron, its otherwise a climax. One great thing from what I saw in the trailer is the movement of the transformers, the gameplay looks similar to that of 'Predator: Concrete Jungle' hopefully however it wont have the short crippling linear campaign as that game. I do love rpg games with no END I hope this will have that option in its gameplay. This game looks like it will be great and I say now it better be because if it isn't I will eat the game designers 'Hannibal Lecter Style' The wonderful internet helped me find the movie that showed me the game, all because of the films human Co-Star Ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

lahoor
lahoor

What this Game ????? PLZ help me boys

DrCLos
DrCLos

Can't wait to hear him in the movie! It will be so surreal to hear him as the new movie Megatron.

CloudXentar
CloudXentar

You are right if thats the case, but if the line '' Die Autobots!'' appears in the movie it is much more better to hear from Frank. I figured they puttet Frank's voice in the game because there will be a lot of unlockable extras from generation 1 transformers and maybe there will be some videos with old Megatron's voice so taking the same voice actor would be a smart thing to do.

Lord_Nightmare1
Lord_Nightmare1

Welker is an excellent Voice actor and I'm really happy to see him play Megs again. CloudXentar Bay didn't pick Frank as the movie megs because he would not have been right for the role. The Megatron in the Movie is a bit more sinister and more clam and collected rather than the G1 (cartoon) style Megatron who was very physically violent and slightly mad.

CloudXentar
CloudXentar

Frank is a legend. I have no idea why Bay didn't want him as Megatron but as always they have to bring more '' well known'' actors to do the voice acting. His voice is so superbly evil in a good way XD At least I'll here him in the upcoming good/bad transformers game.

thor107
thor107

Frank Welker is a God among men. Having Agent Smith voiceing over Megatron in the movie, feels like cheating on your real hot girlfriend with some ugly old broad. Sure you can get laid by this chick but why would you when you have a hottie waiting in your bed. .....Just doesn't make sense

flarisek
flarisek

I agree, it makes no sense that Welker isn't Megatron in the live-action movie. Especially since they brought Cullen in. I would think that, with the two being such close friends that Cullen would've lobbied to get Welker in. I'm really hoping this movie has at least some good moments in it.

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

Hey metroid_dragon I think you misunderstood, I believe he didn't hear about it before the show not the movie. Anyway this guy seems like a interesting guy, who really is passionate about his line of work. He sounds like he really enjoys what he does. It's good that they are using the original voices for the show and game, not somthing you see in many licensed games, but somthing that should be done more. But he should be the voice for the movie, that is just stupid..

metroid_dragon
metroid_dragon

That's kinda silly that the voice of megatron (not to mention apparently many other bad guys) never heard of transformers until this movie... how is that actually possible?

ClassicMegatron
ClassicMegatron

I still can't believe that Hugo Weaving is voicing Megatron in the movie over Frank. Nothing against Weaving really, but that's just plain stupid. Oh well, at least we get Welker in the game and he sounds as awesome as ever.

qrter
qrter

Wasn't Frank Welker Nibbler in "Futurama"? And just about any weird alien/animal/non-alien/non-animal sound in there?

JoeSmith34
JoeSmith34

I wish I could here Welker as Soundwave. I thought for sure there was some computer aided stuff in that Soundwave voice, but now I am wondering if that is the case. If I could see a video of Frank Welker doing the voice of Soundwave, I would be AMAZED!!!

bornofash
bornofash

Welker & Cullen > every other voice actor out there.

made_by_semen
made_by_semen

Very cool.....I'd send Frank some fan mail....

Redsyrup
Redsyrup

That's so strange, that they neglected to use the original voice actors for the movie? I can see Bay making a bad decision like that but not Speilberg.

thekey
thekey

WOW! wishI could here this interview!!!!!!!!!!!

SGTMUS
SGTMUS

I can't beleive his not the voice of Megetron in the movie, That's Blasphemy. You hear that, BLASPHEMY.

mrklorox
mrklorox

Wyle E Coyote had an smooth and suave voice. He's a Super Genius you know.

jaanusd
jaanusd

Wile E. Coyote didn't have a voice, did he? IT must have been pretty forgetable

helpzmenowz
helpzmenowz

I was only able to see it in the early 90s, but this interview brings back a lot of memories from my early childhood. :)

cell_dweller
cell_dweller moderator moderator

I still can't believe that Welker isn't doing the voice in the movie.....anyone know if Cullen is Optimus?

sieg6529
sieg6529

it's a load of crap that he isn't in the new movie

Mikael_S
Mikael_S

I don't understand why they didn't choose Welker to voice Megatron in the new movie but only in the game, it's just stupid!

CMakaCreative
CMakaCreative

The resurgence of the 80's. I feel so old now. Cool interview. Megatron has got to be one of the most notorious villians in TV history. Wonder what's the next 80's show being prep for the big screen. Voltron? A GI Joe movie?...which I can't see happening. Live action GI Joe movie would probably suck as bad a the live action Street Fighter Movie.

megagene
megagene

This makes me so very happy.

QofBanditZ
QofBanditZ

I'm thrilled that they brought back Welker and Cullen to do the core TF voices. It's amazing to look at the credits and see how many TF's those two alone are responsible for voicing. It's a pity Christoper Latta is no longer around, since he did the voice of Starscream and Cobra Commander from GI Joe, among many others. For all that, I just hope this movie and game end up actually being good. I'm cautiously optimistic.

ShadowMstr121
ShadowMstr121

This interview took me by surprise, because I'd read a few articles stating that Hugo Weaving was going to be voicing Megatron. He was even cast on IMDB until recently. Not sure if I should be disappointed or pleased, since I can recognize Welker but also love Weaving. Maybe the movie will bomb, and I'll hate it either way ;) Let's hope not.

-HCMF-
-HCMF-

damn, the sad thing is I could here him speak like megatron the whole time.... how sad

walter_k
walter_k

Haha, no sound needed, IDK if it's good or bad but I have several episodes downloaded..hehe, yay me.

zsc4
zsc4

I really expected some audio clips. :?

zsc4
zsc4

I really expected some audio clips. :?

Holesinswiss
Holesinswiss

What this and the Peter Cullen article need are SOUND CLIPS!

Cyberwolf1313
Cyberwolf1313

@ Rusty_13: In TF:TM Galvatron was voiced by Leonard Nimoy, however in season 3 of TF Welker took over as Galvy. As far as this game is concerned it's great that Welker is aboard, it's just too bad Weaving was selected for the film incarnation of Megs.

tman978
tman978

"Shut up Starscream!" Welker did a slight megatron-y voice on What's new Scooby Doo and he sounds exactly the same.

hyoumaru
hyoumaru

Odd, earlier I read that Hugo Weaving was hired to play Megatron in the movie because Welker's voice had aged too much...

slipslayer_666
slipslayer_666

This game is getting AWESOME BY THE MINUTE!!! Welker and Cullen both in it, its friggin mind boggeling, too bad Welker wont be doing the voice for Megatron in the movie.

vamroc
vamroc

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha just had this picture of Megatron in a neckerchief driving the Mystery Machine.

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

autobots rage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the decepticons

LordelX
LordelX

Galvatron's post movie voice was also performed by Welker, as I understand it. Appearantly, he and Mr. Cullin were not very happy about the events in the original 1986 Transformers: The Movie.

rusty_13
rusty_13

did he voice gelvatron when megatron was "transformed" in galvatron?