Comic-Con Revolution Ontario once again blasted its way to the Inland Empire last weekend. With an impressive slue of guests including some of Hollywood’s best voiceover talent, to legends of the comic book industry, this convention was not to be missed. Kicking off this astounding convention was a panel showcasing one of the most seminal animated series of our time, Samurai Jack.
Featured on the panel were the show’s two leads, Phil LaMarr (Jack) and Greg Baldwin (the second voice of Aku). When asked what it was like meeting Jack for the first time, LaMarr said, “For me it began with the original audition. They may have had a character drawing; not much of a description. I just remember Genndy Tartakovsky (series creator) and Collette Sunderman (voice director) were there and we were just sort of “massaging” the voice. I knew the character was from Japan, but they really didn’t want much of an accent. They kept telling me to dial it back.” LaMarr continued, “Eventually we sort of stumbled onto what I like to call “a young, Asian Clint Eastwood voice.”
Unlike LaMarr, Baldwin had come into the series when it was revived for its fifth and final season. He replaced the legendary actor Mako, who had created the role of the villainous Aku. This is not the first time Baldwin has had to step into Mako’s shoes; he had previously taken over Mako’s role as Iroh in Avatar: The Last Airbender shortly after Mako’s passing in 2006. “I was a fan,” said Baldwin, “My Son and I would watch the show everyday when he got home from school and it was something we both enjoyed. I was sad to see it go and elated when I got the call to do the last season.”
The actors also touched upon the fact that while the show has a ton of action, that wasn’t necessarily the driving force of the series. “You realize it doesn’t mean anything if it isn’t grounded in a story, in a reason, in a character,” said LaMarr.
The two were also asked how they felt about high-profile celebrity talent getting roles in animation, citing Robin Williams in Aladdin as example. LaMarr said of this “Disney took away the wrong lesson from that film. Instead of continuing to cast actors that were like Robin Williams, that actually brought life to a character, they thought to themselves “Stars! We need more stars!”. Baldwin added, “It made sense for Robin to play the Genie, who else would’ve voiced that? However Mel Gibson didn’t need to voice John Smith. I understand why he did, but he didn’t need to.”
In closing, the two were asked what it was like to interact with their fans and if Samurai Jack fans were different in any way. “I think every fandom is different because each show is different,” said LaMarr, “What we want us to give you something different.” Baldwin added, “Iroh has surprised me a little bit. I always thought Iroh was a very well written character, but it wasn’t until I started coming to these cons when I realized this character had an impact. Time after time, I would come to realize Iroh was a father figure in many ways.”
Samurai Jack is now available to stream in its entirety on adultswim.com.