James Arnold Taylor is one of the most famous voice actors and equally one of the most talented in the industry. His voice seems to know no bounds and his versatility has become well known among professionals and fans.
If you're a video game fan you've probably played at least one game with James Arnold Taylor providing one of the voices. Monkey Island, Final Fantasy, Ratchet and Clank and Back to the Future are just a few examples. In recent years he has become well known as the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars The Clone Wars and is a fan favourite in the Star Wars community. Hot off Star Wars Anaheim where he was on stage presenting as well as performing in the live radio drama Smuggler's Bounty we managed to catch up with James and ask him a few questions on his impressive career and what's next for him.
Your book JAT365 was hugely inspirational and quite frankly there’s not enough books like
First off thank you very much for the kind words and support of the book. I find it to be something that could be considered rather simple but, if actually used, extremely useful in staying positive and active in your own pursuits in life. I have several other books in the works, one is a follow up that moves away from the daily and actually helps you find in each chapter formulate and pursue your dreams. Another is a autobiography about the first part of my life and the recent discovery of my real father. There are more to come as well hopefully but must get through these two first!
I know in a previous interview you've said you always wanted to be a voice actor but what would you be doing if you weren't a voice actor?
I love cooking. As a young man I considered going to Culinary School to become a Chef. Creating food for people is an art and it’s wonderful to make people happy with good healthy food. My family and friends are the beneficiaries of my cooking now, but maybe someday I could open a restaurant!
I was thrilled and humbled to be awarded the role. I never could have dreamed as a kid growing up with Star Wars that I would someday get to play such a big role in the franchise. I’m blessed to be able to be Obi-Wan. I think the world of both Sir Alec and Mr. McGregor so I’m again so happy to be in their company.
I have to ask as a site celebrating the works of George Lucas, what was it like working with the big GL?
George is a true visionary and does everything with a great love of story telling. I am especially honoured to say that Clone Wars was the last work of Star Wars that George was involved in and I feel his passion for it came through in every episode. I think people would be so amazed at the (Well said - Rob)
You have become such a fan favourite within the Star Wars community and you were incredibly popular in Anaheim for Star Wars Celebration.
Celebration and Star Wars Weekends were amazing events this year and I was thrilled to get to host both events. From Ian McDiarmid reading Star Wars Shakespeare to Carrie Fisher tackling me on stage with kisses at Celebration… To Warwick Davis and Frank Oz joking and telling stories on the Disney stage at Star Wars Weekends, I am the luckiest Star Wars fan and participant I know!
So the latest TV series to benefit from your voice talent is the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series. You play Yondu who was played by the excellent Michael Rooker in the movie. Have you spoken to Michael in regards to how you approach the character?
I have not met Michael but am a big fan of his acting and hope that he likes my homage to him in the animated series! So often I get to double my favourite actors and it never gets old. Yondu is a very cool character as he is a relatively “neutral” guy, almost like a Boba Fett or Cad Bane, he goes where the money is, and will help the good guys or bad guys depending on the day and the job… Plus the whistling is so original and fun to do. I have two types of whistles just like he did in the film and while I'm sure if I couldn't do it they would replace that part with a “stunt whistler” I'm so glad I can whistle for him. That arrow is powerful when Yondu whistles!
You have played so many characters in video games from the Spitmaster in Monkey Island 2 (my favourite game) to Ratchet in Ratchet and Clank. Do you have a personal favourite and are you a gamer yourself? (I thought you nailed a young Emmett in the Back to the Future games)
Thanks! I love them all really. young Emmett was a true treat as a fan of Back to the Future and of Christopher Lloyd, to have the challenge of bringing a 17 year old version of Doc Brown to life was really amazing fun! Ratchet is of course a personal favourite for me as well, as he is one of the only characters I do that is in my real voice, plus they are so well written and put together. I'm very happy about the movie coming out in 2016, it will be awesome.
Tell us about The Comlink Channel on Youtube. What can we expect in future episodes?
The Comlink is the brainchild of my good friend J.C. Reifenberg and we had a great time putting some programming together earlier this year including my Star Wars Debate show “A Certain Point of View.” We have about 12 episodes finished but only 5 have aired, so there may be more soon. The Comlink has been running out of my studios in Burbank California, but I will be moving my studios soon so that may affect some of what J.C. and I put together. I'm also working on putting out some new shows about Voice-Acting and perhaps a daily video based on my book, “JAT 365.” Lot’s of new internet content and surprises are to come throughout the rest of this year and beyond, not sure how much of it will be on The Comlink Channel but for sure on my YouTube Channel and elsewhere hopefully! Thanks for asking.
If you could choose any character you would like to voice in a movie, TV series or game who or what would it be?
As far as known characters I would love to take a shot at either Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck some day. But ultimately I love voicing new characters and bringing life to all the awesome super heroes I get to be in both the Marvel and DC worlds. When I was a kid I loved a graphic novel/comic book series called, “Elf Quest” and I met the creator of it a few years back and talked about how I’d love to be a character in that if they ever brought it to TV or the big screen.
I can’t let you go without asking what your favourite Spielberg movie is and John Williams soundtrack is?
HA! Good one! I grew up with all these films and am so taken by them all. Raiders of the Lost Ark is my all time favourite film and the music is a huge part of it… But, a couple weeks ago I introduced my 10 year old daughter to E.T. (The Original version not the 2002 revised), and I have to tell you it brought me to tears just as when I was a kid and the music, especially the end credits piece is so simple and haunting. It is truly fantastic. I am so blessed to have grown up during those wondrous years in the late 70’s and early 80’s when Lucas and Spielberg were creating the most amazing experiences around. They were the reason we have what we do currently and you truly must thank
Last question. As a Welshman myself can you do a Welsh accent?
Well, not in front of you… It’s a bit more tricky than others, but if I am around it enough I’ll be speaking it without realising it. I tend to pick up voices and sounds quite quickly that way. But to simply pull it out at a job, can be a little more work. I’ll just have to come over to that side of the pond and take a listen to you all to really get it down! Thanks for your time and my best to you… oh yes, and may the Force be with you!
Thanks James for answering our questions.
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