Kelly Hu of TMNT: She Loves Playing Tough Chicks

Kelly Hu  Image: Nickelodeon
Kelly Hu Image: Nickelodeon

By now I’m sure you all realize I’m a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan. So, when Nickelodeon offered me the chance to interview another one of the actors involved, I jumped at the chance. Last week, I spoke with Kelly Hu, the voice of Karai, the newest character being brought in for season 2. Kelly has quite the geek cred with appearances on Arrow, Young Justice, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 and X-Men 2 under her belt.

GeekMom: Thanks for talking with me today. I’m a huge Turtles fan and an X-Men fan so it’s really cool to get to talk to someone who has experience with both.
Kelly Hu: Yea, am I the only one? I guess I am the only one that’s crossed over into both.

GM: My first question is, were you a fan of the Turtles before accepting the role?
KH:
I remember seeing it a bit while I was younger growing up, but I can’t say I was a huge fan per se. I think I might have been a little too old for it. When did it come out exactly? What year?

GM: I was born in 1985, so I remember it in the 90’s, but the first animated series came out in 1987.
KH:
I was a teenager in the 80’s. I do remember seeing it around a lot and I did a movie with Ernie Rays Jr. shortly after that called Surf Ninjas.

GM: OH I saw that one. I remember my brothers and I got into martial arts after seeing Surf Ninjas and the Turtles as kids.
KH:
OH that’s so funny. It’s a cute little film for what it is and I got to go to Thailand to shoot it which was awesome.

GM: How did make the leap from on-camera acting to voice acting for the animated series, the video games and all of that?
KH:
It just kind of fell into my lap. The first job I did was Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 (Visas Marr) and it was really fun. I loved it. It came easy to me. I’ve been told that I have a very distinct voice so I think that helps as well. I’ve always had a pretty strong voice because I would get in trouble all the time as a kid.

Being Asian where you’re supposed to be more quiet and softer and I was always getting reprimanded for laughing to loud or speaking to loudly. Just not being feminine at all and I’ve turned all of that into a career.

GM: What is it about Karai that draws you to her? Is there anything about you that you identify with her?
KH:
She’s a tough little girl, which I love. I love playing tough chicks. That’s pretty much all I do really. She does have a conscious and I think she struggles with that a bit. She has an attraction to Leonardo in this and it makes it fun that she isn’t just a bad girl, which is like a lot of characters I do.

Lady Deathstrike (X2), was sort of that way, really just on the dark side because she was under that drug. On Arrow I play China White who is also just really a definite bad girl. What I like about Karai is that she wrestles with both.

GM: Do you physically act out any of your lines while recording them or are you pretty laid back?
KH:
My skills with the martial arts have definitely helped me in this. I’m very physical because my character is very physical. I do a lot of punches, so I have to make a lot of punching noises so I can’t be sitting in a chair when I’m working, that just doesn’t work for me. I love to be able to huff and puff and throw my arms about and kick. I actually kick when it calls for the kicking sound.

GM: That’s one thing about when I’m watching animated shows, is I wonder how they look in the booth while making all these crazy sounds and what they must be doing to each other to get the sounds. I’ve heard Mikey [Michelangelo] is a very physical actor and that he’s hilarious to watch.
KH: Yea, OMG he is hilarious. I guess he has a lot of fight scenes too. I know he stands up too and that’s probably why because he’s so physical. I feel like, because my character does all of this martial arts and stuff like this that I tend to connect with her better when I stand up.

GM: Before going into the studio, do you do anything to prepare your voice or to step into the role?
KH:
I usually just do voice exercises. I’m also taking singing classes as well, not that I ever plan to sing in public in my entire life. I actually have a phobia of singing, so I decided to take some singing lessons to help me get away from the phobia. The phobia is so bad that whenever I would have to sing in front of people in my acting class, I would just start sobbing and crying because it’s so uncomfortable, which probably makes everyone in the audience even more uncomfortable.

Karai  Image courtesy of NickelodeonGM: In regards to Karai, I heard that she has “never met a weapon she didn’t like”, do you have any weapons training and do you have a weapon you enjoy training with?
KH:
I do have weapons training and in fact they are all in my umbrella skin next to my front door. I have always loved the sword. Continue reading Kelly Hu of TMNT: She Loves Playing Tough Chicks

How You Can Help Peter David

Photo CC-BY-SA Derek Hofmann

Geekdoms of many colors have spread the word by now about Peter David’s stroke in the final days of 2012. His wife Kathleen has been posting updates on Peter’s site about his status. Today she writes to explain how we as fans can help Peter and his family:

Even though we have health insurance we have co-pays and the like. And since this stroke fell at the end of the year, we have all the new co-pays to deal with (I can honestly see those of you who have had to deal with this nodding your heads). And there are things that the insurance company just won’t cover (more head nodding). So we are at the beginning of what is going to be a very expensive year even though we are only 4 days in.

The most direct way is to buy his books from Crazy 8 Press or from Amazon or Barnes and Noble websites. These are books that he gets the money from directly and the most per book.

Because of their higher returns to the author, she specifically directs supporters to:

  • Pulling Up Stakes Part 1 and Pulling Up Stakes Part 2 — These are ebooks available for as little as 99 cents. Crazy 8 Press seems to be getting slammed right now, presumably with supportive fans, so here are the Amazon and Barnes and Noble links to them as well.
    Sick of vampire books? Movies? TV shows? Yeah. So are we. Sick of the entire unlife of vampires? Yeah. So is Vince Hammond. Unfortunately, Vince is in it up to his (wait for it) neck. Because Vince is a young vampire hunter who lives with his vampire hunter mother in an entire community of vampire hunters, who in turn are part of a cult of vampire hunters going back all the way to the French Revolution, which many believe to be an uprising of the poor against the rich but was actually a massive purging of vampires from the French nobility (hence the guillotine).
  • The Camelot Papers — Available in ebook or print-on-demand paperback. If that link doesn’t work, here it is on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
    A powerful ruler who’s considered by many to be simple-minded and vacuous and has serious father issues. A no-nonsense, polarizing woman who favors pants suits and pursues dubious agendas involving social needs. A remarkably magnetic leader of men with a reputation as a skirt-chaser. A scheming, manipulative adviser who is constantly trying to control public perceptions. A man seen as the next, great hope for the people, except there are disputes over his background and many contend he’s not what he appears to be.
  • The currently released Hidden Earth Saga (a third is in process): Darkness of the Light and Heights of the Depths
    Crazy8 lists only the Nook version, but Darkness of the Light is also available in print and Kindle versions on Amazon, as is Heights of the Depths.

Whether you love comics, Star Trek, Babylon 5, or sci-fi novels, there’s almost certainly something in his prolific bibliography to touch your geek interests. Peter David was one of the first geek authors I fell in love with. At my first con, I sat in a huge ballroom for some popular guest I no longer recall behind a family with two small children. When the panel ended, the wife asked the husband if he knew where his panel was. I didn’t think much of it until I went to the next panel I wanted to see, which was Peter David. Lo and behold, I’d been sitting behind him for the last hour and had no idea.

I still laugh when I remember asking him to sign a book afterwards. I said I’d bought a new copy because I was embarrassed to show how tattered the original was. He said, “I’d rather see that one, since it means you love the book and aren’t just going to sell it on eBay!” (The next year I brought the tattered one.) He ended his panel by encouraging those who had come to see him to stay for a young, new writer with the undesirable spot of the last session on the last day of Dragon*Con.

His wife Kathleen I’ve mostly encountered from costuming and puppetry panels at Dragon*Con. I haven’t sewn a costume seam in years without hearing her in my head complaining about costumers who create something beautiful and then don’t clip the threads at the end. (I’m clipping, I’m clipping, I promise!) They’re both tireless contributors to so many facets of geekdom. If you’re a longtime fan, this is a chance to support someone who has influenced your fandom(s). If you’d never heard of Peter David until a few paragraphs ago, this is a chance to discover a writer you won’t regret meeting and to help a fellow human in the process.

Ben 10 — An Interview with Yuri Lowenthal

Image: Copyright Cartoon Network
Ben 10: Omniverse, “Outbreak” / Image: Copyright Cartoon Network

I said it once and I’ll say it again…Ben 10: Ominverse is pure awesomeness and this Saturday we get to meet a brand new alien in Ben’s arsenal. This episode centers around the omnitrix and Ben’s lack of being able to fight without it (do you see where I’m going with this?). The inevitable happens and Ben is forced to fight with his human abilities. The episode has the usual humor, banter and lessons that both Rook and Ben must learn in the end.

I was given the opportunity to speak with the voice of Ben Tennyson, Yuri Lowenthal about his role on the series and his career so far. Besides Ben 10, he’s also been on some of my favorite shows including Young Justice (La’gaan / Lagoon Boy / Cameron Mahkent), Legion of Super Heroes (Superman / Kell-El / Senator Tolay) and Wolverine and the X-Men (Iceman, Bobby Drake).

GeekMom: Hi Yuri! Thank you for taking some time out today to answer some questions. My son and I love Ben 10 and we’ve enjoyed your work in Young Justice as well as Wolverine and the X-Men!

Yuri Lowenthal: First off, can I say that I’m a big fan. I don’t have kids yet, but I look to you as an example of how to raise them right. Long live the 501st!

GM: What’s the process when working on a voice for a new character? Do you have a say in what you do or do you have to follow the director’s lead?

YL: It usually starts with the director and any other creatives who may be involved at the start. It’s a collaboration. I bring what I have naturally, and, hopefully what they cast me for, and then we start playing and tweaking until we have what they feel’s right. It helps to have some artwork to inspire me, but I don’t always get that luxury. There’s a lot of trust involved. I follow the director’s lead because they generally know more about the big picture, but I also trust that the director will give me enough freedom to play.

Yuri Lowenthal / Image: IMDB
Yuri Lowenthal / Image: IMDB

Continue reading Ben 10 — An Interview with Yuri Lowenthal