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.
GM: Do you ever get recognized in public for your voice?
YL: Only at conventions where they’re sort of expecting me. Never because people hear it and go, “Hey… You’re that guy!” It’s cool, because I don’t have to worry about the paparazzi…
GM: What inspires you when working on a new role?
YL: My experience, but also the people I’m working with. Like I said, it’s a collaboration. Also, because I’m a card-carrying nerdlinger, when I get involved in a really geeky project, like an adaptation of something I’m crazy about or that I grew up with, or when I get to work with someone I’ve always admired, that’s all I need to get me going.
GM: Do you have a character that you are fond of or attached to?
YL: I know it’s cliché, it’s hard to choose. They’re all bits of me. But there are a few that really stick with me. Superman, from the tragically short-lived Legion of Superheroes, Kuma from Afro Samurai, Sasuke from Naruto, The Prince from The Prince of Persia series, and Ben Tennyson from Ben 10. Sometimes I become attached to a character because I’ve gotten to explore him for so long, like in the case of Ben, but sometimes I fall in love with a throwaway character who exists for only one scene in a video game like The Drunken Villager in Diablo III or Sandal in Dragon Age.
GM: What has been your favorite role so far in your career? Is there one you would love to do but haven’t had the chance to yet?
YL: Man, it’s hard to beat having gotten to play Superman. But where do you go from there? Aren’t careers supposed to culminate in a role like that? And because I’m a big fat geek, as long as there’s stuff I’m excited about–and isn’t that really the definition of geek? –there’ll always be roles I’d love to play. You hear that, Guillermo Del Toro?
GM: Besides voice acting, do you have another talent you enjoy working on?
YL: I started in the theatre and on-camera world, and while I’m busier in the voice acting world, I’ve never left the other stuff behind. Each facet of acting feeds a different part of me. But I’ve been writing a lot more these days, for our (my wife Tara and I) web-series Shelf Life and more. Producing our own content has been hugely rewarding, but a lot of work. It’s sort of what I imagine having kids must be like.
GM: Is there anything about working on Ben 10 that was special compared to the other roles you’ve done?
YL: You rarely get to play a character for this long. We’ve been very lucky that the show resonates with so many people the world over. And I think my favorite part of that (besides continued employment) is getting to interact with the fans. I’ve thrilled many a young fan with a phone call or an autograph, and having been a fanboy for a very long time now, I know how much that sort of interaction can mean to a young person.
A very special thank you to Yuri for taking time out to give us some insight into his world. Long live Ben 10!
Ben 10: Omniverse, Outbreak airs this Saturday on Cartoon Network. Check your local listings for time.