The Origin of the Voice of Optimus Prime
There is an interview with Peter Cullin about his career that includes, famously, being the voice of The Transformers leader Optimus Prime. One part of it caught my attention.
On landing the role of Optimus Prime in the 1980s cartoon
I auditioned like everybody else. I was told it was a hero, and I was told it was a truck.
I was living with my brother Larry at the time. He had returned from service as a marine in Vietnam, and I told him one day I was going out to audition for a truck.
And he says, “A truck?”
And I said, “Yeah, but he’s a hero truck.”
“This is really good, Pete, yeah,” he said … “Well, if you’re going to be a hero, be a real hero. Don’t be a Hollywood stereotypical thing with the yelling and screaming.” He said, “Be strong enough to be gentle.” And Larry was that way.
I had no idea what the script was going to be. But in effect, the lines just came out, and I just did my brother, Larry.
Not even the recent Michael Bey abominations can disguise that aspect of Prime. I can’t help but wonder if that take on being a hero hasn’t been why the show survives so strong after all these years an incarnations.
You can only sell so many toys. But a myth that touches more deeply than a toy ever could? That is real power & real responsibility. Thank you, Peter.