Emmy-winning voice-actor visits campus

On March 28, Pinky from “Pinky and the Brain” and Raphael from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” visited Oakland University.

OU was treated to a visit from Rob Paulsen, a Detroit native and renowned voice-acting icon, in a two-session actors workshop.

In a morning session, he gave insights on how a potential voice actor might get into the industry.

Paulsen quickly disarmed the evening audience with his voices and charm.

The youngest member of the audience, Rajah Nevels of Walton Academy Elementary School, asked what goes through his mind when he is recording.

“That I wish I was as handsome as you,” Paulsen said, “My brain is really bizarre … I see things as the character.”

Paulsen explained how he creates voices he uses, and provided an insight into how a voice actor could get work.

“I start with a model sheet of the character, with maybe a paragraph of background or situation. I’ll do my take on it, then do something that’s 180 degrees different because I want to ‘red flag’ myself,” Paulsen said. “I like the producers to know that I’m thinking (about the future).”

For most of the audience, business was foremost on their minds.

Paulsen, when asked about his interest in the success of his shows, said it depends on the show.

“Intellectually? Oh yeah,” Paulsen said. “Financially? Remember ‘Butt-Ugly Martians?’ I bought stock in it after Nickelodeon bought it, and then crickets … it just went away.”


A chance happening 

Brittini Hutton, program director for the Student Video Productions, said Paulsen was chosen mainly because he was the first of several celebrities to respond.

“We were looking like crazy for someone, emailing all sorts of people,” Hutton said. “(SVP) got an email back from Rob and we contacted his agent. That was it.”

While several of Paulsen’s answers resulted in audience laughter, Paulsen revealed a serious side with a deep appreciation of his fans.

“Pinky … the character is a very dear character,” he said. ”I get so many letters from kids, from child life specialists at hospitals and I see them in person and all the sudden I start talking like this (Pinky’s voice) and there are people who get teary because it reminds them of something really sweet in their childhood … When a character has that effect on somebody and people tell me about it, that kind of places it above the fray. Those characters have such a special place not only in my heart but in theirs as well … it certainly makes it more special for me,”

Rob Paulsen gives weekly podcasts at www.robpaulsenlive.com and on iTunes under “‘Talkin’ Toons’ with Rob Paulsen.