When you think of your favorite characters from animated television series and movies, do you think of the characters face first, or the voice that brings them to life? We often don’t realize just how many of these characters are played by the same few actors, or how some of these voice actors could have hundreds of roles to their credit by truly breathing these characters into existence with only their voice?
This past week we were able to sit down with legendary voice actor Richard Horvitz, who you may know best from his roles as Invader Zim (‘Invader Zim’), Daggett (‘The Angry Beavers’), Raz (‘Psychonauts’), Billy (‘The Grim Adventures Of Billy & Mandy’), or of course for his arguably most famous role, Alpha 5 (‘Power Rangers’). We spoke to Richard about his time in the industry, got the inside scoop on ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’, and even got some exciting new information about the return to ‘Invader Zim’! What are you waiting for? Check out our full interview with Richard Horvitz below!
Science Fiction (SF): Okay so, you’re arguably one of the most prolific voice actors in the industry. How did you get your start?
Richard Horvitz (RH): You know, it’s funny. I didn’t start out trying to be a voice actor. I was an on-camera actor since I was 10! In fact, this year will be my 42nd year as a professional actor. I had a commercial agent at the time who shared an office with a voice over agent by the name of Sandie Schnarr, and I walked over to her and said I wanted to do voice over. She said “well you have to make a demo reel”, so I did! Back then everything was reel to reel. But I made one, I gave it to her, and I started doing radio commercials first with a few TV spots here and there. About five years in I started doing animation!
SF: You know it’s funny, but it was maybe a year ago that I was rewatching the classic comedy ‘Summer School’ and I first recognized your voice when you came on screen and I said “no way! That’s Richard Horvitz!”
RH: Exactly! I did a movie not too long ago, about nine years ago now called ‘The Informant’ where I play Matt Damon’s attorney! And I had a great big burly beard and then you hear Zim’s voice come out of that face and most people don’t put those two together!
SF: This year marks the 25th anniversary for the ‘Power Rangers’ franchise! How does it feel to have been part of such an iconic piece of pop culture history?
RH: You know, I’ve had mixed feelings about the ‘Power Rangers’ for years. There’s some good memories, some not so good memories, but what’s amazing is to have been a part of something that has lasted the test of time! They just keep changing the name except of course for the words ‘Power Rangers’.
SF: And you were one of the shows longest running characters! Did you have a lot of say in the Alpha 5 character’s personality and development?
RH: You know it’s funny, I’ll tell you exactly how it happened! A friend of mine was editing this pilot in an offline edit bay, and he says to me “Saban needs the voice of a robot, can you come in and do a temp track?” And I came in and went “Zordon the Power Rangers are in trouble!” and they immediately said “Yes! You are Alpha, we don’t need to process his voice! We’ll save money.” so that’s what they did. What I did have say in? There were two different women who played Alpha 5 on set and they’ve got hips! If you see Alpha, you can see he’s got hips! And we needed to think of something that was like a catch phrase because every time he would shuffle his hips would move up and down! And it reminded me of Charro, of all things. So I came up with the ‘aiyiyiyiyi”! That’s mine.
SF: You were the voice of Alpha, while he was physically embodied by actresses Romy Scharf and Sandi Sellner. Did you ever spend any time on set with any of the shows cast, or was your work on the show more of a “only voice work” scenario?
RH: Never! I think most of the voice actors you could talk to from the show would tell you, we only ran into the Power Rangers when they were there to do their own ADR work. Other than that? I think I have seen them more at conventions like these then we ever saw them in person while making the show.
SF: Do you have any favorite memories from your time with the show? Whether it’s a moment with a fan, or perhaps from the production?
RH: You know, my favorite episode of the show was the wedding episode where Zedd and Rita get married! I liked it because they made Alpha turn evil, which I liked because it was a departure and as you know most of my characters tend to be more villainous. I remember at the time, the movie ‘Tombstone’ was out, and I love the scene where Val Kilmer is like “I’ll be your Huckleberry”, so I really wanted Alpha- when the Rangers find him in the Command Center, and he’s all evil, I wanted him to say “I’ll be your Huckleberry”! But we couldn’t do it, but I loved that!
SF: Did you see the new ‘Power Rangers’ film from last year? If so, what are your thoughts on Bill Hader’s take on Alpha?
RH: No, I didn’t see it. And I just don’t understand why they didn’t use the voices, because there’s no reason not to just use the voices! I found it to be lacking… well actually I didn’t see it so I can’t really say. But I’m not particularly impressed one way or the other.
SF: Outside of Power Rangers, your best known character is probably Invader Zim from his self titled series. After over a decade the show is set to return as a new TV Movie ‘Enter The Florpus’, whats it like to return to the Zim character after all of these years and what can you tell us about the new movie?
RH: I can’t tell you anything about the new movie other than that you can see the trailer and that it’s called “Enter The Florpus”; but don’t ask me what a ‘Florpus’ is because I don’t even know! But what’s amazing about it is that after sixteen years, the entire cast is back, and Jhonen is back directing, writing, and producing. It was like stepping into old shoes and picking up right were we left off as far as our relationships. The show has progressed and been updated though! If you’ve seen the character designs, it’s a lot like the comic book series. If you’re a fan of the original show, you’re going to love it!
SF: Do you think there’s hope for more Zim after the movie?
RH: There is always hope! I always felt that the show was a generation ahead of it’s time. And my proof in that is that we only did twenty-six episodes, and now the kids that watched it are having kids of their own and they’re all six or seven years old, and they’re all about Zim! I think there is always hope for more.
SF: Over the years you have voiced an insane number of characters across various series. Would you say you have one that really stands out as your favorite, or that you relate to the most?
RH: Well it’s hard to pick a favorite because so much of me goes into the characters I create, but I would say the one that is the most like me is Daggett from “The Angry Beavers”.
SF: Are there any other projects you have coming up you can tell us about?
RH: I’ve got a couple of other shows going! I’ve got one called ‘Micronauts’, I’ve got the video game sequel ‘Psychonauts 2’ coming out soon, and a bunch of other shows! I do ‘Henry Danger’, ‘Tangled’, and ‘Elena of Avalor’ is coming out! I’m also currently in the new ‘World Of Warcraft’! So it’s been a good ride!
SF: If you had one message to tell your fans, what would it be?
RH: Thank you for your support! I wouldn’t be where I am if what I did didn’t resonate for you! I am grateful for my fans!
You can look forward to hearing Richard Horvitz reprise his role as Zim in the upcoming ‘Invader Zim: Enter The Florpus’ TV movie that is set to release sometime in the next few months!