My interview with Raymond Persi took place at the Disney Toon Studios in Glendale, CA. It was one of the coolest experiences in my blogging life, and that says a lot coming from someone who travels the world for a living. This was no ordinary interview.We got to have a little fun with this one, and who doesn’t love fun right?
Apart from having already spent the morning with Zootopia filmmakers; Directors Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Producer Clark Spencer (not to mention getting a cool drawing lesson from Byron himself), I had already consumed The Big Donut. My day could have ended right there and I would have been quite pleased.
Instead, I got to sit down with voice actor Raymond Persi and talk about being Flash, one of the most notorious characters from the new Zootopia film.
But it gets even better. After talking to Raymond, I had the chance to sit in the studio with Flash (and Raymond of course) himself to ask him a very, very important question. And Disney was cool enough to film it so I could share it with you!
My Interview with Raymond Persi Voice Actor of Flash
We sat in a low-lit, small studio room where it really felt more like a chat over donuts and coffee than an interview. Raymond talked about the story process for Zootopia, growing up near Disney and how he got to work on the film.
On Growing Up Near Disney
I was raised in the hills above Disney, so it was really cool for me because I got to see it all the time and I even watched when they were building some of the buildings when I was a kid. What was great was, eventually, I got to work here.
On Getting to Work on Zootopia
I used to, before coming here, be a director on The Simpsons. When Rich Moore came here to direct Wreck It Ralph, he brought a few of us over that were directors on The Simpsons to mix with the story artists here to see what would come of it.
I started as a story artist on Wreck It Ralph after that, I went on to Frozen, then I worked on two short films, Get A Horse with Mickey Mouse and Feast. I eventually worked with Rich Moore and producer Clark Spencer as the voice of Flash in Zootopia.
On Getting Into Voice Acting
Just to tell you how it happened for me, basically, what happens is a lot of times when we are creating our rough versions of the films just to sort of test it, we don’t really know who’s going to be cast yet. We don’t even know if sometimes characters are going to stay in the film, so they’ll bring in a lot of artists and other people from work to come, they’ll say, “Come in the recording room. We need you to do some scratch.”
You might be at your desk working, all of a sudden it’s like, “Be a gorilla now!” So every now and then they like what the voice sounds like and they’ll stick it in there.
In my particular case, I get to be that little annoying brat Gene from Wreck It Ralph and then the zombie from Wreck It Ralph.
In Get a Horse I was another little annoying character, the horn. What was cool was I got be horse, horse collar in doing a couple little laughs here and there and what was fun was, you know, they got Walt Disney to do the, the voice.
They used old audio of Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse for that short, so it was fun. I got to share a laugh with Walt Disney. That was kind of neat.
For Frozen, one thing was cool was that I just had one little line in there, but the guy talking, his wife calls after him and she says, “Faster, Persi!” So they used my last name which is kind of fun little treat for me.
Then for Feast, I didn’t do any voice work in it, but my dogs did. I have four little Boston Terriers, so we brought them in and we gave them food.
We made them grunt so we could use their little voices for the dog in Feast.
On Being Flash
What was cool about this character was, you know, when you’re asked to do a sloth, what’s your first instinct? You think, “I’m going to talk slowly.” Butt you know, Rich and Head of Story, Jim Reardon had a different idea.
They wanted him to speak normally, but with just a lot of pauses in between, so that was fun. I sat down and we recorded scratch for half an hour or so and then I guess my voice sounded stupid enough because they kept it in.
Raymond showed us a few animatic scenes from Zootopia which were storyboarded by Jason Hand.
You can see that’s kind of what the rough version looks like when we’re still working on the story and we’ll do something like that a dozen times or more over the course of two years to get the story right. We’ll show it to everybody in the studio and have everybody critique it, you know, to really ask the tough questions to make sure that the movie’s going to be good.
On His Career and What it Means to His Family
Well for the, for the first time, I think my mother understands what I do for a living.
My nephews and my nieces, they like it, so that’s fun. They’re really hyper, but when I go there, they want to walk really slowly so it’s a great game for me because then I don’t get tired.
On Flash Having His Own Gig
Well, you have to ask the directors about that one. I don’t know. I think even if you wanted to make a short, it would end up being a feature.
On Preparing for Voice Overs
Sometimes when you’re doing scratch, you’ve got to scream and stuff like that. You’ll say like, “Can we wait ‘til the screaming part’s at the end?”Because you’ll lose your voice. Like when you go to a rock concert and you leave and you don’t have a voice anymore. You’ll do that sort of thing and you always make sure you’ve got water because sometimes they can hear your mouth if your mouth gets dry. It’s weird because those mics pick up every little thing
Zootopia Blu-ray is in stores now, go get it today.
You’re going to love this film!
I thoroughly enjoyed hearing all about Raymond’s work and learning about the process. Meeting Flash was one of those once-in-a-lifetime things I’ll never forget. I love special experiences like that and I’m truly grateful I was chosen to be a part of it.