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Bella Thorne and James Arnold Taylor are Ratchet &…Cora

Apr 26, 2016

By: Lynn Barker

Around since 2002, the PlayStation game “Ratchet & Clank” features Clank, a tiny, cute robot and his “Lombax” animal pal Ratchet who looks like a dog/cat/fox cross. The duo travels the universe doing good, especially against evil alien Chairman Drek. Sometimes they enlist the help of the Galactic Rangers.

Fancy flyin'Fancy flyin'Courtesy of Gramercy Pictures

The film features a great voice cast including Sylvester Stallone, John Goodman, Paul Giamatti and Rosario Dawson. One of the Rangers is feisty Cora voiced by first-time voice actress Bella Thorne.  Check out what Bella and voice of Ratchet, accomplished voice actor James Arnold Taylor, had to say about voice acting, their characters and making the movie which centers on heroism, friendship and finding our true selves.

Q: James, is there a difference in your approach between voicing, or recording for video games, and recording for films?

  • James:  Well, I’ve been very blessed to be able to do quite a bit of both.  And they are extremely different from each other.  Videogames, you’re isolated, you’re all alone; you’re recording in your little padded room, talking to yourself, and , just a director feeding you lines.  And in the film, we got to work together. I work with David (Kaye who voices Clank).  Bella and I didn’t, but that’s because of the restraining order (he’s kidding!).
  • Bella: Because I was the only one not invited. I just want to make that clear.
  • James: It was the restraining order that I have against her.  No - I kid.  But Jim Ward, who plays Captain Qwark, and of course David Kaye, doing a wonderful job as Clank, we all got to work together with Kevin (Munroe) giving us direction. That was fun.  Totally different than a videogame.  For an animated series, you work like that.  But that’s pretty rare in a film.  So it was wonderful that we got to do it that way.
  • Bella: Yeah, you guys literally made history without me.

Clank in actionClank in actionCourtesy of Gramercy Pictures

Q: Following your dreams was a theme in Ratchet & Clank a lot, too.

  • James: I think so, too.  I think it’s pretty awesome, (celebrating) the underdog.  And I kind of look at myself like that too, as I’ve always wanted to do these things.  It’s been my dream to be a voice actor since I was four years old and here we are now with this.  And I get to have my name on a poster with Bella Thorne.  That’s pretty darn cool.  So, dream achieved. I think it’s a wonderful theme that kids and families can go together and see this movie.  And they can see that sometimes your heroes aren’t exactly what they thought, and you can still pursue your dreams, and be the good guy, and save the day. 

James Anthony Taylor with Ratchet shirtJames Anthony Taylor with Ratchet shirtCourtesy of Gramercy Pictures

Q: Ratchet & Clank is such a playful project, that I was wondering what the most fun part of doing these voices was for you.

  • Bella: The snacks. The snacks.  It’s very fun. The most fun about playing it was probably playing like a bad ass female Jake was super cool.  When I walked in (to record) you guys were just like, “Yeah, you can just use your dark voice”. I was “Don’t you want me to sound more girly”? “No, you can even go deeper.”  I sound like a man, guys.  We don’t want to think that a man is actually Cora.  The most fun part was probably getting to stress my personality to its limits, just because I was playing a character so different from me.
  • James:  I’m afraid of her character, in every way.  Being the character of Ratchet is my regular voice.  And that’s kind of a first for me.  I’ve been Fred Flintstone, and nobody expects Fred to come out of me, or Obi-Wan Kenobi, or Johnny Tatstu’s an 11 year old kid and that’s cool.  Or I’ll be voicing Christopher Walken when he can’t do it or Michael J. Fox, I come in but with Ratchet I get to be me.  And so it’s very cool to get to do that.

Captain Qwark, Ratchet, Clank, Cora, and BraxCaptain Qwark, Ratchet, Clank, Cora, and BraxCourtesy of Gramercy Pictures

Q: How do you identify with your characters?

  • Bella: Well, pretty much in almost every aspect, I’m a super tomboy. You can’t probably tell from the way I’m dressed, but in my personal life, I definitely wear what she’s wearing in the movie.  Also, she’s not afraid to boss Ratchet around a lot. She might shoot first, and then ask questions later, which isn’t the best thing, but I think in her case, it works.  And at the end of the day she just wants what’s best for the team.
  • James: For me, I think that it’s cool to walk into a character that really is the guy that’s the underdog, and he wants to do the right thing, and he wants to save the day, and he wants to have everybody like him.  But at the same time, he also wants to be doing cool things.  And that’s kind of how I am, and that’s why I get to be a voice actor, because I get to be superheroes and stuff.  And so it’s just a great combination of life and unreality. 

Cora in actionCora in actionCourtesy of Gramercy Pictures

Q: Bella, when are you going to write and direct your own film, because you totally have the brains and talent for it?

  • Bella: Thank you. Actually, my goal was to have my first self-directed short film premiere at South By Southwest next year and hopefully some other festivals.  I love the creative process.  One of the unfortunate things about this film was this character was already created when I came in and stepped inside her.  So that was fun and interesting.  But I would love to do some more live action animation, where actually get to go behind the scenes and literally create this character, because anything behind the scenes, to me, is just so cool.  I’m never in my trailer.  I’m always right behind the director, seeing what he’s doing.  They probably think I’m annoying.

Bella Thorne stars as the voice of Cora and Alessandro Juliani stars as the voice of StigBella Thorne stars as the voice of Cora and Alessandro Juliani stars as the voice of StigCourtesy of Gramercy Pictures

Q: James you have some experience with this game franchise. Did you ever find yourself in any situation where you were leading the direction or saying, “I don’t feel like that Ratchet would do that?”

  • James: Honestly, the beauty of this was it was such a seamless transition from game to film. The only difference being that we were together (recording). That was the only reason I knew we were doing something different than the game. Otherwise, it felt like the game.  And we did the game pretty much simultaneously, as well.  Kevin (Monroe, director) is so easy to work with in that, too.  It’s like “Okay, let’s try this line.  What do you think?” and T.J. Fixman, who has written him throughout the games, as well, was there.  And we were all always able to kind of go, “Yeah, let’s - let’s Ratchet this up a little.”  It was a seamless transition.

Ratchet tells Clank his planRatchet tells Clank his planCourtesy of Gramercy Pictures

Q: Bella, did your approach to acting change when doing this as a voice actress?

  • Bella: Yeah.  I mean, there’s so many different things that go into it.  When you’re acting, you’re not acting with just your voice; you’re acting with every part of you with really small things like, “Wow, would my character grab her hair this way?  Maybe she wouldn’t because she’s very naïve, and she’s this, and this”. But on this one, I’m watching a character and I’m just trying to be as much like her and make her come alive as I can.  So yeah, it’s pretty different, but I still use my body a lot. The most annoying part was, I wear a lot of jewelry and every time, I’d be like, “Oh, my God, I’m gonna go kill him right now.”  Then (you would hear) Clink, clink, clink, clink.  That would be annoying.

Bella with Ratchet cosplayer at WonderconBella with Ratchet cosplayer at WonderconCourtesy of Gramercy Pictures

Q: Are gamer fans trying to get info on the movie from you James?

  • James: Oh, yeah. I’ve got my little YouTube channel, and my social networks, I have people asking questions all the time.  And you really have to talk in code.   As voice actors, you’re always doing stuff that is under an NDA (non-disclosure agreement).  So even “How was your day, Honey?”  It’s like, “I can’t talk about it.  I can’t”. There’s so many things that you don’t want to give away, too. It’s like with Star Wars, when we did Clone Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi didn’t know that Anakin was the one that was going to become Darth Vader.  So I was like, “I can’t think that way.  No, he’s the chosen one.”  So you kind of have to wear those blinders when you do it, and then hopefully, that comes across with fans and you go, “Look, I’m as excited as you, but I can’t say anything.”

Elaris, Captain Qwark and RatchetElaris, Captain Qwark and RatchetCourtesy of Gramercy Pictures

Q: James, you started young wanting to be a voice actor.  What was the best encouragement you’ve gotten, or best advice?

  • James: It was when I was 19-years-old. There’s a fellow by the name of Don Messick. He (voiced) Scooby Doo.  He was Papa Smurf.  He was Mr. Ranger.  He was Boo Boo Bear and he lived not too far from me and I was working in radio and we did a commercial together in his home studio.  And I went, “This is the best thing in the world. I’m gonna do that someday”. He took me to breakfast and told me stories about being Droopy Dog, and Scooby Doo, and all of that.  And it was so inspiring, and he was so wonderfully humble, and giving of his time.

Feisty Cora voiced by Bella ThorneFeisty Cora voiced by Bella ThorneCourtesy of Gramercy Pictures

Q:  Bella, you are so busy.  How are you able to balance everything that you do?

  • Bella: I guess you’d have to ask my manager’s assistant Joey, because I don’t know how he puts it in the schedule to be completely honest. I have a goals list that I just started on my phone, which is pretty cool.  And I’m just trying to do everything.  I make personal time for myself when I’m on sets, which is good.  I’ll have a buddy come by and spend time with me while I’m on set.  So that’s how I balance my personal relationships a bit more. I just want to do everything, but more directing and writing, specifically.

Q: And James, what’s your biggest risk that paid off?

  • James: Going out for Fred Flintstone because nobody thought I could be the voice of Fred Flintstone, 5’4”, looking like Barney Rubble. The director literally looked over me in the first session.  He went, “Where’s the actor?  “It’s me.” so it was a risk. 

Ratchet and Clank PosterRatchet and Clank PosterCourtesy of Gramercy Pictures

Ratchet & Clank is in theaters April 29th!


Have Your Say

Have you played the “Ratchet & Clank” games? Are you looking forward to the film? Are you a Bella Thorne fan? Lay down a message below!