Toward the end of Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra season 1, long-time Avatar: The Last Airbender fans got a huge surprise. As season villain Amon overran Republic City, Korra put out a call for help. Who was there to answer but none other than Zuko’s grandson, General Iroh! Yes, original ATLA character Zuko had a grandson and he was named after the beloved Iroh. Not only that, but General Iroh was voiced by Zuko’s voice actor, Dante Basco!
While this was a shock and delight, some noted that Basco’s voice for General Iroh was nearly identical to his performance as Zuko. Over the years fans have questioned why Basco didn’t give the character a different voice.
While promoting his new official Avatar rewatch podcast, Avatar: Braving the Elements, Basco recalled the process of how the voice of General Iroh was crafted.
Series creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko had wanted to bring him back for Korra because fans had loved Zuko so much in ATLA and they wanted to create an Easter egg for them. When he was brought into the studio, Basco remembers trying tons of different voices but the one the creators liked the most was just his own speaking voice. He tried to point out that it was “me” but the creators loved it anyway. Basco, knowing how similar the final voice for General Iroh was to Zuko, jokes,
“(General Iroh’s voice is) same but different, different but the same. Sometimes voices get passed down from generation to generation, that’s just how it happens sometimes.”
Basco was unsure how the voice was going to work for the audience, especially with him only having one line in his first Korra episode. Once it aired though, “all of a sudden, my Twitter blows up.”
Despite the two voices being so similar Basco loved coming back into the fold of the ATLA world, saying he felt like the elder statesmen amongst the new cast.
“I’m looking at them like, I know you guys are trying to save the world and all, but you know, we already did it one time,” he says, partly in jest. “So, I’m happy to come back and join you guys, and figure out what you guys are doing, but we already did it, but let’s see how you guys do it.”
The Avatar: Braving the Elements podcast, hosted by Dante Basco and Korra voice actress Janet Varney, will be available on June 22.