With all the madness surrounding the release of Sailor Moon Crystal and the remastered sub and new dub of the original anime, not much has been said about the cast from DiC’s original English dub from the ’90s. However, most of the principal cast was present at Anime Expo 2014, and we here at Den of Geek got a chance to speak to them in a closed press conference where, well, we ended up asking most of the questions. Hey, give me an inch and I will interview the crap out of people who changed the course of my adolescence.
Present were Linda Ballantyne (Sailor Moon from the Cloverway era), Toby Proctor (Tuxedo Mask from the majority of the DiC era), Karen Bernstein (Sailor Mercury, DiC era), Katie Griffin (Sailor Mars), Susan Roman (Sailor Jupiter), Ron Rubin (Artemis), Mary Long (Molly Baker), and John Stocker (Voice Director and additional voices). Stephanie Morgenstern (Sailor Venus, DiC era) was also slated to appear according to the official Anime Expo website, but for unknown reasons was not present.
Everyone who was there, however…even outside of my rose-colored fanboy vision, they were all a true delight. They were funny, candid, and rather forthcoming on their memories of working on Sailor Moon and their feelings about the new dub.
A warning to all hardcore moonies like myself, we’re talking the dub, so we’re going to be using dub names. Deal.
Den of Geek: Obviously the reason for the new dub is to have a closer translation of the original text and all that. Were any of you interested in reprising your roles…
Mary Long: Are you hiring? (laughs)
DoG: …and what are your feelings on them bringing in a new cast?
Linda Ballantyne: We would do it in a heartbeat, number one.
Susan Roman: And number two, of course we’d love to reprise those roles, because they were great, great characters to play, a lot of fun. I think what appealed to me the most was the fact that they kind of broke the barrier. Up until that point, female characters, especially young female characters, were pretty straightlaced; you know, typical. These people, these individuals, these young girls, were different, and that’s what appealed to me. And I think that’s what… different, meaning that they were portrayed teenagers, and female teenagers, a lot more accurately than anything there had been before.
So, absolutely, to get back to your question, we would, but I know that when a project is taken over by someone else, that those someone elses, those producers, want to put their mark on it. So, it’s very, very unusual for them to say, “Oh, let’s just use the former cast,” when they want to, of course, you know, make their mark with it, put their stamp on it, and make it truly their own. So, that also would get in the way. That being said, we’re all completely available and we come cheap.
(The room laughs)
John Stocker: We don’t come cheap, but we’re available.
Toby Proctor: In addition to that, for me … I’m happy for whoever gets to take over this. This has been a part of our lives for twenty years, and I hope that they have the same type of experience that we’ve been able to enjoy, because people have been more than loving throughout the years. So if it’s not going to be me, I really hope it goes to somebody who’s really going to appreciate what they’re going to get out of it.
Katie Griffin: I think we’re all really hopeful that the series is a success. And I know that…I think Viz has it here in the States, so there’s also a union situation. We’re all Canadian. But I think we’re just hopeful that fans are so hardcore, and we’ve had such a huge fan following for so long that it would be a shame if they didn’t get it right. So, hopefully they really look for the best possible Sailor Mars. You know, she lives in Toronto. (laughs)
John Stocker: If I could add just another small thing too, I think that a fresh look… we were twenty, twenty-two years younger at the time, and to get a cast who looks at it differently… specifically girls who are watching it now don’t look at it the same way their moms did. They look at it differently, because we’re all affected by the way the world has changed. And even if we were to reprise our cast — and I did do some acting work in it, so I’ll say “we” — [if] we were to re-voice the new edition, the new version, it would be different than someone twenty or twenty-five years our junior. They look at the world differently, they were raised differently, and Sailor Moon, like any other project, if you’re going to re-do it, make it your own and make it much more “today.” And they will bring, probably in a lot of ways, more to it than we could, because we are somewhat set in our ways and…
Susan Roman: Speak for yourself!
Toby Proctor: I bet you five bucks we can do it!
(The panel laughs)
Ron Rubin: I guess the bottom line is, you know, we’d love to continue with this. We’d made our mark and we will always be the original English dub cast and we’re so proud of that. And, as everyone’s been saying, hopefully it goes on to some other great voice actors and it continues but we’re very happy to have done what we did.
DoG: I have another one. It’s for Mary. Molly’s rather distinctive accent? Was that a personal choice or was that direction?
Mary Long: You know, I’ve been trying to figure out why either I made that choice or me with the voice director and Nicole, who was the person who was producing at the time… but it seemed to me that because all the Scouts were in the kind of same timbre of voice placement, the thing that was going to create a distinction, a distinctive quality for Molly, was to put an accent on her. So, taking into consideration her background — as I recall, cause it was twenty years ago now — as I recall, I thought, well, her mother owns a jewelry store. They may have been transplanted to the place that they are, so she may have had this accent. When I listen to it now, she sounds like the bad girl on Orange is the New Black, and I’m thinking, “Wow, I was ahead of my time.” So, I think that the original impetus for giving her character voice an accent was to differentiate her specifically from the scouts.
Mary Long (to DoG): Are you a Sailor Moon fan?
Karen Bernstein (to DoG): Are you a plant?
DoG: I… I worship the show in a godlike way, but anyway… this is a question for Linda. You were the third Sailor Moon to come in, Tracey Moore and Terri Hawkes having preceded you, and I believe that was somewhere in the late second or early third season.
Linda Ballantyne: [Sailor Moon] S and SS.
DoG: What was it like for you, coming into a cast… I know there had been some cast turnover, but I mean Sailor Moon is kind of the, well, she’s the main character, so what was it like for you, coming into that established situation?
Linda Ballantyne: In a word, I would say terrifying. When I got the part of Sailor Moon, I said “What?! I got Sailor Moon!” So, I tell my husband, “Honey, I got Sailor Moon!” And he said, “Which part?” “I got SAILOR MOON.” And his buddy was with him and he said, “What? What do you mean?” “I GOT THE PART OF SAILOR MOON.” And he said, “…well, you better be good, cuz my kids watch.” And all of a sudden, it hit me, and I went, “Oh, my God. I got this part that is so already iconic. It’s huge. My nieces watch it. It has to be huge. What am I going to do? What have I done? This is terrifying!”
Because for me, I watched The Flintstones as a kid, and there were two Barney voices, and I knew the two Barney voices and I’d say “Oh, no, no, no, no. That’s not Barney. This is Barney? Ugh, it’s the bad one.” So I was paranoid. And so the first little while, it really took me time to try and settle down, quite frankly, cause I was just trying to sound like Terri … and it was driving me crazy. I would come home literally crying after a recording, saying, “I hate this! All I’m doing is screaming all the time and I just don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not the one they want. I’m the other Barney!”
And my husband would say, “You have to make this your own.” And I said, “They don’t want me. They want Terri!” So, I would do this and I would come home and I’d just be so frustrated, and finally one day I was just like, “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t. This is not what I want this character to be. What do I want this character to be?” And I stopped and I did what I should have done from the beginning and [said], “This is who I think Sailor Moon is. This is who my Sailor Moon is.” And I came home that day, and I’d had a great day of recording. It was fun, it was funny; it was what I needed it to be.
DoG: For Toby, you were Tuxedo Mask #2.
Toby Proctor: Correct. Rino Romano did episodes 1-10, and I did 11-65.
DoG: What was the reason for that cast change? Do you know?
Toby Proctor: You know, to this day, I don’t know. Maybe Katie Griffin might know.
Katie Griffin: I know, because I am a very good friend of Rino’s. He’s actually here in Los Angeles, and the reason he left was… he came to Los Angeles. We were recording up in Toronto. He actually got me the audition for Sailor Moon.
Karen Bernstein: And I have a little casting story. I was in the room when Tracy Moore had to leave the show. And it’s no reflection on Tracy Moore at all. She’s a very big and busy actress. But I’d been on another series Tracey Moore had to leave, and I said, “You know, they replaced that character on that series with an actress named Terri Hawkes, and you may want to give her a call.” And the next time I was in, Terri Hawkes was the new Sailor Moon.
DoG: This is for Katie. Obviously, Serena and Darien were the alpha couple, they were meant to be, and I wouldn’t change that in a million years, but it took me by surprise. I thought there was really great chemistry between Raye and Darien. Did you ever feel kind of sad that that never panned out?
Katie Griffin: Do you know what? I did. I always felt sad that that didn’t turn out, because he’s Tuxedo Mask, of course. But years later, as Toby mentioned before, we had no idea what anything was about. We never got the full scripts. We had no idea what was happening, so obviously when I was in the room, I wanted Tuxedo Mask, but when I started watching the series, I wanted Chad to win. I thought he was just so lovable and so funny that I probably would have rooted for Chad in real life just because he was so head over heels for her.
DoG: I remember the skiing episode, where Serena and Raye are trapped together, and you expect that Mars would completely go batshit on her over this, cause it’s the first time they’ve really talked about it. I really loved the performance of the two of you, you and Terri. It was just a very unexpected way of going, and you obviously had to go with what the Japanese script was, but I just thought that was really cool, the way it played out. Because it sounded like you really meant it.
Katie Griffin: You know, I’ve had a few of these conversations as well, because I get the question, “Why is Raye so mean? Why is she such a bitch?” And you know, when I played her, I never saw her that way. I just saw her as really strong and really loyal. Of course they fought. They were like sisters, and that’s what happens, especially if there’s a boy involved and they both like the same guy. But they’re still friends at the end of the day. They’re still best friends, and there’s a loyalty factor, so there’s just a weird… I was just kind of stunned. Actually, Susan and I were in Vancouver. This was the very first time we attended one of these [cons], and that’s when it kind of surprised me that that was the feeling about Raye. I guess it shouldn’t when I see some of the scenes, but I never really played Raye like that. I thought, “Oh no, she’s just headstrong, she knows what she wants, and is kind of all business.”
Ron Rubin: You know, what Toby and Katie touched on is so relevant, that we went in there, into these episodes, without really knowing the episodes that preceded it or the episodes coming out or the story arc or certainly where it was going to be twenty years later. So, a lot of time we didn’t really know exactly what was going on. I probably know more about it now than I did back then, doing it, but we were all shocked by the enormous reaction that we got. We didn’t fully understand what we were doing at the time.
John Stocker: Not only would we not do episodes sequentially, but there would be certain scenes or a few lines that either had to go back for re-editing or rewriting that you would get on the schedule to do completely out of the blue. It’d be like, “Oh, yeah, go back to Episode 27 and do two lines here and three more lines there.”
The general format is that we were recording one performer at a time. We jumped all over the place. We’d save the screaming till the end. That, too, would be out of context. Even as voice director, I had minimal handle on the storylines and the plotlines and the themes. All I knew was, here’s a conversation. I knew it had to make sense.
Karen Bernstein: So really, we were watching it at the same time as all of you, and getting the storyline and getting caught up in it. And I’ve been watching a few episodes again, obviously in preparation for this, and I’ve actually been very struck by how well put together it is. How the storylines are really solid and the relationships between the Scouts and the other characters are really top notch, you know? And I get it, kind of. I understand why this took off.
Toby Proctor: I actually think it is pretty crazy. I mean, if you look at it, there’s trees around, there’s guys throwing ice. There’s some crazy stuff, and I can only guess that my character had a rose garden somewhere. That’s why he’s always late, though, cause he had to go get a rose somewhere.
Susan Roman: Sailor Moon is, to me, a built-in, certified hit, and when they re-do it, it’s going to be every bit as popular as it was twenty years ago. It’s a win/win situation all the way down the line.
Much as I’d like to take credit for all the juicier comments the cast provided, thanks to a little prodding from one of my colleagues, John Stocker also had this to say on the matter of how times in the anime dubbing industry have changed.
John Stocker: In terms of what were… twenty years ago, society was very, very differently based. You could never deal with the lesbian issues that are in Sailor Moon. And [social] mores have changed now, hence the new version of Sailor Moon is going to be a lot more liberal and is going to deal with those specific issues. There are still things, still restrictions today when an anime is brought over and dubbed. You still can’t show certain things … you can’t show an open holstered knife. And certain anime comes over, and you’ve got nine-year-old kids with open holstered knives. In certain areas, in certain places, riding a bicycle without a helmet is considered illegal, so additional things have to be re-animated to accommodate the legal constraints.
And in regards to their feelings on the new dub cast:
Linda Ballantyne: We’re anxious to see it. We want to see … how the whole storyline unfolds, everything. We just want to see how they take it and make it their own.
The general consensus from the cast was a very positive one with them offering their best wishes and encouragement to the new cast. The vibe was good all around, but given her aforementioned baptism by fire into the franchise, if anyone can put herself in the shoes of these newcomers, it’s Ms. Ballantyne.
After all, no one want to be the other Barney.
Keep up with all our Sailor Moon coverage, new and old, right here.