While all the characters of Voltron: Legendary Defender have won huge fan bases, there’s something particularly fervent about the love surrounding the pilot of the Blue Lion, Lance. Maybe it’s the way he goes, “pow pow.” Maybe it’s because there seems to be something deeper going on underneath his jokey personality.
Mostly it’s Jeremy Shada bringing such a hilarious and heartfelt energy to the performance. Shada can land any line with perfect comedic timing but he can also break your heart when Lance doubts himself.
We sat down with Shada to discuss Lance’s development across seasons three and four, Lance’s insecurities, and even milkshakes.
How do you feel Lance has developed over the last two seasons of Voltron?
The cool thing is when you have Shiro not there at the beginning of season three the team has to figure out how to deal with him being gone. Lance really ends up being a really great supporting character and really helps brings people together. Lance really steps up and I love seeing the maturity of him. He’s usually a funny guy and likes being in the spotlight but he’s a really great team player.
The writers do a great job of making these characters be so fleshed out and have these awesome back stories that get into their personalities. Lance is this teenage kid that’s been thrown into this world. In the earlier seasons he was very much the fun good times ladies man who thinks highly of himself at times. He’s a really sweet kid who knows his strengths and needs these people. It’s really cool to see him mature. In these (more recent) seasons we’ve seen the softer more serious side of him.
When Lance first met Allura he instantly tried to flirt with her but do you feel like his crush is morphing more into respect?
I think a lot of it is equally both. No matter what he finds her attractive. Obviously he has a crush on her for sure. They’ve really bonded as friends as well and a lot of that is just a huge amount of respect for her.
When you’re with someone for that amount of time and you’re in these crazy intense situations I think he sees her strength and leadership and he definitely completely respects her for that. It’s great just seeing them bond as these great friends. He still definitely has a crush on her but I think you see that respect for her has grown over time.
What was Lance’s mindset when he saw Matt flirting with Allura?
Lance is probably the jealous type. I think Lance in the back of head still thinks he has a shot with her and would probably like that to be a relationship. He sees this other guy coming in and being all suave and cool, so there’s an element of that jealous aspect for sure. He likes being the center of attention.
Do you think that Keith and Lance, while starting as rivals, have started to gain more respect for one another?
The team has really become a lot more like a family at this point. They still have their bickering moments for sure but definitely have that closer bond as a family. I think that moment in season three where poor Lance is really doubting how he fits into the team with six paladins now.
He’s basically saying, “yeah, I’ll step down and let you guys do your thing.” That vulnerable moment is knowing himself and just wanting to help for the greater good even if that means he can’t do what he wants to do. That moment is great where Keith goes, “No, dude. You are super important to the team. You should stop thinking all that because we need you.”
I love their respect and friendship. It’s almost like they’re brothers to a certain extent. They obviously have their very different personalities and clash a lot but they definitely mature. You kinda go through that adolescent phase in high school where certain things seem to matter or are important but as they start to grow up and everything they’re dealing with is this crazy intergalactic war they’ve really started to mature. Some of the stupid things like jealously or whatever starts getting downplayed.
Lance sometimes displays a lack of self-confidence. Do you think some of that comes from his large family and how sometimes he’d defer to what someone else needed and he’s less concerned about his own needs in certain cases?
100%. I think that’s a huge part of his back-story. He has this huge family so I think in a lot of ways with his family, I don’t think it was always about him all of the time. There are a lot of people there so he didn’t always stand out or have that uniqueness or spotlight on him.
With this team, especially initially, he’s looking to be more important or stand out. As the series goes along he realizes there are other important people. It’s not about you all the time. He always has that battle of self-consciousness of “where do I fit” but he’s finally getting his stride and understanding how to be part of a team as well.
What was it like acting/watching “The Voltron Show!” where the Voltron characters perform in stages shows?
That’s one of my favorite episodes. It’s so funny especially in a season or two where there’s a lot of very serious theme stuff happening. It’s great to have an episode like that to add a lot of levity and breather time. It was so much fun seeing me and the other cast trying to act badly for certain lines.
It’s also a totally meta episode because we’re just poking fun at ourselves. Poking fun at the character archetypes of each person. Like “Loverboy Lance”, Keith is emo, Pidge is smart, Hunk is kind of dopey and hilarious, and Shiro is the hero. It’s also great getting to see people playing those comic lines; even people that don’t usually get to do those.
Of course, Rhys Darby who plays Coran that episode. I think he was gone for that record so I didn’t get to hear the voice he was doing until the episode aired. Hearing this weird announcer almost carny voice he does I was dying laughing the whole time. It’s so much fun.
Lance calls himself “Loverboy Lance.” We’ve seen him flirt with everyone. Do you think he would go as far as making out with one of those Bi-Boh-Bi people?
I don’t know! I guess if he found one attractive it’s very possible. I’ve always said Lance is pretty much, you know, he kinda flirts with every lady that has two legs basically. I guess it’s not impossible. It’s not out of the realm of possibility. He’s obviously shown he has crushes on a lot of alien’s just as much as human women so it’s possible.
Do you think, even with all of Lance’s flirting, he’d even know what to do if someone actually reciprocated his feelings?
I think he’d have no idea what to do. He thinks he’s the kind of person who’s super suave and debonair and plays it off that way. He flirts with any woman out there but I think once he actually found one that did reciprocate he’d have absolutely no idea what to do with it. His confidence would be completely all over the place. He’d be super self conscious about how to actually pursue an actual relationship.
What was it like playing the Voltron VR game where Lance heavily features?
It’s really fun for me because hearing myself in my ear telling me that I’m doing something wrong is always hilarious.
When we talked to the developers of the Voltron VR game they specifically said they picked Lance as the main character because he had all the funny lines. How do you feel about that?
Whenever I’m in the booth a lot of my effort is making the other actors in the booth laugh. Basically once I get people smirking and cracking up and trying to not laugh through the take I know I’m doing my job right. Lance is such a fun character I love it.
This season we saw Lance is very adept at helping to make milkshakes, right?
So the question is, do Lance’s milkshakes bring all the boys and ladies to the yard?
Oh, 100%. Lance’s milkshakes bring errrbody to the yard I can say that much.
Where do you think Lance learned to milk cows?
I have absolutely no clue! I think it’s hilarious he has this hidden skill that he just knows how to do it. His family must have a cow back home or something. I would think they’re farmers, maybe, I don’t know!
This season we saw Lance was a really intense gamer. Are you an intense gamer like Lance?
Oh, 100% dude. That was an easy scene to identify with. I love Super Smash Bros., Legend of Zelda, Call of Duty, Star Wars Battlefront, Skyrim, all the Elder Scroll games, and a lot of other ones.
What other projects are you working on right now?
I have a show called Mr. Student Body President, which is a live action show that I’m the lead in. It’s on Verizon’s go90 app. We just finished shooting three more seasons of it. The first season is all on their app right now, you can stream it. I think our second season is supposed to start airing late November, which I’m pretty stoked about.
I have a band, actually, I do music. My band is Make Out Monday. We just finished recording our first full length album so hopefully we’ll be releasing that in the spring.
What do you do when you aren’t acting? Tell us about Jeremy Shada the person.
Honestly a lot of my work takes up a lot of my time. I love doing it though so it’s weird having your work also be your hobby. My favorite stuff is just to hang out with friends on the weekend. I play a lot of board games or video games with people. Catch a movie, have dinner with friends and stuff. Fun time hanging out with people at the beach or whatever else. I usually like spending time with my close friends. I’m very chill that way.
Voltron fandom has really exploded over the past two years. Tell us about what it’s like interacting with the fans.
It’s been amazing. I go to a lot of different comic cons across the country and the world. I started doing that for Adventure Time but it’s crazy seeing the more I go the more I see this Voltron fanbase just blow up. Every con I go to there are more and more people there wanting stuff from Voltron. They’re super rabid.
A lot of them are always cosplaying Lance, Keith, or Shiro or whoever else. It’s just been so awesome. The fans are so great and so dedicated. They’re very passionate. Sometimes they’re passionate because they’re like, “no! this needs to be like this” but most of the time it’s because they love the show. They’ve been awesome, dude.
It’s been so crazy seeing it blow up. You never really expect something to do that. You put a lot of work into these shows and you know they’re great but you never know if they’re going to take off or not. This has just taken off in such a way that we’re all so happy about.
We’d like to thank Jeremy Shada for taking the time to do this interivew and for DreamWorks for making it happen.
Shamus Kelley really needs a milkshake. Follow him on Twitter!
Read the full Den of Geek NYCC Special Edition Magazine right here!