Hey Moonies! Here comes our exclusive interview with Susan Roman (Sailor Jupiter). This interview was so long that we have decided to post it in two parts! We think that you will all enjoy what she has to say about her roles in Sailor Moon and beyond! Once again, thanks to Susan Roman for allowing us to interview her, and also for permission to use this new official photo!
SR: First of all, I'm SO sorry that it's taken me this long to get back to you. I worked on the questions for about three or four hours when I first received them and, for some reason (ARRGGGHHHH!) – nothing got saved. The next day, everything I'd written had vanished into thin air and it kind of took the wind out of my sails…
Biggest storm of the winter coming in today – and how I wish it WERE summer!
MC: So let's get started where you started – how did you get into acting?
SR: For as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be an actress. When I was seventeen, after I'd graduated from high school, I enrolled in the pre-university theatre arts program at Dawson College in Montreal. Soon after that, Dawson started an actual theatre school at The Dome Theatre in St Henri, and I was part of the first graduating class.
When I was in my second year at The Dome, I auditioned for the National Theatre School because to be accepted at NTS had always been such a HUGE dream of mine. I was accepted, but later found out that I wouldn't be allowed to work professionally while I was a student there. It was the hardest decision of my life – but I decided not to go. And I've never regretted it. I did quite a lot of television work when I was in my third year at The Dome and it was really nice to be able to pay some bills!
MC: One of your first productions were an older Canadian TV series called the Newcomers that featured legendary Canadian Alice Munro at the helm. What was it like to work with such a huge figure in Canada at the start of your career?
SR: By the time we shot the episode I was in, Ms Munro had done her work and was long gone from the scene. In fact, I'd completely forgotten that she was involved in the project – so thanks for reminding me!
MC: What was it like voicing your first ever cartoon character after some experience doing on-camera acting?
SR: It was exactly the same as working in front of a camera – except that there was nobody watching you, which I kind of liked. I've always found cartoon work easier than, say, reading commercial copy. Doing animation allows your imagination to run free. It's all about colour and character and nuance, and trying to create a three-dimensional, believable persona. I love the old Oxford dictionary definition of "to animate" –
To breathe life into; to enliven, to inspire, to inspirit.
That says it all.
Esahc: For someone who been voice acting for so long, what is it about voice acting that makes you stay as a voice actor?
SR: The freedom to be creative, to be part of a team, to really let your imagination fly. It's also very rewarding. I remember when I went to the launch party for Tin Tin. I met a 12 year-old boy who said that he'd been reading the comic books all his life and that he knew exactly how Snowy would sound when he barked – he could hear it in his head. And when I told him that I'd played Snowy, he smiled and gave me a HUGE high five. And you know, his opinion was way more important to me than whatever any of the critics said.
MC: Now it's time to talk Sailor Moon! This year marks the 15th anniversary of the show – what was the casting call and audition like for you back then?
SR: It was a typical casting call, with about eight million actors in the room waiting to go in. I have this theory about auditions: you go in, you do your best, and then you go home and FORGET about it. If you keep thinking about whether or not you got the part or whether or not you did the right read, you'll make yourself crazy. I seriously don't remember 99% of my auditions – which is probably why I'm still vaguely sane.
Corey: Was Sailor Jupiter the only role you auditioned for or played in the series?
SR: Well of course, we ALL wanted to be Sailor Moon! I probably read for every single female part, but I remember thinking that, of all of them, the one I liked the most and the one I gravitated to the most was Sailor Jupiter. In the breakdown, it said that her favourite colour was green and that she loved horses – and I thought, "That's my girl!!"
MC: Lita's voice in the English version is a lot more tomboyish than her original Japanese voice. Your take on her voice really fit her personality well! How did you come up with the right voice for her?
Sparkling Blue: How did you create the voice for Jupiter?
Taylor: Sailor Jupiter is so complex. How did you approach a character who is such a tomboy but who also loves girly things?
SR: When I first heard the original Japanese voices, I found it a little hard to tell them apart. Of course, that could have been more of a language barrier than anything else. Sailor Jupiter's voice is pretty close to my own voice – just a bit raspier - and I think that's why I was cast to play her. All the Sailor Scouts have such distinct voices – if you close your eyes, you can tell right away who's speaking. And you know, I never really thought of her as a tomboy - I thought of her as someone who loved to just get out there and do whatever made her happy. She's punchy and spunky and not afraid to tackle things head on, and maybe you could call that a tomboy characteristic - I don't know.
And thanks for the compliment, MC!
Editor's Note: She speaks of Emi Shinohara, pictured right!
Cody: Did you enjoy recording Lita's/Sailor Jupiter's voice? Saying things like "Supreme Thunder Crash!" and "Jupiter! Thunder Clap, Zap!"
SR: "Jupiter! Thunder Clap! ZAP!!" was my absolute favourite! How can you not feel great after belting out words like that?
Josh2Darien: What is your favorite thing about Lita/Sailor Jupiter?
SR: That she has so many different sides to her personality, the way we all do. She isn't a one-dimensional cardboard character, she isn't a stereotype, and she certainly isn't predictable. I just loved being able to go to so many different places with her.
Cody: What was it like for the first few recordings? Were you nervous around the other cast?
SR: The first few sessions were a bit chaotic because we were all trying to figure out how to work the Rythmo Band. We'd all done dubbing before, but this was a completely new and different technology, and I guess we were a little nervous that we wouldn't be able to get it. And no, I wasn't nervous around the other cast members at all – we all liked each other and we were so happy to be working on such a great project.
MC: Was it difficult to sustain the low tones for a long period of time? Was it also hard to try to maintain some sort of femininity with such a tomboyish voice with the character?
SR: It wasn't hard to sustain Lita's voice because, as I said, her voice is fairly close to my own voice. And that's where theatrical training comes in. You figure out where to position your vocal cords to get the sound that you want and, once that's set in your mind, you can always find it again, no matter what. What was hard were the episodes where we were all screaming a lot. Screaming at full tilt, hour after hour, can be pretty hard on your throat...
I think that femininity isn't about whether your voice happens to be low or high – I think there's more to it than that. To me, Lita is totally feminine. She changes her mind all the time, she talks WAY too much when she meets a cute guy, she loves her friends with all her heart, but she isn't afraid to call them on something when she has to. I think that those are qualities that everyone can relate to as being perfectly female.
MC: What was the most interesting experience you had recording? Did you have to do anything strange in the booth to capture Sailor Jupiter's mood or a state of her voice?
Cody: Do you have any funny recording stories during work on Sailor Moon?
SR: You know, our recording schedule was so tight – there wasn't any time to get in the mood for anything. You just had to jump right in and do what you had to do, which is probably why it all sounded so spontaneous and fresh. But whenever any dramatic scenes came up, we'd take more time to figure out what was really going on and to play all those emotions.
Taylor: From Lita arguing with Mina over boys or talking about how certain guys reminded her of her "old boyfriend", was it fun playing up those comedic moments in contrast to the battle scenes?
SR: Oh yes – I always loved those scenes the best, the comedic ones. The battle scenes kind of melted out your vocal cords and you had to pray that you got everything right the first time!
MC, Anne, and Salvatore: What was your favorite episode or moment in the series?
SR: Without a doubt: Jupiter Comes Thundering In. That was so much fun to do because there were so many wonderful moments, so much action, so much real character to Lita. One minute she was soft and mushy, the next minute she was HIGHLY pissed off when she wasn't winning at the arcade – she was all over the place. I just loved that episode.
Tpirandsailormoon: Have any of you read the manga or saw the original Japanese anime of the series?
SR: No, I haven't read the manga. We did see certain parts of the original Japanese episodes before we started, but it was kind of difficult to get a handle on what was going on because of all the music and the sound effects, and because it was so incredibly fast-paced. And of course, there were no sub-titles, so we couldn't understand a word of what anyone was saying.
Josh2Darien: Have you ever seen the final season (Sailor Stars) of the show? If so, what are your thoughts on it?
SR: No, I haven't seen the final season...
MC: Did you ever imagine from the first day you started to record that Sailor Moon would have become such a huge phenomenon?
SR: That's the easiest question of all: no, no and NO!! Not for one single second did any of us predict that it would become so popular. That was such a hugely fabulous surprise. We all thought it was a great show, but great shows often fizzle out and don't go anywhere, and no one has any idea why.
Esahc: Any particular reason you decided to stay on for Lita's character?
SR: There really wasn't any decision to be made. They phoned my agent and asked to book me, and it fit into my schedule. I really loved doing that series and I was always glad to go back to it.
MC: Last December in Japan, the 5 actresses who played the 5 Sailor Scouts all got together for a reunion to celebrate the launch of the half-season boxsets in Japan. A lot of them spoke about how they felt for their characters during the worst battles they had to fight – did you ever feel like this was the case for you sometimes during the recording sessions?
SR: Those sailor scouts got banged around a LOT! I was always wincing during the battle scenes, and that was before any of the sound effects were added – which made it all sound even more painful.
ChibiGinger: Do you ever run into the other voice actress/actors of Sailor Moon? And what is it like?
SR: Well, Karen Bernstein and I keep in touch – I think she's such a talent, with that wonderful crystal-clear voice that always sounds so sweet and genuine. (She and I did Little People together, too.) And I run into Katie Griffin at auditions all the time (and ditto for Katie, by the way: a hugely talented actress - and she's a fantastic singer, too). I haven't seen Stephanie in a couple of years (I think she's been pretty busy writing and producing her TV series) but the same kudos apply to her – she's another top-notch voiceover artist. Come to think of it, what a great cast they put together for Sailor Moon! And the best part is that every sailor scout sounds uniquely true to who she is.
I haven't seen Terri Hawkes in a long time, but I thought she was just dynamite as Sailor Moon – very creative, very intuitive. And FUNNY. Lynda Ballantyne lives just around the corner from me, and I often run into her when I'm walking my dog. Linda's also exceptionally talented, and I thought she did a bang-up job replacing an already-established character – which, believe me, is NOT an easy thing to do.
MC: Do you yourself have any Sailor Moon merchandise as mementos of Sailor Jupiter?
SR: I have quite a few things that fans have given to me at Anime conventions. And they're all very cherished...
EcoReck: If fans ever see you in real life, do they ask for voice impressions of characters such as Lita?
SR: Oh yes, all the time. Especially the Jupiter! Thunder! Crash! bits – which are kind of hard to do in a crowded convention hall without feeling like a bit of a nutcase...
ChibiGinger: Did (Or you do) you know that there is a live action show and musicals?
SR: I didn't know that, no.
MC: What do you think made Sailor Moon a special cartoon when it first broke out onto the scene?
SR: I think it had to do with the fact that, finally, girls were being portrayed as gutsy and determined and empowered – and as real teenagers, with real problems and real issues. And they were allowed to truly express themselves, without holding back, without pretending to be sweet and polite all the time. If they were pissed off, they let it rip. If they were ecstatic, they let that rip, too. They brought home all the ups and downs, all the moods, all the trials and tribulations of being teenagers in North America.
MC: What do you think is Sailor Moon's legacy, 15 years later?
SR: Well, I hope it's shown teenage girls that they have the right to go for whatever they truly want to achieve – and that they should never EVER be held back by some antiquated definition of what girls can and cannot do. About twenty years ago, I heard about this interview they conducted with a bunch of six-year old girls in grade one. They were all asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. One little girl said, "I want to be a nurse or a teacher." The interviewer said, "Okay, what would you want to be if you were a boy?" The little girl said, "Well, if I was a boy… I could be anything in the WORLD!"
That was just so sad to me. So sad. And I have to hope that something as simple as a show like Sailor Moon has taught everyone that we can't go around putting limitations on people just because they happen to belong to a certain demographic.
Keep an eye out on Monday for Part II, where Susan talks more Sailor Moon, TinTin, Strawberry Shortcake, that beloved Canadian classic, The Raccoons, and much, much more! And a reminder to our other Moonie Bloggers: if you choose to use any part of this interview on your site, please credit Moon Chase and Susan Roman, and link back to this post!