Neil Kaplan is a man who is close to his work - a light-hearted, friendly guy who loves what he does, and does it well. What else need be said?
McFeely: When did you decide you wanted to build a career for
yourself as an actor?
Neil Kaplan: Well, I have ALWAYS wanted to be an actor. I decided back in 1993, that what I REALLY wanted to do was voices for cartoons.
CMcF: How did you break into the voice-acting industry? What were you doing before you accomplished this?
NK: Well, my FIRST V.O. job was in NYC back in 1987 (where I was studying musical theatre). I did character voice drop-ins on WCBS-FM. Before I came down to Los Angeles in 1994 I was working on a local (award winning) television shows in the San Francisco Bay Area.
CMcF: Through what events were you approached for the "Digimon" series?
NK: I had done quite a bit of guest voice work for the kind folks at Saban since 1995. They have a list of actors that they frequently call in for auditions. So, they called me, I read, and I got the job.
CMcF: You're well known as Hawkmon, Halsemon and Shurimon, but did you voice any other characters on the show, beyond bits and walla and growling monsters?
NK: Well, I did the voice of "Thank you for visiting 'Meow Dot Com'," in the Digimon movie, as well as the nutty teacher yelling "finished!" (a personal favorite of mine!) I was also the voice of the Russian & Austrailian Gennai lookalikes that were featured toward the end of season two. I was just added as the voice of Indramon (a bad guy!) for season three.
CMcF: There has been some recent speculation that you may have voiced Oikawa...
NK: Oddly, the name rings a bell, but I do not recall. Sorry!
CMcF: Tall guy, purple skin, possessed by Myotismon, only showed up in the last dozen or so episodes?
NK: No, I was NOT Oikawa.
(Chris's note - it's since been identified that actor Jamieson Price performed the role of Oikawa.)
CMcF: Another character question: it's generally accepted that Lex Lang voiced Aquilamon, Hawkmon's Digivolved form, but I wanted to check with you and see if you actually performed that role.
NK: Well, Lex may be a nice guy, and I might even say he is a friend, BUT... he sure as heck did NOT do Aquilamon! That was ALL me, and yes, it was me as (half of) Sylphymon too!
CMcF: Woah, that will surprise a lot of people! In that case, here's something I've been wondering about: how was the recording for Silphymon (and the other DNA Digivolved characters) done? Did you record your lines separately, and Edie Mirman had to match her voice up with them (or vice versa), or were the two of you working in the studio at the same time?
NK: One of us would record the dialogue, then it was up to the other actor to match it.
CMcF: Did you do any work on the show's first season?
NK: I did not work on season one at all. Not even bits & walla. If you want to hear more of my work, check out "Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue." I was the voice of the very evil Diabolico. Heck, they didn't even add any effects to my voice for that show!
CMcF: Once you were affirmed as the role of Hawkmon, did the roles of Halsemon and Shurimon go hand-in-hand with that, or did you have to audition for them separately?
NK: Well, I was not just given them until after the show's director & producers realized how versatile I am.
CMcF: Of the voices you do on "Digimon," which would you say is your favourite character to do?
NK: Easily, it was Hawkmon... he is quite a charcter, very oppinionated and full of life!
CMcF: Have you done any recording for the third (current) series of Digimon?
NK: As previously mentioned, I JUST recorded my first episode as the evil purple pony, Indramon.
CMcF: Your current 'big' role is that of Optimus Prime on "Transformers: Robots in Disguise." As someone who grew up with the Transformers, what is playing the role of such a classic, famous character like for you?
NK: I LOVE playing the big red guy! Yes, it does have a special feeling playing a character that i knew from my younger days! I can only hope he sticks around for awhile! It is also nice to play a charcter that is just FLAT OUT heroic!
CMcF: Through what events were you approached for the RiD series?
NK: Again, the producers called me in to read for the roles of the "sidekick" villians. I did NOT get offered any of those parts, but they did call and offer Optimus . So, I gladly accepted.
CMcF: Do you think that you were you cast in other Saban projects such as RiD as a direct result of your popular work on Digimon (or vice versa), or was each assignment independently secured?
NK: Each show is CAST independently. But, if you do a good job and show versatlity on one show, they are more likely to want to bring you in again for a look on the next show.
CMcF: It's rather accepted that voice actors get little appreciation for what they do, beyond cult and fan followings. What is your view on this? Do you like the anonymity?
NK: I love being anonymous! Besides having fun, being creative, and using my talents to earn a living, it is the best part!
CMcF: It's my understanding that a lot of voice actors seldom watch the shows they work on. Does this hold true for you? If you do watch the shows, what are you opinions of them?
NK: I try to watch EVERY show I work on. That way I can listen to my work & that of my fellow cast members. If it is dubbed animation (like Digimon & RiD) we record seperately, so you never know how the rest of the show sounds. If you do standard animation, you want to see how the animation brings it ALL together. I love watching what I work on. And to be honest, I have been very pleasantly surprised by RiD!
CMcF: Are you friendly with any of the other cast members on the shows you work on?
NK: I have become good friends with Michael Sorich (a voice actor & director), Peggy O'Neal & Brianne Siddall (both are voice actresses) and on RiD, I was already friendly with the great Bob Joels (X-Brawn), and the fantastically talented Wally Wingert (Sideburn)!
CMcF: What advice do you have for those who aspire to be voice actors?
NK: Practice, be patient, and have a way to earn money while you struggle!
CMcF: What do you do in your spare time? What hobbies or interests do you have?
NK: Well, I am a member of Jewish Big Brothers. I also read for the blind on occassion. I love to go river rafting & go to Vegas! But mostly, I LOVE my work! If they would let me, I would do it 365 days a year!
CMcF: What can we expect so see (hear?) from you in the future?
NK: Who knows? I wish I could tell you! Such is the life of a voice actor. If you like the show, drop a letter in the post to the good folks at Hasbro.
CMcF: Well, those are all the questions I have! Thanks again for your time, sir!
NK: It has been my pleasure. Thanks for all of your kind words and compliments!
Check out Neil Kaplan's website at www.NeKap.net