Monday March 25, 2013
The voice behind Disney XD’s animated series Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja
By KENNETH CHAW
Actor Ben Schwartz shares why being on Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja gives him a sore throat.
ACTOR Ben Schwartz is constantly losing his voice these days.
“When I get out of the room, I’m totally sweating, my voice is totally gone,” he says of his latest project.
Has he taken on a role as a grouchy drill sergeant barking commands under the hot sun in a war flick? Or perhaps a blue-collar worker picketing for fair wage in a historical biopic? Well, no.
Schwartz has been lending his voice to Disney XD’s latest animated series Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja. Though he is no stranger to voice-acting, having landed various guest roles on animated series and films, this is the first time Schwartz is voicing a main character.
“I have to speak in an octave higher than my normal voice for the role,” Schwartz says, adding that he spews out 60 to 70 lines for each episode on average.
To ease the strain on his voice, the actor reveals a regiment he sticks to closely. “I drink a special mixture that we have shipped in from out of the country and I do warm up exercises to make sure my voice is smooth.”
It seems to work. When Star2 caught up with Schwartz in a phone interview from Los Angeles recently, the actor’s voice is crisp and clear – not a hint of his parched, worn out throat.
In the series, the 31-year-old actor is the voice of a geeky, 14-year-old high school student and videogame enthusiast, Randy Cunningham, who finds out one day that he has been chosen to become the town’s next ninja. Set in the fictional town of Norrisville, its inhabitants have been protected by a secret ninja for 800 years against the evil powers of the Sorcerer.
Banished to a dungeon beneath the Earth some 800 years ago by the original ninja, the Sorcerer survives on a diet of chaos and destruction. To get his fill of mayhem, he wreaks havoc by releasing a stinky gas that turns the unsuspecting students of Norrisville High (the dungeon is situated right below it) into crazy monsters.
But now, the villain is plotting to escape the dungeon for good and unleash his powers on the town.
Schwartz says he is very similar to his character in reality. “In real life I am very geeky. I’m probably closer to Randy than any of the other live-action characters I’ve played. I still DVR (record) all my cartoons, I used to play videogames all day and I’m really into tech stuff. It is a part of who I am. I think that’s why I connect with the role so well,” he explains.
The actor goes on to describe the show, saying it is “a beautiful mix of action and comedy” and thinks viewers would enjoy it. But more than just fun and games, Schwartz believes children can learn some valuable lessons from it too.
“One of the biggest lessons kids can learn is how important friendship is. If you really care about somebody, you would be true to them and you would have their back,” he shares, referring to his character’s relationship with his friend Harold Weinerman.
Asked what the actor would do if he was suddenly granted superpowers like Cunningham, Schwartz says he would use the powers to do some travelling. “If I could run really fast and jump on buildings like Randy, I love the idea of visiting different cities in the US and overseas.
“But I would never use them for something bad like spy on people, I’m not that type of person.”
Schwartz got his start in show business doing improv at a theatre and training centre. He has since landed roles on both the big screen (Everybody’s Fine and The Other Guys) and TV (Parks And Recreation and House Of Lies).
He is also a promising scriptwriter with writing credits on shows like The Late Show With David Letterman. Schwartz is in talks with Randy Cunningham creators Scott Thomas and Jed Elinoff to write an episode for the animated series.
> Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja airs daily at 9.30am on Disney XD (Astro Ch 617/HD Ch 637).