Robert Axelrod Exclusive Interview, A-Kon 21

Reporter(s): Psycho Red
Transcriber(s): Miki

Kouichi Kimura: How’ve you enjoyed A-kon so far?

Robert Axelrod: I love it!

Kouichi Kimura: This is probably not the first convention you’ve been to, I’d imagine.

Robert Axelrod: No.

Kouichi Kimura: What have you con experiences been like in the past?

Robert Axelrod: They’ve all been wonderful. The fans… the fans are the main thing. Getting to be with the fans. And they’ve all been great in their individual ways. It’s nice to see the area around the conventions, nice to get a tour, spend more time doing that because I’m so busy with the fans, and I’ve done, I think this is about my 30th convention over the last 2-3 years. Some people do more, some people do less, but this is great. All the fans, all the people, that’s the main thing. The people.

Kouichi Kimura: Obviously you’re best known for your role as the voice of Lord Zedd. What kind of reaction do you get when people come up and they see you for something else and they go “Oh my God! You were…”

Robert Axelrod: Lord Zedd? Yeah. Well, they go “Oh my God, you’re kidding!” I go out on auditions and I have to mention it! Now a lot of young directors grew up watching the Power Rangers, and they go “You’re Kidding! No way! Wow! That’s awesome1” So that feels good. I don’t kno that it gets me hired any sooner.

Kouichi Kimura: Were there any days on set particularly, as Lord Zedd, that you couldn’t get the lines out straight, you were just having one of those days?

Robert Axelrod: Oh yeah. We’d have some of that. I was in the studio – I was never on the set. Except I’d visit the set every so often, but I’d do all my work in post-production, in the studio. So it was me in a chair, watching a screen and doing the lines. There were a couple times where the lines were so silly, I was cracking up. But most of the time, Lord Zedd was serious. He meant business. So if there was any problem in that area, we’d get it out.

Kouichi Kimura: How was it to know that your character was one of the very few in that series that was American-based, that wasn’t actually part of the original Japanese sentai?

Robert Axelrod: Oh! It was good! It was advantageous in the sense that we could branch out and do new plots, have new things happen, now that the bad guy footage was now original American footage to coordinate with the Power Rangers footage, you could do a whole half-hour of original material. So this was very good. It opened the show up.

Kouichi Kimura: I remember, I believe, reading someplace, correct me if I’m wrong, that Rita was not originally supposed to come back in later on, that that was added in, something that had to do with the level of violence in the show.

Robert Axelrod
: Yeah. Yeah. Saban was getting letters that Lord Zedd was giving kids nightmares, and the parents were saying we were too violent. Lord Zedd was too mean. I feel like, to this day, I get fans coming up to me saying “Wow! You gave me great nightmares when I was a kid!” I was doing my job! So they brought back Rita to marry Lord Zedd, to make him more human, so to speak.

Kouichi Kimura:: To crack the whip behind you.

Robert Axelrod: To temper out the character. It was an opportunity for comedy. Actually, I thought it was the beginning of the end, personally. But it was fun to work with Rita. Of course, Barbara Goodson came back to do the little bit of Rita, so I love Barbara. We worked together. It was good.

Kouichi Kimura:: As far as anime, I understand you worked on Digimon: Digital Monsters, particularly second season. How did that go? How did you enjoy doing that?

Robert Axelrod: Oh yeah! It was fine, really. I did Armadillomon, who was from Texas, “how you doin? I’m Armadillomon!” And then I got cast as Wizardmon, and he was around four episodes. But the character made such an impact, he got very popular in those four episodes, he was the only character to die in the show. He didn’t actually have him drop dead on camera, but it was inferred that he was going to heaven, or wherever Wizardmons go. But he was such a heartfelt character, such a warm character, that a lot of people remember him. But yeah, it was good. We got to do the movie, which was great – Armadillomon was in the movie – so it was nice to be welcomed to do that show.

Kouichi Kimura: Are you working on any upcoming projects or recently in the works?

Robert Axelrod: I just did a video game fairly recently called “Dawn of Darkness” where I played Thanatos. He’s a Russian computer expert. He’s sort of the lead guy behind all the weapons and things like that. You know, video games, they’re so complicated plot-wise, it’s impossible to figure out what’s going on, so you have to just do it line-by-line. That was a good hunk of work. And I did four projects last year, Fist of the North Star, Gaiking – those are all being formatted for high-definition- and The Adventure of Nadja, which was another one I did, which was anime, but it was for little kids, so that was the third. The fourth was Danguard Ace.

Kouichi Kimura: What do you think of what they did to Power Rangers when they remastered it?

Robert Axelrod: The Batman-style “bang zoom” thing? I thought it was pretty cool. They weren’t terrible radical changes. It gave it a little fresh approach to it. They didn’t mess too much with the voices or the characters, they just added a little spice to it, which is okay. I thought it was good. I don’t know what fans got so up-in-arms about.

Kouichi Kimura: I personally did see the intro. I was like “oh, that’s new!” Gave it a more comic-book-like approach.

Robert Axelrod: If that’s what it takes to get it back on the air, so be it. Now that Saban bought the series back, I think they’re probably going to show it in its original form. It’s going to start airing on Nickolodeon, I don’t know when. I’ll have to get in touch with them. I’m friends with Cheryl Saban, Haim’s wife, on Facebook, so I’ll have to ask her what the plans are, if she’s at liberty to give them out.

Kouichi Kimura: Hopefully they’ll give you a better time slot than they gave Invader Zim, I think that’s wholeheartedly what killed that show.

Robert Axelrod: It started out on ABC, noon to 1. Then they switched it to 12:30-1:30, then again 8:30-9 one episode, and 12:30-1 another episode. And then it was all thrown together.

Kouichi Kimura: I bet a lot of people were disappointed.

Robert Axelrod
: Yeah! I’d tune in and try to get it. I’d forget about the 8:30 one, I’d always be busy doing something else and forget to turn it on. But the 12:30 one, a couple times I turned it on, it was preempted by auto racing. That’s ABC TV for you.

Kouichi Kimura: I’ve got nothing left.

Robert Axelrod: Okay! I’d just like to say hello to my fans! And keep watching the show when it comes back on, and write letters to Saban Entertainment that you’d like to see Lord Zedd come back! That’s what’ll do it. We’ll put it out on Facebook, on the wall or something like that, and we’ll get a groundswell going.

Kouichi Kimura: Well, you’ve got my support. Thanks for your time, sir!