Exclusive Interview: Vic Mignogna
During the past weekend’s Supanova convention in Perth we had to chance to chat with legendary anime voice actor Vic Mignogna about his pet project, a fan made continuation of the original Star Trek. Due to a bizzarre set of circumstances that involved a wrestling match and chocolate raspberries we had to step outside the convention centre for some quiet. Click for the audio, and the transcript follows the image!
G-Funk: We’re at Perth Supanova 2014, and we’re talking to – and before I mangle it – Vic…?
Vic Mignogna: (Laughs) Min-ja-na.
G: Migjana? VC: It’s a lot easier than it looks on paper. Like ‘tomorrow’ in Spanish. Mañana.
G: I don’t know Spanish!
VC: You ever had a flaminyon steak?
G: No…I’m vegetarian.
VC: None of my ideas are working!
G: Let’s give up.
VC: Let’s just leave it.
G: It’s Mignogna?
VC: Mignogna. It’s Italiano. Si.
G: I went to Italy once, it was embarrassing for all.
VC: Ohhhhhh…my homeland. I love it, I’ve been there before as well. I’m loving Australia! I love Australia! (Sounds of eating) For those of you who are just listening I just put something amazing in my mouth.
G: It’s a Malteaser.
G: No? What is that?
VC: They’re raspberry.
G: Oh, the chocolate covered ones?
VC: Yes! Raspberries are my favourite thing in the world. I saw a bag in there and I just had to steal them. Sorry, that’s what I’m eating right now.
G: I’m jealous. I’ll steal some if no-one is looking. You come to quite a few conventions in Australia.
VC: I do! You know what: I love this country. I came here probably 6 or 7 years ago for the first time. We had such an amazing experience, the people were so wonderful, the cities I visited were so wonderful. I made friends with the Supanova people and they’ve been kind enough to invite me back on a semi-regular basis. I was in Perth and Sydney two years ago, not back to back, and then I was in Perth and Sydney four years ago.
G: So every two years!
VC: Yeah, so every couple of years. Brisbane and Melbourne and couple of times…I never get tired of this place.
G: I’m afraid we don’t have Australian weather for you today.
G: We’re standing outside and it’s looking a bit grim.
VC: For those who don’t know the important people do interviews inside. People like me…we’re on the loading dock right now. There’s a guy over here having a smoke and now he’s pulling us away from the doors. But we’re doing a recording outdoors and it is looking a bit gloomy today.
G: It is a bit chilly.
VC: But it’s a wonderful day.
G: It is, it’s been a really good day. Have you had a lot of fun today? Have you done your seminars?
VC: Actually I did mine yesterday, had a great time, and today we are screening the third episode of Star Trek Continues at 2:20 here in the big Cosplay theatre. Very excited about that. We’ve got a lot of people who have come up to the tables and said ‘we can’t wait to see the episode’ so we’re very excited to be premiering the episode.
G: Let’s talk about Star Trek…
G: Why did you decide to take on this classic series and re-invent it at the same time as it’s being reinvented in Hollywood?
VC: I would not call what Hollywood is doing a re-invention – I don’t know what that is.
G: You can use rude words. Go ahead.
VC: No, I would not do that! But what I will say is that what they are making is not Star Trek. It’s some sort of space adventure, and they’ve used the names, but it’s not Star Trek. Anybody that ever watched the original series of any of them know that Star Trek was not what they’re doing now. But the reason I did it is not to make any money, not to become famous in anyway…it’s merely because when I was a little boy I loved the orignal series Star Trek. It inspired me. In a way I had not yet been inspired when I was between 10, 11,12 years old. It inspired me to start building things and making costumes and shoot home movies and building sets and…became fascinated with acting and props and all kinds of things I had not been interested in up until that point in my life. So I wanted to…I wanted the opportunity to, on a personal level, to get to play an iconic character I loved when I was a little boy: Captain Kirk. Also to get to continue the series in a way that I never had before, that has not been done before. There are plenty of fan series out there but nothing touches on what we’ve been doing.
G: Do you mean in terms of the accuracy or the production…
VC: In terms of anything. In terms of any element of production. Lighting, acting, sets, costumes, editing, stories, music, make-up, props…you name it. I’ve worked on several other productions and I have nothing against them, but they operate on a fan level, at a particular level of quality, and one of my goals with Star Trek Continues was to pump up the equality. Take it to a new level of production quality. And I believe that we’ve accomplished that.
G: You’re stepping into William Shatner’s boots…is that intimidating?
VC: Very. I love Bill Shatner. I’ve had the privilege to work with him at events like this, signing events, I’ve become friends with him and I have an enormous amount of admiration and respect for him. So the last thing I would ever want is for someone to think I was mimicking him, or satirising him or mocking him in any way. What I want to do is honour him. Honour him with a performance and a series that pays homage to what they did and continues what they did in the same vien. So, yeah, it was a little daunting. I always imagined playing Captain Kirk but when you finally put the uniform on and built the sets and the lights are all ready the cameras are rolling and you’ve got to step on to the bridge as Capt. Kirk it’s like ‘oooooaaaaaahhhh…this is a lot scarier than I though it would be’.
G: I’ve never watched Star Trek. Apart from the new movies.
VC: Then you’ve never watched it.
G: So convince me to watch it.
VC: You know what I can say to convince you? Star Trek is the most iconic, successful TV in history. There’s no other television show that has been…well that’s UK…
G: I’m waving my Doctor Who scarf.
VC: You know what? I would even challenge Doctor Who and I’ll tell you why. Look at all the theatrical films based on Star Trek. I would say that not only is Star Trek deserve your attention because it’s the most iconic American television show in history, but beyond that there must be some reason why that show has continued for decades and decades and decades. There was something special about that original series. Now I’m not going to speak to Next Generation, or Voyager, or Deep Space Nine but the original series, clearly had something so special about the mix. Everything about it that made something very special that endured for 50 years. There must be something. What we wanted to do with Star Trek Continues is to carry on whatever that was. That perfect blend of story and adventure and sci-fi and character relationship and strong ethical themes and moral themes that made the original series so wonderful and touched so many people. I think that’s what we’re doing.
G: You’re doing live action this time around, but you’re best known for your voice work. Is this where you’re going now, live action? Or are you still a voice actor?
VC: Well, I’ve always loved acting! I mean, I’ve been acting long before I was voice acting. I was doing stage and on camera stuff. I would love to continue all of it, I don’t feel like one it mutually exclusive to the other. I intend to voice act as long as anyone would let me but I intend to do this and other on camera roles any chance I can get. I just love acting, I love creating. In any form, I’ll take it.
G: I look at your anime filmography…it’s enormous.
VC: Yeah, I’ve been doing it 16-17 years. I’ve got over 200 different anime shows and video games.
G: If you’ve got one role from that you want to be remembered for, what would you want your legacy to be?
VC: I think that…unless something bigger comes down the pipe, which I don’t anticipate – probably playing Edward Elric in Full Metal Alchemist will be what I’m most known for. Then there’s a handful of other characters that fans really enjoy, but that’ll be the big one.
G: And you’re happy with that being your legacy?
VC: Yeah! Yes, I am. I am very, very, very proud of that work and it’s an anime that will, for many years to come, stand as one of the top, probably one of the 5 or 10 top animes.
G: It is very good.
VC: I’m very, very proud to be a part of that.
G: It is getting chilly out here so we’ll let you step back inside.
VC: Yes, I think they’re bringing in a shipment of something, we have to get off the loading dock here. Thanks for talking to me though!
G: No, thank you for stopping by.
VC: My pleasure!