Have you seen Zootopia? Being the 4th animated film in history to cross over the $1 Billion mark, chances are you have. As mentioned in my previous interview post with Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Clark Spencer a popular favorite scene takes place at the Zootopia DMV. I have to agree, it’s a favorite of mine as well. I laugh out loud every-time I see it. That Flash is a real scene stealer! I don’t know how anyone can watch it and not fall in-love with him.
Just as meeting Raymond Persi, Story Artist & the voice of “Flash” was during our Zootopia in-Home global press event was a highlight of my day. A real favorite. Check out the highlights of our group interview below.
RP: Good morning, everybody. How you guys doing? I’m doing good and I’m here to talk to you guys a little bit about the story process and voice over work, my name is Raymond Persi and I’m a story artist and for Zootopia, I was the voice of Flash, I’m going to give you a little background about me first.
I was raised in the hills above Disney, so it was really cool for me because I got to see it all the time and I even watched when they were building some of the buildings when I was a kid and what was great was, eventually, I got to work here. Before coming here, I was a director on The Simpsons and when Rich Moore who’s the director of Wreck It Ralph came here to direct Wreck It Ralph, he brought a few of us over that were directors on The Simpsons to kind of mix with the story artists here to see what would come of it. And I started as a story artist on Wreck It Ralph and then after that, I went on to Frozen and then I worked on two short films, Get A Horse with Mickey Mouse and Feast and then I eventually worked with Rich Moore and producer Clark Spencer as the voice of Flash in Zootopia. Just to tell you how it happened for me, basically, what happens is a lot of times when we are creating our rough versions of the films just to sort of test it, we don’t really know who’s going to be cast yet. We don’t even know if sometimes characters are going to stay in the film, they’ll bring in a lot of artists and other people from work to come, they’ll say, come in the recording room. We need you to do some scratch.
You might be at your desk working, all of a sudden, it’s like be a gorilla now – and you got to do it and so every now and then they like what the voice sounds like and they’ll stick in there. In my particular case, I get to be that little annoying brat Gene from Wreck It Ralph and then the zombie from Wreck It Ralph and then in Get a Horse I was another little annoying character, the horn and then what was cool was I got to be the horse collar in doing a couple little laughs here and there and what was fun was, they got Walt Disney to do the, the voice. They used old audio of Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse for that short, so it was fun. I got to share a laugh with Walt Disney. That was kind of neat. And then for Frozen, one thing was cool, I just had one little line in there, but the guy talking, his wife calls after him and she says- faster, Persi, so they used my last name which is kind of fun little treat for me and then for Feast, I didn’t do any voice work in it, but my dogs did. Because I have four little Boston Terriers, so we brought them in and we gave them food. And we made them grunt so that we could use their little voices for the dog in Feast. So what was cool about this character was,when you’re asked to do a sloth, what’s your first instinct? You think I’m going to talk slowly, but Rich and Head of Story, Jim Reardon had a different idea. They wanted him to speak normally, but with just a lot of pauses in between, so that was fun. I sat down and we recorded scratch for half an hour or so and then I guess my voice sounded stupid enough because they kept it in.
I’m going to show you guys a scene – this is an animatic version storyboarded by Jason Hand. He’s a really great story artist here. We have Jared Bush as the voice for Nick. I’ll play it for you and give you guys a better idea of things. You can see that’s kind of what the rough version looks like when we’re still working on the story and we’ll do something like that a dozen times or more over the course of two years to get the story right. We’ll show it to everybody in the studio and have everybody critique it to really ask the tough questions to make sure that the movie’s going to be good and I think that’s about it, so I was wondering, do you guys have any questions?
Q: Does your family think you’re cool because you were in the movie?
RP: Well, for the first time, I think my mother understands what I do for a living. And then my nephews and my nieces, they like it, so that’s fun. So what’s great, they’re really hyper, but when I go there, they want to walk really slowly, it’s a great game for me because then I don’t get tired.
Q: Did you find yourself using the voice around your friends or family to mess with them?
RP: I was afraid they’d hit me, so.
Q: How do you practice that?
RP: It was really literally that, when I went into the recording booth, Rich Moore and Jim Reardon just sort of coached me as to how they wanted me to do it and I did it that way and they liked it and it worked out well, luckily it worked.
Q:Are there any thoughts of giving Flash his own movie or show?
RP: Well, you have to ask the directors about that one. Yeah. I don’t know. I think even if you wanted to make a short, it would end up being a feature.
Q: Did you do any voice preparation?
RP: Sometimes when you’re doing scratch, you’ve got to scream and stuff like that. You’ll wait ‘til the screaming part’s at the end because you’ll lose your voice, like when you go to a rock concert and you leave and you don’t have a voice anymore, you’ll do that sort of thing and you always make sure you’ve got water because sometimes they can hear if your mouth gets dry. It’s weird because those mics pick up every little thing.
Q: Do your nieces and nephews’ friends ask you to talk slow?
RP:Not yet. They’re young enough that they try to tell their friends and their friends just sort of stare at me and just kind of wander off. They don’t make the connection yet.
Q: Do you have a dream character you’d like to voice in the future?
RP: I don’t know. I mean, I think I got to do some pretty good ones. I think I’m pretty happy.
Add Zootopia to your home library on Blu-ray and Digital HD on 6/7!
Visit the official ZOOTOPIA website here: http://movies.disney.com/zootopia
Like ZOOTOPIA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyZootopia
Follow ZOOTOPIA on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DisneyZootopia
Follow Disney Animation on Instagram: https://instagram.com/disneyanimation/
Visit Disney Animation on Tumblr: http://disneyanimation.tumblr.com/
FTC Disclaimer: I attended an expense paid trip by Disney to press events for the home release of Zootopia. All opinions shared are always honest and my own