Get your Finn ski caps on your head and your toy Golden Swords of Battle in hand because the fourth season of Adventure Time begins tonight. We spoke with Jeremy Shada, the voice of Finn the Human, who spoke briefly about voice acting and what to look for in the new season.
How has the voice for Finn evolved if any over the four seasons of Adventure Time?
Jeremy Shada: The character and the voice has not evolved but grown over time. When we first started it was a lot like the pilot. A lot of the times Finn would either just be screaming a lot or just kind of be down and talking. From there we tried to make more of an effort to give a wider range of what he does. I do a lot more different stuff now, which is cool.
Do you record by yourself or do you get to record with others?
JS: I do get to act with a lot of the cast like John Di Maggio who plays Jake. Most of the time, it’s the two of us that are there, which is good because we get to play off of each other. And most of the time whatever other characters are in that episode those voice actors are in the booth) as well. I do think it comes out better when you’re getting that play, off the reaction of other voice actors. It plays out different and I do like it better.
JS: Most of the time yes, but sometimes, no. If they’re phoning in their performance from a different state like Andy Samberg who played Party Pat in “Belly of the Beast.” He lives in New York so he had to phone his parts in on a different day. Some people we do get to work with like Lou Ferrigno and Mark Hamill.
Do you get to see the finished product by the time you record?
JS: I see the storyboards because they send us them for each episode which are basic stack of black and white cartoon drawings, but we don’t get to see anything else until the episode comes out, everything’s been animated, and the voices have been matched up with the lip movements–seeing those (finished reels) are really, really cool because I love watching to see how everything comes together.
How do seeing those storyboards help you with your performance?
JS: They help me get into the story and if you’re just reading the script, a lot of the times, I’m thinking, ‘What’s going on?’ But if you look at the storyboard, they’re able to show the emotion of the characters at that moment and what’s going on around them, which does help to direct you.
Are you a big gamer?
JS: Oh yeah! [Laughs]
Do you play them differently now, having done some voice over work and how cinematic they’ve become?
JS: Yeah I do, knowing how all of this stuff comes together. I even watch other animated TV shows differently. A lot of people on the outside think, ‘Oh that’s cool’ not realizing all the work that goes into it and how long it takes to get something done. Even that 11-minute episode of Adventure Time takes nine months to fully animate.
How much do you lobby to do other characters given that there are so many other characters that exist in Adventure Time?
JS: [Laughs] I do enjoy doing other characters. And I have done a few of them over the course of the show. Usually I don’t do them unless there’s a bunch of characters with one line or because there’s a bunch of crap going on all at once. So I get to play a couple of those, which is cool because it helps me apply what I see other actors like Di Maggio, Tom Kenny (Ice King), and Dee Bradley Baker do. They generally do a lot of character voices so it’s cool to learn from them and apply that knowledge.
JS: One that we started with last season’s “Incendium” and that we’ll be going through season 4 with is the “Fire Princess” story arc, that one is really, really cool.
What can you tease fans with about Season 4?
JS: They can look forward to a good amount of Fire Princess episodes as I just said and I do believe we have one more of the Fire King coming back, which is Keith David (The Princess and the Frog, Coraline) who is great to work with. He’s a great voice actor!
Tune into Cartoon Network tonight for the Season 4 Premiere of Adventure Time at 7:30pm ET/PT and 6:30pm Central.
Photo taken by Lucky Bronson