We recently had a chance to talk with Naruto voice actress Maile Flanagan regarding her casting as the voice of Uzumaki Naruto in the English dub of the series. We would like to thank her for taking the time out of her schedule to answer us! While Maile can’t go into too many details for contractual reasons, she did drop some nice juicy details and some great background about herself!
Leafninja.com: How did you get started in the entertainment industry?
Maile: I went to Boston College and when I was there I was encouraged to join an improv group by my friends. I did and then after college formed a group with some college friends and we performed professionally. After that I ended up performing improv a lot, acting in plays, writing, and doing stand-up. I moved to LA to do more tv and film work in January of 1996.
Leafninja.com: You have a background in stage, how did you make the move to studio voice acting?
Maile: I have a great agent named Pat Brady and she took interest and encouraged me to pursue it because I sort of have a naturally funny voice. I studied with some of the best voice teachers in LA and started working on cartoons while still doing other showbiz stuff. Now I’m with Pat Brady at CESD, and she and the other agents there continue to get me auditions and coach me on performances.
Leafninja.com: Did you know of the Naruto series before the casting calls went out?
Maile: Honestly I didn’t, but I read up on it as soon as I got the call – mostly from reading websites! Then VIZ gave me all sorts of stuff and some tapes.
Leafninja.com: How confident do you feel when you go in for auditions?
Maile: I usually feel pretty confident! It helps to feel confident to nail a part. Naruto sort of clicked immediately for me.
Leafninja.com: How did you feel when you learned you had been selected for the role of Naruto?
Maile: I was thrilled! And I already knew from the websites dedicated to it that it was a great show and I’m really honored to be able to do it here in the U.S.
Leafninja.com: What is a typical voice-recording day for you like?
Maile: It depends – sometimes I do group sessions which are about 4 hours with other people; on other shows I pretty much work alone with an engineer and our great director, Jeff Nimoy and for the first few, with Jamie Simone, who is also a director and a big producer here in L.A. Usually I’ll have a session, a couple of auditions and maybe do a show at night or something.
Leafninja.com: Do you plan to stay with the series for the long Haul? Meaning if Viz continues licensing the series, are you prepared to do all 150+ episodes?
Maile: I certainly hope so!!!
Leafninja.com: Related to that, will you lend your talents to Naruto in other forms of media? Such as video games and movies?
Maile: Again, I really hope so!! (we haven’t talked about it yet)
Leafninja.com: Do you listen to Naruto’s Japanese voice actress Junko Takeuchi when you prepare for Naruto?
Maile: Yes, but not every line. Sometimes when we don’t get exactly what the intention of the writer combined with the picture is, we need to reference it. I also watched tapes of Naruto with the original voices before I started recording episodes.
Leafninja.com: Do you feel any similarities between yourself and Naruto and have they helped you to get into the character more?
Maile: Well, I think that I’m certainly excitable! When I was a kid I was a lot like him, and I try to channel that into my performance. I also can see that he’s always trying to do his best, no matter what the consequences are, and that’s pretty much how I am. I don’t yell as much as he does, though, but I’m sarcastic and have a good sense of humor like Naruto!
Leafninja.com: Do you plan on auditioning for any other roles in the series?
Maile: At this point, if they ask me, of course I’ll do them.
Leafninja.com: Both the manga and anime are still ongoing in Japan. Recent events have caused a 3 year time jump in the series. With Naruto being 15 years old (3 years older than at the series start) do you feel you can change your voice to suit Naruto’s maturing?
Maile: Yes, I play a lot of boys (in fact, mostly boys) and I do voices from very young boys to teenagers. 15 is a snap!!
Leafninja.com: Who is/are your favorite character(s) in the series?
Maile: NARUTO, of course!!!
Leafninja.com: Do you have any favorite lines of dialogue from what you have recorded so far?
Maile: I like doing the Shadow Clone Jutsu lines! The cloning scenes are my favorite, so far, but I can’t tell you any specific lines (ask me another time).
Leafninja.com: How do you feel about the content of the series? Meaning do you think that the show may influence children to imitate what they see?
Maile: Well, I think they’ll imitate the focus that he has in trying to achieve his tasks and probably they will imitate some of the moves like when he starts to clone himself. We’ll have to see what the kids start doing…
Leafninja.com: Do you ever get a chance to interact with the other voice actors and actresses on the series?
Maile: So far, not much. But I do know some of them and have interacted with them on different voiceover projects.
Leafninja.com: Has your experience with Viz and Naruto made you eager to branch out and audition for more anime roles?
Maile: Yes, it’s really an interesting and exciting part of animation – and you get to do so many things, acting-wise and vocally.
Leafninja.com: Do you have any plans to interact with the fan community by attending conventions?
Maile: Sure, if they want me to and if I can fit it into my schedule.
Leafninja.com: Naruto gained a large, rabid fanbase on the Internet and that fanbase is only sure to grow with the series airing on Toonami. As a result you will be destined to gain quite a bit of exposure for the lead role, do you feel ready for all the possible attention and potential misplaced annoyance on the part of fans who may only swear by the Japanese original?
Maile: I’ve already seen some of it! Someone sent me an email saying that if I “screw it up” then they would be really upset and start crying. I know there’s a huge fan of the original Japanese, and it’s going to be a challenge to make all of them like it, but that’s pretty normal for a show that originated somewhere else. I think we’re doing a great job of keeping true to the original.
Leafninja.com: Do you have a parting message to say to our readers and the Naruto fanbase around the world?
Maile: NARUTO ROCKS!!!! Have fun watching!!!!
We’d like to say thanks again to Maile for talking with us. If our readers wish to post this interview elsewhere, please just include this link in your news post or message: http://www.leafninja.com/?p=127 This will link directly to the interview! If you wish to discuss the interview, use our comments or hit the discussion on our forum here.