Exclusive Interview with Voice Actress Kari Wahlgren

Photo Credit: Jeff Ellingson
Photo Credit: Jeff Ellingson

Talk Nerdy got to chat with the incomparable Kari Wahlgren, a popular voice-over artist who has lent herself to many roles – including FLCL‘s Haruko Haruhara and Final Fantasy 12‘s Ashe. Chances are you’ve heard Kari’s work in one of your favorite shows, and we asked about what it’s like to be the voice behind many of this generation’s favorite characters!

Early spring, we had the premiere of Justice League vs. Teen Titans, in which you play the Teen Titans leader as of present, Starfire! What was it like, playing such a hero who is widely known for her eccentric personality?

Starfire was such an interesting character to play! She’s coming into her own as a leader in the movie.  We really worked on keeping that innocent, alien quality about her, while also showing that she’s grown and matured as a Teen Titan…and as a superhero, in general.  Those little quirks, in addition to her heart and bravery, are what make her such a great character.

Having doing voiceover work in both more serious DC animated films and more lighthearted ones, such as the LEGO DC films, do you find you have a preference in portraying these beloved heroes in a funny or dramatic format?

I always love to play comedy.  I don’t take myself too seriously, and I think that translates into my lighter characters. But as a superhero-lover myself, there’s nothing cooler than getting to voice the iconic, dramatic characters and tap into your inner badass!

Is there a different level of difficulty in ADR work for anime versus cartoons versus video games?

ADR is very technical work.  It’s as much about precision as performance.  When you’re performing cartoons without any picture or visual restrictions, it’s a much looser, freer creative experience. Both can be rewarding…they’re just VERY different!

You’ve performed as many varied characters, including several strong female characters which is fantastic! What draws you to a character when you’re seeking a new project?

Well, I still have to audition, so booking the project is half the battle!  I always love playing female characters with strength and spunk.  My performances tend to naturally lean that way.  It’s exciting to me to see more and more well-rounded female characters popping up in movies and on TV….it’s important for girls of all ages to see that!

To date, is there a voiceover role that you had extreme difficulty with?

Tigress on Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness was challenging. They wanted to stay true to the character in the movies while pushing her a lot more comedy-wise on the TV show.  It was a tough finding that balance.

Will we get to see you in any new live-action projects soon, or is there a preference for sticking with voice work?

I’d like to do more live action in the future, but voice over work is keeping me really busy right now!!  We’ll see. I do love the amazing range in voice over….In a single day, I may play everything from a baby to a grandma to a three-headed monster!  I get to play so many parts that I’d never get to play on-camera right now.  

Lastly, we love hearing what things our readers are excited about so what’s something your nerding over recently?

I’m such a fan of special effects makeup! I just toured a creature workshop this morning, and I felt like it was Christmas! I was giggling and geeking out like a total dork!  I just find the artistry and the skill of it so amazing….I’m also mourning the end of Penny Dreadful.  Man, I loved that show.  I was really hoping for one more season! Once Game of Thrones wraps up this season, I’ll need to find a new show to binge-watch.

Be sure follow more of Kari’s adventures in voice acting by checking out her official Twitter! She will be voicing Jamie in The Nut Job 2, out in theaters May 19, 2017.

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