Brendan McKane Interview
September 5th, 2010
1. How does it feel to know that there are still fans of this show?
I am delighted that fans find Mask of enough interest that they still consider themselves fans. I am reminded that as children, they grew up with Mask and it became part of their young childhood experience which they carry into adulthood.
2. Are you currently working on any projects today? If so, would you care to share them with us?
I spent thirty+ years as a professional actor, performing in dozens of plays and television series, including Hunter, Star Trek and many others. Currently, because of my time commitment to law school and passing the California Bar, I have much less time to work as an actor. However, I do audition for commercials and land the odd one.
3. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love playing golf. I actually love the study law. I write poetry. I love sitting outside at my favorite coffee house with an ice cold coffee, letting the sun warm my body as I watch all those wonderful people moving through their lives..
4. Favorite movie, book, tv show and food?
I don’t watch too much television. However, there is a BBC series called MI-5 (British Security (spies) which I seem to be addicted to.
5. You are married to fellow MASK voice actor, Sharon Noble. Care to share how you two kids got together?
Well, like many love stories, it’s long, complicated, and romantic. Suffice it to say, we (Sharon and I) were performing in a series of different plays over many months in different cities. Somehow, she just kept showing up in the same city and same play that I was doing. I think higher powers were at work. As an actor I was always very protective of my person and did not engage in romantic relationships with other actors working in the same play because it could interfere with the work. Well, Sharon comes from the South and Southern gals get what they want. I’ll say no more.
6. Do you ever do any conventions or autograph signings? If so, where do they normally take place?
I don’t do conventions, mostly because I have never been asked.
7. How did you get into voice acting? Which jobs where some of your favorites?
As a trained actor having done a great variety of roles, I learned to manipulate my voice…as any trained actor could do. From a business point of view, voice acting is pretty much the same as stage or television acting. You make a voice tape. You send it to every casting director in the world. You hope they like your material and call you. Simple eh.
8. How did you become involved with MASK?
There is an interesting story with regard to being hired for the Mask series. Sharon and I had relocated from Canada in the winter of 1984. Soon thereafter, we were at the beach in Santa Monica (CA) with a number of other actors. One such actor mentioned that the producers of Mask were looking for Canadian to audition for the series. They didn’t want American actor for financial reasons. Our Canadian union rates were less than American Union rates. So, we called the producer, they agreed to see us. I can’t remember if they knew we were married. We auditioned several times over a few weeks. Finally, they announced that they wanted to hire me and Sharon….for the series. We had little idea that a “series” meant some 80 episodes. So, it was simply a fluke, happenstance….on a beach. We had only been in Los Angeles for a few weeks. That’s what is known as “LUCK”….with talent.
9. Did you have to audition for each part or where you played?
We were all assigned various characters that we would play throughout the series. However, every episode had new characters. We would arrive at the studio, they would announce the new characters. Then each of us would audition ‘on the spot’ for particular characters. The producer/director had a good sense of whose voice would suite which character….but we did have to audition for them. In most cases each actor got to play the character they auditioned for. And, even better, we were paid for each individual character we played. This worked well for Sharon because she was the only female actor, so she got all the female parts. And of course, we were married…sooooooooo… the money went into OUR bank account. Good deal huh!
10. Miles Mayhem was one of the best villain’s of the 80’s. What did you think of him as a character on the show?
Miles was a wonderful character. He embodied the basic structure of evil, which is what you want in “the bad guy.” And like all bad guys in our television world, he never quite succeeded achieving his evil ends.
11. Which of your voices was the hardest to do? Why?
Mile Mayhem was the hardest. As you know, he was heavy set with a big and somewhat gravelly voice. Well, I am not a big man physically and my natural voice is not gravelly nor especially big. Therefore, I had “move” my voice deeper into my throat to produce the deep big gravelly sound. I expect that was one of the major factors in being hired because I could place my voice in several places. However, under the pressure of recording (in the studio) it cause my voice to be stressed. On many occasions we would record for several hours and I (as others) would have to switch from one voice to another. That can be stressful on the voice…that is, switching from Miles to Alex or to another character. The script is recorded in sequence which means I would have to switch from one character to another, line by line, and back again. It was a little harder for me because Mile’s voice was so different that my other characters. I had to take great care not to injure my voice. I only have one voice and many characters. It can be tricky. However, my training as an actor allowed me to make the various switches without causing any damage to my voice (throat).
12. You played a lot of other characters in the show. Which ones were your favorites?
I think Miles was my favorite for the same reasons stated above. He was just the classic bad guy and he was in so many scenes. However, I loved to play Alex. Alex was English and had somewhat of a droll/smooth and relaxed voice. It did present a challenge sometimes because I would have just finished lines as Miles and then had to switch immediately to Alex. They were at opposite ends of the voice spectrum so I had to make a substantial leap to get from Miles to Alex.
13. Are any of the characters you voiced close to your original voice?
14. How long did it normally take for you to do your voice recordings for each show?
About four hours.
15. Were you allowed any input in the voice acting or did you have to stay strictly to the scripts?
Good question. We were not allowed to change anything. What might be of interest to you is that the folks who produce and own the series have spent a great deal of money and time producing it. They don’t need nor do they want someone, even an actor, to change the mix. You have to remember, the actors are only one component of the production. That same script is being worked on by other production people for other reasons, such as matching the words to the visuals of the characters. And, simply stated, it’s their bat and ball and they are entitled to do as the deem correct.
16. Were you provided with artwork or any back stories for your characters prior to doing their voice? Did that help you come up with each of their voices?
Yes. Before we auditioned we were given drawings of the character and a character description. As an actor, you spend a little time with that information and start to create the voice for the character. If you have ten actors auditioning for one character, you are going to have ten different voices competing to play that character. On a practical level, you create the voice, the producers then go away and listen to your voice creation. They then might come back and say….”could you try this or that,” bla bla bla…..and then they make the decision that will change your life. For Sharon and I, it was the right decision.
17. If you were allowed to pick one of the MASKS to have in real life, which one would you want? Why?
That’s an interesting question. You might think I would choose Miles. No so. I would choose Alex. Alex for me was a dignified and noble fellow. He was there to help. He had a softness accompanied by confidence. He was unflappable, just like me.
18. The first season of MASK went 65 episodes while the second only went 10. Did you like the transition into the second season?
I think for me it was simply a continuance. Of course I was happy to do more episode. Heck, I’d be happy to be doing them today.
19. If you can recall, which episode did you like the most? Why?
The Truth is I can’t recall. The recording of Mask was intense and continuous. There was little time to focus on any particular episode. Week after week, we did our regular characters and new characters. It was just one long experience and a happy one.
20. If MASK where to be brought back today, would you want to be involved with the project? Do you feel an animated cartoon movie would do better than a live action movie?
For the type of script Mask is, I think it lends itself to animation. And, as you are well aware, today’s animation is extraordinary. Sometimes, animations allows for a magic that can be difficult to achieve in live action. Animation opens the door to imagination unhindered by live action. I would love to be involved.
21. Is there anything else you would like to share with us about your experience with MASK?
I would just say, it was an extraordinary experience and a delightful one. Doing a series requires the coordination of many talents, actors, writers, designers, producers. There is something very special about working in chorus, in tandem, together, with so many talented people.
22. Do you have a website or anything you would like to promote?
Well, I don’t have one. HOWEVER, Sharon does. Sharon has written a number of novels (romance) which are published in hardback and paperback. And, she has another novel scheduled to be published next year. Sharon is enormously talented. She is more talented than I… if that’s possible. I will say, Sharon and I have been in love for over thirty years doing what we do best. It doesn’t get better than that. Her website is: sharon-noble.com.