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BACKSTAGE - MARVEL ANIMATION AGE INTERVIEW - ACTOR GREG CIPES

Earlier this week, The Marvel Animation Age got to speak with veteran voice acting talent, Greg Cipes, the voice of Iron Fist/Danny Rand on Disney XDís Ultimate Spider-Man series. Greg will soon be traveling to San Diego for Comic-Con to promote many of his current and upcoming shows which also includes Nickelodeonís new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles where Greg will be voicing famed party dude ninja turtle, Michelangelo and also Teen Titans Go! which will see Greg returning as the voice of Beast Boy who he also voiced on Cartoon Networkís original Teen Titans animated show. In this weekís Ultimate Spider-Man set to air on July 8, will be an episode featuring the origin of Danny Rand aka Iron Fist where he has to team up with Spider-Man where the two must face their personal nightmares.

Interview composed by Jeffrey Harris.

Marvel Animation Age: How are you doing today?

Greg Cipes: Man, I feel wonderful. Itís like the great summer of love for me. I found Iím being inspired to love life more than I ever have, and it has everything to do with my work. I love what I do.

MAA: How excited are you to be going to Comic-Con next week with all these shows youíre working on? Youíre going to be repping a ton of shows.

GC: Iím very excited. Iím very excited especially for the big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles thing thatís happening there. Iím actually not even all in the know yet, like they got parties planned and signings and all this stuff. But really just to be there for the fans who are totally into Iron Fist and my other characters from Kick Buttowski and Fish Hooks. I love those shows and hopefully there will be some fans that are like, ďYo! Yo Steve Jackson from Fish Hooks! What up?!Ē And there always is. Itís cool. And W.I.T.C.H., another Disney show Iím a part of. Nonetheless, I just love going to Comic-Con itís a great celebration to be a part of.

MAA: You have a big episode coming up on Ultimate Spider-Man. Can you give any insight on whatís happening with Danny Rand aka Iron Fist on July 8?

GC: Well we go into our dream state to confront nightmares. And in the dream state we come across a lot of things that have to do with Iron Fistís origin story and also Kíun Líun, where Iím from. And we meet the dragon who basically I had to defeat to get my powers as Iron Fist. It has everything to do with Iron Fist having a pure heart. Thatís why heís a Zen master because he learned that to be able to defeat the dragon, Shao-Lao the Undying, he has to be pure of heart. We go through our nightmares and we come and we seek help from Doctor Strange. And ultimately that episode was really cool for me because there was a lot of stuff the writers put in there that really resonated with who I am from this reality. Like me and Iron Fist are a lot alike.

MAA: Iíve been a huge fan of Iron Fist for years, so to see him as a regular character in an ongoing series is awesome, and I donít think weíve ever seen a motion picture or animated version of Iron Fistís origin ever before so to me thatís pretty exciting.

GC: Yeah it is exciting. Heís the coolest cat there is man. Thatís whatís up with that.

MAA: What did you learn about Iron Fist when you got the role to play the character?

GC: When I first got the role I really did a ton of research on Iron Fist. I just think itís cool that Iron Fist is also the richest, wealthiest character in the Marvel Universe. Thatís what Iíve been told and thatís what Iíve read and to me I think that has a lot to do with Ė yeah he has Luke Cage/Power Man as his best friend, but itís like his origin story and where he comes from and who this character is in the Marvel Universe Ė I think itís the coolest Marvel character I ever couldíve got and played. It was a great surprise when I got the role because when I got the role they told me it was some other person. It was very secretive. And then theyíre like, ďYou got Iron Fist.Ē And I was like, ďWho is that?Ē I was like, ďWhoa!Ē And then I researched it, ďLike whoa!Ē *Laughs* Itís really cool man.

MAA: You voiced Beast Boy previously in Teen Titans before you did this show, but were you a big fan of Marvel Comics growing up?

GC: Of course. I grew up with all of the Marvel comic books. My mom would buy them for me. And I got like Ė I remember the thing I held on, I probably still have it, it was like the super pack of like thirty Marvel comic books in one pack. I donít know if they still sell stuff like that. Marvel, I grew up with it. I grew up with Spider-Man and it definitely has a lot to do with who I am today being able to step into the role as a superhero and realize seeing it happen. Comic books growing up give you the insight and the dimension of what people really do: fight for good and righteousness and you canít do that out in the world. And I think thatís why our cartoon, Ultimate Spider-Man, is doing so well because itís very real. Itís very real. Itís almost reality TV but with superheroes, and I think thatís something pretty awesome. Itís unique and thatís why I like it because itís very real.

MAA: How often do you get to work and record with your co-stars like Drake Bell as Spider-Man?

GC: Yeah theyíre always usually there. Drake Bell and the whole cast. Thatís how I prefer it.

MAA: How much does that help having them there and being able to see their reactions and working off their performance?

GC: It has everything to do with it because you can feel their presence in the room. Itís one thing to do it on your own and itís kind of a different feeling, but itís always better to have the feeling of the actors in the room. You can feel their energy. You get to work off of each other, and thatís why the show is so fun because weíre having so much fun doing it. We really do. We have a blast. Sometimes it takes us longer to record episodes because weíre having so much fun it takes a long time to record an episode. And the voice director, Collette [Sunderman], sheís like ďCímon! Get it together kids!Ē But weíre just having a blast. Tom Kenny is coming in or whoever, we have a lot of great guest stars that come in.

MAA: Thereís been some negative reactions and feedback toward the show from fans online. Certain fans do seem to unfairly blame this show for the loss of another favorite series, The Spectacular Spider-Man, which was produced by Sony. Have you been aware of any of that negative feedback and do you have any thoughts on it?

GC: All I got to say is that this is Ultimate Spider-Man, dude. Weíre doing something thatís never been done with it and thatís why it might disturb people but ultimately it is love. People are digging it. Thatís why weíre getting the ratings weíre getting and thatís why kids are enjoying it. Itís because itís something different. The Spectacular Spider-Man was that. This is something else. As far as Ė do I hear anything negative? No. I only hear positive stuff. Nobodyís ever given me anything negative about the show other than they love it and they dig it. And they quote Iron Fist which is really cool because his statements are always mastersí distinctions. And thatís really my favorite thing to hear from anybody.

MAA: How excited were you to get the role Michelangelo in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series and was that a role you ever pursued before?

GC: Absolutely. Michelangelo taught me how to meditate and got me into martial arts when I was a kid. Iím a ninja because of Michelangelo in a big way. And for me to offer to the next generation is a great blessing. Thatís the thing. I never read for Michelangelo in the past, not one time. But Michelangelo is something I grew up with. It was my number one favorite cartoon, [Teenage Mutant Ninja] Turtles were. So to play him now, itís just another thing I want to offer to people just like Iron Fist does; a master distinction. And a master distinction is this: Youíll get everything you ever have wanted and youíll receive it in a way you never couldíve imagined every time. And we all have that ability.

Marvel Animation Age would like to thank Greg Cipes for speaking with us.

Ultimate Spider-Man ďStrangeĒ will air on Sunday, July 8, on Disney XD at 11:00AM EST.


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