DragonCon | Feature

Dragon Con | Feature Image

At DragonCon 2023, I sat down with Dino Andrade and Connor Andrade. A father and son pair who has a great variety of experience as voice talents – even competing for roles on occasion – they have voiced everything from various Marvel and DC properties to assorted anime shows and movies and even to a brand-new podcast called Jump Leads. I participated in a two-journalist panel to talk with both of them about their careers, their experiences at DragonCon, and more.

You can check out Dino and Connor Andrade at their official website. You can also follow Dino Andrade at his official X account.

You can find out more about Dragon Con on their official websiteon Twitteron Facebookon Instagramon Pinterest, and on Discord

You can also buy a membership for next year’s Dragon Con here.

This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

Operation Rainfall: My name is Quentin H., and I am with Operation Rainfall.

Downtown Hott Radio: I am Walil Archer, nice to meet you. I’m getting some behind the scenes [filming]. 

OR: Do you mind briefly introducing yourselves?

Dino Andrade: My name is Dino Andrade, I’ve been a voice actor since the mid-’80s. Probably what I’m best known for is numerous characters in World of Warcraft – High Tinker Mekkatorque, Professor Putricide, Fungalmancer Glop – I’ve been part of Warcraft for 14, 15 years now. And I’m also the Scarecrow from Batman: Arkham Asylum, Speedy Gonzalez for the new Looney Tunes, I’ve been Pop from Rice Krispies [imitates Pop] “Snap, Crackle, Pop! Rice Krispies!” I’ve done radio, campaigns for the Los Angeles Dodges [and] Delta Airlines – I’ve been at this for quite a while.

And this is my son, Connor. Connor is Baby Grizzly for We Baby Bears for Cartoon Network. He’s also been Toddler Groot for Marvel – for Spider-Man: Maximum Venom. He’s been on The Casagrandes, and he premiered in an independent feature called Samsam where he played a Martian by the name of Sweat Pea. I was a villain in that movie, the Marthial – so we worked together on [Connor’s] first thing, and that was pretty cool.

Connor Andrade voiced Baby Grizz in Wee Baby Bears for two seasons.

OR: In a 2013 Comikaze interview with Fanversation, you said that you are “someone who is both Meisner trained and trained at the Groundlings” and that you’re “very improv oriented.” The Groundlings are known for their improv, sketch comedy, and live performances since 1974, and the Meisner acting technique focuses on the actor engaging with their acting partner.

A lot of times with voice acting though, it is just you in the booth and you’re responding with pre-written lines to another person’s pre-recorded lines as you also try to match mouth flaps on the screen. Does your background with the Groundlings and the Meisner Technique apply also to voice acting, and if so, how have you utilized it in your career?

DA: ABSOLUTELY it does! [laughs] When talking about matching lip flaps – you’re talking about dubbing, like working on anime or live action dubbing, so on. Oftentimes, what is written on the page for the dubbing, when we go to actually record it, it doesn’t actually match all of the lip flap. And so we’ve got to very, very quickly come up with a different line, different read, add words, subtract words, etcetera. And that’s where that training comes in, because you have to think on the spot and you can’t just be sitting there going “Ahhh, umm, I don’t knowwwww, I didn’t have time to prep this.” You have to be able to come up with stuff – we can be really collaborative.

When it’s not dubbing, and you’re doing original animation, it is extremely helpful, because you never know what you’re going to wind up doing on the fly. For example, if you’re working on video games, you’re often not given the script in advance. So you don’t really know what you’re recording until you get into the booth, and you won’t have time to prepare – you have to do what my good friend Dave Fennoy said, what he calls ‘instant acting.’ So improvisational techniques and all that work that all the Meiser – all of that comes to a head, all of that comes right in there, and so, yes: absolutely. Absolutely.

A lot of Meisner’s based upon what they call the ‘magic as if,’ where you perform something as if this or as if this, and so on. Those things get you from A to Z very quickly, so when voiceover – we’re oftentimes flying by the seat of your pants that it is, oh boy, so helpful. So Meisner, Groundlings – all of that was huge, huge for me.

OR: I want to follow-up on your video game work.

You voiced the Scarecrow in 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum. One of the most interesting parts of the development process, as Paul Dini – the game’s writer discussed in a 2009 interview with the Telegraph – was that Rocksteady knew within five minutes of their first development meeting that they wanted to use voice talent from Batman: The Animated Series to reprise various roles. You also said in a September 2015 interview with 91.8 The Fan that you auditioned for the Scarecrow and the Joker, and that they were specifically looking for someone who could do Mark Hamill’s Joker.

When you tried to book this job – and even when you were actively recording the lines – did Rocksteady also want you to imitate the Scarecrow from B: TAS? How did you find your own version of the Scarecrow for this game?

DA: I was not asked to match what was done in the series. I was just given the audition copy, and an image of what the Scarecrow looked like. The concept of the Scarecrow for me came out of that image – it was like, it was basically acting from the outside in. It was like putting on a costume and seeing how I felt with the costume. And what it was, was seeing the gloves, and seeing the needles coming out of the gloves. And when I looked at that, I just imagined what it would be like if those needles went into my hands and through the arms and across the chest – this kind of rictus band.

As I began to feel that, I began to get [slowly transitions into the Scarecrow’s voice as he stands, leaning forward with his arms outstretched at an angle behind him] an idea of what it was the voice would sound like. And that was where I found it. [goes back to his normal voice] And in fact, most of the game was recorded with me in this position. They actually had to re-mike me, because that’s how I felt it. So, it was all about a feeling that I got, that came from the photo that was sent, the picture that the design arc of the Scarecrow.

Andrade | God of Used Book Markets
Dino Andrade voiced the God of Used Book Markets in The Night is Short, Walk on Girl. (Image owned by GKIDS).

OR: One of my favorite roles by you is when you voiced God of Used Book Markets in The Night is Short, Walk On Girl and when you explain how all books are interconnected. Can you talk a bit about your experience with that movie? Did you ever get to meet Tomihiko Morimi, the author of the original book?

DA: I did not. I did not, because that was recorded during the height of the pandemic, and so it was recorded from my home studio.

So, I basically had the English director, Stephanie Sheh – on a screen, via Zoom, and I’m recording from home. And all I could see were just my scenes. And let me tell you: That sequence, because I’m saying all these titles in rapid fire with Japanese names, in order, we had to write all the names phonetically as opposed to trying to get me to understand how to say, because it was just too fast. So, everything was spelled phonetically for me, because that sequence, I’m like: ‘This connects to that, this connects to this, this connects to that, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.’

And that just took forever to record, and we just went line by line by line to get the timing. Because, of course, being anime, I’m also having to match the lip flaps. So it’s not just a matter of saying it quickly and as if I knew what I was saying, it’s also got to fit in that space.

And that was, boy – that was, Ooooof. [laughs] I am very proud of that. When we played back the finished thing, wow!

“But DragonCon is about us geeks. And that’s what I love about it. It is our Halloween, our Mardi Gras, it’s us celebrating us.”

OR: You voiced additional Bidoof in last year’s Pokemon short, Bidoof’s Big Stand. What was the booking process like? After all, Bidoofs can only say their name.

DA: Bidoof!

It’s funny, those are things that are a little past my time. For people who don’t know, this keeps you young. I am two weeks away from 60 – [Connor’s] siblings are all in their 30s, I was born September 16, 1963 when The Outer Limits premiered. So, these were not characters from my childhood, right? The characters from my childhood were things like Gumby. I grew up a disciple of Ron Sterling and Gene Rodenberry and Ray Bradberry, and these folx. So, when I got the audition copy, there was no nerves on my part of ‘Oh my god, this huge franchise! I need to be part of it!’

It was just something I knew my kid knows what it is, but I’m just going to create the character as I see. And when I saw [Connor imitates Bidoof] Bidoof, Bidoof! [goes back to normal voice] – exactly – and it wasn’t until after I did it that people went ‘Oh my God!’ and I didn’t know, I just approached it as an actor as I would approach anything. I suppose it is like that for Star Trek – if I got this thing on Star Trek, I’d be going ‘Oh my God!’ you know. I just approached it as an actor and looked at the little character, and thought ‘[w]hat might this sound like?’ and did it. It was only until later that people were like ‘[d]o you know what this is?!” [and I replied] “Not really?” And I was like “Ohhhhh! That’s cool! Yeah, I have heard of that, I know what that is.”

Dino Andrade voiced additional Bidoof in Bidoof’s Big Stand.

OR: [Connor], I have a question for you.

Connor Andrade: I didn’t do it!

OR: Your dad posted on X, previously known as Twitter, that you’ve beaten him out for voice acting gigs. What’s that like for you?

CA: I have?

DA: It was Wee Baby Bears, son. Remember? They did the kids and they opened it up to adults – so we were both reading for Grizz.

CA: That was all – 2018? 2020?

OR: 2020, I think.

CA: 2020 – I barely remember that, I mean, when I think of Wee Baby Bears, I think of going into the booth. My vague memory of being there with the audition company was [deadpan voice] ‘Another audition, yay.’ [returns to normal voice] not expecting to get it for two years. I totally forgot that dad had read for it and doing it with adults at all. I had no idea.

DA: You had to understand that when we hit the pandemic, we were essentially out of work for only a couple of weeks before studios realized ‘Wait a moment, for animation, that can all be done from home.’ These animators had computer stations at home – there are actors who have studios at home. And we were one of those actors who had a full studio at home. So all the sudden, we were just inundated with auditions for everything, because we could work. It was just that blur of ‘[h]ey, there’s this show son, we’re reading for the same part! Haha, good luck!’

CA: And now I’m on the show for two years! Sadly, there is no season three.

DA: It doesn’t look like it.

CA: Warner Brothers did the whole thing – and no season three.

DA: Maybe they’ll change their minds, but we’ll find out. The point is: It was all part of a blur, and it was a lot of joking, you know, as we’re going in and out of our booth at home. ‘Look, we’re reading for the same thing! Ha ha ha.’ But there was no ‘Darn it! Or HA HA!’ It was just a day in the life.

OR: Question for both of you – we are here on Sunday of DragonCon 2023. What has your DragonCon experience been like for this year so far? I know for you [Dino], this is not your first DragonCon.

DA: No, this is about my 15th. I was coming to DragonCon for at least five years before I was ever invited as a guest – because this is my favorite convention. I love DragonCon. I’ve also been to San Diego Comic Con many, many times. But it’s a completely different environment. San Diego Comic Con is about the shows, about the movies, about the books, about the comics – about all of those things that we geeks are into. But DragonCon is about us geeks. And that’s what I love about it. It is our Halloween, our Mardi Gras, it’s us celebrating us. And that’s what I love about it, because I think of myself as a geek who made it, right? I grew up loving great works of imagination, I loved science fiction and fantasy – I wanted to be part of it. And now I am, and have been for quite a long time.

But this is [Connor’s] first! So, go head, tell them what you think about DragonCon?

CA: [My] first time going on a plane, never been on a plane before! But since this was Georgia, and we’re in California, we had to hop onto a tube and go ‘[w]heeeee!’ up in the air. Get off the plane, we’re in Atlanta and I’m ‘[t]his doesn’t feel different?’ And the weather happens, and it’s raining and we’re inside a cloud in our hotel room.

The con itself – way more different costumes, there’s someone dressed up as Clippy from Microsoft, if you’ve never seen that.

DA: What was the giant pink thing you saw?

CA: Yeah! Kirby! There was a giant, inflatable, fluffy Kirby. It was hilarious. You could hug it, it was fluffy but inflatable, so you could squish it. The main atrium thing of the Marriott – it’s amazing. I wish I could have been there when the carpet was still there. The Walk of Fame – we were on the Walk of Fame in a booth. People walked by, you can wave to people and say ‘[h]ello, cool costume!’ It was fun. Everything is in different buildings, which I am not used to. The googly eyes are everywhere, which is funny. It’s very unique, very different. I really like how different and big it is. It is bigger than Comic Con.

OR: To wrap up the interview – I see you’re wearing a Jump Leads shirt. What can you tell us about that?

DA: Jump Leads is a comedy sci-fi podcast. It is an original story – Season One runs six episodes, and it is something that I co-produce with a gentleman by the name of Ben Paddon, who also wrote the episodes and stars in them. I also am a cast member through almost all but one episode. Connor’s also in the show. I also directed a number of the episodes – I directed episodes one, two, and six.

And this is just something that we did out of our love of science fiction and comedy, and wanted to create our own content. So, we made it [and] we’re very, very proud of it. People can go to JumpLeads.zone or anywhere podcasts are available. And we’re currently working on Season Two. It’s very funny, it’s good stuff.

Andrade | Jump Leads Image
Dino Andrade and Connor Andrade are involved in Jump Leads, a comedy sci-fi podcast that is currently gearing up for Season Two. (Image owned by Jump Leads).

OR: Any idea when we should expect Season Two?

DA: It’s actually being written right now. So, we’re probably not going to start recording until towards the end of this year or the beginning of next. Because, we don’t have any corporate overlords saying: ‘[g]et it done NOW!’ So we’re really taking our time to do a great job with the writing. But it’s something we’re very, very proud of. We’ve gotten great responses to it. And it’s just a lot of fun, a lot of fun.

Jump Leads!

CA: Yeah!

OR: Thank you very much, I appreciate it!

What are your favorite roles of Dino and Connor Andrade?

Have you given Jump Leads a try yet?

Let us know in the comments below!

Quentin H.
I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it.