The first season of Netflix 2021 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe gave Prince Adam and his compatriots a new origin story and brought the young heroes face to face with Skeletor in a battle for the fate of Eternos. As He-Man, Battle Cat, and Krass adapt to using Grayskull’s power, they are tasked with battling hordes of fierce villains. The epic battle resumes in the recently released second season, which introduces a slew of new characters to join the heroes as they adapt to life as masters of the universe and journey through Eternos to stop Skeletor from wreaking havoc. .
Prolific voice actor David Kaye sat down with CBR to discuss his role as Cringer. Kaye expressed his appreciation and admiration for his fellow cast members and his lifelong love for anime. He then plunged into the major issues of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Season 2 and its character development process.
CBR: Before your role as Battle Cat, were you a fan of He-Man?
David Kaye: Yeah, I pretty much knew the overture by heart when I was a kid. I grew up with insect rabbit and Tex Avery and Weird Cartoons. He-Man was the first show I watched because I loved it.
So as a fan, was it difficult to adapt to this new version of Cringer?
When I was doing a Transformers: Beast Wars in the 90s, I never watched cartoons. I did my own thing just based on what I was given, and it worked. So with this one, I knew there was a chance to go old school. I like the king’s right arm on game of thrones, Liam Cunningham. I have always liked his voice. It’s like a warm blanket. I used to play with it and thought, “Wait a minute – here’s my chance to do my ode to this character. Let’s try this.” So I tried that, and they seemed to buy it, thank goodness.
It’s the relationship. He’s totally fine with them, but he’s going to be very protective and look out for his best interests. So it works. Then when he’s in his Battle Cat mode, he’s increased a bit. I loved when he first got his claws.
How did you handle the transition from Cringer to Battle Cat?
Well, Collette Sunderman, our director who I really like — I always maintain that if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be in animation — came around the room saying, “D Okay, now we’re in battle mode, and we want to improve everything.” So it’s just a matter of bringing more energy and a little more courage, a little more power. We all walked around the room and made sure we hit that level, just a little more guts here now that it’s in battle mode. He grows there. He starts to get more comfortable as the episodes go by and it becomes second nature to him.
How did your approach to him change at the start of the second season, now that he already has the power of Grayskull?
He has a bit more swagger because he now knows he has his power. The stakes, of course, are higher, and it depends on how you approach and how you play the character. I must say that I miss “MOTU Tuesdays” terribly. We used to call them because it was our check-in day, and everyone was there. I had not worked with and met Antony Del Rio [who plays Duncan on the show] before, but my God, this kid is good. Anyone who wants to get into voiceover and animation should really give it a listen. He was one of the cast people I loved to listen to and watch.
It was just a great team. We’re very lucky to have such a wonderful cast, you know. Not all shows are lucky. We really miss MOTU Tuesdays and being together. For the past two years, we haven’t been in the studio. I’m glad we got a chance to do most of the episodes, but then we went online. Everyone was in a box.
Was most of the second season recorded remotely?
I think it was. It’s hard to believe how quickly those two years have passed. I think we did it remotely, which is amazing because I watched and listened to it and couldn’t tell. I don’t know if it’s good or bad. I really miss being in person because there’s nothing like being in the room and doing radio drama together and feeding off that energy
Has working away from the rest of the cast changed your relationship with the character?
No, because often if I’m working in a studio, all the lines are usually quite short. You go over them several times when doing a scene in order to get to know the lines by heart. So if you close your eyes you can imagine everyone there anyway. I see the scene unfold. I see the characters and I see myself reacting. I don’t see myself, David Kaye. I imagine the character [and] what is happening.
It’s really important. When you go zooming and you are alone, you have to have that imagination. In no way do I compare myself to classical composers like Mozart, but they knew how to hear all the instruments. I don’t know how they did it – like a symphony in your mind. With the animation in the booth, you have to hear it and see this world. It is therefore very important to have a clumsy imagination, which has served me well.
When you record an action scene, what idea do you have of what the final product will look like?
If you have a scene that calls for action, you can imagine some of what happens. You just know how you play those actions. Again, you know, the stakes are higher. The director and the screenwriter will be there to warn us when we play it too soft. Because there are a lot of battles outside, the volume levels increase automatically, because you are competing with the background music and they will explode. So everything has to be lifted based on the direction of the writers and the voice director in the booth and what they have to get out of you. They must have even more vision.
I have to admit here that I’ve rarely seen an entire episode of anything I’ve ever done. Same Beast Wars. I saw clips and little things, but never really followed until the end of the pandemic. We drank more and consumed more entertainment. I thought, “Hey, the [He-Man] the series dropped. Let’s go. So one morning around 10 a.m. I took a look. Three episodes passed and I said to myself: “That’s good! It’s really good.” I kept binging for a season. I got hooked and forgot I was in it. I was really impressed. I’m really enjoying this trip.
Throughout the new season, Krass and Adam struggle to balance their lives in their old tribe with their new roles as Masters of the Universe. Where do you think Battle Cat fits into this dilemma?
He now knows the stakes. Now we realized that it’s not just a one-time thing. Now I have to take care of this kid forever, so it must always be on his mind. you don’t think about [that] when you do, but there’s a little thing here that says, “Hey, don’t forget, you gotta watch out for the kid. That’s it. That’s your job now.” When I walk through the script, I need to get an overview of what’s going on. We don’t get scripts until the day before taping, so we’re a bit in the dark, which is a good thing. We want that element of surprise in our performance. So being in the moment and being real and trying to bring truth to everything we do is the most important thing.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Season 2 is available to stream now on Netflix.
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