At AnimeFest 2004, Senior Editor Stephanie Costello along with EIC Matthew Anderson and Music
Editor Daniel Womack sat down with popular and outstanding voice actor Jamie McGonnigal, star of Arcade Gamer Fubuki, Magic Users Club, and F-Zero
As we chatted with Jamie he talked about his life on Broadway, his professional life, his status a gay role model, and his views on
the Bush Administration.
The interview was conducted on 4 September 2004 at AnimeFest
Editors Note: Due to a technical difficulty, the interviews from
AnimeFest 04were severely delayed in transcription for the site. This issue has been resolved and over the next few weeks we will be posting interviews with Chris Patton, Steve Blum, Mike McFarland, Kyle Hebert, Stephanie Nadoly and well as a few
surprises as well! We thank you for your patience.
Special thanks to Day Acuna, and all the staff at AnimeFest
04 for all their help to
make this interview possible.
McGonnigal: Hello! My name is Jamie McGonnigal M-c-G-o-n-n-i-g-a-l.
Oh let’s see, what are the more fun things I’ve done….I do
Magic User’s Club, I play Takao.
I played Omi in Weiss Kreutz as well as the second season
which is called Weiss Kreutz Gluehen. Jungle Emperor Leo, I’m the
casting director and I played Lemonade. Arcade Gamer Fubuki, Samurai
Deeper Kyo, Patlabor, the Weathering Continent, most recently I’ve
worked on F Zero for the Fox Box.
DVD Vision Japan: We tried to watch that this morning but we
couldn’t find it.
JMG: Oh probably because you’re staying in the hotel, they only
have the Fox news station. But there’s a woman here “I saw the
cartoon this morning – you’re FANTASTIC! and I’m like
“Great. Thanks. I didn’t get to see it.”
DVJ: Before the interview started you began to tell the sad
tale of your apartment. Care to continue?
JMG: OH! This is good. No – I had just finished doing a big
concert in New York. The musical “Children of Eden” and it was
World Aids Day and it was a benefit for the National AIDS fund and
it was in this HUGE church. It was AMAZING. I spent months putting
it together – produced and directed it. I get home at four in the
morning, trashed to the gills because I had been partying after the
show because; you know you do deserve a drink or…eight. (laughs)
And I get to my apartment and there’s like my shelf of 200
DVD’s…ALL the DVD’s are gone. And two laptops.
JMG: The funny things is though, one laptop was like, a Mac G3
from 1984 that barely worked that I had gotten from a friend. The
other one was my Dell that had no hard drive in it.
DVJ: HA! Nice!
JMG: (laughs mockingly) On top of that most if the DVD’s they
stole, actually the left some anime but not much, but they stole
either my anime or musicals or gay films. Not like porn or anything,
but like, I’m thinking “okay, thugs, have fun trying to sell
this on the streets of Washington Heights to Dominican families!
DVJ: Torch Song Trilogy
JMG: “Yeah, they took that one but left Funny Girl, strangely.
And the cops had a sense of humor. Cos the cops came and I said
“They left Funny Girl: and the cops goes “Well, there’s no
accounting for taste.”
JMG: And he noticed that there’s an autographed picture that a
friend gave me as a joke of Alan Cumming who played – people here
would know him as Nightcrawler from the X-men
DVJ: He was in Cabaret.
JMG: Yeah, he’s a Broadway star and I’ve known him for years.
So there’s this autographed picture he gave me at home and the cop
came in and said “Hey, it’s a picture of that guy from Cabaret
in the kitchen!” and I was like “Why do these cops know that
Funny Girls is a good movie that that guy’s from Cabaret and
doesn’t know him from the X-men?”
JMG: But the reason I was talking about the story with you
earlier is ‘cos there’s a friend, a fan who became a friend,
named Jeremy from Boston who worked at Game Stop at the time and he
sent me a box of DVD’s
DVJ: Oh! I think I know him!
JMG: He’s just a sweet heart.
DVJ: Does he have long hair?
JMG: It’s not long, no.
DVJ: Is it dark?
JMG: No it’s kinda blonde, he’s got a goatee and he’s
DVJ: I’m thinking of someone else.
JMG: Lots of piercing in his ear and one in his tongue, the other
ones I don’t know about. (smiles) not yet. I assume he’s got
others, but he’s a sweetheart so that my fun little story. Go
ahead, ask the next question. (smiles)
Well, I wanted to talk to you a bit more about the benefit shows you
do. I’m on your mailing list and I go to your website a lot.
JMG: OH! Thank you!
DVJ: And I get your emails, but I can never get to the events,
JMG: Aww! That’s really sweet of you. I do a lot of theatre
events and concerts ‘cos most of my ties are within the Broadway
JMG: I found a niche in New York. As an actor I’ve done a lot
of musical theatre off Broadway all over New York City. Mostly new
musical things like that. And I enjoy it. I still do it here and
there, but I found that there was a niche that needed to be filled
with being a director and producer – especially of benefits.
Because there’s not a lot of money in it. Obviously because
you’re raising money for non-profits.
JMG: I found that it was something I really enjoy doing. And I
had the opportunity to raise money for some incredible organizations
and have a great time doing it. And get a whole bunch of incredible
Broadway performers up on a stage to do a couple of songs here and I
could just have a great time, too. The Children of Eden concert,
which is the concert I was talking about earlier. In this church I
had a cast of 120 total.
DVJ: Oh wow!
JMG: And some of the best singers on Broadway, easily. To think
about it, I’m like, “Wow” I sat in a doom during rehearsal
with this one-hundred some-odd group singing around me and I
literally sat on the ground “I can’t believe I’m in the same
room as these people” and then it dawned on me “wait a minute! I
put them here!” (Laughs) That’s even cooler that I could be
responsible for that!
JMG: So, I’ve started doing more of that. Not like the huge
concerts. We only do like one of those huge concerts once a year. We
did a smaller one, well it wasn’t that small, we had 50 kid. It
was a benefit fort the Pied Piper Children’s Theatre. We did
Snoopy – the Musical in concert.
DVJ: That’s cool!
JMG: I didn’t perform in it, I just produced it. I didn’t
direct it either, but it was with Sutton Foster who won a Tony for
Thoroughly Modern Millie and her
brother Hunter Foster, played Seymour in Little Shop and now he’s
in the Producers.
JMG: The cast was amazing. Jen Cody, who is Hunter’s wife, is
just brilliant. Plus Devin May who played who played Batboy, who’s
in Off Broadway in London now; Ann Harada, who’s in Avenue Q –
she is just a brilliant, brilliant girl. And there is someone I’m
forgetting…oh and Christian Borle,
who is Sutton’s boyfriend who was also in Millie, he played Snoopy
and he was just…he is the next, the one, the Donald O'Connor
type. He is just fantastic and so funny and charming on
DVJ: Do you have anything coming up that you’re working on?
JMG: The biggest one I’m working on is Pippin, in the same way
that we did Children of Eden.
DVJ: *GASP* I LOVE Pippin! It’s my favorite!
JMG: It’s gonna be great.
DVJ: I need to know when!!!
JMG: It’ll be November 29th, the Monday after
JMG: At the same time it’ll be a benefit for the National AIDS
Fund. It’s World AIDS Day. We just booked the space. It’ll be on
34th Street at the Manhattan Center. The thing is, I
can’t really say the cast we want, because we’re actively
pursuing them and we haven’t heard back yet 100%. The cast we do
have: Billy Porter, who’s a well known Broadway singer. He had
played Teen Angel in Grease. He sang the theme for the First Wives
Club. He’s just a phenomenal singer. Raul Esperza, who was just
Tony nominated for Taboo. He’s just fantastic. And Darius de Haas,
who you probably don’t know, he was in Marie
Christine on Broadway, but he’s a brilliant singer. He was
in Children of Eden and he’s on the recording of that and he’s
just amazing. So those are the people who are confirmed. Julia
Murney whom you don’t know either,
she played the lead in Children of Eden and Kate Schindle who’s
producing it with me as well. She was Miss America in 1998.
JMG: And she played the lead in Cabaret and Jeckyll and Hyde on
Broadway. She’s fantastic!
DVJ: I am SO PSYCHED for this production!
JMG: That’s great! I can tell. I’ll tell you after the
interview who we’re going after. (smiles)
DVJ: I can’t wait! Now, are you directing Pippin?
JMG: Pippin I will just produce. I have too many other jobs going
on and I find that with Children of Eden it was hell, to be honest.
It was just so much work for one person and I would like to pass off
the direction to somebody else if I could just produce it or do a
lot of the fund-raising. I’m really good at that and I think I’m
good at directing but that’s an easier job to hand off because I
know that there are a lot more people better at it than me. And I
can “You’re a brilliant director; you go do something great with
DVJ: And you also direct anime, correct?
JMG: I haven’t directed any anime. I did some casting direction
for Weiss Kreutz originally way back when ‘cos Michael was running
out of the country. (Laughs) Makes him sound like a felon! (Laughs)
He just had issues going on outside of the country he had to deal
with. And so he needed help. I had about 2 days to find everyone.
With most anime series there’s maybe a total of six or seven
incidental characters that in here and there. For Weiss Kreutz
it’s five or six characters per episode.
DVJ: Oh my goodness!
JMG: Because everyone comes in and then they get killed. (laughs)
So I had a bunch of people come in. My roommate did it. I was
scrapping up people that I had known for years “Hey, I know you
said you always wanted to do some animation”.
And then for Jungle Emperor Leo I ran all the auditions for
that and called a bunch of people for that.
DVJ: I’d like to change gears here…there was this rumor
going around…..yes….at Anime Boston…
JMG: I don’t know what you are talking about.
DVJ: I think you do.
JMG: Kirby Morrow.
DVJ: Mmmmm…hmmmm. (smiles wickedly)
JMG: I love Kirby Morrow. He’s soooo cute! Well, I can’t
spread a rumor here! Especially an untrue one! (laughs)
DVJ: Well then just tell us the untruth.
JMG: So, Monica and I have come up with this great plan to spread
as many rumors about other voice actors as we can while we are here.
And one of them is that I am dating Kirby Morrow.
DVJ: Oh that’s hot!
JMG: And the other one is that Monica and I are actually like, in
the middle of a panel and we apparently had a throw down and
starting fighting over him.
DVJ: Oh yeah! I remember that panel!
DVJ: Getting back to anime, would you want to direct anime?
JMG: Absolutely. Yeah. Michael has talked to me about it before,
but he’s like, he uses people that have done it before, kind of.
Because he’s crazy with the work that he does. He’s got a lot.
He stays very VERY busy. He does a lot of work for 4Kids. He’s
recording and directing and running his own studio.
(there is a commotion outside of the press room)
JMG: Ooh. Ask me more questions! What do you want to know?
Should we talk politics?
NOTE: The opinions stated here do not reflect the opinions of
the staff or of DVD Vision Japan – only the people stating them.
DVJ: Okay. Let’s talk about….well…let’s just get into
JMG: What do you want to talk about?
DVJ: Do you want to talk about the protest you were just in?
JMG: I was at the protest last Sunday, protesting the Republican
National Convention in New York City. It was amazing and heartening
to see. It was 50 blocks of people walking shoulder to shoulder.
DVJ: Oh my god.
JMG: Fox “News” and please, I’m using the word “news”
DVJ: We all have our own ideas about Fox News.
JMG: And you can put that right down there. They reported that
there were just over 100,000 people there. There were, quite
obviously, over 500,000 people there. So, Fox “News” didn’t
want people to think that there were that many people there against
George W. Bush, his policies, and what he’s done. It was AMAZING
to see that many people galvanized towards getting this person out
of the White House.
DVJ: That’s really comforting to know. Now, I understand
that each news organization has its own editorial agenda…
JMG: Right. But don’t call it “news” if it’s
“editorial”. You know, that’s my big problem with Fox. They
make up a LOT of things.
JMG: Do you like Fox?
DVJ: Absolutely not.
JMG: Oh. Phew! (everyone laughs) But overall I think that George
W. Bush needs to be out of the White House. On a global level, I
think he’s destroyed this country’s reputation throughout the
DVJ: I don’t agree.
JMG: Well you don’t HAVE to agree.
DVJ: On a personal level, she can agree.
Stephanie (leans into microphone) I totally agree with
everything Jamie McGonnigal is saying at this time.
JMG: (laughs) I think that he’s squandered the good will that
we had from the rest of the world after 9/11. And he turned into a
war against Iraq. War in Afghanistan, the war on Taliban would have
been motivated absolutely. Not a war in Iraq. That war was clearly
precipitated on nothing more than revenge.
JMG: Basically him wanting to get in there for his father and
finish the work his father couldn’t. It’s quite obvious and it makes me ill the way they keep
melding the two wars together, because they are clearly two separate
wars. We had no immediate danger from Saddam Hussein and obviously
there were no weapons of mass destruction found. And a lot of people
raise the question: Well, if he had the WMD’s and he’s done
horrible things to his country…? Well, so has China and so has
half of South America and several African countries as well as
several countries in the Middle East have all treated their citizens
horribly. Why aren’t we going after them? It’s clear that Iraq
wasn’t picked out of a hat at random. Apart from that, on a more
personal level, it makes me ill to see a President in office that is
trying to take away my “equal rights”. And I’m not saying that
John Kerry is going to go in there and make gay marriage legal. But
he’s certainly not going to write discrimination into the
Constitution of the United States. He believes it should be up to
the states, which isn’t necessarily the best thing for us, but
it’s what we can get right now. And it would he far from baby
steps to let it be up to the states. The big thing is he’s not
going to discriminate against is. He’s going to fight for us in
ways that he can fight for us, as a politician. I mean, if he was
out there stumping right now for gay marriage he’s never get
elected. It would never happen; this country is not ready for it.
Parts are. New York, California and Massachusetts are ready. Texas
is not. Tennessee is not. Parts of Florida are. It’s very much on
a state to state basis. Eventually you gain ground if it’s on a
state to state basis. If it’s up to the state supreme courts you
DVJ: If you have a voice that’s on a reasonable playing
level, a level that is fairer.
JMG: And a possibility at freedom, basically. So, there’s my
DVJ: Well, we’re getting the sign that we have time for one
more. We asked this in a past interview and I will ask it to you
now. Is there anything we haven’t asked you that you wished we
JMG: Oh they asked us that…
DVJ (Dan): Oh yeah that’s me!
DVJ (Steph): Oh!
I mean I kind of just touched on this but I like being asked about
my activism. Whether it be as a Democrat, as a citizen, or as a gay
man. I enjoy being an out anime voice actor, because there’s not a
lot of us. And I find that there are a lot of kids here that watch
anime who are gay that are possibly growing up in environments that
discriminate against them or make them feel that they are alone in
the world. I’ve always said to myself “If I am ever in a
position to speak out or to be a role model that I hope to God that
I can be.” If I can represent something to them that says “Hey,
you know what? I’m not alone, I’m okay. I’m gonna grow up tot
be a perfectly normal, functioning human being who can he happy,
healthy, find love, and live my life in this world today as an equal
citizen.” Kids are
really afraid these days. I was afraid. When I can out, I didn’t
come out to my Dad until I was 26. And that was three years ago. My
Mom knew from when I was about 20…21. I had a parent come up to me
at a convention a year or so ago and say “Hey, my son had a lot of
major problems with being gay. And then he found out about you and
that there was an anime voice actor that he looked up to a great
deal and all of a sudden he was obsessed with you. He bought every
DVD you were on, went to your website..and I just want to thank you
for being there and being who you are and being so open and vocal
about who you are. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have any one like
that.” And that absolutely made all the difference to me. I was
like “Okay. This is worth it!”
DVJ: That’s wonderful! And that is all the time we have.
Thank you so much!