Following up on the success of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Disney XD has added the animated spin-off series to their schedule. A few months ago, I got the opportunity to meet the cast. I sat down with Vanessa Marshall and David Sobolov, the voice actors who portray Gamora and Drax on the series.
When I told Vanessa Marshall that I’m with GeekDad, she immediately asked me about the settlement with Wired and how our fundraising campaign was going. It turns out she follows us on Twitter (you should too) and is a fan of our site. As I finished describing the circumstances, David Sobolov pulled up a seat at the table.
David Sobolov: You know each other?
GeekDad: Well, we just met, but she’s been stalking us on Twitter.
Vanessa Marshall: Yeah, exactly!
GeekDad: Did you know the movie, see the movie at all before you came in?
Sobolov: No, because we started before the movie. We started a week before the movie came out.
GeekDad: Did you see the trailers, know the movie existed at all?
Sobolov: Oh sure.
GeekDad: Did you fight against picking up anything from the film, or try to play into what they did, how is your version of the character different from theirs?
Sobolov: I think it gave us an idea of the world we were in, that we’d already started. But, you know, we can’t really discuss the plots of our episodes, so we may be tied to the movie, we may not be…we may be a different canon, maybe same canon, we can’t say really.
Marshall: Yeah, I mean, he’s played Drax before, so he’s way more familiar than I was, and I was somewhat flying blind and hoping that at least the character traits that they had written as the character description, I would latch on to those and hopefully execute them in a way that was believable. I listened to my audition when I was done, and I thought “that kinda sounds like what they’re looking for; all right, I’ll send it.” I sent it, and I was telling them that my agent said “how would you like to play this role?” in an email, with [a photo of] Zoe Saldana as Gamora, I mean, I had a heart attack.
Sobolov: I have the exact same agent, and she did the exact same thing with me.
Marshall: Did she?
Sobolov: She said “how would you like to play Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy?” and then a picture of Dave Bautista.
Marshall: I freaked out. I wrote back, I go “is this a joke?” Because that’s not cool.But no, she was serious. I couldn’t believe it.
Sobolov: What was your response to her email? Did you call?
Marshall: I called. Immediately. Because I couldn’t believe it.
Sobolov: I wrote back and said “that would be fun.YAAAAY!”
Marshall: And I was very anxious to see the movie to get more information.
Sobolov: Yeah, I was anxious to see it too.
Marshall: Yeah, I mean, I’m glad. I was there opening night, and of course we can’t say anything, so even the people I was going with, I was like`”I can’t say.”
Sobolov: We weren’t able to say anything, it’s only been about a month or so since the cast was announced.
Marshall: I was just beaming. I had so much fun, I loved the movie so much, and we had to keep it secret for quite a while.
GeekDad: Did anybody not love it? I haven’t heard anybody say “oh, I hate that.”
Marshall: I know one person who didn’t.
Sobolov: See, I’ve heard almost no negative anything about Guardians of the Galaxy.
Marshall: I’ve only heard one human. One human.
GeekDad: Some joyless, soulless person
Marshall: Li’l bit. And I didn’t even understand; it was from a writing standpoint, and I didn’t get it.
Sobolov: Marvel always has a great sense of fun. Even with all the action, all the drama, there’s always some fun thrown in there, so there’s something for everybody.
Marshall: Everyone in the movie theater the night that I saw it had a wonderful time, and every subsequent time it seemed to be just universally loved.
GeekDad: Have you done a lot of other stuff for Marvel? You did Drax before, for another show, was it Spider-Man or something?
Sobolov: (Gets out phone) Let’s go look back, way back, I hate to have to do this, but I want to make sure that we’re talking about the same company. Just to be careful. (looks through IMDB listing)
GeekDad: I know you’re listed several times as Drax on IMDB.
Sobolov: I have done Drax several times, for video games and also various Marvel shows, such as Avengers Assemble, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.…
GeekDad: And you still had to audition for the part for this one?
Marshall: Yeah, I’ve never played Gamora.
Sobolov: Marvel’s all about quality control, right? They wanted to make sure I was the right Drax for them.
GeekDad: Okay, that’s interesting, that they didn’t just- ’cause a couple of other guys that played the same character in video games and whatnot got to keep their jobs.
Marshall: Yeah, you never know.
GeekDad: You’ve done other stuff for Marvel?
Marshall: Yes. I was Mary Jane in Spectacular Spider-Man; I’ve done other, DC, characters… Black Canary…
GeekDad: Black Widow…
Marshall: Yes, Black Widow, that’s right…. Hydra, I think… there were a couple in the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, yeah, there have been a few characters…
GeekDad: And Star Wars Rebels.
Sobolov: Yeah, that’s a big one. I’ve got a bunch of Marvel stuff coming up, but I can’t talk about it. So I’m looking for the ones that I can talk about.
Marshall: That’s too bad.
Sobolov: Oh, it’ll be fun someday. I played Electro in the Lego Marvel Super-Heroes.
Marshall: I know I have to refer to IMDB, because I can’t remember half of it.
GeekDad: None of us remember anything anymore, it’s all in the Mother Box.
Marshall: I know! It’s insane, thank goodness for my friend (waves phone).
GeekDad: Did you start out in front of the camera and then go into voice, or did you start with voice?
Marshall: Well, I have a Master’s in acting, and was a stand-up comic, and I actually was about 70 pounds heavier than I am now, so on-camera work, I was kind of the fat funny friend, and then I got discovered as a plus-size model. This is a long-winded tale. They said the heavier you are, the more you’ll work, and my theatrical agents were pissed off, ’cause they wanted me to lose weight, and once I loved and accepted myself as an overweight person, of course the weight fell off, so I’m now 70 pounds thinner, and in the meantime I’ve decided to do voiceover work where it doesn’t matter what I look like, and that is my preference, so I no longer pursue on-camera. It’s, for some reason I can take rejection, and if someone doesn’t like my voice it’s not a problem, but if someone doesn’t like any part of me, it’s a little harder to detach from.
Sobolov: What’s not to like about Vanessa Marshall?
Marshall: Dude, I don’t know. But I was on Law & Order, and I was on Scrubs, and I felt like I gave it a good try, but I was losing money waiting on set to perform these roles, while my voice agents finally said “you need to make a choice,” and I chose to go where the love was and I’ve been really happy. In fact, the visibility that this is bringing to me personally is somewhat challenging, because I prefer the invisibility of voiceover; it’s wonderful to fly under the radar.
GeekDad: To be able to walk through a restaurant without being mobbed.
Marshall: Yeah, no one cares, it’s kinda cool. I don’t think anyone will recognize me now, but at least….
GeekDad: Until you speak, and then…
Sobolov: I started out with a career as a french horn player.
Marshall: Oh, wow!
Sobolov: And then I was an acapella singer, I toured with an acapella group.
Marshall: That’s awesome!
Sobolov: You didn’t know I did this kind of thing.
Marshall: That’s great.
Sobolov: And then I started doing a lot of stage work in New York. And then someone said “you should do villains in cartoons,” and they kept encouraging me by hiring me, so I kept doing it, I’ve been doing it for about 20 years. When you have a great face for radio, that’s what you do. Just now, my agents want me to do more on-camera work and some directing.
GeekDad: Fantastic. Do either of you have kids?
GeekDad: I have to ask, ’cause it’s GeekDad.
Marshall: No, but I love kids, and a lot of my friends are single parents, strangely, or maybe not so strangely, and they love cartoons, and it’s so much fun to bond with them through these different stories.
GeekDad: And it’s such a different world; I mean, when I was in high school, I’d have got beat up for liking this stuff. In fact I did.
Marshall: Aww. Yeah.
GeekDad: In fact, Guardians of the Galaxy was one of them, the first version, when it was different characters.
Marshall: Interesting. Wow, that’s awesome.
GeekDad: Yeah, long time ago.
Marshall: I mean I’m impressed that you were a fan at that young age, I’m sorry that they punished you.
GeekDad: I don’t know that I can ask anything else about the show!
Marshall: I know, ’cause we can’t talk about it.
GeekDad: I have my suspicions based on the fact that [SPOILER] is appearing in the script, and she’s not in the movie, she’s in the comic world…
GeekDad: So it’s kind of like you’re bridging the comic and film world in a sort of…
Sobolov: They’ve probably given you that script and said “enjoy the script, you can’t say anything about it,” right?
GeekDad: Pretty much, yeah.
Marshall: That’s tough.
GeekDad: Signed my soul away on an NDA. Well, I’m really looking forward to seeing the show.
Marshall: It was great talking to you.
Sobolov: Great talking to you, thank you so much.
After the interview, Vanessa Marshall graciously recorded a message of support for our GoFundMe campaign.