A few months ago, I sat down with the cast and producers of Marvel’s new Guardians of the Galaxy animated series to talk about the show. Here’s the first of those interviews, talking with Will Friedle, the voice of Star-Lord. Friedle is perhaps better known as Eric on Boy Meets World, a role he is reprising on the sequel series Girl Meets World; he was previously the voice of Terry McGinnis/Batman on Batman Beyond and Ron Stoppable on Kim Possible.
GeekDad: How did you end up being Star-Lord?
Will Friedle: Luck. You know, when it’s a project like Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel keeps it very close to the chest, so we didn’t know what we were reading for. We came in, and they said it was very private, very secret, and handed the material. And I was like “oh” because I was a huge fan of the film, so the idea that I even had a possibility of doing it was huge. So then to hear that, the regular process of reading, the regular audition way, hearing that I actually got the role was pretty amazing to me, so very excited.
GeekDad: To what degree does Chris Pratt color your performance?
Friedle: How could he not? He was… talk about hitting it out of the park, I mean he as awesome! So I’m trying to emulate him as much as I can when it comes to attitude and swagger; he had the perfect kind of combination of snarkiness, comedy, but also a vulnerability about him which I thought was, he was great, so he definitely colors it. I’d love to sit here and go “no, I’m doing a whole different take on the character…” I’m not. He did it so amazingly well that I’m trying to find that balance.
GeekDad: You’ve done a lot of superhero stuff, Batman Beyond…
Friedle: Yes, I’ve been very lucky.
GeekDad: … and Star-Lord is kind of a different world, an anti-superhero almost; looking at the script here, you’ve got Thor and the Asgardians and whatnot showing up, there’s a lot of Marvel…
GeekDad: … do they come to Earth on a regular basis?
Friedle: Not on a regular basis. I’m sure they’ll be stopping by occasionally. But he is, I mean he’s totally different than anybody; even really the other Guardians. I mean, they’re all kind of anti-heroes, but he’s human, half-human, and he’s just a guy, kind of thrown into this crazy world, as opposed to a Thor or somebody like that. He had not god- no super-power, he’s just Star-Lord, he’s not even, he’s Quill. Yeah, definitely much different than a lot of the other characters I’ve played, that’s for sure.
GeekDad: And you’re also doing Girl Meets World?
Friedle: Also doing Girl Meets World, yeah. I signed on to do three episodes, I’m writing the third one, already filmed the first two, and I just turned in my script for the third one, and we’ll be filming the third one in late June. Very lucky with that, too.
GeekDad: I wasn’t sure that was going to work…
Friedle: What, Girl Meets World?
Friedle: I’m not sure anybody was sure it was going to work, but people love it.
GeekDad: In a way, that’s sort of like Guardians of the Galaxy; looking at the trailers, it was like ‘okay, this is a hell of a tightrope, this is either going to be the best thing ever or people are gonna hate it.’
Friedle: It was the same with Boy Meets World; I mean, when we were doing Boy, it was, especially when we started, no one thought it was going to do anything, us included, and then it just kept going and we kept getting better, and seven years later, we were still plugging along, so…
GeekDad: How old were you when you got into the business?
Friedle: I started professionally when I was 10. I was 10 years old at the Hartford Stage in Connecticut, and I was on my first television series by 11-and-a-half, on Nickelodeon.
GeekDad: How did you make the transition to voice acting? Was it something that came along?
Friedle: It did, it absolutely fell into my lap. Bruce Timm, who was, obviously, Executive Producer of Batman Beyond, his wife was a very big Boy Meets World fan, and when Batman Beyond was coming up, she said “oh, you have to audition Will for the part.” I’d never done anything like that before, Andrea Romano brought me in, and lo and behold, the first thing I ever did behind a microphone was Batman Beyond… with Andrea Romano and Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, and Alan Burnett; it was daunting, but I’ve got Kevin Conroy sitting next to me, who became my mentor behind the microphone, you know, with little things; “sit up straight, make sure you’ve got your diaphragm open,” I mean, Kevin really helped me, pulled me along, so I owe him a lot.
GeekDad: That’s nice to hear.
Friedle: Oh, he’s awesome. I would say, on camera, my mentor was Bill Daniels, behind the microphone it was Kevin Conroy..
GeekDad: Like I said, I write for Geekdad; do you have kids?
Friedle: I do not. (laughs) I’ve got nephews.
GeekDad: Well, I haven’t seen the show yet…
Friedle: We’ve only seen clips. And the animation looks great. We don’t know yet, they haven’t actually slated us a time yet. When we find out, we know Marvel will blanket the area.
GeekDad: To what degree does Guardians the animated series connect to the film world?
Friedle: It all connects in certain ways, and in other ways it goes in its own direction. But you know Marvel, that’s one of the things we’re not allowed to talk about. There are certain aspects that are going to be very familiar, and certain aspects that are going to be…
GeekDad: Does it play into the comic book version at all?
Friedle: (laughing) You’re just gonna have to wait and see.
GeekDad: Be that way.
Friedle: Gonna have to wait and see!
GeekDad: Were you a comic fan growing up?
Friedle: I wasn’t, I wasn’t a comic fan; I was a big animation fan, I loved cartoons, but an even bigger fantasy fan. Fantasy novels for me are how I spend almost all of my free time. With my head buried in a 1200 page book.
GeekDad: What’s on your reading list?
Friedle: Right now, I’m reading some more L.E. Modisett; he wrote the the Recluce Saga, things like that, so I’m doing Imager right now. But my favorite author working today is Brandon Sanderson. So I always go back and read my Stormlight Archives or my Mistborn Trilogy, I’m a huge fan of his books, I read his stuff a lot.
GeekDad: Have you read the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica by James A. Owen?
GeekDad: He’s a friend of mine, so I need to plug that.
GeekDad: The first one is called Here, There Be Dragons, and basically, on a map, the spot where it says ‘here, there be dragons,’ if you can get there and go through, you end up in the Archipelago of Dreams, where all the fantasy worlds you ever read are real.
Friedle: Wait, where are, where can I get these books? I mean, is this…
GeekDad: They’re out there.
Friedle: How many does he have?
GeekDad: He’s working on number 7 now. [Note: the seventh and final book of the series came out in 2013; I really should pay more attention to these things.]
Friedle: Can you write that down for me?
GeekDad: Sure, I always give a shout-out for James.
Friedle: I want to make sure I get those.
GeekDad: I love the second one, because that’s where you find out the connection between Peter Pan, Roanoke, and the Pied Piper.
Friedle: That’s pretty cool. I love that stuff. That’s one of the reasons I love the Piers Anthony Xanth books, ’cause, you know, he talks about the map and it’s Florida. I love all that stuff where the reality and fantasy meet.
GeekDad: You’re gonna love this.
Friedle: What does he publish under?
GeekDad: I don’t remember… He’s on, I think, Simon & Schuster, one of the big publishers.
Friedle: That’s awesome
GeekDad: He’s a hell of a guy; he’s doing coloring books of his work right now, because he illustrates the books as well.
Friedle: Oh, I will certainly get this.
GeekDad: So there’s your freebie for today.
Friedle: Thank you! I love it. If I don’t read a hundred pages of a book a day, I’m out of it. Thank you so much. You can tell him… I also buy all of them at once and read all of them. (laughs)
GeekDad: Well, if you have a lot of down-time…
Friedle: No, it’s just a lot of little moments.
GeekDad: Excellent. Well, thank you for your time.
Friedle: Nice meeting you.