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Conventions Center
#BotCon 2016 - Judd Nelson Panel Report
RAC - Saturday, April 09, 2016

RAC caught the first (and, by necessity, only) appearance of Judd Nelson at BotCon! The original voice of Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime had kind words for Transformers and the fandom as well as reflections on the nature of voice acting versus other formats - and some insight as to why he took the role of Hot Rod in the first place. Keep reading for highlights from the panel! Nelson looked as comfortably dressed down as much as any of the rest of us at BotCon with a knit hat and an impressive beard. He said he was happy to see as many beards as he has here.

Nelson took the role primarily because he wished to work with Orson Welles, voice of Unicron. Then of course Welles made his infamous demands: "I will do three takes, you will NOT direct me, and we will move on. And I will work alone." The rest of the cast read together. TF:TM was Nelson's first voice acting job, and he had trouble learning to react with voice only, turning away from the mic to face his costars. He much enjoyed working with Kup voice actor Lionel Stander, and was impressed by the talent of the veteran voice actors who would slip into impressions between takes. He called them "unheralded" but brilliant - you just don't know their faces.

When asked if he knew that Arcee voice actor Sue Blu had a crush on him, Nelson looked truly surprised, responding with a disappointed
"damn" and a wish that he'd known that thirty years ago. He's since worked under Blu's direction on Ben 10 in a number of roles.

Nelson also spoke about acting in general and how the different styles of acting differ. He has a great fondness for stage acting, which is a complete linear process with full rehearsal. Film rarely has that, and doesn't tend to shoot in chronological order. When asked about his favorite role, he chose the role of Marty Malt in a film called The Dark Backward. When a single person clapped, Nelson quipped "Yeah, those are about the right odds," to much laughter. He lobbied hard to get the part in a film that he advised us not to watch with our kids.

Reflecting on Hot Rod's place in Transformers and how he reflects on the franchise, Nelson felt that Hot Rod was emblematic of Transformers, with all the changes he's gone through over the years. (He reported being a bit confused as to why he was calling himself "Rodimus Major" during the script reading on Friday, along with a host of other names.) He described Transformers as being about change, and not necessarily the robotic kind. More a "change between two forms... but with connecting tissue."

We were not to leave off on this thoughtful response, however, as one question remained: What does Nelson think of Optimus Prime?

"I dig him!"

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