Titan Maximum Interview with Dan Milano

Dan Milano is a grown man who has somehow retained an ability to sound like a child at will, as his voice work for Greg the Bunny (which he also created and wrote), Robot Chicken, and his newest role as Willie on Titan Maximum will attest. Dan's childlike enthusiasm made us ashamed of our weak, bitter hearts as we talked to him about Titan, the Short Circuit remake he's writing, his new Warren the Ape project, and his dream of making a Bigfoot Musical.

So what do you do on the show?

I play Willie on Titan Maximum and I'm a contributing writer and performer on Robot Chicken.

You've done a lot of writing and voice acting. Is one of them more rewarding for you than the other? Or does it depend on the day?

Both are great. I met Seth Green on Greg the Bunny and since then went to Robot Chicken. I had always done voices, but usually I had done puppets as well, which is a really physical job. It's the same as acting, but usually you're crammed into a box or something.

Out of everything I've done, though, I'd have to say that voice-over acting is the best. It's fun to write stuff. You can come up with whatever you want. But then, it's always a ton of work to make what you wrote into a reality. With voice-over, you just walk into that booth, you're given the lines and you just get to have a lot of fun with it. And it doesn't matter what you're wearing or what you look like or what you're doing, because it's all just the performance in the microphone.

It's so fun and a lot of times on Titan, we're jumping around in the booth and getting really crazy and getting into it to just get our energy up. I love voice-over and I would love to do more cartoons and video games.

Aren't you doing some voices on the new Star Wars game?

I did voices on the new Knights of the Old Republic MMO, which everyone, including me, is really excited about. I was lucky enough to do some quest lines. I'm a quest-giver who tells you that I need you to, "Find a Sith holocron on the planet of Whatever."

Apparently, this is the largest voice-over project ever undertaken. I think they told me that it's going to take almost three years to get all the voice-over work done for that game. I hope I get to do more.

You brought up Greg the Bunny and we wanted to ask you about the recently announced Warren the Ape show...

Yeah, man! If you count the public access show where we started, this is our fifth show with these characters. We did Independent Film Channel, we did Fox, we went back to the Independent Film Channel and we had talked about spinning off a show based on Warren the Ape.

And the network said, "You know Greg the Bunny is the title character. We'd rather have a Greg the Bunny show." So we shot the pilot, and MTV tested it, and they said, "You know the testing indicates that people really love Warren the Ape. So, why don't you make the show about Warren." So, now that's what we're doing.

They ordered twelve episodes. It is a Greg the Bunny show. A lot of the characters are in it. I still play Warren and Greg. And we've got some other puppeteers who will be involved as well. Bill Freiberger, who wrote on the Fox Greg the Bunny show and Drawn Together, is coming on to help us write it. And it should be a lot of fun.

And we're definitely talking to Seth about getting him involved again. And Sarah Silverman and Eugene Levy and all those guys.

We read that the series was being described as a Faux-reality show. Is it going to have a The Hills kind of vibe to it?

Yeah, one of the producers actually came from The Hills. So, this is going to be a kind of scripted reality, but the goal was to be sort of like The Danny Bonaduce Show or The Tom Sizemore Show, but have Warren the Ape be the main character. Warren's working with Dr. Drew Pinsky to go through recovery, put his life back in order and to clean up his addictions. After the Fox show was cancelled, he wants to find his way back to the spotlight. It's a satire on the Hollywood comeback.

Is it hard for you to play a kid, like Willie in Titan Maximum? After a while does it start to hurt your voice to keep it in that range?

Ha. Psychologically it doesn't hurt since that's my default personality anyway. But it's funny that you mention that because it is hard to keep your voice up and be really excited all the time. And a lot of times, in the stuff that the guys write, there's a lot of screaming because characters get hurt. And there's a lot of whining.

So, we've just learned that you do that stuff at the end of the day because you don't want your voice to be shot. It used to be that I'd walk in at 9 AM with a cup of coffee and they'd say, "Okay, it's time to scream!" And then, when it was time to do the dialogue, I'd be spent and I wouldn't have any voice left.

But, you know, professionals really train at that and I'm so far not of the professional caliber. I'm not sitting there gargling salt or anything like that. But I should probably take some lessons and learn to improve my game. Especially if the show continues and I really hope it does.

What's it like to play a kid? What's your thought process to get in character?

You kind of want to close your eyes and just imagine that you're really in the situation. That helps a lot, no matter what character you're playing. And with Willie, I just tap into who I am. I just had a birthday party at Dave and Buster's and I was blowing out candles and eating cake and running around like a ten-year-old. That's just who I am.

I think that's why Matt and Seth thought I'd be good for this part because I basically am this guy. I am a little nerd who's running around, playing Dungeons and Dragons and stuff like that. It's very easy to get into that level of excitement.

But the biggest trick is just to pretend like you're really there. And Seth is very good about that when he directs in the booth. He tries to play characters off of you and he reminds you of what is going on so that you never lose your place.

What was the casting process like on Titan Maximum?

I think that when the guys wrote the show, Tom Root came to me and said, "We're putting this new show together and we love the voices you've done on Robot Chicken and we're thinking, we can't promise, but we're thinking of casting you. And we're also thinking of Seth and Breckin Meyer. And we're going to round out the show with a few other people, like Rachael Leigh Cook."

So they already had a lot of us in mind. So it was just a matter of seeing if we could bring these characters to life. The only casting process I was a part of was that they brought the guys, Breckin, Seth and myself, into the Robot Chicken Writers' Room. And they handed us the script and they had us read through it and had the three of us each play the three male parts: Palmer, Willie and Gibbs.

So, the three of us read each other's parts. So it was funny and only slightly awkward, because there is a sense of competition, but we're all friends. And ultimately, Tom Root and Matt Senreich and Zeb Wells chose who played what based on that audition.

It was kind of fun. I would play Palmer and Seth would play Willie. And then we'd switch and take each other's roles.

You're writing the remake of Short Circuit. How is that going?

Short Circuit is going well. I handed in a first draft and they really liked it. They thought it was well-written. But they wanted me to come at it again, and this time, from the perspective of the kid in the movie. There's a kid in it, so it has more of an E.T. or Iron Giant kind of vibe. They want it more from the kid's point of view. The original draft was more about the sort-of Steve Guttenberg character from the original. They want it more about the kid who discovers the robot and the sort of adventure that they go on together.

I know you're a big toy collector. Is there anything you're looking for lately to fill in some gaps in your collection?

Yeah, I'm always looking for something. I'm standing in a room filled with the Sideshow 12" action figures and board games and everything. The 12" Lando Calrissian would look really nice on my shelf.

Matt Senreich just gave me one of the toys I've always wanted: an original Skeletor. Since I play Skeletor on Robot Chicken, I wanted to have one. It looks like it finally came through!

What I really want is Titan Maximum figures!

Speaking of Lando Calrissian, what is it like to work with Billy Dee Williams on Titan Maximum?

Billy Dee is awesome! I think when he came in for the original Robot Chicken: Star Wars special, he was a little nervous. Like, "Who are these guys? Are they going to treat me legitimately like an actor or are they going to be a bunch of sweaty teenagers whacking off to the fact that Lando just walked in?"

And Seth is great about putting the actors at ease and letting them know that, "Hey, we just like you and we want you to have a good time doing this." So when he came in for the second Star Wars special, he was really loose and it was like he came in to see some people he felt friendly with and had some trust with. And now when he came in for Titan, he's just up for anything.

He's fun and has a great attitude. He suggests all kinds of things and he doesn't mind being dirty. And I think that for someone like him, it's probably just a relief to play a new role. He's probably thinking what Mark Hamill figured out a decade ago: That animation is a great place to have a lot of fun and no one can see you in the booth and they're not going to say, "Hey, it's Mark Hamill and he's got to be Luke" or "Hey, It's Billy Dee and he's got to be Lando."

If you had unlimited time and unlimited money, what would be an additional dream project for you?

Oh, gosh. That's a great question.

I've always wanted to do a musical about Bigfoot. Bigfoot being discovered by Hollywood in a rags-to-riches story, as told through the eyes of Bigfoot. Kind of like a Little Shop of Horrors-type musical.

I also love writing for films. I'm doing the Short Circuit remake right now. I hope it's going well. I just handed in a draft and the studio seems pretty happy with it.

I like kids' stuff, and I'd love to do a cartoon series. Something family-based, so all of our nieces, nephews, sons and daughters could actually watch one of the shows we make for a change. That would be nice.

But to anybody out there who wants to do this, I'd say that a lot of us, the folks who came from Wizard Magazine, those of us who went to school at NYU and started playing with puppets on Public Access, we all came up in sort of the same way. Which is to just find the time to get our friends together, to do some crazy stuff and put it out there. And to be serious enough about it to make it well-produced but to be not so serious that we got in our own way of getting it done.

And now that we're in the Internet age, it's getting so much easier for everyone. The Internet is like one big public access station. I really believe that if you just put your own stuff out there and enjoy working with other people, you can just hone the craft and hopefully the right people get to see it. That's the best way to get it out there.

Titan Maximum premieres Sunday, Sept. 27 at 11:30p ET/PT on [adult swim]