After all, Billingsley entered the conference room before an interview with LNP | LancasterOnline in a T-shirt with a logo that parodies Starbucks, but instead with Jet Black with “Cowboy Bebop” in the center and the text around it: “Jet Black Coffee.” “
Billingsley voiced the likable but rude Jet in the English dubbing of “Cowboy Bebop,” which was released in the late 1990s, pushing him to the stage as an outstanding actor. (A reboot of the series, in which Billingsley did not participate, was released in 2021 on Netflix.)
At this year’s Zenkaikon, March 25-27, Billingsley is one of the guest actors alongside Carrie Walgren (“Rick and Morty”), Debbie Deribery (“Jimmy Natron”) and Mick Wingert (“Arcane: League of Legends”). »).
Over the weekend, he will hold several panels, hand out autographs and meet with fans. Are you new to Zenkaikon? Read this primer.
But before he started a weekend full of anime, science fiction and general botany festivals, he sat down with LNP | LancasterOnline for questions and answers about “Cowboy Bebop” as a voice actor and what he’s most looking forward to at Zenkaikon. This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
Of course, you’re best known for voicing Jet Black from “Cowboy Bebop”. Would you say he’s one of your favorite characters you’ve played, or are there other roles that might be a little more underestimated than they should be?
I have to say this is my favorite character. The characters you voice are similar to your children; you don’t want to say that one is your favorite. But “Cowboy Bebop” changed my life and I love hearing stories from fans about how they became fans and how it affected their lives. Yes, Jet Black is one of my favorite guys. There’s a guy, Oji, from “Legends of the Black Sky,” who was the main character; I voiced it. I saved the universe with my music. (Billingsley sings a guitar tune while playing the air guitar). It never took off. And when I go to conventions, from time to time one or two people say I watched “Legend of the Black Sky,” and it was great. He was one of those characters you mentioned that you didn’t actually play. Oh from “Naruto: Shipuden” also one of my favorite guys. But yes, Jet is my favorite guy. (Billingsley points to his shirt).
I love your shirt; it’s magical.
My wife, she got a bunch of them for me. First she got one and I said, well, I’ll wear them to conventions. And she said, well, we’ll have to deliver you more than one. You’re going to have a funky convention going on, so that. She sends me with at least three of them.
So, continuing “Cowboy Bebop”. Why do you think he has resonated in the audience for over 20 years since his first debut?
Perhaps because of his humanity. I think all the main characters are wrong in their own way and try to catch life well, trying to overcome problems from the past as well as the present, you know, trying to make a living and get a little voucher (currency in “Cowboy Bebop”). I try not to let Faye steal my Vulongi. I don’t know if you remember the episode when she stole our vultures from us and flew away, and then called for help. She was on the mend, so she said, “Jet, I need help!” And I said (slipping in Jet Black’s voice) “Oh sure you stole my Woolongs and now you need help!” I think writing really has to do with the life experiences of many people. I think viewers relate to this from this position. And then the music. The music is amazing; it’s just magic. From “Tank”, the opening song, to the end.
The dubbing was done well, we took a long time. We did it in ’98, and Mary Elizabeth ran it. But we made it. Many times we rush over projects, but we had the luxury of time with “Cowboy Bebop” to make sure the dubbing was as good as possible. It seemed like all the elements came together, in addition to the chemistry we had as actors. All the invited actors were also superb. The main cast, we are still a family. We in the family still have an open text string. It had to be. When we first did it, it was just a concert – a fun concert – but I didn’t know what it was. I don’t think any of us have been auditioned. We were asked to do so. When we came to “Cowboy Bebop,” I was thinking about cowboys, so I’m (moving on to a western accent) talking like a cowboy, you know? Spit in spit, ride horses. And Mary said, “Actually, no, that’s not it. Cowboys are bounty hunters from the future, and Bebop is your ship, and you’re chasing bad guys. So let’s do something really unusual: let’s just use your voice.” And I thought, well, that’s sad. It seemed that everything came together: chemistry, music, writing.
I think it’s a show with a heart. I say that because of the feedback I get from the fans expressing how the show has affected them. Definitely warms the heart from the fact that what you did has a positive impact on people’s lives. We know we don’t do brain surgery, but we’ve heard over and over again about how it has had a positive impact.
When you guys finished recording the English dubbing, did you know it was going to be something special, or was it some kind of surprise?
It was a surprise, I would say. It took me a while to absorb this blow, but I could never have imagined it would be what it became. In a sense, it reflects life itself. We all have trials and tribulations; no one’s life is perfect. We all have ups and downs, and it’s just a matter of how you deal with the bumps on the road.
How do you guide a character before portraying him?
Any actor, voice actor or live action, you are trying to find common ground within the character. This is one of the things with Jet. I am a father, I have a son and a daughter. Faye and Spike are similar to my nephews, I guess. So this is one of the ways I treat Jet as a character. You do your best to connect yourself or part of yourself with your character. With the help of a director and writers you fill it. Put the meat on the bones, so to speak. When I get an audition, I like to get the character and I feel it. I voice so many characters that they are just crazy monsters. I would like to think, maybe there is no place here (gestures towards chest) it’s a crazy monster. When we audition, many times we don’t get a lot of information. They’re code-named, so we don’t know what we’re doing.
Are you looking forward to any panel as a spectator or lead presenter?
I like the panels where fans have the opportunity to talk to me, ask questions. I like it when they come to my desk because then I can ask them questions. I like all kinds of panels. Usually I do a panel about Bo Billingsley where they can ask me questions about my life. I’m going to organize a panel to discuss the difference between acting and voice acting. Tomorrow (Saturday, March 26) we will read a screenplay with Carrie Walgren and Debbie Deribery. It will be fun. I love the panels and at any time I can chat with the fans. It makes my day.