SAC ANIME: Tara Strong Says Playing Harley Quinn in Arkham City Was Terrifying After Arleen Sorkin Made the Role Famous
Tara Strong talks good times and challenges in a hilarious Sac Anime session
Actress Tara Strong had plenty of stories to tell this weekend at Sac Anime in Sacramento, California, during her first question-and-answer session of the event.
She voiced Harley Quinn in the Batman: Arkham City video game, and on TV she’s voiced Twilight Sparkle in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Raven in Teen Titans, and Bubbles in The Powerpuff Girls, but they’re just a tiny portion of characters Strong’s breathed life into since she played Patty Putty in Garbage Pail Kids in 1987.
Strong often answered questions with flair. Sometimes she sang responses, sometimes she gave them in a character voice, and other times she did both.
She kept things funny as she told tales of her adventures in the recording studio, even when she revealed how scared she was following in Arleen Sorkin’s footsteps playing Harley Quinn. Sorkin’s voice has helped make the character legendary in multiple TV series, movies and games. Strong was nominated for best female voice acting in the 2011 Video Game Awards, so fighting her fear paid off.
“I felt so honored stepping into her shoes, and I did not want to disappoint her or the fans. I just went in there hoping to do the best I could and do a really good job,” Strong said. “They didn’t want me to try and mimic her, so I had to tweak it a little bit and still honor what she created.”
And besides, playing a psychopath was fun. “It’s always more fun to be bad,” Strong said. She’ll bring Harley back in an extension to the game and hinted that an entire new game was on the way as well.
Strong also brought a little bit of Harley with her to the panel. “Mr. J, it’s not going to hurt too much, is it baby?” she said to delighted listeners in-character, referencing Harley’s masochistic relationship with the Joker in the Batman universe.
That was just about as weird — in a good way — as when Strong voiced a stressed-out Twilight Sparkle, “The clock is ticking, Twilight. Clock. Is. TICKING,” the upbeat Hello Kitty, “Hello Kitty’s Storytale Theater is proud to present, ‘The Wizard of Paws,’ and Bubbles with a Scottish accent, “I am just as tough as Blossom and Buttercup!”
Strong dropped all kinds of info as the session went on:
• “Bubblevicious” is her favorite Powerpuff Girls episode,
• Raven’s mellow coolness was what she liked about that character,
• She does a mean impression of Rosie Perez in White Men Can’t Jump,
• She’d love a role in The Simpsons because she’d get big bucks for it,
• She’d like to play Wonder Woman but probably won’t get the chance because she’s played Batgirl, but
• She’d make a “pretty cool” Catwoman,
• She’s recorded doll and toy sounds for Mattel, so when many battery-operated items on shelves make sounds, it’s all thanks to her,
• She buys toys and dolls based on characters she plays because studios won’t give them to her for free,
• Raven’s not the type to sing Christmas songs,
• Robin would be a better lover for her than Beast Boy because shape-changing in the middle of sex would freak her out. “I’m not into shapeshifting love,” and
• When she played Melody in The Little Mermaid sequels, she got to sing with Jodi Benson, who played Ariel in the original film, and the experience made her cry.
And other awe-inspiring moments? Being in the same studio as Mark Hammill and Kevin Conroy when she did Arkham City and dubbing the English language version of Spirited Away because Hayao Miyazaki is so talented.
Strong turned one memory into trivia for fans. When an audience member asked her what the strangest line she’d ever read was, Strong delivered it: “About the party in your pants? I can’t come. I’m sorry.”
But she wouldn’t say where it came from. It was from an anime or a video game, but fans had to figure out which. Guessers can tweet to @TaraStrong with their responses.
She’s surprised at fanboy love she gets from My Little Pony fans called Bronies. “I’m shocked, and I can’t tell you how much I love them,” Strong said. “I really feel like social media and the Internet has made it possible for fans to let us know as voice over artists that they appreciate us, because for so long people didn’t know who did what voice.” Now fans can look up voice actors online if they’re curious.
But sometimes fans show too much love. A man came onto Strong at a convention once, which she didn’t appreciate. “He was asking how much it would take to leave my husband and give him a kiss,” she said. But for the most part, she thinks anime fans are awesome.
Her children are also big fans of hers, but they like her sillier work more than they do her work in superhero productions. Her oldest son didn't realize how cool his mom was until other kids at school told him how awesome it was that she played Ben in Ben 10 on TV.
Fans of Strong can find out more about her by visiting TaraStrong.com or following @TaraStrong on Twitter. Strong has also created a line of baby bottles, Babababy, she sells from the site BabaBaby.com.
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