We recently had the chance to interview voice actors Sandy Fox and Lex Lang at Anime North in Toronto. Sandy and Lex are married, and you could say they’re the first of two power couples we had the chance to talk with that weekend. Sandy has lent her voice talents to characters on the Simpsons, King of the Hill, Futurama, and the dubs of Magic Knight Rayearth, Naruto, and Akira. Her two most notable roles are the iconic Betty Boop and Chibiusa in Sailor Moon. Lex has spent a lot of time in his career behind the microphone dubbing anime, creating voices for Sagara Sanosuke in Rurouni Kenshin, Marechiyo Omeada in Bleach, and Count Cruhteo in Aldnoah.Zero.
What made you want to become an actor?
I don’t think anything made me want to start. I was always a creative kid. I was in plays in elementary school and high school. I worked at Kennywood theme park in Pittsburgh and later was an entertainer at Disney World. I think being an actor is just a big part of who I am.
For me, as long as I can remember I was always doing little skits and plays with my family and think it was their reactions that inspired me to do more and more. I did high school drama and me and my group of friends would memorize Monty Python sketches. I think for me it was the reactions I’d elicit from people that made me want to act.
What is your favorite voice to do?
I would say for me it’s Betty Boop. She is the ultimate queen of cartoons and every time I get the opportunity to voice her I get chills. I’d have to say where anime is related, I love voicing Chibiusa in Sailor Moon.
For me, I’m a huge Star Wars geek, so I’ve had the privilege to play Storm Troopers and even Han Solo in my career. I was fortunate to be part of the group that voiced Storm Troopers and many of the aliens in Rogue One. I’ve also been the voice of Batman in many projects; even the 10-inch doll that you press the button and it says “you’re no match for me, Joker!”
What makes a role difficult for you?
I have to say celebrity voice matching. I had to do some dubs for Han Solo and his voice is like mine, but it’s not an exact match. So, at the beginning of the session I’m fine, I can bring the swagger. It’s as the day goes on and the vocal cords begin to loosen up that it becomes harder and harder.
I was asked to do the creatures in Maleficent, the fairies in the bog for example. There were only three women voicing all the creatures and that was a very vocally challenging session because of how much we had to do.
Lex, what is it like directing an anime?
When you first get the job, you work with the producer and the client. You try to understand the vision, tone and the humor of the project. Once it is cast you work to hone that vision with the actors there. Directing anime is a little different than directing a video game or a western animation piece because we try to keep the actor in their character while dealing with the technical skills while voicing the part. It much harder to voice animation that’s already been done because you’re trying to get your words to match the mouth flaps of the character. You, as a director, have to be there as a tool for the actor to use so they don’t have to overthink the part.
Do you get an immediate sense of when an actor gets it?
Yes, you get a sense that they get the role. It’s great when they get it and that happens most of the time because at this point most of the acting pool is filled with seasoned professionals. When they don’t get it that is the challenge to elicit a response like giving a pre-lap, a phrase just before their line to get them in the mindset of the needed response.
Can you tell us about a memorable episode you directed?
I just finished up directing Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans, and the last scenes we did were already giving me chills. But when we watched the finished scenes, the male producer, the male engineer, myself, and the actor in the booth were all crying and we were like wow something happened that really worked on the screen.
How do you find the voices for your characters?
Its interesting for me because I get hired for my voice as it is. Lex can do thousands of voices but usually they hire me because of the way my voice sounds. [Her speaking voice truly does sound like Betty Boop.] The other part is up to the director to work with us and read down those lines in the story and help me tweak it, telling me to be a little sadder or in Durarara! she was a zombie and the direction was “She’s like a delicate creepy flower.” I really need to see them, especially in video games, and have the director give me a little bit of information about their background.
What is it like being part of such an open and accepting culture like the anime community?
I know with Sailor Moon, where the relationship between Sailor Mars and Sailor Uranus was played down into the role of cousins for the Family Channel, now VIZ media is keeping true to the original and not changing their relationships. I think that by having that, by having the inclusive part of the story, is what is unifying and the story of the world. I’m so proud to be part of a genre and a project that acknowledges and accepts people for who they are.
I really love [at conventions] that there is an acceptance of every kind of person. It used to be mainly at anime cons, but it’s like that at all the cons right now. It’s a great group of people who show tolerance and acceptance.
We hear you do more than just make anime; you also have a not-for-profit?
Yes, we have a bottled water company called H2Om. We bottle and sell water with positive messaging on it like “I am grateful for an abundance of health, wealth and happiness in my life,” or “I attract love wherever I go,” and the motto “think it while you drink it.”
We support organizations that provide education on social and environmental issues.
We were so happy to catch up with such a happy couple who’ve had such amazing careers in and out of the recording booth. Wouldn’t it be nice to fall in love and work together making anime? It seems so fun. We know the two of them have very busy schedules meeting fans at conventions, saving the planet with their foundation, and of course making anime, so we are very thankful we got the chance to sit down with both of them.
Author: Zeke Changuris
I’m a journalist, writer, photographer, video producer, social media manager and above all a storyteller. I’m located on the east coast of the United States but travel the world with the love of my life. I’ve been a nerd since birth with a love of history and science. I fell in love with anime, watching ROBOTECH and Venus Wars in the 80s when our only source was secondhand VHS dubs. A crazy new thing called the internet changed that, giving me access to new and amazing anime every day. I love to write for work and pleasure. I’m living the dream of every kid, getting paid to watch anime and loving every subtitled line.