Rick Bentley

Hollywood Notebook: Veteran voice actors have ‘Galaxy’ of credits

The Guardians of the Galaxy come into possession of a dangerous artifact in the new animated series based on the Marvel Comics characters.
The Guardians of the Galaxy come into possession of a dangerous artifact in the new animated series based on the Marvel Comics characters. Disney XD

Combined, Kevin Michael Richardson and Trevor Devall have 530 acting credits. The most recent has Richardson voicing Groot and Devall speaking for Rocket Raccoon in the new Disney XD animated series “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.”

This is a different sort of voice work for Richardson, as Groot’s only line of dialogue is “I am Groot.” The veteran voice actor admits there was a moment of panic when it finally hit him that he was only going to have three words to say.

“I figured I could just say it a few times and they could use it the rest of the season,” Richardson tells me during an interview at the Disney offices. “That was not the case at all.”

What Richardson discovered that while it might only be three words, there are a multiple of situations where he could be saying the limited dialogue. His “I am Groot” is far different during a heated fight scene than it is during a more quiet moment on the ship.

It’s up to Rocket Raccoon to translate what Groot is really saying.

Giving voice to a raccoon is not that strange to Devall. Voice talents know that when it comes to animation, they could be the voice of anything or anybody.

“No matter what physical form the character you are playing takes – especially in animation – you are always playing a person. That’s always the same,” Devall says. “The only difference is context – what’s going on in the scene. Rocket is small and feisty and gets really angry, but so do a lot of people.”

Rocket may be best known for his angry side, but Devall likes that through the course of the series a lot of different sides of Rocket will be shown. Devall says the character would be boring if all he did was get angry.

You can experience the work of both actors when “Guardians of the Galaxy” airs Saturdays on Disney XD.

It’s good to be bad

Don Johnson has returned to network series television with the new ABC series “Blood & Oil.” He’s playing an oil baron who will make J.R. Ewing look like the owner of a local Shell service station. This is the first network series for Johnson since he starred in “Nash Bridges” from 1996 to 2001.

Since then, Johnson has appeared on TV shows and in feature films – “The Other Woman,” “Django Unchained,” “Machete.”

Before “Nash Bridges,” Johnson’s biggest TV series was “Miami Vice.” The series, which was on the air from 1984-90, was groundbreaking in the way it was shot, edited and used music. It was also a TV series that set more fashion trends than a year’s worth of “The Fashion Police.”

Because both series featured Johnson playing a cool detective, I asked him if he would only agree to come back to television if the character wasn’t involved with dealing with the criminal element.

“No. I would have done another detective role, but it would have had to be a really good detective show because the others I did were so good,” Johnson says.

What drew him back to series TV was a role that allows him to play a tough businessman who has a lot of problems with his son. Both elements will give him a lot of levels to play with the character. It also helped that Johnson is an executive producer of the series.

Since he’s playing the head of an oil empire, there’s little chance Johnson’s work will be compared to his previous series. But, because he’s a ruthless businessman in the oil industry, there will be natural comparisons to Larry Hagman’s J.R. Ewing on “Dallas.”

Johnson stresses there aren’t that many connections between his new show and “Dallas.”

“The only thing that we have in common is that, tangentially, oil is a part of it. ‘Blood & Oil’ is about a boomtown and a big family and the seven deadly sins at play,” Johnson says.

But Johnson’s OK if comparisons are drawn to “Dallas.”

“I know a lot of these guys. And so I took an amalgamation of these types of characters, or these types of people, and I sort of rolled them into Hap Briggs,” Johnson says.

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1