Today, Hasbro and Machinima’s second chapter of Transformers: Prime Wars Trilogy makes its debut on go90! After the events of last summer’s Transformers: Combiner Wars, which saw Optimus Prime come out of exile to team up with his arch-nemesis to combat a foe much greater than the two of them combined, an even more powerful threat has emerged. The saga continues today with Transformers: Titans Return! You can check out a trailer for the new season before watching the first episode online right now.
Much like Optimus Prime returned for this new animated Transformers series, so too does Peter Cullen, the legendary voice of the leader of the Autobots. I had a chance to chat with Cullen to ask him about his long history with the character, but even more importantly, Cullen also answered questions from you, the fans! Read on below to see what he had to say about Optimus Prime and to find out his responses to your questions.
What is one thing you look for in an offer to play Optimus Prime that makes you say, “Yes”?
Peter Cullen: It’d be no surprise to say that [it’s] the consistency of the character. As long as the character is the original, then it’s a go. If it varies from it, without good reason or explanation, then I would … I’ve never had to say, “No,” but I would if it didn’t meet those prerogatives.
What are the core values that make up Optimus Prime?
Cullen: Originally, the character stood out for his very demonstrative sense of trustworthiness and leadership qualities that were deeply embedded into this steel body, for one reason or another. It was the qualities of human leadership within that character, and they were all there: Strength, honesty, nobility, trustworthiness, a wonderful sense of courage that is not egotistical courage, it’s more of a giving courage, a caring courage. Those qualities really stood out back then.
What do you think have been the major changes to Optimus over the years?
Cullen: Well, size. [laughs] You’re going back to the truck, but in the more recent movies, the size is now 45 feet tall, subject to change. The character is still the same. They did mess with the voice a few times, putting it through a machine, which I thought rather curious, but nonetheless that character has been experimented upon over the years for a multitude of reasons, some of which I never understood but basically it comes down to merchandizing.
It’s impossible to separate you from Optimus Prime, having voiced the character for over 30 years, but looking into the far-off future, what would make you step away from voicing Optimus?
Cullen: Yeah, well that’s been done before. I’ve already rehearsed that scene. [laughs] I’ve only done five movies since then, so it’s not like we’re talking, in terms of expansive years, since 1986, I’ve done a few games, Machinima, the second series now with them. Other than that, it’s been a very frugal way of making a living as Optimus Prime. What’s in store for him, I don’t know. But I’m not willing to give it up as long as it’s popular and people care for it. I would respect that part and continue on without much debate. But whether or he’s going to? I don’t know. I can’t speak for the multitude of people who are behind the steering wheel of this huge machine. If it all goes well, I’ll be doing it for years to come!
What do you think is the next evolution of Optimus? And what would you like to see for the character?
Cullen: Well, in a perfect world, you would think that what he stands for would have extended out beyond himself and that other people would have started emulate his source of being, but I think there’s always going to be strength and weakness, and I always think there’s going to be good guys and bad guys. So aside from physical changes and the visual image, the character? It’s hard to say where we’re going. Nothing has really changed over the centuries, but I think there’s always room for appreciating the better qualities of man, so I would think that’s here to stay. [In Optimus’ voice] “My answer is, I’m here to stay!”
Our fan Q&A follows below: