Becoming Princess Bubblegum

You’ve heard Hynden Walch’s voice. Her voice has been featured in dozens of cartoons and video games, including Teen Titan Go’s Starfire and Harley Quinn on The Batman. But arguably she’s best known for voicing Princess Bubblegum on Cartoon Network’s surreal, sprawling epic cartoon show Adventure Time.

Before the show ended its trippy and emotionally devastating 10-season run this month, Bubblegum revealed vast reserves of depth, evolving from a one-dimensional candy monarch into a warrior scientist who manipulates her world with wisdom and foresight while keeping it casual with her peeps.

On Princess Bubblegum’s Voice

She’s very close to me, I think. As the seasons went on, the direction on the show became flatter, hipper and dryer in the delivery. When we started, I was directed to be (higher pitch) princess up here and everything is grand! (drops to normal tone) And then it became, like listen, I’ve got a lot of royal junk to take care of. It’s pretty close to me just with a little extra sparkle.

On Voice Acting

Voice acting requires you to be an excellent actor first above everything else. I meet a lot of people who have a lot of interest in voice acting. But you can’t just go and be a voice actor because you can do a really good Bugs Bunny. That’s interesting but it’s more like a mimic and not like a voice actor.

I do it from the inside out. In fact, I hardly even think about the sound that comes out. It’s about who you’re playing and how you feel. You can get little tricks like maybe she talks out of the side of her mouth but I don’t do it from a technical outside in kind of thing. If I’m doing somebody different, then they’re going to sound completely different.

On Voicing Different Characters

It’s more instinctive than it is analyzed. You just discover who it is and then the voice comes out. When you really know who somebody is, all kinds of things come out.

So Bubblegum is me, yes and sounds like me because I’ve been playing her the whole time. But she’s also the writers and the artist. It’s really cool.

On Acting With Only her Voice

Bodies are overrated. They’re not really required (laughs). When you’re living it and feeling it, it doesn’t matter if the camera is trained on you, a camera is trained on your whole body or just your eyes. Because you’re really experiencing it.

You feel those emotions and it sounds however it sounds. I don’t think about how it sounds when I’m crying, I’m just feeling the sadness. The sounds that come out are natural. If you look at, you can still feel the emotion coming across. It doesn’t make any difference.

On Princess Bubblegum’s Personality

Oh my gosh, she’s incredibly smart. She definitely has dictatorial leanings. She’s a benevolent fascist, I would say for sure. But the writers have done such a good job of making her so complex, like when you see an episode where she’s stealing the fire of the fire guards from the Flame Princess. And it seems like Bubblegum is behaving atrociously and being all-powerful and taking her stuff but then she has a totally good reason for it. This technology is deteriorating and it’s going to melt down and kill all my peeps. My job is to protect them. And then you go ok, that’s a really good point.

She’s so pragmatic, to a fault. And very burdened by, but fine with, the incredible responsibility she shoulders. All of these creation she’s made—you’ve got to remember, she made every person in the candy kingdom—so she’s father creator but then it gets funny. One of my favorite things to say was “aw jeez, I’m surrounded by idiots.” She can’t get any good help going on.

She does what she has to do because no one else can really handle it. When you have a lot of responsibility it sucks sometimes. But if you’re a hyper-competent person you totally understand that no one else is going to get it done if you don’t. Then you have to keep the world from imploding.

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