For once, I don’t blame you if you don’t recognize the name. We are deep into film buff territory, here, and at that, you have to be paying attention to the credits. Andrea Romano is not necessarily a name that comes up when we’re discussing animation, but it should be. And I’m not just saying that because she agrees with me on certain casting aspects of animation, because I didn’t know that until just now.
Arguably, when you’re casting director for Challenge of the Go-Bots, there’s nowhere to go but up. Romano did spend much of the ’80s working on more obscure cartoons; one of the shows, she cast, Wildfire, is so obscure that I was half-convinced for years that I’d made it all up. But when Disney was developing Duck Tales, they approached her to work as voice director for an episode. The original plan had been to have five different directors each work on one of the first episodes and then choose who would direct the rest of the series; she was the second director, and they felt they didn’t need to try another.
Since then, she has worked as casting and voice director on some of the best animation out there that doesn’t come through Disney or Pixar. She’s the go-to choice for the DCAU. You like Mark Hamill as the Joker? Thank Andrea Romano. A fan of Maurice LaMarche as The Brain? Andrea Romano. Mae Whitman as Katara more your speed? Andrea Romano. And she doesn’t just cast them; she directs the performances, apparently preferring to get the whole group in one recording studio to work together.
Another thing I like about her is her preference for casting professional voice actors. Obviously, she has cast celebrities, and in fact has several go-to choices, but she doesn’t tend to cast them for recurring characters. This, it seems, is because she doesn’t like replacing voice actors, and that’s more likely to happen if you cast celebrities. She knows Wil Wheaton will show up to his next recording session, but she doesn’t have any illusions that doing voice acting for a cartoon is the average celebrity’s highest priority. She tends to cast professionals.
Voice acting is a specialized job; we’ll probably get to LaMarche, or Billy West, or Tress MacNeille, or maybe all three, at some point. We’ve already done June Foray. But casting and directing are important, too, and arguably the most important person in that field is Andrea Romano.