Adam McArthur Talks Marco Diaz and ‘Star vs. the Forces of Evil’ (Interview)
Star vs. the Forces of Evil is one of the hottest animated comedy shows on Disney XD. The series has earned some high praise in its past three seasons so far with nominations for three Annie Awards and one Behind the Voice Actors Award. The series earned a spot on the list of top trending shows of 2017, and fresh off of its season four renewal, we got the chance to speak with series star Adam McArthur.
Adam stars in the role of Marco Diaz, a self-proclaimed bad boy in safe kid clothing, on the series. Additionally, Adam has lent his voice to the Emmy Award-winning Star Wars: The Clone Wars and The Adventures of Puss in Boots as well as on several other projects.
We chatted with Adam about how he kick-started his career, what it’s like working on the fan-favorite animated series Star vs. the Forces of Evil, what fans can look forward to in season four and much, much more!
Denise Caputo: Before we get into talking about Star vs. the Forces of Evil, tell me a little bit about how you got involved with voice acting?
Adam McArthur: I’ve always wanted to do voices for cartoons, ever since I was a kid. It’s just something that I always wanted to do. I pretty much begged my parents to put me into acting classes all throughout my childhood. Finally, when I was 16 years old, I think I had asked for enough years that they finally were like, “You know what? Let’s put him in some acting classes.”
They put me in some acting classes, and the owner of the acting school in San Francisco was a voice on Sesame Street at the time, so she had a lot of great connections. An audition came across her, and she recorded me and sent in my recording. I ended up booking a bunch of radio commercials for Macy’s in roles like “teen boy voice number two,” which turned out to be about 30 radio commercials for Macy’s over one summer.
From there, I took that money and made my demo reel. I worked in San Francisco for a couple of years, and then a couple after that, I moved down to L.A. and started my journey down here.
DC: Now you star on Star Vs. the Forces of Evil. It’s hugely popular. It was one of the top trending comedy shows last year, and you just got renewed for a fourth season, so congratulations on that. For our readers who may not be familiar with the show, how would you describe Star vs. the Forces of Evil?
AM: Thank you so much! First of all, if you’re into shows like Gravity Falls, Steven Universe, and Adventure Time, then Star Vs. the Forces of Evil is definitely for you. It’s one of these newer-style cartoons where there’s actually a throughline plot, so you get a lot of really awesome character development.
Essentially, the show follows a rebel princess, a girl destined to be the queen of her dimension, but she doesn’t want to do it the way that everyone tells her she has to. She wants to do things her way, and she doesn’t necessarily subscribe to the history and the tradition of how things should be done. She wants to pave her own path, which is also a super relevant topic for today, which is cool. It’s not done heavy-handedly, where you feel like you’re watching someone’s political message when you’re watching a cartoon. It’s done in a way that’s fun and really exciting.
She travels from dimension to dimension going on adventures. In season one, she’s sent to earth, where she’s supposed to mature and learn how to be a proper lady. She essentially is a foreign exchange student in the Diaz household.
Now, Angie and Rafael Diaz are the parents, and their son is Marco Diaz, who I voice. He and Star become best friends, and the next thing you know, they’re both going on adventures all over different dimensions – trying to save her dimension. Trying to save Earth. They’re essentially butt-kicking around through all the dimensions.
DC: That’s perfect. As you mentioned, you voice the role of Marco Diaz, who is a great and lovable character. How would you describe him?
AM: Marco is a loyal friend. He is a bad boy in safe kid clothing. Well, he thinks he’s a bad boy, but he’s definitely more of a safe kid. He’s always down for an adventure, and really, he wants to do the right thing always. He’s always putting his neck out there and trying to do things as best as he can.
DC: Are you like your character at all?
AM: I get this question a lot actually. We’re so similar! We are so similar. I would like to think that I’m just this motorcycle-riding bad boy – all the girls look at me and all, but really, I like to follow the rules. For example, if Star stayed at Marco’s and threw a sleepover party for her girlfriends, Marco would come down dressed in what thinks is his coolest clothes, trying to impress all the girls by playing jazz music and what not. I have siblings. My little sister would have her high school friends come over, and of course, I’m trying to be the cool kid, but it wasn’t in the cards for me, and it isn’t in the cards for Marco either.
DC: Aw, you’re probably a lot cooler than you think you are, so don’t worry about that.
AM: Thank you. Print that, put that in the interview! (laughs)
DC: I absolutely will. You’ve got it!
DC: The cast in this show is pretty amazing with Eden Sher, Rider Strong, and many others. I know that a lot of times with voice acting, it’s you by yourself in a room recording. Do you ever get to over record with the rest of the cast?
AM: Most of the time, we record separately. Thankfully, because Eden and I are the main two characters on the show, there have been more opportunities where she and I have gotten to record together, which is great. We recorded two episodes recently, and for the first time in about three and a half seasons, we had the entire cast. And I’m talking everyone – Esme Bianco, Jenny Slate, Abby Elliott, Eden, Rider, and Marc Gagliardi. There were a bunch of cast members there. Even Daron Nefcy, who is the creator of the show and also does some of the character voices and Dominic Bisignano, who’s the EP on the show were there. Gosh, I might not have listed everyone, but it was an awesome experience to get to record some scenes with people there. Because Marco is such a significant part of each episode, my sessions are usually recorded earlier than the other characters. I know for a fact that when those characters go in to record, they hear my recorded lines to sort of play off of, but there isn’t anything like being in the same room as the other actors. It’s always a lot of fun.
DC: Does that stress you out at all, that you’re recording is setting up the whole scene or episode?
AM: Not really. One of my favorite parts about animation is how collaborative a process it is. And Daron Nefcy, all the EPs, Kelly Ward, who’s the voice director on the show, they all have such a clear picture of what they want. I started recording the show in 2013, so I’m coming up on my five-year anniversary of voicing Marco Diaz. At this point, we all have a great grasp of the character, and the tone. I would say it’s not stressful so much as it is exciting and enjoyable, because of how collaborative it is.
DC: Let’s say Marco Diaz was able to have his own spin-off series. What would the plot be for the series?
AM: Great question! I have two answers. It’s no secret that I am a huge Starco shipper meaning; I really want Star and Marco to end up together. Who knows what’s going to happen, but I want them to end up together. They’re perfect for each other. I think a series ten years down the road of Star and Marco’s child, and then what happens from there would be a fun spin-off.
Or, there was an episode of Star Vs. the Forces of Evil called Running With Scissors where, in that episode, Marco goes to another dimension on his own, and time takes place differently in this dimension. We see Marco age 16 years, and we see a 30-year-old adult version of Marco. He’s is a total bad boy but in a good way. He’s just kind of like, Mad Max-y, weathered by the land, and we get some time with him in that episode. I think it could be cool to see a spin-off where we follow that version of Marco on his adventures through that dimension. I think that could be a fun spin-off also.
DC: That would be awesome! Looking ahead to the fourth season, do you know anything about the upcoming season? Is there anything that you can tease about what’s to come on the series, without giving us spoilers, of course?
AM: Yeah, I know everything that happens to all the characters. Every time I’m in a session, I like to ask questions to make sure that I understand where everything is going or so that I’m not giving anything away in a performance, or anything like that. So, the answer to the first part of your question is, yes, I know everything! (laughs)
As far as what I can tell you, I would say the cool thing about the fourth season is that we see a lot of stuff not necessarily resolved in the way that we would have hoped. We do see things resolved in a lot of different ways, in different aspects, and it’s not without earning it. It’s cool, and fans are going to dig the fourth season because the characters really have to earn the outcome that happens. It’s a lot of fun to watch them continue to grow even further than what we’ve already seen in the past three seasons.
DC: Cool. In addition to Star Vs. the Forces of Evil, you’ve also lent your voice to many other projects including Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Netflix’s Puss In Boots, and also some video games as well. How do you find a unique voice or a unique quality to project for each new character?
AM: It all comes down to acting and the ability for the creators of these characters to convey what they’re looking for, and then finding nuances in the voices. For example, for Marco, we really wanted him to be the safe kid, and have an innocence to him, or like an obliviousness to him. So, when I was coming up with the character, the voice crack was really important. The uncertainty of his voice crack was something that I latched onto, and then the adult version of Marco, for example, is, his voice is really deep, but it’s because he’s been weathered by the land, and been on all these adventures out in the dusty dimensions. For me, it all comes down to the characters descriptions and the tone of the show.
DC: Great! So, here at Fan Fest News, we celebrate all the things that we love and that our readers love as fans, whether it’s music, film, television, books, and so on. Right now, in today’s pop culture world, what are some things that you love as a fan?
AM: Great question! I am a total fanboy for My Hero Academia, which is an anime. A feature-length movie just came out. I think it opened yesterday, and I saw it last night. I’m a huge nerd for that. I’m loving Ozark on Netflix. I just finished up season two of that. Castle Rock on Hulu is really amazing. My taste is really broad. I just like good characters and good acting. The Handmaid’s Tale was amazing!
As far as other cartoons, I can’t believe that Adventure Time finally wrapped up. I didn’t follow the series regularly, but it was always just comforting that it was on. I’m not a huge reality TV guy, but I do have one guilty pleasure reality TV show, The Challenge on MTV. I’ve literally been watching it and following this show since probably freshman year in high school around the late ’90s. I know all the people because they have the same people on different seasons, and I feel like I’ve grown up with all of these people. It’s my total guilty pleasure. Like I said before, my taste is pretty broad and I’m into a lot of different stuff.
DC: Awesome. So, before we wrap up, is there anything else that you want our readers to know, or anything you’d like to say to the fans of Star vs. the Forces of Evil?
AM: Yeah! I would tell the fans that if they live in the US, they can binge watch seasons one, two, and three of Star Vs. the Forces of Evil on Hulu right now and they can also check out episodes in the Disney Now app. They can follow me on social media: Instagram, at @ninjamac; Twitter is @_AdamM.
Daron Nefcy, the creator of Star, just released a book called Star vs. the Forces of Evil The Magic Book of Spells. It’s essentially like a season three and a half, so while you’re waiting for season four, I would encourage everyone to go out and buy The Magic Book of Spells. There’s a ton of good history and backstory. The world is really explored in this book.
I have some other stuff coming, which I can’t talk about much just yet, but as soon as I can talk about it, I will post on my social media pages, so follow me there and stayed tuned for some more good stuff!
In addition to Adam, the Star vs. the Forces of Evil voice cast includes Eden Sher (The Middle) as Star Butterfly and Alan Tudyk (Broadway’s Spamalot) as Ludo and King Butterfly. Recurring are Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as Mrs. Diaz, Artt Butler (Her) as Mr. Diaz, Nate Torrence (Super Fun Night) as Ferguson, Jenny Slate (Parks and Recreation) as Pony Head, Dee Dee Rescher (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) as Skullnick.
Thanks so much, Adam McArthur, for speaking with us about Star vs. the Forces of Evil and more! Make sure you follow Adam on his social media pages for all the latest and greatest!
Star vs. the Forces of Evil is currently streaming on Hulu and Disney Now!