DVD Interviews

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This is the interview found on the first DVD release.

Jerry Beck: Jonny Quest was the first adventure cartoon made for one of the TV networks in the United States, and it was really unlike anything else Hanna-Barbera had ever done, and it was very unlike a lot of TV cartoons that were done at the time.

Peter Lawrence: Joe Barbera said, "The great appeal of the original Jonny Quest was, there was a bunch of guys with no mother. They could do anything; there was no mom to stop them."

Jerry Beck: Of course, it's an all-boys adventure, told from the point of view of a young boy thrust into this world of scientific invention, new locales, and mysteries...something like we hadn't seen before.

Peter Lawrence: He was going to places that American kids didn't know about, bringing exotic worlds and exotic ideas to a young audience.

Kris Zimmerman Salter: It brought a sense of adventure, and fun, and a world appeal—things that kid didn't really have an opportunity to see as much as kids do today. You know, now they've got the Internet; they can click on anywhere in the world. Back then, we kind of relied on our cartoons to give us places to go and see.

Jerry Beck: There were only 26 episodes, and they were all really, really good. They had good stories, and adventure, and visual imagination, and the locales, and the gadgets, and the inventions, and crazy things they had on that show. They re-ran them on Saturday morning, and Saturday morning didn't have the budget of a prime-time series. So they looked really good as the subsequent years went on, and Jonny Quest looked better and better. They really knocked themselves out to really create something new—a new genre of TV cartoon—a genre that's exploded even more so today. Jonny Quest was the father of all of the adventure cartoons you can think of. All adventure cartoons really took their look; their feel, from the original Jonny Quest series.

John Eng: You know, when you have something that works on a level, especially for young boys, it's always going to work; so to bring it back, was almost a no-brainer—because not only would you get the audience from the people who originally watched it (who are now parents), you're going to get their kids, too. It was a show I actually watched and was excited by as a kid, and now there was a chance for me to bring it up to date.

Kris Zimmerman Salter: Hanna-Barbera at the time had recently been purchased by Turner, so I think there was a focus on revamping the company, changing the company a little bit, getting out of that style of animation, and bring it more to the kids of the time, rather than the kids of the generations before.

Jerry Beck: Jonny Quest was a major agenda. They were going to relaunch this property and do all the subsequent merchandising and that kind of thing, and it wasn't your father's Jonny Quest—it was going to be a Jonny Quest that kids of today could relate to. And it would just have a whole-new look every way, up and down; the logo was new; the coloring had a dark feel to it.

Peter Lawrence: And they brought in a guy called Dick Sebast, who I'd never worked with; never met before. First of all, he was a very good artist; he was incredibly encouraging in everything we tried to do to make it more realistic. If we're going to have a plane, it's going to be a plane; and it's going to have a control stick. And when you take it off, you rotate properly; you know, the whole thing is going to be real.

John Eng: We did tons of research, not only for the story, but visually as well, because it was based on reality.

Peter Lawrence: When I saw the material, I thought, "All we need to do is make it realistic; we need to make it as if it's a live-action movie; make the kid absolutely believable, make everything he does believable, so he can't fly a rocket, but he could possibly fly a plane...he doesn't have a driver's license, but he sure knows how to drive...he can shoot a gun." It's ridiculous to give somebody a laser gun, and you can shoot with a laser gun that doesn't do anything other than kind of knock you back, whatever. All that does is familiarize people with a hand gun. What you need to do is show a hand gun, shoot it, and show the consequences. And the consequence is, you're going to die. You see, that's the lesson.

Jerry Beck: The character is beloved; you have to treat that really, really special; you have to understand why the fans really love this show, and you have to make sure you retain those elements, or at least make some sense of it, if you're going to change it.

Peter Lawrence: I wanted Jonny to be more on the cusp of adulthood, and cool; I think he's gotta be cool. He has to be a kid that boys would look up to; that girls would like; that parents would admire, you know, and yet he's gotta have an edge to him. I think the phrase we used was just like, "a hero in training."

John Eng: He reminds me of a teenage Captain Kirk, who's just very bold, instinctive, intuitive, and kind of a natural leader.

Jerry Beck: You have to be true to what the character is; you have to understand the character; you have to understand what the fans are feeling about it. You can't just superficially say it's an adventure cartoon; it's Jonny Quest, and we'll just do it with a lot of modern-day pizazz. You have to make sure to retain some of the great, great, elements.

Kris Zimmerman Salter: We were trying to update and revamp the whole show for a modern audience. So, finding Jonny, for example... Jonny's still a kid; he still had to sound like a real boy; he's still adventuresome; he's still a little mischievous, and he needed to sound like a kid. And we did multiple auditions, days of auditions, to find the cast of this show.

Peter Lawrence: And when J.D. came in, he was a godsend; because you could direct him, he understood what we were trying to do; he understood the character.

Kris Zimmerman Salter: He did an absolutely terrific job, and I think he brought all the fun and all the magic to Jonny that he had. He's a charming character; a really charming character.

Jerry Beck: It was an unusual case of multi-ethnic casting, really, with Hadji.

Peter Lawrence: Obviously, if you've got an Indian, he needs to be Indian. So what elements of that can we bring in? What elements of mysticism in a realistic show can we convincingly add? There are inner states—mental states—that some people appear to be able to access. I wish I could.

Jerry Beck: Jessie, who was the daughter of Race Bannon, was definitely created to be a companion to Jonny, and to add a female element to the series—something for the ladies to identify with.

Peter Lawrence: As we did with Jonny, "let's make her real." You know, I don't want a guy in a skirt. She's more mature than Jonny. She's probably smarter than Jonny, actually. I wanted her to be good-looking; I wanted her to be attractive; I wanted there to be the possibility of some electricity between her and Jonny despite the fact they weren't perhaps at that age, yet.

John Eng: It was a good third character to contrast Jonny, who's very reactionary, to bounce ideas off of, but also offers a different perspective.

Kris Zimmerman Salter: Jessie had to have the qualities of Jonny in the female form, and yet she also had to counterbalance Jonny.

Peter Lawrence: We could not cast Jessie; we tried everything. The woman that played Jessie has immense energy; huge energy; and is the kind of woman who could do all the kind of things Jessie could do—you know, athletic, smart, so and so forth.

Kris Zimmerman Salter: Robert Patrick played Race Bannon, and just has this...sense of this underlying adventure, and he's mischievous himself.

John Eng: He's actually typecast into these heavies, especially after Terminator II, but he's actually a very thoughtful, and in many ways intuitive actor as well.

Peter Lawrence: In a way, he's Jonny grown up. He's the hero Jonny could become. But I also wanted to give him a much more interesting philosophy; I wanted to make him a cowboy philosopher, or philosopher-warrior.

Kris Zimmerman Salter: He was a little more of the outdoorsman than the original Race was. Robert's Race was a little more personable.

Kris Zimmerman Salter: George had the intelligence and the wisdom and a little bit of the maturity that Don Messick brought to Benton Quest.

Peter Lawrence: I wanted him to be a more intellectual, kind of muscular scientist—but a guy who would believe that there could be a Jersey Devil. "What is it? Where is it? I'm open to believing."

John Eng: George Segal's a tremendous actor. I don't know if you've seen his earlier films, like "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" The guy's incredibly broad and versatile. Granted, it's voice acting, but he brings a lot of realistic subtleties to his performance.

Peter Lawrence: I think we wrote some terrific scripts; I think we had some great designs, and I think we were true to the spirit of the story.

John Eng: Here was a chance to actually do physical stuff that was based on reality, and also the challenge of working with new technology; bringing it up to date with CGI, and new gadgets, and new toys, and that was fun as well.

Kris Zimmerman Salter: Take something like that, change it enough where it's fresh, and new, and different, and still remain true to the characters that were created years and years ago was not only a challenge, but was a lot of fun.

Jerry Beck: Jonny Quest is a hero for the ages; he'll go through decades and time, and still that character and that personality—people will love that character. There's no reason why this character can't go on forever.



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