Greg Cipes is among the most popular voice actors working today, with one of his best-known characters, Beast Boy, making his film debut with the July 27 release of “Teen Titans Go!” The big-screen version of the Cartoon Network hit has Cipes working alongside voice-acting neophytes Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Will Arnett and pop singer Halsey.
“I don’t tell a lot of people this, but it is my roots, so I’m not ashamed, and I’m gonna share it with you,” Cipes says with a laugh. “My musical career started off, and I’m proud of this, in children’s theater in Coral Springs, where I played the prince in ‘The Little Mermaid.’ I couldn’t sing yet, but I got the role. [Laughs] So there was, like, a 40-year-old dude singing, and I was lip-synching. It was very embarrassing, a 40-year-old dude’s voice coming out of this 12-year-old boy’s mouth. [Laughs] After that moment, I was, like, ‘Man, I need to learn to sing.’ So I started vocal lessons, and I started to sing.”
Cipes went on to become something of a renaissance man, leading the reggae-influenced pop band Cipes and the People (he performed his song “Fade Away” on “Teen Titans Go!”), becoming a nationally ranked junior surfer, and appearing in TV commercials in South Florida that led to a career in Los Angeles doing voice and live acting in film and television.
Speaking from his home in Venice Beach, Calif. — his voice radiating with the sunny “dude”-ness of Michelangelo, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle he also voices — the prospect of returning to South Florida (his parents still live in Coral Springs) had Cipes in a reminiscing mood.
You’re appearing at Supercon all four days. Are you going to surf while you’re here?
If there’s waves, which I’m praying for. Deerfield Beach is my home break. … It’s a holy place for me.
Why is that? Do you have a special memory of that place?
Growing up in Coral Springs is not like growing up directly on the beach, so my dad had to drive me to go surfing every day. I was in middle school, I remember, and it would end at like 4 o’clock, it was probably winter, and by the time we’d get to the beach, there would be, maybe, five minutes of light. And what I remember is my dad, who is one of my biggest supporters in life, one of my biggest fans, he would do that for me. He would drive me to the ocean just so I could catch one wave in Deerfield Beach. And it would make my life. Deerfield brought me so much joy.
You went on to become a professional surfer, ranked No. 3 in the U.S. as a junior. You still feel the same way about Deerfield?
I’ve traveled all around the world surfing, but my favorite waves I’ve ever surfed have been in Florida. … There’s just something soft about the ocean in Florida, like no other place. It’s where I learned, you know?
At your appearance at Florida Supercon, you’ll be accompanied by your dog, Wingman. Who is Wingman?
Wingman is my son. I call him the guru of the gurus, the highest form of life on the planet. I’ve dedicated my life to Wingman, and my life is more amazing than it’s ever been. I take him to every Comic Con with me. I take him to every recording session with me, every business meeting. Everything I do is with Wingman. He brings me so much joy. When I adopted him, he was going to be killed the next day at the South L.A. kill shelter. He saved my life, and comes with me everywhere.
You’ve done such a variety of things. When people come to get your autograph, which of your characters do they want to meet?
Right now, because “Teen Titans Go!” has been maybe the No. 1 show on the Cartoon Network the past five years, and our big movie is coming out July 27 and the promotion behind it, I’ve never experienced such a flood of people coming to see me for anything I’ve ever done, from “The Fast and the Furious” to Michelangelo. Beast Boy, right now, is a huge draw.
For me, it’s Chuck in the ABC sitcom “The Middle,” one of my favorite shows. I may be in the minority.
How can I forget that? Yes, I get a lot of love for Chuck on “The Middle.” It’s cool, since it’s been rerunning so much, maybe 25 percent of the people come see me for Chuck.
How’s your health? You’ve tweeted about your treatment for skin cancer.
I definitely had skin cancer. I have skin cancer. I’m in the process of multiple surgeries, but my health is really good. I’ve got really amazing doctors that are helping me … and now it’s definitely not in my blood, which is great. So I’m OK.
Was this from all the years of surfing? What do the doctors say?
Well, nobody really knows what causes it, but I’m a sun worshiper. I love the sun. And growing up in South Florida, I just couldn’t get enough of it, either. I grew up just frying myself in the sun. I wouldn’t do the same now, the way I did as a boy, out at Deerfield Beach for 13 hours without a hat on, or sunscreen, bubbling the skin off my face.
So I’m sure it had to do with that. Not just that, but probably the bad food I also ate growing up. … The toxicity of food gets trapped in your cells and has to be stored somewhere, and that basically can be the root cause of cancer, skin cancer, all kinds of cancer.
Once you change what you’re eating, and flush your body out, you can actually cure yourself of cancer and any kind of ailment. I’ve done that by becoming a vegan and a superfoodist and having these doctors walk me through how to heal myself without taking pharmaceuticals or having chemo or any of that kind of stuff. So it’s working.
Florida Supercon takes place at the Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 1 p.m.-1 a.m. Thursday, July 12, 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday, July 13-14, and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday, July 15. Tickets will be sold in advance only, and cost $20-$50, with multiday passes also available. Greg Cipes will take part in seminars or autograph sessions each day. For more information, go to FloridaSupercon.com.