“It’s kind of surreal to audition for a character that you basically created,” said Cullen, who originated the Autobot’s stentorian voice in TV performances from 1984 to ‘87. “But I didn’t expect Michael to know what I knew about ‘Transformers.’ I was ready for anything.”
“I never get to see an entire script,” he said. “I don’t really have to. Because Prime is Prime. He’s going to react to whatever he’s reacting to without knowing what’s going on in the future.”
“One of the most popular is, ‘Autobots transform and roll out!’ because it was said so often on the series,” the soft-spoken voice actor said. “But I always come up with another one” — Cullen lapsed into Optimus’ commanding battlefield growl — “ ‘One shall stand, one shall fall!’ And then they go, ‘Jeez!’
“My brother said, ‘Peter, be a real hero. Don’t do all the bravado stuff and pretend to be tough. Be strong enough to be gentle. Be understanding — and calm,’” Cullen said. “When I began the audition, his voice came right out. I read the lines the way I could hear my brother doing it.
“Now, maintaining those characteristics — courage, trustworthiness, integrity, loyalty — you’re responsible for something to the kids who watch Optimus Prime. I want to be a positive influence rather than just fighting and sock, bang, boom!”