Janet Varney Talks About 'Legend of Korra'

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Janet Varney hasn't mastered all the elements, nor has she brought balance to a world in need of a spiritual guide.

But she has led the cast of one of the best television series in recent memory-- voicing a character filled with enough ferocity and zeal to merit the telling of her saga.

By playing the title role in Legend of Korra, Varney has gathered a considerable fan base with which she keeps a good rapport. There's a good reason for this; she is a fan of the Avatar franchise as well.

Recently, Empty Lighthouse got the chance to catch up with Varney. She spoke about her role as Korra, how voicing the character has affected her, and some of her upcoming projects.

How did you land the lead role in Legend of Korra? How rigorous was the audition process?

I'm lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to audition for it. Some voiceover auditions take place at an agency, and some you can even record and submit from home.

But Nickelodeon often brings people into its offices to audition, and I believe this was one of those occasions.

I had to go back several times; my final audition was a sort of chemistry test with David and PJ. And I guess Mike and Bryan heard something between the 3 of us that they liked! Thank goodness!

What was the first description you heard of the character from the series creators?

Great question! I'm trying to remember. I believe Korra was described as something like: headstrong, brave, enthusiastic, stubborn, loyal... all qualities I'm sure we can all identify with!

What was it like interacting with other cast members? Did you ever read lines together to find synergy? Or was it a more isolated process?

Nickelodeon is great in that they try to get as much of the cast together as possible. For Book One, because we were all new to the show, we did a lot of table reads as well to get the spirit of the show, the vibe of the characters, and their interactions with one another.

I LOVE recording with the rest of the cast. It's a total privilege.

After spending a lot of time with the character, what are the traits you like/dislike most about Korra?

I love every part of Korra because even her "bad" traits are things that we all battle with at one time or another, albeit not necessarily as dramatically. I love Korra's courage and her loyalty to her friends.

I sometimes get frustrated by her rushing into things and her decisions to act alone. But I think there is a real separation that the Avatars must feel because of their unique position in the world.

When recording, were there any plot points that caught you by surprise?

I remember being horrified when Lin Beifong sacrificed her powers for the rest of the team.

And I also was surprised by the end of Book 3... it was so hard leaving Korra in the emotional and physical state in which we found her in the finale!

As a brief aside, could you tell us about your upcoming film: Diani & Deving Meet the Apocalypse?

My dear friends Gabe Diani and Etta Devine made another independent movie years ago that I was fortunate enough to be a part of called "The Selling." When I read their script for "Diani and Devine Meet the Apocalypse," I knew I had to try and help them make it.

Gabe and Etta are a brilliant comedy duo, and this film takes advantage of that right along side their fantastic gift for storytelling. I'm so proud of them!

You said you were a fan of the Avatar franchise in past interviews. Being part of it now, does that change the way you view it?

I don't know if it changes the way I view it too much. What I mean by that is I would have thought it was a PHENOMENAL first series and a PHENOMENAL second series.

I would have been the same fan that I am today. Of course, being a part of it makes it more intense and more emotional, because it has truly changed my life.

What was your favorite moment from Legend of Korra?

It's impossible to pick just one! But if I had to pick one, I think it would be the very first San Diego Comic Con that I attended with Mike, Bryan, Joaquin, PJ, Seychelle and David. The moment we were waiting backstage before our panel, and the music from our show began playing, and we heard the sounds of thousands of fans cheering, I was completely blown away.

For me, the best moments always come with being around the fans, because they are the best in the world.