TORONTO — Prolific Canadian voiceover star Tara Strong usually has a good idea of what she's getting into when she auditions for an animated role, whether it's the horse Twilight Sparkle in "My Little Pony" or baby Dil Pickles in "Rugrats."
But when it came to the enigmatic anthropomorphic clock Miss Minutes on Marvel Studios' "Loki" on Disney-Plus, she was largely in the dark.
The cheerful orange mascot of an organization known as the Time Variance Authority helps guide Tom Hiddleston's villainous Loki character through different realities and timelines following the events of the 2019 film "Avengers: Endgame."
Strong says unlike the usual character description producers provide for an audition, the Miss Minutes notes were vague and she didn't know much about the role that was created specifically for the series and isn't rooted in the comics.
"Obviously, stuff for the MCU has to stay very top secret, so I knew that the character had to be some kind of Siri voice but a little bit more human," said Strong, who's been nominated for Annie Awards and a Daytime Emmy.
"I didn't know until I actually booked the job and was with everyone on the Zoom in production with Kate, exactly who Miss Minutes is and what her role is and what this show is."
The sassy character with the southern accent has sparked a flurry of theories on social media, where it has its own Twitter hashtag emoji and account.
Fans wonder if there's more to the vintage-looking Miss Minutes than meets the eye, asking why she has more minutes on her clock than usual, whether she's actually a sentient being and will she perhaps get a bigger role in the MCU as "WandaVision" star Paul Bettany did.
Bettany started his Marvel run as the disembodied voice of the computer system J.A.R.V.I.S. in the "Iron Man" films, but eventually graduated to an on-camera role as the synthezoid Vision in "Avengers: Age of Ultron."
"People are like, 'Wow, who is she?' And even I can't answer that completely at this moment," Strong said in an interview.
Kate Herron directs and Michael Waldron is head writer of the six-episode story, in which Loki helps agents at the TVA prevent a greater threat.
Other cast members include Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku and Richard E. Grant.
Miss Minutes is one of many key voice acting roles on Strong's resume, with others including Bubbles in "The Powerpuff Girls," Hello Kitty in "Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater" and Rocky in "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle."
The Los Angeles-based performer said she recorded her "Loki" audition in Toronto while shooting season 1 of the CBC dramedy series "Pretty Hard Cases," in which she played drug lord Tiggy Sullivan.
Asked whether Miss Minutes will have her own story arc, Strong said she's "not really allowed to answer that."
"But chances are pretty good you'll see her again," she continued with a laugh, noting she'd "love it if she had her own series."
"She's so adorable and I'm so happy that the fans have responded so well to her, because you really never know. Sometimes the fans are like, 'We hate this character, we don't like this animation,' and then once that hits the Internet, you're done. So I'm very grateful that the fans have warmed up to her, because she's pretty special."
Miss Minutes seems a fitting role for Strong, given the actor chalks up much of her prolific voice-acting success to the right timing — and maybe a bit of serendipity.
Her parents used to own a toy and candy store in Toronto called The Wiz, which she said was a pioneer in selling Hello Kitty merchandise in Canada when she was young.
In a fun twist of fate, she ended up voicing Hello Kitty for a TV series at age 13 in 1987. That led to a staggering amount of cartoon credits, including "The Care Bears," "My Pet Monster," "DC Super Hero Girls" and "Teen Titans."
"I remember my dad wearing the big giant Hello Kitty costume when I was, like, five, so to book this role at 13, it was almost like destined," Strong said.
Of course, talent plays a huge part.
Strong said she's been putting on funny voices since she was young and developed a flair for accents over the years.
"I was just thinking about how grateful I am that I've been this conduit to so many iconic characters that have touched people," she said.
"And without a doubt, Miss Minutes has flown right into the league with those other characters, because she's been this instant crowd pleaser and favourite."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2021.
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press