|- How do
you go about getting the role of a videogame character?
I got voiceover jobs through
a friend of mine, John Zurhellen, who works in production
with Rockstar Games. Johnny Z! I am a trained actor
and he thought I'd be good for a bunch of voices for
Vice City. That worked well, so they called me in
you go in with a character in mind or is it just a
case of going in working out who the character is
and reading the dialogue?
With acting in general, you're really just bringing
somebody's words to life, the writer and director
often don't know what kind of character they want
themselves, so it really does help to come in with
ideas and the more you've practiced and worked on
those ideas, the better prepared you'll be. Acting
is a lot of work. With Vice City, I came in knowing
they wanted a radio reporter's voice, so I'd worked
on it, but it most likely changed.
Working with the Rockstar crew is a total blast.
They are so professional, but still seem to shoot
straight form the hip. They always have a script,
but at the same time, will throw out some funny
stuff, especially the more adult-related violence
and substance abuse related dialogue. So, for example,
I did some gang voices on Manhunt and they had me
pretending to be high off a substance that a lot
of the gangs use in Manhunt (can't remember whether
that idea made it)...but the Director, Navid, would
just yell out improv lines and have me repeat them
in different thugged out voices, like "Aw man,
that was some really good shit...." or "the
voices are telling me to kill again..." I remember
breaking a sweat a couple times in the recording
booth just from that, staying on my toes, taking
his lines and interpreting them...this is especially
true when you're doing the voices of people getting
killed or beaten up, you want to actually move like
you're getting hit by a shovel to death in the booth
while you scream and go "umph," and "ugh,"
it helps somehow to bring truth to it!
there an option to which character you could provide
|No option for which voices I
could do I don't think...I'd go in and usually do
a few characters, for GTA Vice City, I did maybe 5
or 6 different voices scattered throughout the game,
like some bikers, the guy at the gun range, the radio
announcer at the beginning, the guy whose bike you
you get to meet any of the other actors that also
recorded dialogue for the game?
| I did actually meet the guy
who plays the lead character, Cash, in Manhunt, I
remember him as an in-shape guy, looked like a handsome
actor-type. I didn't get to meet anyone famous, but
I did miss some cool people like Luis Guzman one day
on Vice City.
was your most memorable moment of working on Manhunt?
Was there any one particular thing that sticks out
from working on the game?
|I think what I mentioned above,
the improvising lines along with the director and
playing trashy, stoned gang members, that was really
fun just to see the Rockstar imagination in full effect.
Was there anything that you refused to say? Or did
you question any of the dialogue?
|No, I'd probably say anything,
I'm not too shy or puritan, I believe in free speech,
as long as you accept responsibility for what you
say...including receiving an occasional ass-kicking.
Well that being said, they asked me to do a heavy
Mexican voice for Vice City for a couple of lines
and I felt weird as a white man doing that, like it
might not be my place to
play a Mexican man when there are plenty of great Mexican
actors to do the same part. That being said, I realize
they couldn't hire an actor for a two-word part. But it's
weird to have somebody say, "can you sound a little
more Mexican than that?"
there much in the way of improvisation? And do you
have a favourite line in particular?
|I think I probably answered that
already. Probably the line about the voices..."they
won't leave me alone!" that kind of stuff...very
paranoid and delusional.
was the most difficult part of recording the dialogue?
I imagine that the gargles and grunts must be rather
|I think you nailed it, Pogo,
those can feel the most awkward, groaning and grunting
when you're in a Manhattan sound booth during your
was the experience working with Rockstar on Manhunt?
Would you ever be interested in working with them
|Rockstar fucking rocks, it's
a cool experience doing the work, but coolest is just
their product, no one makes games that go as full out
in a sense... I would work for them anytime...but I
live in LA now, so I haven't really been offered anything.
How long did you work on the game for? You recorded
dialogue for a member of the Cerberus and a Cerberus
guard, was this done in two different sessions and
did you try to alter your voice for the two?
|Yes, as I said, I did some gang voices too, but wasn't
credited. Definitely tried a couple of different voices
for the Cerebus and the guard. But in the end, it's the
editor making the decisions as to what voice goes where
and what becomes what. I think I was able to take care
of the Manhunt work, as I said, in my lunch hour. Might
have been two sessions, I don't remember. I know Vice
City, I did my stuff, but came back for more. They work
fast though, they're pros and time is money.
you do anything to warm up for a voiceover session
in the studio? Or do you have any method of getting
|Well, I didn't necessarily know
what I going to play for Manhunt. But yes, warming
up is important, makes you looser and ready to go,
as wel as cutting down on mistakes. So I do one I
learned at Lee Strasberg Institute, a little do-re-mi
kind of shit.
you use anything to help muffle your voice for the
Cerberus or was that all done after the fact?
|That was all done after the fact.
you get to see the characters you were voicing when
recording the dialogue for the game? Was there any
visual aids at all?
|No, I didn't have any visual
aids, but they explained who the Cerebus were. It
was kind of a chilling description.
you had the opportunity to play Manhunt? If so what
are your thoughts on the game?
|I have played and beaten the
game, and even went back for more to try to get some
of the artwork. I'd never really played what I'd consider
a horror game, I love Manhunt, but sometimes that
shit gave me the creeps and I don't scare easily.
In general, I love violent video games, and I'm sure
a couple of people would say I have a fondness for
violence in real life, though I'm not really into
seeing dead bodies and guts on the internet. I love
one person against an entire army of goons type of
games and revenge games.
are your thoughts on violent videogames? Do you think
they really are the devil reincarnated?
|It's a hard one. I do worry about
violence in our society and think we are a very sick,
very troubled society. I work in the Los Angeles Public
School System but went to private school myself....being
a young person is hard enough, I can't imagine trying
to do it with guns consistently threatening you in
and out of school. So, I worry....when I was a kid
we had violent video games like Commando, but I was
not carjacking people and beating hookers to death
at age 10. As I mentioned, I've had a couple issues
with violence in my life and think it might have been
influenced by the media I consume. I played San Andreas
with a friend for a few hours recently, and yes while
driving, was a little more reckless, making a gun
with my hand and fake shooting people. Now I'm almost
30 and am all for peace and unity, but clearly I was
influenced, so I worry about kids getting desensitized.
But also, I don't think video games are the devil
incarnate. I like a movie called Battle Royale after
the Japanese manga. It’s about society putting
a class of kids on an island and they all have to
kill each other, with the survivor winning. I think
it says a lot about society...when things go wrong
with the kids, it reflects the adults more than anything,
but often the adults retaliate instead of help, and
the things they do to demonize kids and the passions
they have not only show a confused solution, the solution
is harmful. In other words, video games are not ruining
kids, not putting priorities in investing in our kids
with positive messages and support is not only hurting
them, it's often killing them. Wow, ask a simple question,
you play video games yourself? If so what are some
of your favourites?
|I don't play video games so much
anymore, I'm too busy working and playing in Los Angeles.
But yes, you know, I have a place in my heart for
so many classic Nintendo games, as well as current
games Grand Theft Auto series, SOCOM, Syphon Filter
(not the PS2 one), God of War, Prince of Persia, anything
action packed...I know I'm forgetting a ton of games
I like, but those are the ones that come to mind.
you ever had anyone recognise you through your voice
work in Manhunt or Vice City?
|No, just big fans such as yourself
Pogo and my friend Susanna, who found me about a year
ago! It feels good to be appreciated. Thank you Manhunt
does it feel to think that every day, all over the
world someone is digitally killing you? Did that thought
ever come into your mind prior to recording the dialogue?
|I like that; I think it's cool,
although secretly I root for the Cerberus (evil laugh,
evil laugh). My good friend Frailman played the guy
running across the roof running from you in Vice City,
I loved calling him up and saying, "I just blasted
your dumb ass, man!"
you find the process of doing voice work harder than
acting since you are limited to only your voice? In
so many games the dialogue feels tacked on or forced
to the point of being unintentionally cheesy.
|Yes and no, they both have their
challenges. I like voice acting, I think I'm less
self-conscious and it's usually done with such a smaller
at your resume you seem to have worked in almost every
department imaginable, do you have a favourite profession?
Be it acting, doing voiceovers or writing?
|It's hard to say, acting was a dream for a long time,
but the pressures of making it a career have been difficult
for me and took a little of the passion away. I don't
ever want to stop though, just need it to grab me again
and I know it will. I'd love to do more voice acting,
I really find it fun...you can just really go for it and
be over the top even. I am very passionate about writing,
I love it, and yes, it's paying some of the bills. SOME
of them! Lataco
is my new project because my friends and I were tired
of hearing people diss LA just because they'd seen 1/20th
of it while visiting West Hollywood or whatever. So, I've
been very into doing that lately and exploring its underground
art and its cheap eats and crazy characters.
not working, how do you spend your free time? Do you
have any hobbies?
|I just like doing new things,
I love to read, love to go to the beach, hike in the
mountains, I love to meet people and people who are
different especially whether its a gang banger or
a zillionaire, for better or worse everyone is better
at something than you and have their lessons to teach...whenever
I'm down on people (which happens a lot) I'll meet
someone who just defies my expectations as a nice,
interesting, or cool person. I think if you cannot
connect with people or you spend your life judging
them, you'll have a hard time...let's see I love music,
love girls—just being around them and hanging
with them, as well as more obvious conclusions-- love
to eat Mexican food, Indian food, Thai food...love
to bodysurf and bike around...love to talk shit to
people and be a bit of a gadfly, but I'd say I'm good
natured for sure and nice...I love film and comedy.
future projects do you have lined up? Anything you
can talk about?
|Well, nothing video game related. I have some stories
coming out soon in LA Weekly's Best of Issue, the next
edition of my guidebook to LA The Black Book List is coming
out in a month or two... working on mostly writing projects
right now and LATACO!!!! Maybe trying to find me a wifey....
maybe. Big maybe.