Crispin Freeman Interview

When it comes to anime and video game voice actors, the big names tend to pop up all over the place in one form or another. From staring roles in anime to NPC‘s in JRPG localisations, the mark of a good voice actor is when you can hear a voice in a crowd and not realise that yesterday the actor was the big hero and star of the show. Crispin Freeman can be heard in movies like Howl’s Moving Castle, the Wizard in the newly released Diablo III, as background characters in games like Final Fantasy XIV and as the lead character in anime series’ like his role as Aluard in Hellsing. I was recently given the opportunity to interview him and we discussed experiences he has had in the industry, crazy fan stories, and taking over a role that has previously been voiced by someone else.

Laura: For those who don’t know, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Crispin: I’m a voice actor, mythology scholar and voice acting coach. I’ve been working as a voice actor since 1997. I got my start working on Japanese animation and from there I expanded into video games and American animated series‘ as well. Most recently, you can hear me as the voice of the Male Wizard in Diablo III and Red Arrow in the animated series, Young Justice on Cartoon Network.

Laura: How did you first get involved in voice acting?

Crispin: I became interested in voice acting through my love of anime. While I was working as a theatrical actor in New York, I was offered an opportunity to audition for a studio that produced dubs of Japanese animation. Initially I resisted, since I was not fond of the quality of dubs at the time, but then I decided to get involved and see if I could improve the quality of English dubs of anime.

Laura: How do you get into the right mindset for your different characters?

Crispin: I do my best to play pretend as that character. I need to understand first what type of character they are and secondly what their overall agenda is. What do they want out of life? What are they upset about? What axe do they have to grind? Then it’s a matter of figuring out relationships with characters as we go through a show scene by scene.

Laura: It’s been previously reported that you were nervous taking on the role of Zelgadis in Slayers as it had initially been voiced by somebody else. How did you go about reinterpreting the character? How do you avoid letting someone else’s interpretation of a character effect your own?

Crispin: Well, I initially tried to voice match the original dub actor who had played Zelgadis for the first 13 episodes of the first season. Luckily, the director who was auditioning me told me to just use my own voice and give him my take on the character. That freed me up a lot. I gave him what I though Zelgadis should sound like without trying to imitate the earlier dub actor. Obviously they liked my rendition and I’ve been playing Zelgadis ever since.

Laura: What is the greatest experience you have had since entering the entertainment industry?

Crispin: That’s a tough one. One of the most memorable was getting hired to play Prince Turnip in Howl’s Moving Castle. It was my first time on the Disney lot and it was quite exciting to be there to work on a Miyazaki film. Another fond moment happened when I was working on the anime series, The Big O. In it I played Alan Gabriel, a crazy cyborg character. During the session, the voice director, Lia Sargent, started asking me about my mythology presentations that I give at academic conferences and conventions around the world. I explained to her that they had been inspired by a producer by the name of Kenji Uchida who I had heard speak at a symposium five or six years before. Lia stopped short and said, “Uchida? He’s sitting right next to me.” Immediately we all jumped out of the recording rooms and met in the hall. I was so pleased to be able to meet Uchida personally. He actually remembered me from that symposium in New York and was happy to be working with me as well.

Laura: What’s the most bizarre story you have from meeting fans?

Crispin: Most fans are wonderful. They’re appreciative, respectful and enthusiastic. However, there are some really bizarre fans out there. Probably the most bizarre was one fan who approached me because he was dating his first cousin and wanted my advice on their relationship. He thought I might be able to give him insight because I had played a character in an anime called Angel Sanctuary who had an incestuous relationship with his sister. I guess he couldn’t make a distinction between playing a character in a show and having the experience in real life. I respectfully declined to comment on his relationship.

Laura: How would you compare doing voice work on video games to anime?

Crispin: I like to call video game acting, Rubik’s Cube acting. Because games tend to be more non-linear, you have to deliver your lines in such a way that they can be recombined in order to suit the situation in the game. Anime is a linear storytelling format so each acting moment can build on the ones that came before. Also we usually don’t have to match lip flap in games the way we do in anime.

Laura: You apparently worked on the writing team adapting some early episodes of Pokemon from Japanese along with several other jobs in the industry. What jobs have you had other than voice acting that you particularly enjoyed? Why?

Crispin: It’s true that I adapted scripts for the early episodes of Pokemon before I left New York to pursue voice acting in Los Angeles. I also voice directed a number of anime series’ including Space Travellers, I My Me! Strawberry Eggs and Scrapped Princess. I’ve been too busy with other projects to do much voice directing or script adapting recently. However, a new aspect of voice acting that has come up for me is motion capture acting for video games. I’ve been doing a lot more of that work in recent years. I find that quite fun as well.

Laura: Lastly, do you have any final words?

Crispin: For those who enjoy my acting work, thank you. It’s always wonderful to hear one’s artistry is appreciated.

For those who would like to become a voice actor, I suggest you check out my Voice Acting Mastery blog and podcast at:

Thanks so much.

Copyright © 2012 MCM BUZZ – Movies, TV, Comics, Gaming, Anime, Cosplay News & Reviews