Vic Mignogna at MCM Midlands Comic Con

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Anime voice actor Vic Mignogna‘s talk at MCM Midlands Comic Con began with a preview of a special concert video that he’d just finished filming, featuring the cast of Fullmetal Alchemist, amongst others.

Following this, it was straight over to the audience with a question about his favourite scene from Level E. Vic could barely contain his excitement that someone had asked about the show:

“Oh my God! Everything!” he gushed. “It’s the greatest show! I haven’t had that much fun since I did Ouran High School.”

For the benefit of those not familiar with Level E, a brief synopsis was provided. Essentially, it’s a show about an alien who lands on Earth and becomes obsessed with pop culture. Likening the show’s “wacky” style to that of Mork and Mindy, Vic revealed that he’d basically been given free rein with it:

“The director said something to me that every actor dreams of hearing: you can do anything you want with this character.”

He described a few attempts he’d made to “test” this by doing the craziest things he could think of, and his amazement that he wasn’t told to stop it.

The next question was about recognising voices in anime series and video games, with a fan asking whether Vic had ever experienced a “Hey, it’s that guy!” moment. As it happened, those kind of light bulb moments are even more common and more interesting when you’re in the business. Vic explained that, when he goes to recording sessions in studios, he often doesn’t know who else is there, meaning that he gets to have fun guessing whether any of the voices belong to people he knows. The best part, according to him, is getting it wrong, since it’s great for actors when they succeed at doing something outside of their normal range or “wheel house” – the goal is, of course, to be unrecognisable.

A question about the boy who had initially played Alphonse Elric in Series 1 of Fullmetal Alchemist drew a laugh. It’s common practice in cartoons to get women to voice younger male characters, and in Fullmetal Alchemist, the original voice actor Aaron Dismuke was later replaced by Maxey Whitehead. Vic explained that, though a lot of women were auditioned for the part, the creators found a 12-year-old boy available for the job and so decided to use him instead.

“Poor Aaron!” said Vic, remembering how difficult it had been for someone so young to stay focused on the work for long stretches of time. He went on to talk about an incident where the then tiny Aaron had been propped up on a stool in the recording studio to enable him to reach the mic. After the record light went on, they’d simply heard a thud and a squeaky, “Help me!” Running in to check on him, they found him wedged between the wall and the stool he’d fallen over backwards from!

“Aaron is now like 19, 20. He’s huge! But he will never live that down,” he laughed.

On the subject of Fullmetal Alchemist, the next question was whether Vic personally preferred the 2003 or Brotherhood plotlines.

IMG-0261“I don’t honestly know,” he replied. “I don’t really see them as separate things. I tend to see it all as one big story. I know lots of people prefer Brotherhood, and it does follow the manga more closely, but the original story will always be special to me because that’s the one that introduced me to the characters.”

“How much fun did you have playing Captain Kirk?” was the next question, referring to Vic’s current Stark Trek Continues project, the first episode of which was also screened at MCM Midlands.

“Now you’ve done it,” he grinned, as if suggesting that the whole discussion would be about STC from that moment on. “I love it!” he said. “The second episode is out now, and we’re making the third one. I can’t even tell you how amazing it’s gonna be. We’re so excited!”

A little more thoughtfully, he added that he had to try and get as many episodes as he could in now, explaining that William Shatner had only been 35 when they started making Star Trek, while he “left 35 behind a long time ago”.

Asked how it felt to be getting the chance to make a Star Trek series, as a big Star Trek fan himself, he said that it would “never have occurred” to him as a child that he would one day have this opportunity, and that he couldn’t imagine what the younger, Trekkie Vic would have made of it all.

Steering the conversation into a little “inspirational moment”, he told the audience that people often ask him how he makes any money from Star Trek Continues, and that he explains to them simply that he can’t, because CBS own the rights to the franchise. However, as he put it himself:

“There are only two things in life you need money for: to pay your bills, and to do what you love.”

Vic has spent thousands of dollars on making this series – all money that he knows that he will never see again – simply because he loves doing it so much that it doesn’t feel like a loss.

On a less profound note, the next question – or rather, questions – were “What’s your favourite video game?” and “Are you Xbox or Playstation?” A sharp intake of breath from the audience followed this one.

“Sounds like I could get something thrown at me if I give the wrong answer!” Vic laughed.

Nevertheless, he managed to avoid entering the conflict by pleading ignorance from a lack of time to play games.

“Honestly, the last video game I played was Donkey Kong, when it had only just come out. I don’t think they even had home video games back then.”

Quite a confession at a comic convention! Skilfully, though, he turned the questions round onto their asker, who chose Kingdom Hearts and Playstation – wise choices, if the audience’s cheers were anything to go by!

Next came a question from an Attack on Titan fan, asking who Vic would like to play if he could be a part of that. This was evidently a little more within his comfort zone.

“I would play anyone in Attack on Titan! I’d play a Titan – and yes I do know that they don’t talk. I’d play ‘Guy Who Gets Squashed By Titan 2’!”

Asked about the weirdest gift he’d ever received, Vic was a little more hesitant. Not sure whether it really counted as a gift, he mentioned a time when he’d been given a lock of hair in an envelope. In general though, he said that he doesn’t get all that many weird gifts, however many other weird things happen to him. As to all the pictures and toys and amazing things that fans make for him – well, those are welcome, and to be actively encouraged, as far as Vic is concerned:

“That’s exactly what I would have done,” he said.

Apart from Star Trek, then, are there any other shows he’d like to see continued or re-done?

“Definitely Ouran!” he immediately replied, pointing out that there’s definitely potential for more since the manga actually continues beyond the end of the TV show. He’d also gladly see more Tsubasa, more D.N. Angel, and more Level E.

Finally, the prize for the most random question of the day undoubtedly goes to the last speaker, with, “Do you prefer Italian or American pizza?”

“I didn’t even have any pizza when I went to Italy,” Vic confessed. “I like spicy pizza. It can’t get too hot for me!” He described how, at his favourite Thai restaurant, it had taken him some time to convince the staff that, as a westerner, he could handle the really hot stuff. It turns out Vic likes his food not mild, medium hot or even “Thai hot”, but rather “Kill me hot”.

And on that insightful note…

Photographs by John Shek (a.k.a Papercube). Click here to see his Telford cosplay photographs on our Facebook page.

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