Steffan Rhodri Panel (Ni no Kuni) at MCM Birmingham Comic Con

Steffan Rhodri Panel (MCM Birmingham)

There are those that might recall Steffan Rhodri for his role as Dave Coaches in the TV series Gavin & Stacey, but now there are just as many that recognise him for his voice, having lent his vocal talents to the English translation of the Level-5 Studio Ghibli video game Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.

In attendance at the MCM Birmingham Comic Con, Steffan talked about his involvement in the game, voicing the character Drippy. As a doll that comes to life, revealing himself to be a fairy to the young protagonist Oliver, Drippy explains that it might be possible to revive Oliver’s recently deceased mother. Together they make their way to an alternate world known as Ni No Kuni.

Working on the game, Steffan said, “I didn’t get the script beforehand until I turned up for the first day.” He then revealed how he was shown footage of the game and tried to get a feel of the character by listening to the original Japanese language. “I guess that was the biggest clue you get of how you’re going to do it,” he said. “You get a sense of the intention of his character, this energy and his personality, just from listening to the Japanese actor [Arata Furuta].”

Ni no Kuni (Drippy)From talking to the director and writers, they told Steffan that they wanted Drippy to be Welsh. “I’ve got a noticeable Welsh accent, but it’s kind of gotten milder as I’ve got older,” he said. “They kept pushing me to make it stronger. So I was really as Welsh as I can be, as I was when I was a kid growing up. I suppose that was appropriate because Drippy is a childlike character; it was all my Welsh childhood enthusiasm.”

He mentioned how he enjoyed voicing Drippy since there seemed to be two sides to him. “He’s naughty and rebellious, but he’s on the side of the good, so that was very appealing. For me there’s nothing more boring than playing a bland good character, but this was kind of the best combination really. He was on the side of good, he was with the protagonist, helping him throughout, but also he was breaking the rules.”

When asked about his reaction to seeing his version of Drippy in the game, Steffen revealed that he hadn’t actually seen the full game yet. “I’ve only seen the footage that I recorded,” he said. “I still haven’t managed to play the game. I need to do that, don’t I? You see most of it [by working on it], but I only really see the bits that I’ve actually recorded.”

“It was about a year ago that I got to record it,” said Steffan on voicing Drippy. “It takes some time to get together. You don’t know what’s going to happen to it. In this instance, because it’s been such a big selling game and now all of a sudden there’s a big fuss about it.”

Steffan was then asked when it dawned on him as to just how huge the buzz was on Ni no Kuni. “I think I first realised when I got an e-mail from a magazine, through my agent, asking to do an interview because it had just come out,” he answered. “This magazine was raving about it, saying how they loved it. Before I knew it I was getting all sorts of messages, press companies, stuff like this. And on Twitter as well, loads of people sending messages saying how much they loved the game. I realised it was quite a big phenomenon.”

While working on the game during the day, he would also be acting in a play at London’s West End in the evening. “By 6 o’clock in the evening I had to leave for the theatre,” said Steffan. “But I just spent three or four hours that afternoon going (adopts voice of Drippy) ‘Right, come on,’ and absolutely wrecking my voice. So I have to drink lots of water just to keep the voice rested. So it was a bit tiring.”

Despite finding it tiring at times, Steffan revealed that he does enjoy voice work. “I love it, I really enjoy it, because you’re quite free,” he said. “You can wear whatever you like; nobody’s watching you. You can turn up in your slippers if you like. There is a bit of discipline involved. It is quite tiresome on the voice and mentally as well, because you’ve got a script that you’re reading, you’re watching the screen, there’s a time on the screen for when you come in and you’re trying to act as you read the character at the same time. So it’s a bit tiring, but it’s good fun.”

Steffan Rhodri Panel (MCM Birmingham) (2)Having also made appearances in feature films, the talk moved towards his role as Reg Cattermole in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Asked how he reacted upon receiving the part, Steffan said, “I just didn’t allow myself to believe that it was true at first.” After doing an audition he met with director David Yates. “I thought this was going to be a long ongoing process. I walked into the room and he said, ‘Oh, I’m delighted you’re doing this, but we want to put an actress with you to play your wife.’ I thought, ‘Hang on, did he just say I’m delighted you’re doing this?’ I didn’t like to ask him again! It took another month till I got a phone call saying, ‘Yeah, you are doing it.’ It was amazing. It is a huge, HUGE thing, just incredible, the scale, the sets, the number of people involved, the budget and just a wonderful experience.”

While Steffen received a cast and crew book full of photographs from working on Harry Potter, he was after a different kind of memento. “What I really wanted was a wand,” he said. “I get to zap Yaxley and every time we were doing that scene, and I thought it was the last time I’d be using my wand, I’d be trying to sneak away with my wand! The prop man would say, ‘Can we have that back please?’ You don’t get to pinch anything, they’re really strict!”

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