Show and Tell with Todd Haberkorn at MCM Birmingham Comic Con

Todd Haberkorn at MCM Birmingham (by Caitlin Jenkins 1760)

Following his last visit to MCM Birmingham Comic Con a year ago, voice actor Todd Haberkorn returned with a slightly more conventional panel. However, it was by no means any less enjoyable.

“I’ve had a great time out here,” Todd told the crowd. “I like how it’s not like last year – super cold. It’s cool to be back. It’s good to see some people from last year and new people this year.”

The last year has seen Todd working on the web series Star Trek Continues, in which he plays Mr. Spock, as well as lending his vocal talents to the videogames Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Persona 4: Arena Ultimax, in which he plays Sho Minazuki, and Tales of Xillia 2, reprising the character Rowen J. Ilbert. Todd has recently been cast as Haruka Nanase in Free! Eternal Summer, alongside Vic Mignogna.

Of his time at MCM Birmingham Todd was particularly impressed with the Predator cosplayers he saw at the convention. “Did you guys see the huge row of Predators that came through? It was awesome! And there was a girl Predator! You never see that. There are like five Predator movies; you never saw a female Predator.”

He was happy to see that people were still enjoying the anime Fairy Tail, in which he voices Natsu, and was also amazed at its continued success. “Vic asked me today, ‘Did you ever think Fairy Tail would be what it is today?’ I’m like, ‘No, I had no idea.’”

He also spoke about when he got a Fairy Tail tattoo, promising fans that he would do so when the show had reached 100 episodes.

“I don’t know if I would have gotten the tattoo had I’d known it was going to be like this,” he said. “I did it to support the show, but then I realised, ‘Oh it didn’t really need my support because it was just a good show and we all were supporting it together.’” He did say that he was happy with his Fairy Tail tattoo and that it was more meaningful to him than a classic tattoo of a “heart that says mom in the middle.” He also mentioned an unexpected response to getting a Fairy Tail tattoo. “A lot of people after that stared getting the tattoo and posting it to Facebook,” said Todd. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of another show that has had that kind of a tattoo following, where it’s like everyone starts getting the tattoo. It’s just really cool to see how everyone is united in the guild.”

He also joked that he was still waiting to see someone get the tattoo on their tongue, just like the character Bickslow. “No one has done that yet. I guess there aren’t true fans out there till that happens.”

Of the web series Star Trek Continues, which he stars in alongside Vic Mignogna (who also produces the show), Todd said that they would start shooting the fourth and fifth episodes in January. “That’s why I’ve grown my hair out so I can cut it to the right length,” said Todd. “Because in the very first episode my hair is really short as Spock.”

Todd Haberkorn at MCM Birmingham (by Caitlin Jenkins 1816)Todd then recounted a story about going to a barber shop to get his haircut to look like Spock. “I went to the barber and I brought five pictures, from all different angles. I said ‘My hair has to look exactly like this.’ And this is LA! You’re going to a barber shop in the city… there are good barbers… you’d think! She’s starting to cut it, and it’s one of those things where they’re too far into it to change it, and you’re like, ‘Aww shi… she’s cutting it too short.’ You don’t want to upset them by telling them how to do their job, because then they’re going to cut it even shorter. Afterwards it’s like a Friar Tuck cut – it was super short.”

When explaining Star Trek Continues to those that had not heard of the show, Todd talked about how they manage to get some great guest stars. “We’re [going to announce] a big guest star that I know everyone in this room will know. I wish I could say it, but Vic would kill me.”

“Say it,” shouted an attendee.

“You want Vic to kill me?” said Todd

“I’ll protect you,” came the response.

Todd spoke about how episode three of Star Trek Continues, Fairest of them All, features the original Galileo shuttlecraft from Star Trek The Original Series. “That has not been seen on screen in 50 years,” said Todd. “[Adam Schneider] found the shuttlecraft and they restored it; a $100,000 restoration project. It’s on display at Space Center Houston.” He revealed that after a convention they flew to Houston and visited the Space Center, where they filmed on the exact Galileo shuttlecraft. “I thought that was pretty cool,” said Todd. “There was a 20 x 20 foot green screen that we used, and it almost fell on it. It started to go…. ” At this point Todd used his arm to show how the green screen was slowly leaning towards the Galileo. Thankfully everyone noticed and reacted just in time.

“We get to do a lot of fun stuff with that show,” said Todd. “We have a 10,000 sq ft warehouse that has all the sets reconstructed inside and it’s the most complete reconstruction of the original Star Trek sets in the world… and we’re adding to them.”

The first question from an attendee had Todd being asked how much inspiration he takes from the original voice actor on a series and how much is his own contribution. “That varies,” responded Todd, explaining how often voice actors have not had a chance to see the show that they’re auditioning for. He explained how on a few occasions he may be advised to watch a specific show which he might be a suitable for, as happened with Soul Eater. “Before I even auditioned for it, one of the brand managers was like, ‘You need to watch some Soul Eater and look out for this character named Death the Kid, I think he’d be a good fit for you.’ So I watched a little bit of it and that does get filtered in to how I audition.” However, Todd revealed that on most occasions he simply has to rely on descriptions from the director.

Todd explained how, “typically when you audition for a show there’s a binder that you get and it’s got pictures of the character – one picture, a description and then some random lines from the script.” He mentioned how this usually isn’t enough for voice actors to go on when auditioning. So when he directed episodes on shows, he would show clips of the characters in action, feeling that clips were more helpful than a single picture. “I think for Soul Eater we did have that, because we had to get approval from Japan,” said Todd on viewing clips of his character Death the Kid. “For big shows, the directors cast it, then they send [their list] off to Japan, then they get approval. We did that for Sgt. Frog also.”

Todd then recounted just how huge Sgt. Frog is in Japan, and that the character he voices, Keroro, is on everything. “You can go to McDonald’s and have a birthday party with all the Sgt. Frog crew,” said Todd.

Todd was then asked, “Is there any character you didn’t get picked for that you wish you had been?” Todd looked down and didn’t say anything for about eight seconds, resulting in laughter from the audience.

Todd Haberkorn at MCM Birmingham (by Caitlin Jenkins 1889)“For every character I get, there’s about ten I don’t,” responded Todd. “That’s for everybody.” He then revealed that he had auditioned for “every major comic book character you can imagine,” and listed them all, which included Daredevil, Colossus, Human Torch, Wolverine, Superman, Nightwing, Batman, Robin, the Joker, Mr. Freeze, Alfred, the Bat Computer (!), the Penguin, the Riddler and Hawkeye. He also added that he had auditioned for Spider-Man six times and has never got the part. “For every Death the Kid, there’s like 20 I didn’t get.” Todd then sang, “I guess it’s the circle of life. It doesn’t choose us all (points at himself). I wish I was Spider-Man.”

The next question had Todd being asked about Hetalia: Axis Powers and how difficult it was to voice the character Italy, given that he has to put on an accent and speak quickly due the short runtime of each episode. “I have played a lot of fast characters,” said Todd. “But [the note] the director kept giving me was, ‘Faster.’ People think that it’s sped up, it’s just me talking super fast.” Todd also revealed that before playing Italy he was originally cast as England during Season One. “The guy that was playing Italy had a conflict and so then I auditioned for Italy.” He said how when he auditioned for Italy he used his Super Mario voice. “I go, ‘Letsa go!’” Todd said that the director liked it and so he was cast as Italy. “But somewhere out there in the archives is all of Season One with me as England.”

Following this, Todd was asked to speak in his English accent. “Uh… lets see.” He then said the following in his English accent. “Well I was wondering around talking about a flying mint bunny, landed on a chair, looking at you, while you’re looking at him, and you’re looking at Italy, America and Canada… sadly, and you take the flying mint bunny, cook him up, chop him up and eat him, put him in some ice cream and have a great day.” This was greeted with huge laughs and applause.

Todd then touched on being in London and asking for directions, and that he’s treated better when he uses his English accent. “I’m trying to find Covent Garden, or Piccadilly Circle… or whatever… Square… Cockfosters, that’s always a fun one. I get a lot more service when I’m a native as opposed to an American, because when I’m an American they give me wrong directions. But when I ask them as one of their own, they tell me where to go. I totally find that’s true.”

Todd was then asked what the most bizarre note was that a director has left for him when voicing a character. “Oh, they’ve told me….” Todd then paused briefly and realised he couldn’t completely answer this question, saying, “Oh man, there are kids here.” He spoke about when he was voicing the character Oberon in Sword Art Online.

“Boo,” came the response from the audience.

“Yeah, I know,” said Todd. “My Twitter feed reminds me. The act of a man… forcing himself on a lady, that word that is used, they said, ‘More… more that. Amp that up.’ I’m like (silently), ‘Okay.’ So it’s that kind of note I was given. Yeah, it was odd.”

Asked if there were any roles he wished he hadn’t taken on, Todd cited how there were some smaller projects where he’s acted in front of the camera, films where he was told that the end product would look like one thing, only for it to end up looking completely different. “With movies, you don’t know how it’s going to look in the end,” said Todd. “For example, if someone told you, ‘I want to cast you in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. How exciting would that be?’ You’d be like, ‘Oh my God, yes.’ Then you watch it! And you’re like, ‘Oh no. There is a disturbance in this force.’”

Todd Haberkorn at MCM Birmingham (by Caitlin Jenkins 1900)An interesting question had Todd being asked what his thoughts were on celebrity actors coming in to record voiceovers, in some instances taking work away from a more talented voice actor. “I don’t like it,” was Todd’s immediate response. “There’s a lot of examples where you get a big name celebrity to do a voiceover role and they’re just not good. You hear that in videogames all the time. Big names in video games don’t make me want to buy the game any more.” He explained that he would buy a videogame depending on the type of game it is and that a celebrity’s involvement would make no difference. “I don’t understand why they would hire these celebrities that they have to pay seven or eight times more than the regulars when it’s not going to add value to the game, especially when they don’t do a good job.”

Todd highlighted the film Rise of the Guardians as an example where a celebrity had done a good job, saying how Alec Baldwin was “awesome” as the character North. “But there are a lot of examples where the big name guys… I don’t really care for what they’re doing,” said Todd. “I don’t think they’re comfortable with it and they’re not exploring what’s available there.”

When asked what his favourite character catchphrase was, Todd responded with, “Anything Natsu says, whether it’s coming from a place of 12 IQ or not.” He described voicing his character from Fairy Tail as “one of those roles where every time I step into the booth, because we’ve been doing that show for three years now, I step into the booth and we’re ready to rock. It feels really good to get in there and do that role.”

Given the huge range of voice acting roles he’s done, Todd was finally asked what the one lesson he’s learnt is. “I have a very competitive nature and I think it’s about not comparing myself to other actors,” he said. “We’re all reaching for a goal. I can’t compare what I’m doing with some other actor who may be doing this thing that I want to do; because while I’m spending time harping on that, I’m taking time away on focusing on reaching my goal. I try not to wallow in that too much.” He then used an example, saying, “It would be kind of weird watching Indiana Jones and you’re like:

‘Indiana Jones, what are you thinking right now?’

‘Aww, I’m wondering what Superman is doing.’

‘But you’re Indiana Jones!’

‘Yeah, but Clark… Lois.’

Todd concluded, saying, “I just try to stay on my own little adventure.”


Photos by Caitlin Jenkins.

Copyright © 2014 MCM BUZZ – Movies, TV, Comics, Gaming, Anime, Cosplay News & Reviews