Email. That’s how Legion began. Actually, that’s how all my voiceover auditions and jobs begin these days. (Oh, I feel a random aside coming on…)
There was a time when voiceover actors only met their audition copy at the agent’s office before they went into the agency booth to record. And TV/Film actors had to actually drive to the studio a day or two early to pick-up their sides. I came to LA at the tail end of those days. Then faxing became the wave of the future (odd that the casting process always lags ten years behind technology).
But back to that email. An audition for the role of Legion in a video game called Mass Effect 2. Sadly, I’m too busy to lose myself in virtual worlds and so I had no idea I was about to tango with another major video game (I’m still blown away by the loyal fans of Resident Evil 5). The script required a HAL-esque voice but with a little more range in later monologues. I recorded it, emailed it, then forgot about it. It’s my motto with auditions – lottery tickets as toilet paper – wipe and discard… Did I just write that?
Luckily it hit (as in, didn’t stink? No, D.C., leave the metaphor alone). I then had the great pleasure of working with one of the best voice directors in town, Ginny McSwain, over at the Technicolor Studios in Burbank. Legions’ scenes were spread over 3 or so sessions and I relished being the original voice of a character for a change! (So much anime is replacing the Japanese voice but matching the quality, or, as in the case of Resident Evil, I had to channel several previous actors! [see more here about RE5]). The final voice is heavily filtered. At first I thought I was lost in the effects, but after listening to it some more, I actually dig it.
Another treat was hearing about the cast (Seth Green! Jennifer Hale! Adam Baldwin! The awesome Courtenay Taylor [hey, lady! “Hi” to you and Reagan!]). I hoped I’d run into one of the best modern film/TV voices in the lobby – Martin Sheen! No such luck, though. (Last time I saw him was in 1989 when he and Ned Beatty were my celebrity partners on “Win, Lose or Draw“… We lost.)
I also recorded a smaller role as a Krogan/Berserker. Still haven’t found a video of him, but hopefully I will soon as the voice is the complete opposite of Legions! It would be a nice addition to my reel… (Yeah, I’m sorta fishing for any help on this… I have a signed video game for the person who comes through! … I have no shame.)see here for details.]
Then the nice folks at BioWare cast me without an audition for Dragon Age: Origins as a spirit named Justice. A nice and emotional role. Also directed by Ginny McSwain. And also a wonderful experience. Ginny directs her VAs to be natural, nuanced and grounded emotionally. She is, indeed, an actor’s director.
Of course, my sessions were for the PRC (yeah, have no idea, you tell me!) so all the major recording had already passed, thus, depriving me of any possibility of running into Tim Curry! One of my actor idols (for his sheer versatility) who is responsible for my skipping college and going straight to drama school.
So, a few weeks after I finished the jobs, another email arrived. This one from a fan of Mass Effect letting me know how huge the game was and wanting to know everything about the role and my career… Then a uneasiness crept up from behind my head and wrapped around my Adam’s apple… Will Resident Evil fans and Mass Effect 2 fans play nice together? Or will they hunt each other down like Collectors and zombies? Oh dear… I’m afraid my FaceBook page is about to get bloody.
Both Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins have been released, allowing me to release myself from that persnickety NDA!