NR Interview: Bleach Voice Actor David VincentPosted 1:03 pm on Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 by Michael Revis
The Nerd Reactor crew was at Fanime this weekend, and we all had a blast! The cosplay, the venue itself, everything was so impressive. We also managed to get some time with various personalities in the anime industry, who were all great people to work with.
I myself was able to sit down with American voice actor David Vincent, who is known for roles such as Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez in Bleach, and Van in GunxSword, a role he was nominated for an American Anime Award in. But what makes a guy like Vincent tick? Check out the full interview below and find out!
Nerd Reactor: So, David, how’s Fanime been treating you so far?
David Vincent: Well, Michael, it’s been treating me great. I’ve had a wonderful time here, the staff have been fantastic, everyone’s been wonderful, the fans have been absolutely amazing. They put on a really good convention. It’s just been a lot of fun, well put together, very well organized, and I’ve had a great time.
NR:Have you seen any cosplays that you particularly enjoyed?
DV: I’ve actually seen all the cosplay. I am just amazed at the energy, the time, and the detail that these guys put into their cosplay. It’s amazing to me, and it’s actually one of my favorite parts of coming, just being awed by the amazing cosplay that I see. I did see one particular that had blown me away, and it was the alien.
NR: The xenomorph, right? That was crazy!
DV: Yeah, that was pretty outstanding. I was very impressed by that. Really, I literally get whiplash in my neck because I’m constantly looking at everyone’s cosplays.
NR: It is impressive. Have you seen any of characters that you have voiced?
DV: Absolutely! I’ve seen a number of Jin Kisaragis from Blazblue. I did see a Grimmjow. And then today (Sunday) for the first time I saw a Richard from Tales of Phantasia. It was cool.
NR: What’s it like seeing these people dressed up as characters you’ve acted as? Does it create a moment where you go “Oh hey, I’ve done that character, that’s awesome!”?
DV: Oh totally, it’s a blast! What’s really fun, is going up to them and they don’t recognize who I am, and going “Hey, I voiced that character,” and then watching the expression on their face. It’s pretty funny, because they’re like “NO WAY!” and I’m like “Yeah!” I also love seeing people that cosplay Grimmjow. I’ve seen some very interesting ways that people create the hole in his belly. I’ve seen them do it with cameras, with mirrors, it’s just awesome. The detail and the creativity is very impressive.
NR: Oh yeah, definitely. So, what projects have you been working on recently?
DV: Well, this is a pretty common question I get, and, most of the time, I can’t tell you. We’re under a non-disclosure agreement and that prohibits me from legally talking about what I’m working on.
I can say that I’ve got Fate: Stay Night the movie coming. I reprise my role as Assassin. I wish I could say more, because I’ve actually got a lot of projects that I’m pretty excited about that are going to be coming out *knocks on wood* this year. I just can’t disclose what they are, which makes for a poor interview, so, sorry about that.
NR: It’s okay! So you’ve been keeping busy at least?
DV: Yes, I have. It’s been a lot of fun.
NR: Awesome. So, how did you initially get into voice acting? What was the kind of spark that told you “I’m gonna go into acting!”?
DV: Well, to start I actually got my degree in Journalism from University of Colorado. When I did that, I realized that I’ve always been doing voices when I was a kid, driving my mom nuts. I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to act and get into entertainment. So, after I graduated, I moved to New York City.
There I was doing theater, standup, and sketch comedy. One night I was doing a sketch comedy show in Times Square at this little theater called Don’t Tell Mama. I was doing a sketch where I was making fun of TV commercials, so I was doing all these different voices. After the show, I had a gal come up to me and asked if I had an agent. I said no, and she gave me her card saying “You should call me.” She turned out to be a talent coordinator for a major advertising firm on Madison Ave. So, she set me up with different interviews with voice over agents. The first audition that I went on was for a Rolling Rock beer commercial radio spot, and I booked it. So, I’ve been doing voice over ever since.
As far as anime and whatnot, Steve Blum is actually a friend of mine. Steve and I were doing an audition together one day, and he turns to me and says:
*At this point, Vincent does his best Steve Blum impression*
“Yeah, Steve, what’s up man?”
“Do you ever do any… anime?”
“…. You should do anime.”
So, he gave me a couple folks to call, and that’s kind of how I got my intro to the world of anime. I kind of bluffed my way through a recording session, because I had never done ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement, A.K.A dubbing) before. It’s a different ball of wax as opposed to doing normal voiceovers. I ended up falling in love with it, pursued it, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
NR: You said that ADR is a different of voice acting compared to others. What really differentiates one kind of voice acting from another, like anime, video games, commercials, etc?
DV: Well, the difference with ADR is, because anime is made in Japan, everything is already done and broadcasted in Japan. When companies license it for America, that means we have to re-dub it. As a voiceover actor, the challenge then is, as opposed to just reading a script and creating a character, you have got to match the dialogue to the lip flap in the already created animation. So, when you’re actually recording ADR for an anime, it’s very technical, because you’re watching the television screen and you’re matching the dialogue that you’re saying to the lip flap of the animation. At the same time, you have to deliver a very believable performance. Anime fans will let you know if it stinks, so you really want to put in a lot of effort to make sure that you’re delivering a believable performance, on top of being very technical, making sure that you’re delivering that dialogue to match that lip flap on the animation.
That’s really the difference, and it’s a real skill. You have to learn it, and it takes a lot of practice and a lot of effort. When you learn how to do that, you can really deliver a believable performance.
NR: Is there a special process or a ritual you go through to get yourself psyched before going into the booth?
DV: I don’t really have to psyche myself up so much, but, when I’m going to a recording studio, what I’ll do is I’ll sing in my truck on the way over to the studio. I’m a horrible singer. Terrible! Not even in the shower! But it’s something that I do to kind of warm up my voice and get the gravel out in the morning. I’ll just sing to bad country music or whatever else is on the radio.
As far as really getting myself psyched for the character, you go in, and you just do it. You gotta have a rolodex in your head of different voices, attitudes, characters, accents, etc, that you can do. So, you gotta have that there, and you have to be able to tap into that, because a lot of times you don’t have much time to prepare. You’re in the booth, and the director and producers are there, and they’re waiting for you to go. You have to be prepared with the experience and the skill. You have to be ready to jump when the director says “jump.” And if he/she says “No I don’t like that take, I want you to take it in this direction,” you better be able to go in that direction.
That’s really what I do. Just having that ability to adapt and to take directions, what I think, is really important.
NR: You’ve done some live action roles as well on shows like NCIS and Criminal Minds. Do you prefer being in front of the camera or in front of a microphone more?
DV: That’s a good question. There are different aspects to each. My background is theater, I’ve done television, and I’ve done film, and I enjoy it. What I enjoy about voice acting is that you can be a complete spaz to make sure that you’re getting the right voice and the right take, but nobody can see you, so that’s kind of fun. At the same time, I enjoy doing on camera work as well.
NR: So a little bit of both then?
NR: That’s good. As far as video game roles go, one of your recent works was reprising your role as Marshal Law in Street Fighter x Tekken. What was it like working with Capcom on a project such as this?
DV: Well, I’ve worked with Capcom on a number of projects. They’re great, and I’ve enjoyed working with them, they’re a good company to work with. In particular, these production companies that I’ve worked with are always a delight. I’ve gotten to know the directors and developers. I’ve been a fan of Street fighter, and I’ve been a fan of Tekken. So I’ve been a fan of these characters long before I’ve had a chance to voice them. So, for me, it’s just a thrill to go in and get to work with people that I like and voice the characters that I love.
NR: In BlazBlue, you voiced Jin Kisaragi and Hakumen, who are different characters, but are *SPOILER ALERT* the same person. How were you prompted on how to perform each role? Because it almost sounds like the first step of schizophrenia or something.
DV: *Laughs* That’s a great question. Well, with the directors I’ve worked with on BlazBlue, Jin, honestly, is not too crazy. It’s just when Ragna the Bloodedge comes around that he loses it. So, with Jin Kisaragi, they direct me for it, and, having played the character, I just love to take him into the craziness. It’s one of my favorite parts of playing him.
As far as Hakumen goes, he is directed as much more noble, because he is all, *channels Hakumen* “I am the white void…” With Hakumen, it’s a much more lower register in my voice. So, we tend to save Hakumen for last, and have Jin Kisaragi first, just because in doing Hakumen, I go into that really low register, which puts a bit of a strain on my voice. It’s just a bit different.
NR: Do you have a favorite role out of all the parts that you’ve done?
DV: As far as anime goes, I have two favorites, one is Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez from Bleach. To me, he’s such a badass and such a jerk. But, he’s so confident and knows who he is. I love playing a guy that like who is cocky and pretty much gets what he wants, and doesn’t care.
Another one of my favorites is Van in Gun x Sword.
That was the role you got nominated for an award for, correct?
DV: That’s correct, and I was thrilled. That was my first leading role in an anime, so, to get nominated for an award like that was really neat. Van was just so much fun to play because, number one, he was a cool character, and my first lead role in an anime. What was really great about it was that Van had so many different levels to him. He, for the most part, was *channels Van* very monotone, and very melancholy, because he lost his bride to The Claw. He would fly into a fit of rage whenever he would get near The Claw and he really wanted to get him. Taking it from one to ten in the same character, for me, was very exciting, and a lot of fun to do, just taking him into these fits of absolute rage and despair, coming from being very melancholy and monotone, was just a really fun character that had a lot of levels to it.
As far as video games go, I gotta say Jin Kisaragi is one of my favorites, just because he’s crazy, he’s psycho, he’s fun to voice. The other one would be Marshal Law. I had been playing Tekken since it first came out, and Law was always one of my favorite characters, so the fact that I have gotten to voice him to me is a thrill.
One more question. Do you have any advice for those looking to get into acting?
DV: Do. Theater.
Theater is the best training ground that you’re ever going to get as an actor. Get on stage, whether you’re still in junior high or high school where you’ve got access to school plays. Do them. If you’re in college, there are theater departments. You don’t necessarily have to be a theater major to audition. Audition. Do the theater. If you’re out of college, do community theater.
Otherwise, what I would say is take acting and voice over classes. You don’t have to be in a big city to find local classes. Find them, and take them. It’s really the best advice I can give, because you have got to have acting chops. The worst thing you can do is go in, have an opportunity, and be unprepared. So, be prepared for the opportunity. Not only that, but by practicing, and doing it, you’re going to discover so much more about your ability and what you can do. When you’re acting, you’re gonna do stuff that you didn’t think you could do.
So, that would be my best bit of advice. To just do it. Get out there, take theater, take classes. You’ll meet people and you’ll network, and that’s how you will foray into a career in voice acting.
Also, perseverance, and persistence. It takes years to build a career. Understand that clearly. Be prepared to put in the work, the effort, and the time.
Michael is a man of many things. Journalist, writer, gamer, professional procrastinator, cosplayer, super hero, whale wrestler, evil mastermind, and robot master. And that’s just on the weekends.