Roger Craig Smith talks about Sonic, the Assassin’s Creed movie, and his role as Batman

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Roger Craig Smith is a man of many voices. Some of those voices include the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog in 2010, Ezio Auditore da Firenze from Assassin’s Creed, Thomas the Goat in Regular Show, or even as Batman in Arkham Origins and Batman Unlimited. The man of many voices has been around for a long time, but many of you may have never noticed. Just before San Diego Comic-Con, we had a chance to talk with Roger about his career and the many roles he has come to be in the last few years.

NR: Getting to voice as many roles as you do, you probably don’t get a lot of free time. When you finally do get a chance to relax what are some things you like to do?

Roger: I try and relax a little bit and get outside. My sort of hobby – my passion – is getting outside and taking photographs, looking through a telescope and taking some astrophotography, doing some nightscape photography. Just taking pictures of the world around me so I can kind of feel connected to things.

NR: How long have you been doing photography for?

Roger: As a hobby, I’ve been doing diligently for maybe the last year and a half, or so. It was done previously, and I just sort of put it away for awhile. Now, it’s just great to be able to get back to it.

NR: Batman is such an iconic character which has been played by many actors, how do you feel that you’ve grown into the character after Batman Origins and Batman Unlimited?

Roger: You know, none of this stuff is owed to anyone in the business. I don’t own the character, and really and truly, when people say “your version” of Batman, that is always one of those things where you go, “Ok, that is a perception that I think other people have.” I am just thrilled and honored that I get to be part of something that is so historic – as far as characters in our industry go – and as far as growth of the character, to that I always say that it is a collaborative process. There aren’t many things in the business that you get to walk in and they say, “Here is the character I am going to give to you, and there it is.” It is a lot of people working together between the writers, the producers and, really importantly, the voice-over director, in this case. It’s important for me to lean on the director and have them kind of help me understand what they want to get from this character. So in terms of the growth with the Batman Unlimited franchise, it’s more of a family-friendly series, with it obviously being for a home audience, they wanted it to be in the vain of this is a Batman for everyone. This is sort of backing off the Batman origins, obviously. Batman, in terms of feelings and in performance, I think I’m not quite as brooding, or quite as dark, as the Dark Knight is in Arkham Origins, but still very much a Batman that hopefully we can introduce to a younger audience, and allow all the adult Batman fans to enjoy with their kids.

I’m really kind of curious to see how all of these comic book characters progress, and if there is a different type of take that can be done, and whether or not I get a shot at it would be an incredible opportunity.

NR: Do you have any thoughts on the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie, and would you be interested in appearing in some capacity, maybe as a hooded Ezio?

Roger: It’s so funny, I’ve had that question before and obviously I think anything that furthers the franchise that is Assassin’s Creed, and introduces it to an audience is a good thing. It means that there will be more eyeballs and ears on Ezio. If people are really interested in the movies and decide to go back and play the games, it’s neat to be a part of anything like that. I don’t have any thoughts on it either way, I’ve seen the trailer and it looks really cool. It’s a story that lends itself really well to the cinematic world and, hopefully, the action is done well, and it’s a perfect homage to fans of the game that get to see it in this detached non-interactive sort of narrative.

If they were ever even to consider an Ezio cameo, I would not put myself on even the longest list of actors to be considered for that, because it’s a real quick way for me to ruin people’s image of Ezio. Maybe they could just have him say something in the background, I’d be more than happy to do that, but I just think, “I am not Ezio obviously, I am the lucky guy who got to portray the voice.”

NR: So if they ever offered you a role as an extra would you say yes?

Roger: Oh hell yea, in an instant, are you kidding me! *laughs* I would love to make a cameo like that. In fact, I think that is every voice actors’ dream. If they have ever done a character that gets transferred to the big screen, it’s like I’d like to be the character who gets stabbed in the back. Just give me one little thing.

NR: So it’s Sonic the Hedgehog’s 25th Anniversary, and it’s a character you’ve been voicing for just about 6 years now. How has that been for you?

Roger: It’s been really cool. For the first few games and different projects, we were really kind of wrestling, while working with development crew, on what is this version of Sonic going to be. It’s not like I get to walk in and determine that, and I think where we are at with Sonic Boom as a television series is just a tremendous amount of fun we’ve been able to have with the universe. As a result, I think that we’ve brought in the reach of the character again, a sort of a renaissance of the character. It seems that Sega is really focused on making sure that Sonic remains relevant, and to be a part of the character at a time when that character is growing is incredible.

To be Sonic is like a dream come true. There are really and truly so many roles that I’ve gotten to play that everyone single one of them is a dream come true, I don’t know how I can keep having many dreams can come true.

NR: With Sega announcing they want to make Sonic an “Entertainment Icon”, which includes a new game to be announced for 2017, and a theatrical film from Sony Pictures, how did you feel when you heard that news?

Roger: I know there have been a lot of people asking if I am going to be involved in that film; the honest answer is, truly, I have no idea. Of course, I would want to be. I would kill to be involved with anything like that, but we really have no idea what they have in store. I know as much, if not less than, most people, but I look at it like regardless what happens, whether or not I am involved with it any shape or form would, of course, be icing on the cake. Anything that furthers a brand that you are a part of is a good thing, and I hate to sound so detached from it as if it’s not a fun job and as I don’t covet these roles, but the reality of the commerce element of this is that if the character goes away or they fall from popularity, then we lose these things that we hold dear. We lose Batman, we lose Sonic the Hedgehog, we lose these franchises. so anything that puts these characters out in a way that keeps these characters as a viable entity, in a constantly changing marketplace, I am all for.

NR: Not sure if you can talk about this next topic, but have you heard anything about Resident Evil 7, or had a chance to try it?

Roger: I can’t answer that…*laughing*! Actually no, I haven’t seen anything about it, and really, I don’t know anything about it, so I can’t say anything either way. It’s another franchise that you just go, man, I can’t believe that I’ve been a part of as many games as I was with that, and getting to do that character over and over again, it’s just incredible.

NR: Are there any characters that you would like to voice one day in video games, animation or television?

Roger: I’ve been asked this question before and really, the answer is almost always the same, which is, I’ve already done it. I can’t imagine – I mean holy cow, dude – I’ve been able to be Batman. I’ve been able to be Captain America. I’ve done multiple Disney films as different characters. I get to be part of the Give a Mouse a Cookie project that is coming out, where I get to be Mouse and Moose in an animated version of a children’s story that so many people whole dear, like a part of their childhood. Just to be able to do anything like that once in a career is an honor. The fact that I get to say that I’ve done it multiple times, and I still get to do it, is ridiculous! I guess maybe some more bad guys would be a lot of fun. I’ve been working with an accent coach to learn some new dialects and things like that to try to step back and do something that people will go “Oh wow, that doesn’t sound like Roger Craig Smith.”

NR: I’ve always wondered, do you ever get the chance to place any input for your different roles?

Roger: Yea, and when I do it’s always really a nice thing to have something happen. It just depends on the production, in fact. Kudos to Klay Hall for Disney’s Planes, as a director, because he was really open to people suggesting things. There were a couple of things that happened throughout the film that I did as ad-libs in the booth that made it into the script, and then into the final version of the film, including them taking something that was originally suppose to be a laugh, and instead I came up with a line that Klay had just said “Yes do that,” and sure enough, that made it. They ended up animating it, which means that they ended up spending money to animate it. It was cool to have that sort of thing happen, so it just depends on the production. Less more so with retail than with animation, but even then there are animated projects where they are like no we really worked hard on the writing and so we want to stick with what’s there.

A lot of times with Regular Show, especially, J.G. (Quintel) will let you know when he doesn’t like your idea, and that has happened with me a number of times. With Thomas the Intern, I was like, “Oh, so he is a goat? Do you want make to make the goat sounds or something?” He was like, “No dude, no goat sounds, just regular. You know, Regular Show.” But it was fun to get to work on that show,and even with that show, in particular, they would let you still sort of free-form and kind of mess around with things. It’s part of what I like about doing voice-overs so much, that it reminds me of my days back in stand-up, where you can kind of throw out something and see if it sticks with the audience. So much of voice-over is that. You will have a director say to do one as this character, and to do some ad-libs; play around with it.

Batman Unlimited: Mech vs. Mutants, starring the voice talents of Roger Craig Smith, will premiere on July 24, 2016, at San Diego Comic-Con International, to be followed by a digital release on August 30, 2016 and a DVD release on September 13, 2016.

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Chris Del Castillo
Chris Del Castillo 2588 posts

Growing up Chris watched a lot of the original Saturday morning cartoons and developed a love for arts and animation. Growing up he tried his hand at animation and eventually script writing, but even more his love of video games, anime and technology grew.