“7 Minutes…”- Albert Wesker

Another week, another awesome voice actor interview. What makes this one extra awesome is that it’s with the great D.C Douglas. I interviewed D.C last year as part of the Mass Effect cast interviews and I looked forward to chatting with him again. He always gives readers an interesting peek into his work all the while keeping it funny and entertaining. A true gentlemen as well as a true talent, D.C is up there with my favourite voice actors. A pleasure as always, D.C. Enjoy the interview everyone and when your done why not follow D.C on twitter or check out some of his short films in the links throughout this post.

Retroplayer- First off, tell us a little about yourself, D.C

D.C- Carbon based. Inappropriate humor. Equal helpings of insecurity and arrogance.  Think I can dance but I see how you all look at me.  Stopped caring about bands after realizing Roger Waters might be a little bit of a prick.  Actually, for the boring version, check out THIS page.

Retroplayer- When did you decide that acting was your call in life?

D.C- I was 7 and was watching a Hollywood & The Stars special after the local Dialing For Dollars afternoon film.  It was narrated by Joseph Cotton.  You know, listening to him can convert anyone to anything.  Never thought of being anything else since.

Retroplayer- Very early on in your career you were in the film Future Force opposite of David Carradine where you played Billy Parke, a paraplegic computer whiz kid who helped out Carradines character from a tiny little dark room. I found it quite refreshing that on your official blog you made a post about this film and basically had a good laugh looking back on it. Do you feel that it’s important for an actor to embrace every aspect of their career even if looking back it may not stand up to their later work?

D.C- First off – thanks for doing some homework outside of video games!  Impressive!  As for acting gigs, I like to act.  The odds of getting a career only full of respectable projects is very rare.  So, I take whatever comes my way that will be fun.  And at the same time, I can watch my performance and know when I suck or the thing I’m in sucks.  Instead of retreating from that reality, I prefer to embrace it and have a good laugh.  After all, no one dies if an actor is in a crappy movie… Some may get hurt, though…

Retroplayer- Give us an impression of a day in the life of D.C Douglas.

D.C- First I prepare the burial site.  Then I stake out their workplace until they go on their lunch break.  I use one of my pre-soaked chloroform pads to subdue them…  Oh, you mean acting, right?  Of course you do.  Duh!  Sorry

A big part of my daily routine is just me and my iMac.  First I respond to emails from clients overseas.  Then I record all the auditions that are due that day.  Then lunch.  Then record gigs that came in during the night.  Some days involve me going out into the world to record at a studio.  Some days I actually have a rare on-camera audition and I spend several hours preparing the audition, then going to whatever film/television studio.  By 7 I’m drinking Cabernet.

Retroplayer- With voice acting, take us through your early experiences of breaking into industry, D.C. Was it tough to secure roles to help build up your résumé or did you find it relatively easy?

D.C- I couldn’t land a voice over agent for 10 years!  So, yeah, it was hard initially.  Of course, that was before the internet.  It’s whole new ball game now.  I think my first non-union voice over gigs were for many different 1-900 services!  My first big one was as the voice of a futuristic AT&T ride for Epcott Center.

I could never get a good demo put together without spending LOTS of money.  I eventually only pursued VO casually and concentrated on film and TV work.  I also did a lot of ADR/Walla work with a couple of groups, but found the work depressing because I wasn’t fully doing VO and I was providing background crowd voices to films I should have been auditioning for!

My side gig for 8 years was editing actor’s demo reels.   My own film/tv reels rocked, of course.  But my VO demos were kinda sucky.  Then I had a Eureka moment;  why was I hiring people to do it when I edited video?  I could edit an audio demo, too!  I felt pretty stupid at the time.  But I put together a kick-ass demo and had an agent 6 months later.

Retroplayer- After doing additional voices for The Grandstream Saga in 1997 you got your first substantial gaming role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 2001 in which you voiced The Master. Take us through your impressions of stepping into the booth and tackling what was essentially your first large role in a game.

D.C- I didn’t know it was at the time.  Videogames were not as popular as they are now.  It was another quick gig for me.  They needed a sound alike and I did my best impersonating the actor who was on the show, but then they opened it up a little more when we recorded.  When you’ve spent 4 hours in a booth recording 60 pages of corporate narration, spending an hour having fun as a character is a breeze.  It was one session and a quick check.

Retroplayer- You’ve been in some rather big TV shows such as Star Trek: Enterprise, 24, ER and Criminal Minds and seem to be one of those rare breed of voice actors who are just as successful on the screen as they are behind the mic. Do you approach voice acting for TV the same way you would for a game or does it differ?

D.C- First, God bless you.  I’m tearfully hugging you in my mind right now.  Second, my on-camera jobs are sparse considering my VO jobs.  I can do 100 VO gigs in 6 months and only 1 on-camera role.  And sadly, it’s that on-camera role that really feeds my creative soul.

As for your question, acting behind the mic is much easier and much harder than on-camera.  It’s harder because what you can convey with the eyes has to be in the voice.  It’s easier because I can swing my arms around like spastic octopus and contort my face into a “Karl Malden orgasm” look to get a certain feeling or quality in the voice – something that wouldn’t look good on 90210.  As for prep, they differ as well due to the nature of the mediums.  Check out this interview as I go into more detail.

Retroplayer- Were you aware of the Resident Evil franchise before landing your role as Albert Wesker

D.C- Afraid not.  I spend a lot of my time with my head up my own ass.  It’s the nature of being an actor.

Retroplayer- Take us through a typical day of the recording process of Resident Evil 5, D.C. How did you approach his voice and what kind of voice direction were you given?

D.C- First I had to sit down and get silver balls glued to my face.  Then I’d get into the booth and they would adjust all the cameras and lasers to make sure my facial movements were being recorded.  Meanwhile, I would be quickly browsing through the dialogue as it would be the first time I’d be seeing it.  Then we’d look at either mo-cap footage or animatics of a scene I was about to voice.  Then Liam O’Brien would tell me I was shit and to do it right… Okay, that part’s not true.  Liam was awesome and we would record each line 2 to 5 times until all producers, writer and director were happy… There were A LOT of people in that studio.  As for voice direction, I’ve written about this a lot and it’s also in this interview.

Retroplayer- How do you view Wesker as a character?

D.C- He’s an emasculated, wimpy version of Dick Cheney.

Retroplayer- D.C, Weskers demented plans came to a head in Resident Evil 5 when he intended on releasing the Uroboros virus into the Earths atmosphere. Do you play Wesker more as a madman who truly believes in what he is doing or, to coin as phrase from a well known film, someone who “just wants to watch the world burn”?

D.C- Oh no, he’s a true believer.  But he is also morphing into something else, so reason and logic begin to warp.  And with that dialogue, one can’t help tilting toward humour.

Retroplayer- Despite Weskers knack of returning from the dead Resident Evil producer, Masachika Kawata ,when speaking to the fans has stated that “Even if you want Albert Wesker to come back. There’s no chance he’s coming back from that.” Do you think we’ve seen the last of Wesker beyond the obvious spin-off titles?

D.C- I think so.  My phone has not rung since… [collapses into puddle of own tears.]

Retroplayer- If you didn’t provide the voice for Wesker, who in Resident Evil franchise would you have liked to portray?

D.C- First, I love work no matter what!  I’d voice anybody.  But, if I had my druthers? … Albert Wesker.  So, yeah, it worked out well.

Retroplayer- D.C, you did a great performance as Grimoire Noir in the 2010 game Nier. How did you approach this role seeing as your character was merely a talking book and didn’t have any identifiable face? Also, do you need to exaggerate your performance to compensate for his lack of physical presence?

D.C- You know what was fun about that?  Kicking Liam O’Brien’s ass!  I was very jazzed to hear him in the playback.  We actually had two sessions for the voice because we approached him too obvious the first go round.  I was happy when they asked me to take it to the creepy level.

Retroplayer- While we can appreciate you’ve no doubt signed a NDA for Mass Effect 3, D.C, give us a vague idea on where the character of Legion will be taken in the third instalment.

D.C- You answered your own question within the question!  All I can say is Legion is… Wow, I really can’t say a damn thing without giving something away.  Sorry!

Retroplayer- Are you a gamer yourself? If so, what do you play?

D.C- I’m not a gamer, but only because my time is limited.  If I did play games, I think I’d really get into Mass Effect.  I was 11 when Star Wars came out and it permeated my imagination for many years.

Retroplayer- D.C, you’ve directed four projects with the most recent one being The Crooked Eye. Creatively what does directing offer you that acting simply can’t?

D.C- Actually, directing was a way to broaden my acting options.  Falling Words, The Eighth Plane and Freud and Darwin Sitting In A tree were all so I could act in the types of roles I didn’t get auditions for.  I also edited, co-produced and wrote or co-wrote them.  They helped soothe my OCD!

Duck Duck GOOSE! Is, by far, the best one that I acted in and wrote.  That started as an excuse for three actors to work together for the sake of acting.  Then my OCD kicked in and it became a 20 minute, $20,000 side project!  It also features Courtenay Taylor – Jack from ME2, and Lisa Long – EverQuest II.

The Crooked Eye, on the other hand, was a labour of love and a gift to my mother.  The story behind this is extraordinary.  It should be coming out on iTunes later this year.

Retroplayer- At this point in your life what is your main source of inspiration, D.C?

D.C- Sounds like I’m dying…  Oh, I guess a baby’s smile or the kind gesture of a young person who helps me across the street.

Inspiration comes in many forms.  Politics get my ire up.  I have a whole YouTube and FaceBook following for my unabashedly liberal and nipple-tweaking videos.   Other actor friends’ projects inspire me.  Not wanting to just be a VO actor who gets fat, grows my hair long and spends all day talking about eq and microphones inspires me to keep hustling for film and TV work!  Being in a mentorship program inspires me ( http://www.youthmentoring.org/).  Kiva.org inspires me.

Retroplayer- D.C, you’re very much into connecting with your fans through email, twitter, your blog and youtube. How have your fan interactions been thus far? Also, out of all the videogame characters you’ve played which gets the most feedback?

D.C- Albert Wesker is BY FAR the biggest fan creator.  After that, it’s a tie between Mass Effect fans and political junkies who follow me.  And, as far as the interactions, it’s strange, wonderful and humbling.  My FaceBook page has almost 7000 fans.  One day I hope to harness their power to save the world… Or maybe just bug Masachika Kawata into thinking of me as the voice of Alex Wesker… ;-]

Retroplayer- What advice would you give to any young people who wish to become a voice actor who are reading this right now?

D.C- Don’t believe in yourself.  The nay-sayers know what they’re talking about.  Avoid risk at all costs.  Take on your parents fear of the unknown as your own fear.  Don’t aim high, aim safely.  Always worry about what other people are thinking of you.

Yeah, you get my drift.  Here’s one thing I think is important:  No one is going to do it for you.  By emailing me or any person you think is “successful” (whatever that is) and asking them how to do it is to give up your power.  A voice over career has a few rules that can be found in most books.  The rest requires you to think up a plan and to follow through with it.  I wrote a quick thing for beginners on my website: HERE.

Retroplayer- D.C, Albert Wesker has already gone down in history as one of the great gaming villains. Assuming this is the last time we ever see him, how do you want him to be remembered?

D.C- As the guy who looked hot in latex… I mean literally.  He was sweating bullets and his feet smelled like mildew.  It was a hard life being Albert Wesker.

Retroplayer- What’s next for D.C Douglas

D.C- You switched to third person.  That’s eerie.  As of this moment, I have a Chevy recording session tomorrow, various smaller clients the rest of the week, a recurring Bank of the West commercial recording session in September and a new cartoon I’m a regular on coming out in December on cable. (Trust me, you’ll be hearing about that one!)

Oh, and, of course, ME3 in 2012!

Retroplayer- And finally, do you have a message for all your fans here on TGL?

D.C- Please, PLEASE stop sending me your underwear in the mail.  That goes for the girls, too.

I am honored and delighted you guys give a flying monkey about us voice actors.  Thank you!  If you’re not offended easily, feel free to follow me on Twitter or FaceBook.