Steve Prince answers Susanna's Questions
Interview with Chris McFeely
His Name is Prince
Steve Prince Interview with Anime Omnitude
Steve Prince answers Susanna's Questions
Susanna: How do become different characters, eg when you have to voice someone who’s either angry, very evil, upset, etc, (mostly scenes that are hard to do) what’s your way of doing that? Do you really have to act, even though only your voice is recorded?
Steve: As for whether I have to really act, I'd be in trouble if I didn't. When you're in front of the camera, you can use facial expressions and body movements to help the audience know how you feel. When you're doing voice overs, the ONLY thing you have is your voice. If you can't convince the audience of the joy, turmoil, confusion, love, pain, anger, etc and whether those emotions run deep or if they're just temporary, if while you're doing it you're outside and it's cold, or whether you just got finished running and are catching your breath, then you shouldn't be doing voice overs. You have to convey all of that and more if you're going to be believable. Add to that when you do animae, you're not creating a voice from scratch and have to match the mouth flaps that have already been drawn, and you have to have one very technically expert voice over actor. Sometimes when you're meant to do this, (dare I even suggest born to do it), a sixth sense occurs where you know the character so well, that you don't even preview what the character says, just let the tape roll, and are able to nail it so that what you recorded matches exactly what the mouth flaps are. That's one reason why a lot of directors like using me: I can't always nail it without watching, but a lot of the time I'll just do it the first take, with all the emotions and humanity that a character needs to make him/it believable.
One psycho thing about the way I work is that I try to think like the character. If I try and get into his skin, these emotions I normally wouldn't think of by rationalizing it as an actor, come to the forefront.
Susanna: Is it true that you go into this room with a huge mic and everyone watches through the windows?
Steve: Yes, it's true that people watch you through a window. 9 times out of 10, only the director and engineer will be on the other side. Occasionally, the producer or some guest visitors will be there as well.
The microphone really isn't that big.
Susanna: How does it feel to play a game you voiced? Do you ever get surprised in what happens in the story?
Steve: I am not usually surprised by what happens to the character, because when I go in to record it, I ask for all the information I can about the storyline and character's arc. That way, I know how to best voice the character and make his voice emotionally progress through the game. Perfect example is Oswald from Odin Sphere..
Susanna: Do you usually read out the lines or memorise them?
Steve: If you're talking about a game, then I read out loud. There is no need for me to memorize because I do not have a picture to look at to try and match what I'm saying to the mouth movement. If it's a show, then I do a temporary memorization of the lines, unless they are off screen where you don't see the character's mouth. Then I'll read out loud.
Susanna: If you were to meet one of your own characters, who do you think you would get along with best and why?
Steve: Wow. Great question! That's a hard one too. I don't think I'd get along with Uryu or Shino because they're too closed off to strangers. So, I have to think back on characters that are people people, who will say hi even if they have never met the person. Well, in that case I'd have to do a toss up between either Keitaro from Love Hina or Arashi from Paradise Kiss. Those guys are just likeable guys. I might get along a little better with Keitaro, but I'm not so sure that I'd be able to stand him for very long due to his dorkiness. So actually Arashi might be a better choice, cause then I could actually carry on a conversation with the dude. And who wouldn't want to hang out with a rock star that sews for a living?
Susanna: It must be so awesome for your boys to be watching digimon, and seeing YOU on it!!
Steve: Yeah, it’s fun. Tyler, my 5 year old, turns to me and says “The emporer is NOT a nice man, daddy”.
Susanna: There’s a question i’ve always wanted to ask, but keep forgetting, if you remember that digimon interview thing you did a while back, you said the most memorable moment is that scene when the emperoer lost his armor and has a break down, that must have been really hard cos it takes REALLY GREAT acting, how did you do it?
Steve: If I remember correctly, I just capitalized on the angst I had from when my grandma had died. It was a couple years prior to that, but I think that, combined with me really getting into the role, it’s almost like I had Ken inside me. Like I WAS him. I know that sounds kinda scary-like Stanislavski-but it worked.
With possibly *the* largest number of characters voiced across all three seasons of "Digimon," Derek Stephen Prince is fast becoming a big name with the fans. Quite likely the most popular voice actor on the show at the moment, he took some time out of his busy schedule to answer the multitude of questions I had.
Chris McFeely: When did you decide you wanted to build a career for yourself as an actor?
Derek Stephen Prince: That's a loaded question, but I'll try to be brief. I actually started when I was 10. I appeared as an extra on a short lived show called "240 Robert" with Mark Harmon. I did a lot of stage work through elementary and high school. It was after high school that I felt I wanted to be an actor and went to college for Musical Theater at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (where people like Ming Na, John Wells, Steven Bochco, Blair Underwood, Jack Klugman and Ted Danson graduated - just to name a few). I went to New York for 2 years and did summer stock and tours, and wound up back in California where I grew up and landed my first big TV gig as a co-star on the first season of "E.R." where I played a rookie fireman. I also appeared on a couple episodes of "Saved By The Bell".
CMcF: How did you break into the voice-acting industry? What were you doing before you got your break?
DSP: After ER and Saved By The Bell, things were slow. I took a voice over class at the SAG (Screen Actor's Guild) Conservatory, where many actors can take free classes to sharpen their skills. I never really got into voice-overs. I had an introduction to it in college, but nothing major. The person teaching was Bob Bergen (voice of Porky Pig and Tweety Bird). He gave us two pieces of material to read. After class, as we all were leaving, he stopped me and asked if I had a demo tape. I had no idea that you needed a demo for voice-overs, and I only had my on-camera demo. He said that I showed a lot of talent and I should take professional classes. His was the first I took. At that time, he was doing a show for Saban called "Eagle Riders". I got to sit in and see first hand what Anime was all about. That prompted me to take a couple more classes and make my first demo (I'm currently on my third). Then I contacted casting at Saban and said that if they were ever looking for new talent, that I'd be happy to send them my demo. The Casting Director asked what I was doing the following day, and asked if I'd like to go to an audition. I said of course, tried out, and wound up being cast as a regular on "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers," my first professional voice-over gig.
CMcF: Through what events were you approached for the Digimon series? You play a huge number of characters, but were there any others that you auditioned for?
DSP: After being on MMPR, that set me up for other shows that Saban produced and auditioned for. Some I got, some I didn't. For Digimon 01, I actually wasn't brought in for the auditions. I was asked by the casting director, Paul DiFranco, whom I had never worked for before, if I was interested in doing a guest character (DemiDevimon). I was actually referred to him by someone else at Saban. I said yes. He then learned that I could do a Peter Lorre imitation, and got the role of Digitamamon. It wasn't until halfway through that season that I actually auditioned and got the role of Piedmon.
CMcF: Speaking of roles... who would you say has been your favourite character to voice? There have certainly been a lot of them, so I don't know if you'd be able to pick just one...
DSP: I've done a lot, but I would have to say that so far, the most fun and the most rewarding role has been The Digimon Emperor/Ken Ichijouji: The Emperor because he encapsulated evil, and Ken because of the arc he made as the Emperor to becoming a DigiDestined.
CMcF: At the other end of the spectrum, were there any characters you found to be a strain to voice?
DSP: I found it challenging to voice Paildramon and Imperialdramon, because when you record you do it by yourself (for Anime). Often, Paul St. Peter did his part first so I had to listen really good to match all his inflections in the way he said his lines.
CMcF: If there was one other character on the show that you'd like to be able to voice, who would it be?
DSP: If you're referring to the second season, then I'd have to say Mummymon.
CMcF: You're currently voicing Impmon on the third season of the show. A question that is on a lot of fans' lips at the moment is - will you be voicing Impmon's Digivolved form, Beelzebumon? Maybe you should shed some light on his American name?
DSP: First off, the American name is Beelzamon. Yes, I am voicing him. I actually just did his first line which is at the end of Episode 131. At that time, noone knew what he was supposed to act like, or what his personality was, so we just took a shot at it and did 3 or 4 interpretations. 133, the next episode he's in, where there is more detail to the character was in the process of beign written so we had nothing to go on. When I initially did Impmon (whom you may harken to sound a lot like DemiDevimon) I auditioned for it. They wanted someone who sounded like Joe Pesci. Well, anyone who's anyone knows that if you want Pesci you go to me. When we were voicing the Digimon CDrom game, we had to come up with something for Beelzamon, because he is featured in it, so the director and I thought it would be funny/cool to do a bad-ass New York type. So if it doesn't work out for the series, then you'll at least get to hear Beelzamon as if he was a hardcore Sylvester Stallone. :) This interpretation didn't look like it would work when we got to see a picture of him for the first time.
CMcF: As one of the "bigger" names in Digimon, with THE largest number of characters voiced under your belt, do you find your voice is ever recognised when you're out? I'd imagine that any younger relatives you may have reacted well to finding out they're related to the voice of Veemon!
DSP: I have not yet been recognized as any of the characters I've portrayed. If someone was a huge fan that I bumped into, perhaps they'd be able to tell I was Ken, because he is the closest to my actual voice. To actually hear what my "real" voice sounds like, you can go to http://www.voicebank.net/, click on House Reels, then my agent - Tisherman - then Promos, then Men, then me. I'm listed as Steve Prince.
CMcF: Do you think you were cast in other Saban projects as a result of your popular work on "Digimon" (or vice versa), or was each assignment independently secured?
DSP: I owe everything I was considered for at Saban a direct result of my involvement with Power Rangers. If I hadn't done a series regular on that show, it's likely that I probably wouldn't be involved with Anime as much as I am.
CMcF: It's my understanding that a lot of voice actors rarely watch the shows they work on. Does this hold true for you? If you do watch the shows, whatare your opinions of them?
DSP: I often try to watch the shows if able. If I really like an episode, like "Piedmon's Last Stand" from season one, I request a tape for my files. I feel that some of the shows I work on, particularly the current season of Digimon, are way too dark for kids to watch and have a hard time understanding why they get approved. But hey, that's why they have test groups and network people to handle that. I just do my job, and enjoy it. :) Sometimes, I feel that the post production music overshadows the dialogue. That seems to be a running area that I'm nit-picky about. Perhaps, when Disney takes over in 2002, that'll change.
CMcF: It's fair to say that voice actors receive little appreciation for what they do, beyond cult and fan followings. What are your opinions on this? Do you like the anonymity?
DSP: I come from an on-camera background, so I wish that I was recognized more, but I like the rewards of being acknowledged by the peers I work with, because that's pretty much the only people that would recognize me anyway. The one variation from that, was when I was asked by a benifit organization to donate an autographed picture for a charity event, because they liked my work as Ken/Digimon Emperor, which is how I AKA'd it.
CMcF: What advice do you have for those out there who aspire to be voice actors? How should they go about making their way into the industry?
DSP: Don't. Seriously. If there's anything else you aspire to do, or like to do, do it. This business is very hard to get in to, harder to get a job at. But if you must, then be sure that those who are in the business and have the experience to give you sound advice, let you know that you can compete against the thousand of others out there who are making a career for themselves. It always seems like there's never enough work for those who want to get started, but if you have the talent, drive and determination then you'll make it. Just look at me.
CMcF: Who would you cite as your inspirations, in the industry, in life, in anything?
DSP: I owe a lot to Bob Bergen for lighting the spark in me to pursue this industry. I owe a lot to Karen Carter, a casting director for Saban, who loved actors enough to take a chance on me in bringing me in for MMPR without even hearing a demo, and let me try out for a series regular, which I booked. I owe a lot to Scott Page Pagter and David Walsh, who as the Director and Engineer for MMPR, developed my talent from not knowing squat about dubbing, tbecoming one of the better actors out there who can really do it. Finally, I owe a lot to the various other directors out there who constantly think of me and reccommend me for projects. They keep me working! (In particular, Wendee Lee, Michael Sorich and Richard Epcar.) As for aspirations, I hope to work as much as Jess Harnell, Frank Welker, and Jim Cummings.
CMcF: Are there any individuals in the industry that you would like/hope to work with in the future?
DSP: The above mentioned, as well as any celebrity actors that do voices for cartoons (movies mainly)
CMcF: Are you friendly with any of the other voice actors on the shows you work on?
DSP: The above mentioned directors, as well as Brianne Siddall, Richard Cansino and Steve Blum
CMcF: What do you do in your spare time? What hobbies or interests do you have?
DSP: I like computer games. I am currently studying to be an MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Expert) to configure networks in business offices. Once I get my degree, I will have more stability in my chosen field as regular work. Let's face it, no-one who is doing anime is making a fortune at it, and all shows must come to an end sometime.
CMcF: What are you working on at the moment? What can we expect to see from you next?
DSP: I'm currently working on "Mon Colle Knights" as one of the leads, Mondo. Also working on a yet to be released CGI project from Japan called Zentirx. Can't say a lot about this project, because it's under wraps, but it looks like it will be interesting. Especially since we are providing the voices before it's animated with computer graphics! Not your usual anime, nor the fact that it's CGI.
CMcF: Any final words you'd like to impart to your fans?
DSP: Thank you all for thinking so highly of me. It feels good to be recognized. The voice over industry is a family, so if anyone out there is SERIOUSLY thinking of getting into the business, I would be happy to speak with them via email to give them whatever advice, support or encouragement they'd need to help them make it.
DSP: And thank you Chris, for your time and dedication you have put into this website. Thank you also for quickly acknowledging and addressing my concerns. Much appreciated. It has been a pleasure being interviewed by you, and I wish you much luck in all your endeavours!
Many thanks to Dave Mallow for arranging this interview.
elF: It was very refreshing to read your interview with Chris McFeely, and see you openly cite MMPR Productions, and Scott Page-Pagter in particular, as being a big part of the reason you're where you are today. So many former alums tend to be down on their time on the series, and you've begun to make quite a name for yourself in the industry. Not really so much a question as a thank you. (Though, I suppose if I wanted to make it a question... Would you ever consider returning to voice another "suit?")
DSP: I would love to. Scott has always been gracious enough to invite me to audition when they are casting new monsters for the season. But I have yet to book one lately.
Derik (not Derek) notes: Literally days after this interview, Derek was called up to fulfill VA duties for Tire Org for PRWF episode five.
elF: I would imagine that doing dubbing for a character in costume is quite different from work on an anime. For one thing, you have a lot more leeway on how much you're allowed to "say," since the mouths move so little (or not at all). How much ad-libbing was allowed- or even encouraged- during your time with MMPR Productions?
DSP: Not a lot. We pretty much stuck with the lines as written. I did have a little more leeway when MMPR turned union.I replaced an actor by the name of David Umansky, who did Elgar for two seasons. When I replaced him mid second season, I was able to kick around some lines to make him funny.
elF: I've always been somewhat curious- do the VO-only actors run lines in ADR at the same time as the on-camera cast does? If so, were there ever any Ranger actors that stuck in your mind, or were the most fun to work with?
DSP: Any time you see monsters speak in the show, they have all been recorded in post-production. What I mean by that is, after all the on-camera actors and action sequences have been filmed, they add the monsters afterwards by having each one go in seperately at different times and record their voices in a booth. There may be some instances where we will rerecord outside action sequences where you see groups of people running, or fighting. In that scenario, there will be 4-5 people in the booth at the same time. That is called group looping. Scott may sometimes pull one of those actors for a guest monster that only has 3-4 lines.
elF: You got your start in stage and television acting, as opposed to voice-over work. Is there ever a part of you that would like to return to performing in front of the camera, or the theater? Which would you say is most rewarding for you?
DSP: A part of me would like to return to that All The Time! It's what I was trained in, it's in my blood. I miss it terribly, but as with anything, when you make certain choices in life, priorities change. I am married and have a son. It's really hard to try and juggle voice-overs AND stage AND television and a regular job! I couldn't do it anymore. But a part of me always hopes that if things get easier, I will be able to go back to film and television.
elF: What's the last good book you read?
DSP: I can't remember the last time I read a book. Isn't that sad? I used to read all the time. Science Fiction/Fantasy/Action are my favorites. My favorite types of books are anything pertaining to the Arthurian Legends or James Bond. I also love comics, but those aren't really books.
elF: Comics count! What titles?
DSP: I was a collector mostly (quite a nasty & expensive habit.) I didn't get a lot of time to read, and I stopped collecting about 4 years ago, so I am definately not up to snuff on what's current and what's not, but here's what I liked-either for the art content, or storyline:
JLA, SuperBoy, Steel, Spawn (hands down some of the best art I've seen since Frazetti), anything with Venom. And I don't care how hokey everyone thought is was, I loved the whole Marvel 2099 series of books!
Derik (not Derek) notes: 2099 rocked, Peter David, the writer of Spider-man 2099 is currently doing a time-travel arc in the pages of Captain Marvel picking up many of its characters. As for Bond, I rather liked High Time to Kill even if it wasn't a Flemming novel.
Steve Prince Interview with Anime Omnitude
Anime Omnitude: Here we have Steve Prince, the voice actor for the English Bleach Anime playing Ishida
Anime Omnitude:What does it take to become a professional Voice Actor?
Steve Prince: Yikes, there's no way I can give a short answer. Sorry.
Anime Omnitude: Do you prefer his character to that of keitaro urashima?
Steve Prince: Too soon to tell, as I haven't had the chance to record an episode yet.
Anime Omnitude: Ishida is kind of a discreet, geeky, lacking confidence at times, kind of person. What kind of voice will you use for him, something like Keitaro's or what?
Steve Prince: No, not Keitaro. If I remember from the audition, it was actually very similar to Ken Ichijouji. But more mysterious. I think that's the direction they're going to go with him, considering his past history of him being one of the last of the Quincies, and I think that by the time we're seeing him in the series, his grandfather has died and he's at odds with his dad. I'm not so sure he'll be geeky, but that's up to the director to decide.
Anime Omnitude: Seeing as you've done a few lead roles, how do you find Ishida's character to those you have done?
Steve Prince: I think it will be another great opportunity to help breathe life into a character that will hopefully stand out in the show. I'm not a scene stealer or anything, don't get me wrong, but no matter what character I do, I as an actor HAVE to breathe life and humanity to what I play, and I think in that sense, that's why people remember me. Look at Impmon and Beelzamon for example. They were not integral to the overall storyline in Digimon, but hopefully you remember them.
Anime Omnitude: Do you think/feel like Ishada in real life ? You know when you get tired of your job and want to study or just go on a bow and arrow rampage
Steve Prince: Well....first off, I haven't shot an arrow in I don't know how long, so I usually don't get that urge. After a long day, I do usually wind down playing video games. Anything shooter, action, platform or role playing oriented I LOVE. As far as feeling like Ishida, there are some things that I can relate to and that I feel I can bring to the table from my own life that mirror Ishida's when I was 15.
Anime Omnitude: You have a VERY busy schedule with the voice acting you are doing at the moment. How will you deal with another, yet great anime you are voice acting for?
Steve Prince: Milezy, voice acting is not what keeps me as busy as my regular work schedule. I have a regular job as a mortgage loan originator, in which I work 45-50 hours a week. I just manage to squeeze in the voice overs when a production company can accommodate my schedule. This period of my life with voice overs is that it's great when it happens, but it's just icing on the cake of work for me. I'm glad to be a part of this project, because of all the hype and because I think it will be rewarding to me to voice a character like Ishida.
Anime Omnitude: Have you researched or watched a bit of Bleach in Japanese, what were your first impressions of it?
Steve Prince: The research I've done so far has been what I've read on Wikipedia. It's been very helpful for me, getting a grip on Ishido's history prior to recording.
Anime Omnitude: How is your relationship with the crew working on the dub? Is it pure business as soon as you get into the studio, or do you know some of the guys already and have a few jokes?
Steve Prince: Anime in Los Angeles is a VERY tight nit group of people, as far as the producers and directors I've worked with. Actors are popping up all the time, and as you may already know, I know some actors, but not all of them. There are times I've worked on a show and never met some of the main characters the whole time I recorded. But as far as the people behind the scenes, they are great. We all get along, and it isn't just about work, it's about having fun while doing it. You'd be surprised about some of the takes we do that never wind up in the show OR in the bloopers, but we do them for laughs all the same.
Anime Omnitude:Why did you pick Ishida? Or you were "forced too"? And when you picked him were you familiar to him his shyness at all?
Steve Prince: Gee, wouldn't THAT be nice to pick my own roles. Sorry guys, but it doesn't work that way. When auditions happen, the producer and director have already decided on what role or roles they'd like to hear you audition for. They then pick, out of the sometimes 10-25 people that auditions for the same role, maybe the top 4 that they feel best match what they picture the character should sound like. Then they send those top 2-4 to the main producers, and it is up to THOSE people to decide who they'd like to voice the role. I have no say whatsoever. As for me getting in touch with my shyness: Yeah, I can definitely relate. I am an introvert at hear, although I can get along in a group too. But I can definitely bring that to the table, if that's the direction they want me to go with.
Anime Omnitude: How does it feel to be working on two the the biggest anime shows in recent times, Bleach and Naruto?
Steve Prince: I am honored. Blessed and honored.
Anime Omnitude: And how will you aproach Ishidas voice differently the Shino from Naruto, who doesnt talk all that much?
Steve Prince: Hmm. Not sure yet. That's a questionf for later.
Anime Omnitude: Do you read or own any anime or manga titles?
Steve Prince: No, but I have lots of comic books.
Anime Omnitude: You've been voice acting for many years, what first got you into voice acting?
Steve Prince: It was more of a transition after roles on camera started dwindling. I had a stint on ER, Saved By The Bell, the movie Why Do Fools Fall In Love and a couple commercials, but the work was not busy. So I took a class at the SAG Conservatory about voice acting. I had some experience in college, but not a lot. Bob Bergen (current voice of Tweety Bird & Porky Pig for Warner Bros.) taught the class, and commented on my ability to do voices, and felt if I kept up the good work and took classes, that I'd be able to have a career. Well, not only did I take classes, but because I feel I have good business sense, I started marketing myself to ANYONE who'd be willing to listen to me, even though I didn't have a demo yet. Well, I happened to be in the right place at the right time when I asked Saban if they would be having any open calls for projects coming up. They happened to be casting for MMPR. That's how I auditioned and landed the role for Elgar. Part luck, part talent.
Anime Omnitude: Your show, please tell us about it
Steve Prince: Gee, I thought you'd never ask. It's important for us actors to always stay fresh, think on our feet, take classes. Keep our instruments tuned so that when we are called upon to audition, we can hopefully nail and land the role. When things slowed down for a while a year ago, I had always wanted to do radio work, and thought that by having a weekly show, it would keep me active, and allow me to still do vo work, even if only DJing. So I came up with the concept of WordPlay, where I host it, and have people email me song suggestions, based on the word or letter of the week. So people find out about the word/letter of the week by going to my website at www.steveprinceproductions.com/WordPlay.html, read about the show and how to make a suggestion, then I do the show based on audience participation. It airs every Friday night from 7:30-8:00 PST on www.ktstfm.com. You can also listen to previous shows by going to my website and clicking on one of the previous show links. I also like it because I will sing on occasion, as well as sing the theme song every week. Please feel free to pass on the website to fans so they can hear the show, and participate if they so choose.
Anime Omnitude: Thankyou for answering the questions for the fans and I hope your role on Bleach will be a success
Steve Prince: You and me both, Milezy, you and me both.
Anime Omnitude: Thanks a lot for taking the time out to answer the questions, I wish the English Dub success
Miles Benjamin (Milezy) - http://www.animeomnitude.com
Ancient Series brings you something that anime fans would definitely enjoy, action, adventure, fantasy, comedy and romance series with great plots and characters. Don't miss out, join today and discover a whole new world you never knew.