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We chatted with voice actor Sean Chiplock about his roles in video games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Ys VIII, DanganRonpa V3, and others. Sean has lended voices to not only television channels (Disney XD, Nickelodeon) but also anime (One Punch ManSword Art Online, Hunter x Hunter, and more).

You can learn more about Sean and his work at his personal site here.

Revali’s voice actor is now ready. How are you, Sean?

YOU JUST ANSWERED YOUR OWN QUESTION.

In all (non)seriousness, though, I’m in a pretty interesting middle ground right now; there are several projects I’ve been a part of since last year that are wrapping up within the next few weeks, but not a whole lot of new gigs I’ve landed to fill in the impending “open schedule” that will result.

However, I also feel like I’ve been making big improvements as an actor, based on my recent experiences at workshops and freelance projects I’ve been involved with. So while there’s been a bit of self-doubt because of the former, I have plenty of reasons to maintain my self-confidence as a result of the latter. And no matter what the situation, the fact remains I am still landing work – and I would always rather be busy with work than busy looking for it.

We would rather take cat naps but it’s good to be kept busy!

When you were younger, you and your brother did “mock-dubs” for characters in games that didn’t have voices. Which games and characters did you do that for, and do you do it for games you play today?

The one that immediately springs to mind is Bomberman 64: The Second Attack on the Nintendo64, because not only was it my personal favorite game of the entire console’s history, it also was the game we could most easily do that mock-dubbing for; there were multitudes of different characters and archetypes but (unsurprisingly) no actual voices incorporated into the game itself beyond basic SFX.

My best friend Jon and I also took part later on in my childhood, using games such as Legend of Mana and even the unvoiced scenes of Final Fantasy XII.

Haha! Purrrfect!

Perhaps what I find funniest is that although there WERE games with extensive VO during the era of the N64, such as Megaman Legends/Megaman 64, it never really occurred to me that this involved actual people doing vocal performances until after I’d learned that voiceover existed as a career.

What influenced you to get serious about voice acting, and what do you love about it?

Oh hey, what a convenient segue!

It’s hard to pinpoint a specific timeframe where I decided to ‘get serious’ about voiceover, because my timeline of experience has always been more of a long road littered with “validation pitstops” where things occurred that either renewed or strengthened my existing attachment to VO and my desire to make it a permanent part of my life. The invitation to put my energy and occasional randomness towards a craft that tended to reward it may have been what drove me to pursue VO in the first place, but as time has passed it’s become less about me and more about getting to experience all these different characters and adventures that don’t really happen in real life.

Things like my AX Idol 2009 audition/performance showed me that I had the chops to entertain others, while published performances like my role as Diabel in Sword Art Online (first televised role), Rean Schwarzer in Trails of Cold Steel (first lead role), and Revali/Teba/Deku Tree in Breath of the Wild (first 1st-party worldwide release) serve as consistent reminders that there is a place in this industry for what I have to offer.

Perhaps my favorite part of any new role/project I get involved with is the opportunity to interact with that project’s fanbase afterwards, to have another means of connecting with new people and sharing a passion with them. I tend to try and avoid conversations unless I feel I have actual contributions to offer in order to “belong” in the discussion, and being able to say “I was in that!” makes it far easier to break the ice when it comes to talking about a common topic. This also plays a big part in why one of my life goals is to voice a main character in a Dungeon Crawler franchise, because that genre of game is something I already can talk about for hours on end even without having voiced for one.

If you hadn’t become a voice actor, what other profession do you think you’d be working in? Tax attorney? Cat whisperer?

My younger self wanted more than anything to be a vet (taking care of animals), but that dream died pretty quickly when I learned that I do not handle the sight of blood/disease fluids very well (a science class video on Siamese Twin surgery left me physically unable to get up for lunch break because of my legs losing all sensation). An alternative was training dolphins/orcas, but this also required a level of both biological and medical expertise that wasn’t aligning with my current curriculum and focus.

Basically, I imagine any job that has me caring for animals and becoming their friends is likely to be at the highest reaches of my ‘career daydreams’. The idea of forming a bond with a creature despite it not having the same means of communication as another human being is incredibly exciting.

Don’t give up your day-time job, keep enjoying what you love!

You posted on Facebook about your experiences getting the role of the Great Deku Tree and later on Revali in Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Can you tell us what you’ve learned about yourself as a person and as an actor from that time?

To be honest, I think I learned less about myself as a person from that experience than I learned about the industry/audition process from a AAA-level perspective. I already knew that I’m an emotionally-driven actor in the sense that it’s not at all hard for me to get attached to characters I want to play, but it was really surreal just how many different angles went into the audition itself – from the original casting call notice, to the level of negotiation between director and client in terms of their vision for the characters, to even the method by which some of the characters were cast during the production process.

It served as a pretty hefty reminder that there really is so much about the industry that I as an actor have absolutely no control over, and that the best thing I can do for myself is to simply keep prepared and up-to-date with my skillset, so that whenever an opportunity arises I can tackle it to the best of my ability.?

(I also have to once again credit Jamie, my director, for pulling so hard for me on Revali even when I myself was starting to lose faith in my abilities – his support and guidance played a huge role in finding my bearings and renewing my resolve to successfully portray a character I was incredibly attached to.)

Indeed! Glad you have the support to get through those rough patches!

What was the most difficult part of working with Nintendo, and did that surprise you? What was the most fun part?

I would say the most difficult part wasn’t anything to do with the process during recording for the game(s), but the restrictiveness they have towards community engagement after those games are released. There are so many fan comics, stories, and even personal skits I would love to lend my voice to, but can’t because of copyright protections and brand reputation – recording for any of these (even privately) carries massive legal risk if someone from the company didn’t take to it positively.

While I completely understand their reasoning behind this (brand identity and ownership), it still does sting that so many of the things I get inspired by have to remain “quiet appreciations” because of the trouble I could put myself in otherwise.

That being said, I can tell that the people involved with Breath of the Wild were really big on finding/recruiting individuals who were truly invested in the work. Nintendo clearly has a company vision that focuses heavily on teamwork being the core foundation to a great project, and they emphasize this in a lot of what they do, and people who like to hog the spotlight or attribute singular participation as the reason for a game’s success are unlikely to be a good fit with the company.

Ever since Breath of the Wild was released, tons of Revali merchandise, artwork, and other pieces have been made. What are some of your favorite or most unique creations you’ve encountered?

It’s hard to pinpoint any few specific examples and highlight them as “the most unique”, because I love the fact in general that others are so inspired by a game or character so as to create their own content in a medium familiar to them. I may not be a huge fan of classical music, but that doesn’t make the remixes I’ve seen of Revali’s theme any less impressive.

I’ve also seen fanart that ranges from simplistic/”meme-y” to complex and grandiose with all of it being special and enjoyable in its own way. In some cases, I’ve even been fortunate enough to be able to own some of those creations for myself, such as the Revali/Teba plush I ordered from an independent creator, the customized Teba amiibo I found as a result of someone tagging me on Tumblr, or the multitudes of art gifts I’ve been given as Thank Yous from artists all over the world. This is exactly the kind of community engagement I was hoping for when my career finally began to start eking its way into the public sphere.

Who are your favorite characters that you’ve voiced other than Revali, and what made them stand out?

Every role I play has a reason to be special or important to me, because I try to find a milestone or challenge that the character offered to cement it as a meaningful part of my career. But to just give a few examples:

Zenke from Fairy Fencer F is the one I talk most often about, as it was the biggest example of a role where I could truly go ham and enjoy myself in the insanity of his personality; it fulfilled one of my earliest VO dreams of playing a role similar to Dist the Rose from Tales of the Abyss, as Liam O’Brien’s performance was a big inspiration in terms of “this is what you can do in this career”.

Monotaro from DanganRonpa V3 was one of the first examples of creating a brand new character voice by making adaptations to one I already had in my arsenal (adding/removing an accent, or replacing a particular vocal quirk while keeping the foundation the same).

Teba from Breath of the Wild is actually more important to me on a personal level than Revali was, as he’s the first time that the “voice in my head” for a character became the defacto official voice with no actual changes requested by the client. From the moment I learned about his specs and mannerisms I had already created a sound in my mind that I knew would fit, and the director agreed with that suggestion. Teba is truly a “self-created sound”, and that’s a huge deal for someone whose career rests on their ability to give life to an otherwise silent entity.

There’s also a role I can’t quite reveal yet as of the time of this interview that is a massive personal accomplishment, and also served as one of the biggest challenges of my entire career; successfully completing the gig literally required me to train & strengthen my own throat muscles in order to handle the vocals demands necessary to give the character a believable performance.

No kitten! We can’t wait what this role is!

Are there any anime or video game characters you would you love to voice if the opportunity was available?

There’s no specific character that I would want to voice, mainly because 1) There are so many projects that haven’t even come into existence yet that I probably will go nuts for, and 2) I would think it very unfair to hypothetically “rob” someone else of an opportunity to play a role just because I myself thought I was a better fit. That being said, I know that the genre of Dungeon Crawlers (or even Monster Collection) remains a personal favorite, and it would mean a great deal to me to be able to become part of a genre I already spend so much time on.

When NIS America announced they were going to redo the localization, did you wonder if they were going to bring you back to voice Hummel? Have you ever been in a situation where you had to revoice a character?

I suppose it’s accurate to say I at least gave it some thought, but that wondering didn’t last for very long – being offered a “returning role” is never a guarantee in this industry, and creating an expectation out of it is just begging for awkward disappointment if the company decides to go a different route. Hummel was definitely the first time I’ve ever had to re-voice a character’s existing content rather than just returning to voice additional content, but I am thankful all the same that they chose to keep me as his voice for the second time around.

We’ve heard that being a voice actor can be difficult. Would you recommend voice acting as a career?

I would only recommend going into VO as a career if it’s something that honestly, truly simmers in you as an unrelenting desire. Voiceover demands that every nuance and aspect of a character be portrayed only through sound, and if your heart isn’t committed to the role it will show in your performance; if you’ve ever felt like every announcement ever made in a Disney park seemed to have a “heartwarming smile” attached to it, I guarantee you it’s explicitly because the voice actor was wearing that smile across every word.

You will (ideally) spend every day of every week either sending out auditions you won’t hear feedback for, or paying for resources and workshops that may not end up being worth your time, all in the pursuit of trying to prove to clients time after time after time that you can offer them a “voiceover solution” for the problem of casting their project (even being cast in Breath of the Wild has done very little if anything to land me new work, because clients don’t care about what you did in the past – they want to know if you can tackle what they are asking for now).

Voiceover requires you to be self-dedicated, self-driven, and self-motivated. If you want to find success, you will do whatever it takes to acquire it regardless of what others think of your efforts (assuming you’re using professional/respectable methods), and you’ll find that you’re incapable of not wanting to do whatever it takes even when you’re in the most unwilling mood. I’m not involved with voiceover simply because I’ve been able to accomplish cool things with it – it’s also equally because even in my most doubtful moments, I’ve never been able to convince myself to stop. I don’t think I ever will.

Last question: Who would win in a fight? Sonic the Hedgehog or Mega Man?

I guess the argument could be made that it depends on Mega Man’s existing loadout of abilities, or the assumption that both would be fighting without any additional armaments such as Weapons or Chaos Emeralds. Based on the 2D games we know that Mega Man has the capacity to defeat even high-speed opponents with only his Buster Gun, this could prove difficult in a 3D environment even when taking into account the lock-on feature showcased in Legends.

2D, No Extra Weaponry = Mega Man wins (barely)
2D, Weaponry Allowed = Mega Man wins (handily)
3D, No Extra Weaponry = Sonic wins (handily)
3D, Weaponry Allowed = Mega Man wins (with careful usage to stall out Super Sonic)

Overall bet is on Mega Man.

Thank you for taking your time to talk to us. Best of luck with your career!



About Seth Hay - Editor-in-chief / Webmaster

When Seth is not designing or developing, he spends time with his family and his occasional dose of anime, sports and video games.

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