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We chatted with voice actor Joe Hernandez about his roles in video games and anime such as: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Hunter x Hunter, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and more.

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

Hello, Joe. How are you? Meow.

Woof. Things are great! I just this past week became a dad for the first time, so I’m going through all milestones that come with a huge life altering event like this – Dirty diapers, lack of sleep, etc. Fatherhood is always something that I’ve been looking forward to, even though it’s the kind of thing that I don’t think anyone is 100% ready for.

We can relate to the whole fatherhood world, we have a couple kittens that deprived us from sleep when they were born!

We read that you learned of your passion for performance and the arts during high school. Could you tell us more about that?

In high school, I was very active in my school’s drama club, (at one point was even the club’s president). I always loved performing on stage or in front of the camera because I got to exercise those creative muscles and I had surrounded myself with likeminded friends that nurtured that type of environment.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot of support for the arts at my high school, so there were some instances where the number of people on stage outnumbered the number of people in the audience. Looking back on it, if I wasn’t as passionate about it as I was, I probably would’ve given up on it..but that’s kind of the beautiful thing about pursuing those things back in the day – I did it purely for the love of it and stuck it out.

From that love I had of performing in high school, I decided to take things to the next level and pursue a theater arts degree at Cal State Fullerton, (which actually has a really good theater program). In high school, I felt like I was kind of a big fish in a small pond…but in college, I was surrounded by other big fishes, so the bar was definitely raised for me at that point. It’s where I learned how to act and be comfortable in my own skin. In many ways, I’m still using those fundamentals in voice over every day.

Did you grow up playing video games, and if so, which ones? Did you ever think you would do voice acting for big titles such as Zelda?

Yes, My brother and I grew up with an NES in our house. We played all the originals, Super Mario Bros., Metriod, Punch Out, you name it. An of course we had the Super NES when that came out and played a lot of the classic games on that lineup.

Now, because my brother was 8 years older than me, he had the bulk of the playing time with the games – It wasn’t until the N64 came out and my brother had moved out of the house by then that I had a system all to myself – There, my gaming kind of came into its own. I remember during the early days of the N64, there was some voice over being introduced in video games.

When it was good, you never really noticed it, but if it was acted poorly, it would definitely stick out. Growing up then, I don’t think I knew voice over to be a career choice like it is for so many now. But I can honestly say that never in a million years could I have imagined lending my voice to a franchise such as Zelda! It really is kind of a dream come true for me. Funny as it sounds, I remember playing Ocarina of Time and being fascinated by the Gorons, little did I know I would’ve been voicing one later on as an adult…

How did you get the roles of Daruk and Yunobo in Zelda: Breath of the Wild? What did you enjoy the most while recording as these characters?

Originally, I was sent the audition around March of 2016. As is the case with some high profile video games, we were never told specifically what we were auditioning for. I remember the specs calling for a British/Mid-Atlantic voice, which was in my wheelhouse. I remember nothing in any of the audition copy made reference to Link, Zelda, Hyrule, etc. so again, we were a little in the dark as to what project it was.

Now, if you ask any voice actors out there, rare is the day that the entirety of info is shared with talent by the time they audition. Some of that is done by design, because they don’t want any important info getting leaked, but another reason is that so much of the games are still in various stages of development, so things can change drastically, (Daruk wasn’t called by that name when I had gone into audition).

The casting director had given me a sort of Lord of the Rings direction as to the world in which these characters lived. He wanted me to think of my character as this big, larger than life kind of gentle giant, (a la Gimli in LotR). it helped set the tone for what I had read for and allowed me get specific with his voice and characterization. After the initial audition, I was called back again to re-read for them. Shortly thereafter, I was told that I had booked it and we didn’t begin recording until August/September of that year.

Fascinating! They really kept it a dark secret till the very end.

You must have seen a ton of Daruk merchandise and artwork. What are your favorite pieces aside from the amazingly crafted amiibo?

I absolutely love the official Daruk Amiibo that was released by Nintendo last year! but months and months even before it was announced I came across a girl on twitter (@missgandaKris) that specializes in crafting custom Amiibos. I had came across her Daruk one, got into contact with her and she sent it to me! It was a total one of a kind and it doesn’t really get any better than that, right?

You bet! I’m glad you liked her custom amiibo! Hoped you liked the packaging that went with it, worked with GandaKris on helping out with the package designs. (。◕‿◕。)

Hah! I had no idea that was you behind the packaging! Amazing work, really ahead of it’s time and it looked exactly like the official one. I’m absolutely blown away by your work.

Thank you! Appreciate the kind feedback!

Are there any video games, anime, or films you would do absolutely anything to be a part of now that you’ve crossed Zelda off the list?

You know, whenever I see any sort of Marvel auditions come my way, I usually get extra giddy for it. My father grew up reading some of the original issues of Spider-Man, so naturally he passed that love and appreciation for comics onto me when I grew up. I’ve been a big fan of the Marvel Universe my whole life, so it’d be pretty surreal to contribute to it in any small way.

That’s ironic! My father was really into Marvel comic books, especially Spider-Man.

It would be pawesome to see you in working with a future Marvel project! Hope your dream comes true!

We noticed you worked with Square Enix. What projects did you get involved in and what was it like working for Square?

Back around June/July [2017] I worked on the newest update for Final Fantasy Mobius. Unfortunately, I can’t exactly tell you when that patch has been released, (if it has been at all yet), but you can hear me in it. I’m a little reluctant to dive any further into it because I don’t know if/when it’s been released, (I’d imagine by now it has, but I’m not exactly sure).

Mobius Final Fantasy

I personally haven’t played it yet, but from what I’ve heard you voiced a villager.

You’ve voiced for a few characters in the anime series “Hunter x Hunter” and “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure”. Could you tell us more about your involvement with those series?

I did some smaller, incidental work on both series. If you listen carefully, you can hear voice a few characters during the Heaven’s Arena story arc on the english dub of HunterXHunter. As for JoJo’s, I did some creature work for the English dub a few years ago – I can’t remember where in the story it was, to be honest, it was one of my earlier voice over gigs. I can tell you that I played some of the vampire creatures on various monsters in the series. Creature work is REALLY strenuous on the voice and I remember it shredding my throat after those sessions.

Hunter x Hunter

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure


You also recently voiced Rico the Yeti Crab in the animated film “Deep”. Was that your first feature film experience? Is it different from doing work on an anime series or a video game?

Yes, Deep was my first feature film! It was unbelievable that I would be attached to a project like that, given some of the other talent that was involved. It was extremely fun in that I had a little more free range to play around with the character than in other projects. I even did some singing, (which couldn’t have been more out of my comfort zone). I remember giving the director the disclaimer that I had no formal singing training or anything of the such, so if they decided to use a sound a like on my signing, my feelings wouldn’t be hurt…They ended up keeping my audio which was a pleasant surprise.

Working on a film like that differs from anime in that anime (and some video games for that matter) can be VERY technical and extremely specific, given the lip flaps and trying to thread that needle with the timing and such. When we recorded Rico, nothing had been animated yet, so there was a lot that was animated to my performance, which was really cool.

All in all, it was a pretty amazing experience in that I was able to walk into a movie theater and see an animated movie that I had lent my voice to. I think if you had told a younger version of myself that something like that would happen, he probably wouldn’t have believed you.

What is the best part of voice acting? Least favorite?

The best part of voice acting is just being in the booth and getting the creative juices going to create something out of nothing, there is NOTHING quite like it!

And also I love collaborating with a good director so that a character or scene can be fully realized.

I suppose my least favorite thing is sorta the business end of everything. Our work is never guaranteed, so things can be all over the place at times. There isn’t the consistency of work or a safety net that a regular 9-5 type of a job might have, so you’re only as good as your last job…and you kind of live and die off of that.

Sound very like freelance work for artists and developers!

When it’s good, it’s great, when it isn’t…it can be a little stressful.

When voice acting, did you have to do the recordings at the company’s building or off-site? Do you prefer one over the other?

I wouldn’t say I prefer one over the other. Scheduling wise and travel wise, I love the convenience of recording at home. But there’s something to be said for going into the studio. As I had mentioned before, when you go in to record, you usually have a director there, so you’re able to give them exactly what they want in real time right then and there. Working from home, you have to self direct and go off of what you THINK they might like, which might not always be exact.

You’ve worked with other voice actors such as Bob Bergen, Tony Oliver, and Mary Lynn Wissner. What did you learn from them that has helped with your career?

I’m of the belief that you can’t absolutely 100% subscribe entirely to just one teacher’s methods. I kinda like to pick and choose tricks of the trade as if it were some sort of sampler platter – I usually take a little something different away each and every time when I study under someone.

I’m sure some of it had to do with where I was at in my career, but learning technical things like mic etiquette, breath work, how to interpret copy, things like that are priceless. As a result, you end up building more and more confidence and more tools in your bag of tricks so to speak.

And then there are the lessons I’ve learned from these teachers that are independent of performing in the booth. There are little things on professionalism, marketing and social media that can compliment the work done in the studio; It’s that type of training that can make you complete and compliment your acting skills so much.

Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself and what you are currently working on?

Yeah, It just got announced but, I’ll be a guest at Pop Culture Con in Utah later this year on June 9th [2018]. There’s are other cool projects you can hear me in due out later this year – Unfortunately, I can’t quite talk about them just yet, but stay glued to my twitter (@JoeHernandezVO) for new updates and announcements as they come in!

Thank you Joe and best of luck with your career and your journey as a dad!

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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[…] Daruk and Yunobo in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, has revealed in an interview with CatWithMonocle that he was never specifically told what he was auditioning […]

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