By Justin Guillou / March 16th, 2017
OR: Hello, Keith Silverstein. Thank you for speaking with me on this glorious day! I’m going to start out by having you talk a little bit about yourself. I really want to know, since you are a voice actor, where that came from. Was there any video game, anime, TV show or even a life story that inspired you to decide “I want to be a voice actor”?
KS: Well I was always an entertainer at heart. I mean even as a child when we would have Thanksgiving get-togethers with the family. My sibling and I would create tickets and sell them and put on an impromptu show whether it was dancing or acting. I was a break-dancer in high school and used to put on a lot of shows. I did a lot of theater in high school as well. It took a long time for me to isolate voice acting and I am glad I did. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. It’s kind of funny since I do a lot of anime which is a lot of dubbing. Now that I look back at it I kind of see it coming in 4th grade, my best friend and I. Our favorite thing to do was to actually put a movie on his TV through beta-max and we would have a tape recorder and we would start them both at the same time and put the volume down and we would voice them whether they were male or female. It was just fun and as soon as it was finished we would stop them both, rewind and play them and we’d sit back with some popcorn and laugh our butts off. It was the funniest thing and I had NO idea that would lead to my career choice or at least a big chunk of it.
OR: I can only imagine how those nights went down. It’s funny to think how you went from dubbing over a beta-max to suddenly voicing Speedwagon in JoJo! So how did it feel voicing Speedwagon in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, since this is really the first time we are getting an English dub of that series? The only other time was an OVA of Part 3 in the late 90s, but now they are starting from Phantom Blood [Part 1] and hopefully going up to Jojolion [The part that is currently being written]. How did it feel to be the first to do Speedwagon in English.
KS: It was an honor. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is huge. There are fans and cosplayers all over the place and there are so many toys. It was an honor. And the thing that is interesting about it is Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is the most aptly named anime ever because it’s really bizarre. And I have never seen it. Everything was really high stakes as there was a lot of yelling. For me, I am usually explaining the action. And usually that kind of character speaks down when explaining the action, Speedwagon kept yelling. And I remember being with the director and asking him “Do you still want this to be yelled?”, and he told me “Yea”. We did it and took probably 20% down from the original Japanese. I don’t know how the Japanese actor who played Speedwagon still has a throat because it’s unbelievable the amount of yelling he did. For me it was a fun experience but also very much like the title, it was bizarre. It’s a very different anime and has a different feel and I think that’s why the fans are so hardcore.
OR: Absolutely! That’s really cool that you got to play a part in such a high octane series. You also voiced a couple characters in the Castlevania series.
KS: Yea! Albus (Order of Ecclesia) and Simon Belmont in Judgement.
OR: It’s kind of funny because you almost have two ends of the spectrum. One who is the protagonist and kind of the icon for the series and the other one who is more of an antagonist. Which one of the two feels more natural to you?
KS: I don’t know if there is a natural one for me, I can slip into both types, no problem. But I was most excited for Simon just as an old school gamer from the Nintendo[NES] Castlevania and whipped candles. I just geeked out over that. For me, when I get to play a character that I somewhat grew up playing, it’s just badass for me.
OR: I’m sure it is and that’s really cool. While we are on the topic of old school video games, I noticed you also did Hidehiko Uesugi from the original Persona. I wanted to know how it felt to re-dub that game, as it came out a long time ago as Revelations Persona. This is before they even started calling it Shin Megami Tensei in the West. That dub and localization is kinda infamous for having weird lines like “Mark danced crazy”.
KS: The Personas have been cool, along with the Shin Megami Tenseis. That feels like two series that I’ve come back to multiple times and they have taken good care of me and the fans are crazy for them. Persona Q I was Zen, so it’s fun. I hope I get more work in the future with both titles.
OR: I want to focus on some of your more recent characters, like the Rebel voice for the male character in Xenoblade Chronicles X.
KS: Ah yea, well I am kind of a rebel in my life…I do what I want to do and I do when I want to do it. I don’t really care.
OR: I can definitely tell that, especially since I spent 80 hours listening to you yell: “BUSTED BABY! NOW CLOSE IN AND SEAL THE DEAL!“. I loved your lines in it and it made the game so much fun to play.
KS: *laughs* That was fun! The writers had REALLY good lines. I always love when the writing staff is a bit open with that. It depends on the game, sometimes they can be really strict with it, but it’s nice to have some creative input.
OR: Probably one of your more recent roles is Zero Time Dilemma which is the conclusion, at least we think it’s the conclusion, of a three part series known as the Zero Escape series. Now, this series is known for its very mysterious and unsettling atmosphere. And you voiced Eric, which is a new character. Which is good, since you don’t have to worry about doing the character justice, since he is brand new and being established in this new game. So when you are doing a brand new character like this, in an environment with multiple endings and which is very unsettling and disturbing, how does that affect the kind of emotion you put into that character?
KS: I don’t think it’s whether it’s new or old that affects the emotion with a character. I mean this game is as intense as a game can get. For those of you who don’t know, the best I can compare it to is like the Saw movies. People are put in these unbelievable situations – life and death situations. Somebody is going to die and multiple characters are deciding that. I think there are some fake-outs and all kinds of stuff happening with that. So there is a lot of intensity and because there are multiple endings and multiple choices you can make, it’s very interesting to record because we can record a really intense sequence and we may come back to lines that sound really similar to me but are slightly different. The producer will then say we are going to that same scene we did before except this time, this is how it turns out. And so you are trying to match the intensity where it was appropriate. It was a workout emotionally. It was a lot of fun in that sense.
OR: Which brings me to my next question, which might sound a bit weird. In those situations, how difficult would it be to scream on cue?
KS: I’ve never had a problem with screaming on cue or laughing on cue. Crying on cue is a little bit more difficult and might require some more preparation. As voice actors, it’s one of those things where you don’t have to completely cry. If you can, great, but it just has to be believable audibly and that’s all that really matters.
OR: Would you have any advice for people to get into the games or roles we have been talking about? Where you have to get into all sorts of different emotions at once.
KS: If you are trying to do voice over it is never about specifics. Truth is we all have different talents or voice types. Like me, if you asked me what kind of roles I would like to play, I would have said, heroes. And I do play a few heroes but I’m not known for playing heroes, although I can definitely do it. I think you have to be open to what the market can dictate. Be versatile, but be ready to go where your career takes you.
OR: That is solid advice! Thank you very much for your time and letting us know about yourself. It’s been a pleasure.
KS: Hey can I tell your listeners too – follow me @SilverTalkie and on facebook.
ericInterviewJojoKeith SilversteinPersonaShin Megami TenseispeedwagonVoice ActorsZero Escape