EXCLUSIVE: Voice Actor Sam Riegel Talks THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and TMNT
The voice of Donatello in 2003's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Starscream in Transformers: War For Cybertron and Spider-Man in the recently released video game The Amazing Spider-Man reflects on his roles and experiences after the jump.
Sam Riegel has voiced many characters over the past couple of years but most animation fans probably know him as Donatello in 2003's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and various TMNT video games afterwards. His most recently released project was being Peter Parker in the The Amazing Spider-Man video game. Below, he talks about what the experience was like to voice each of these characters and more.
Animation fans know you for voicing Donatello in 2003’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, how exciting was that project when you first got the gig?
"Getting TMNT was life-changing. I grew up watching the original series, and Donatello was always my favorite turtle -- come on, he does machines! So to BE Donnie for a new generation of fans was incredibly rewarding. It's awesome to know that for kids who grew up watching our show, I'll always be their Don."
Would you say that voicing Peter Parker is very different from Donatello, or do they have similarities?
"Well, both characters are a mix of nerdy brains and heroic brawn, so in that sense there are similarities. And, of course, both guys get to do a lot of fighting. But I feel like Peter Parker has at his core an insecurity (and a deep sadness) that Donatello doesn't have. I tried to make Peter more nuanced and varied, since he's the only character on screen for most of the game... whereas Donatello's voice is more consistent, since he's part of a quartet of teammates with four distinct sounds. One's a solo act and the other is part of an ensemble. So the voice has to reflect that. Does that make sense?"
Spider-Man has been voiced by the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, Drake Bell and Josh Keaton as well as many more. Did you feel any pressure about being able live up to their performances?
"Big time. The list of actors who've played this character is long and mighty. And mad props to all the Spideys who have come before me (and will surely come after). For this game, I tried not to think about it too much, and just focused on bringing my own spin to the web-head. Every fan is gonna have their "favorite" voice -- and it might not be me -- but I hope gamers will see that I approached the character with sincerity, honesty and enthusiasm. In the end, that's all an actor can do!"
Is there anything in your version of Spider-Man that we have never heard before?
"Cursing. Lots and lots of cursing. No, just kidding. I don't know if it's "never" been heard before, but for this game the designers at Beenox spent a lot of time making the player feel close to the action. The third-person camera is VERY tight on Spidey, so we tried to match that near perspective with subtle breaths, grunts, and dialog throughout the action. I've played it, and it's a pretty immersive experience."
How did you prepare for the role of Spider-Man?
"Well, the coolest part of this gig was that I got to do the MOCAP for Peter/Spider-man as well. So it's not just my voice you're hearing -- it's my body moving around the screen. For the mocap shoots there was a lot of rehearsal and blocking that went into each scene. And I had to be in pretty good shape too! I'm sure I still have bruises from some of the action sequences..."
Did you get to write any of the dialogue for Spider-Man?
"Write? No. But the team from Beenox let me improvise a bit in the voiceover sessions. Little quips here and there. I think some of 'em made it into the game!"
Donatello and Spider-Man aren’t the only iconic characters you have played; you also played Starscream in Transformers: War for Cybertron. What was that experience like?
"Most video games are vocally demanding -- there's all kinds of grunting and yelling you have to do -- but Starscream is ten times harder. I mean, the guy has the word "scream" in his name. Pretty much every other line was top-of-my-lungs, so those sessions were brutal. However, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. He's such a fun character, and it's an incredible franchise to be a part of. I'm one lucky actor."
Will you be reprising your role for the sequel; Fall of Cybertron?
"Nothing is announced on that front yet. All I can say is that, like you, I'm eagerly awaiting the release date!"
What advice would you have for someone wanting to get into voice acting?
"We voice actors get this question a lot, and there's no one "right" answer, unfortunately. If you talk to 10 actors, you'll get 10 different stories about how they got their start. My only advice would be try to focus more on the process than the results. Go out there and study your craft, take classes, become a good actor, meet other actors, throw yourself into it, try new things, do your best... and have fun. Making a living at it will come later. At the beginning, it can be challenging, but as long as you're enjoying yourself on the journey, it'll be worth it."
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