“There You Go” with Dino Andrade: Part 2

Read the first part of the interview here.

MadameAce: I know you said that you experienced some disappointment when you did that role, but in the early days what were your thoughts on doing voice overs?

Dino Andrade: At the time most of what I wanted to do in voice over was basically to [have it] work as a stepping stone. I really wanted to get into doing on-camera. I started doing a lot of commercials at the time. I was doing commercials for McDonalds, Delta Airlines, various things like that kind of working my way up. I was also doing a lot of training with The Groundlings comedy / improv. I’m a very physical actor, physical comedian. This was something that I felt might be the future for me, but it was very disappointing: unfortunately it seemed that 90% of what I was being sent out for was one Mexican, cholo gangster after another. It is so not me! That was very discouraging and I decided that, “you know what, if I’m going to get into these projects I might as well make them myself.” So I decided to leave acting for about ten years and spent the 90’s being involved in independent filmmaking, writing screenplays—I sold six screenplays, none of which were produced. [laughter]

Stewi: You still got paid

Dino Andrade: I still got paid. I think it was Kurt Vonnegut who said that the best thing that could ever happen is to sell a screenplay and have it never get actually made so your work isn’t screwed up. [laughter] So my work has not been screwed up six times, but it was kind of cool that I sold them. I also produced one independent film called Bob’s Video that ran the film festival circuit for a year and got me to travel around the country which was really fun. In the end, in the 00’s, I decided to go back to acting and to my original love, which was animation and fantasy, which then meant voice over. Even that was somewhat accidental.

There was a director who was working on an anime show called Vampire Princess and I was being told about that. And I thought, “well maybe I can get in on that as a writer. I’ve never done anime writing, but maybe I could give that a shot.” It turned out that he was also working on another show called Saint Tail and his wife was casting it and when I was contacting him I wound up contacting his wife and his wife thought I was an actor calling in for a scheduled  telephone audition. I said, “…sure! Yes, that’s me,” and so I wound up auditioning completely cold, had no copy at all, so I just had to make up something about, “oh yeah, I didn’t get it. The courier didn’t make it. The fax machine died,” or something. I don’t remember. So they fed me the lines and I auditioned and they said great and I got a small part on Saint Tail. I took that as a sign and said, “okay! I guess this is what I’m supposed to be doing.” I returned to voice over at that point.

Stewi: You mentioned [writing] anime, but we also know that you’ve voiced on some animes, right?

Dino Andrade: Yes, and that’s what I did on Saint Tail. I didn’t actually end up doing any writing for anime.

Stewi: Yes, well Ace’s knowledge of anime is greater than mine. Is it different doing voice overs for an anime since it’s a show that’s been already technically produced in Japan?

MadameAce: Not only that, there’s the difference in language in how they move their mouths.

Dino Andrade: It’s called “lip flap” and it’s extremely difficult. It’s one of the reasons why a lot of performances in anime are very stiff and don’t really work. This is maybe easier having to use your right and left brain at the same time because as an actor you’re trying to deliver a performance, but then you’re also having to use the analytical side of your brain to watch a screen and try and match the flapping of lips to make sure you’re getting all the right pauses and beats. Often times what you’re trying to say you can’t say naturally because the character’s moving his lips there and you have to put a natural pause in. That makes it very difficult, which is why you hear an anime that’s done with somebody like Crispin Freeman, for example, who’s a brilliant actor and delivers brilliant performances while being able to match lip flap and do all of that, my hat’s off to them. I’m astounded when someone can do that kind of thing.

But, it’s the main reason why I don’t do a lot of anime because I’m Groundling’s trained: big thing is improvisation. I enjoy having the freedom to go in different directions, give different kinds of performances that people weren’t exactly expecting. Like I said with the Manuel Hogfish thing, basically taking the role to the realm of Latin lover and adding a bunch of Spanglish things to the dialogue. I can’t do any of that with anime, so I quite frankly don’t find anime that much fun to do.

Stewi: So it’s really a different style of voice acting when you do dubbing?

Dino Andrade: It is a completely different kind of voice acting. Completely different. I mean, it’s not even the same as doing ADR dubbing. When I did Girls Just Wanna Have Fun you’re still matching people talking in English and they’re able to tell you what it is that they’re saying and so you’re just throwing the lines in there. In anime, the Japanese don’t place a premium on making sure that the lip flap matches what is actually said and so they pretty much just use these patterned things where the mouth just kind of goes—

Stewie: Open-shut, open-shut, open-shut.

Dino Andrade: Yeah, and it doesn’t really even match the Japanese. It’s just there, all animated before you record. From what I understand, I think Miyazaki is the one guy who actually records the voices before he animates which is amazing, no one else does that in Japan. So it’s not something that’s all that important to that style and it makes us crazy having to try and deliver a performance over that. Some people really, really excel at that. I don’t. I find it too limiting. My imagination really wants to go in wild directions and take the character new places and I can’t, I’m too restricted by it. So, I personally don’t enjoy doing anime unless it’s with a director that I know I’m going to have a lot of fun with. One who can say, “y’know, let’s do something really wild here.” That’s fun.

A perfect example of that would be Talison Jaffe, who directed me in Hellsing. That was fun because I got to do all kinds of wild accents and over-the-top performances. We did the same thing with Sengoku Basara where I did Kenshin, god of war. Again, the direction I was given by Talison was just really out there and bizarre, so I really had to use my imagination and I had a lot of fun with it. Now, cases like that it’s a lot of fun whereas other times doing anime…a lot of the directors, I hate to say it, are technicians. It’s all about how fast can you get it, since the budgets are so tight. How many lines can you get in in an hour. Can you just match the lip flap, and so on. Whereas [guys] like Talison are there more to create something cool, so he’ll have a lot more fun with it. That’s my experience with anime.

Stewi: You were talking about directors. Are there some that are just like, “no, we don’t want you to go off and do your own thing. We want you to do it this way,”?  How do you usually react to that? Or, have you even ran into that?

Dino Andrade: Yes, there are. Directors are as varied as there are actors. Despite the fact that writers will tell you the directors are nothing more than traffic cops, it’s not true. The director is basically the guy who’s guiding the road map. Or he’s the maestro, as it were. I like to think of actors as being more or less instruments in an orchestra and our job is to be played properly and well. So the director is the conductor up there, who’s going to be the one to dictate the tempo, the pace, the rhythm. It’s his or her vision that has to be on there.

Stewi: Have you had any that clash like, “no, you’re doing it wrong.”

Dino Andrade: Yes, I have run into that. It’s extremely rare, but I have run into that where I’ve done a little improvising and I’ve been told, “please don’t do that. Just stick to the lines as written.” That seldom ever happens because whenever I record something I’m always sure to give them what’s written first. Always respect the writer’s work to begin with and then after that let your creative juices flow. But every once in a while I’ll run into somebody who after I give them a second or third take they’ll be like, “Eeeh, don’t. Just do it as written.” But that’s very rare. Usually a director recognizes that when your actor is adding their own creative juices to it, in the end it just makes them look like a better director. So, it’s always wise to let your actors be creative.

MadameAce: You say that you’ll do improv every once in a while. What else do you do when you prepare for a role? How do you make that character your own?

Dino Andrade: It depends on the character, really. In the case of Manuel Hogfish on Sammy 2 that’s going to be coming out on home video, it was a matter of seeing that even though they were asking for a Cheech Marin type of Mexican character I instead went for the Latin lover and gave them that as an alternate read and that was the version they embraced. So, I pretty much made the character my own there. There’s also little asides of things that give the character personality. A lot of people who don’t understand voice work they think primarily of voice work as being delivering voices and it’s not. It’s delivering characters. The difference between voices and characters is personality and that personality that you imbue.

This is where a lot of my improvisation comes in. When I say ‘improvisation’ I don’t necessarily mean that I’m out there making up lines. No, by ‘improvisation’ I mean adding little character touches here and there. For example, the Manuel Hogfish character I did the villain was called ‘Big D’, well I always referred to him as ‘Señor D’. I did one take like that and asked if they were cool with it and their reaction was, “cool. That’s awesome, keeping doing that!” These were character touches that weren’t in the original script that I added that made the character my own and these were, in essence, personality touches. That’s what I did.

That’s one way of doing it. Another way to prepare for a character is to simply understand the type of character that you’re doing. For example, when I did the Scarecrow in Batman: Arkham Asylum

Stewi: You’re causing fangirl syndrome here. Careful

MadameAce: Shut up, Stew.

Dino Andrade: When I did the Scarecrow it was understanding that, for the most part, you can boil down villains into two camps: you can boil them down into Shakespearean villains and archetypal villains. The difference is that your Shakespearean villain—sometimes referred to as a Hitchcockian villain—is, in essence, a human in demon form. In other words, it’s just a guy who does not believe he is a villain. Al Capone never thought he was a villain. Adolph Hitler never saw himself as a villain. In Shakespeare, Richard III never believed he was a villain: he always thought he was doing what he felt needed to be done because he had the courage and the will to do what others were afraid to do and doing what he felt needed to be done and / or, again, in the case of Al Capone, because life is unfair or ‘I’m just doing what I’ve got to do in order to survive’. So, at no time did he or Hitler or any of these people ever say, “I did this because I’m evil. Because I’m Satan-spawn.” No. It’s human in demon form.

Whereas the archetypal villain is the exact opposite: it’s demon in human form. See, these guys, for example, Sauron in Lord of the Rings, and, oh, what’s his name from Cowboy Bebop. The guy with the long white hair and black…

Stewie: I’m a big Cowboy Bebop fan and his name still…

Dino Andrade: Yeah, it was that guy. That’s another archetypal villain. You look at that dude and you see him, you know he’s evil from miles and miles away. This guy is evil: you know he’s evil and he’s doing what he’s doing because he is evil. That was one of the very first things that I did when I looked at the script to Arkham Asylum was say, “y’know what, I’m going to split the personality,” and when he’s Doctor Crane, I’m going to play him Hitchcockian, I’m going to play him as a human in demon form. However, when he is Scarecrow now he’s demon in human form. He is absolutely archetypal, he is completely evil. Those two thing basically inform the performance, gave me a direction to go in.

Stewi: Since we’re on the topic and because I’m enjoying this can you give us a little bit of Scarecrow?

MadameAce: Please?

Dino Andrade: [in Scarecrow mode] You’re in my Arkham now, Batman. [deranged laughter] Poor little bat. Yes. [normal] How’s that?

MadameAce: That was beautiful. Thank you for that. How did you feel about Scarecrow not being in Arkham City?

Dino Andrade: Well, you know, the actor in me was disappointed, but the filmmaker in me thought it was a stroke of genius because the fact is I will play this character anytime, anywhere, anytime [laughs]. It was so much fun to play. It really was fun and would’ve loved to have done it again in the sequel. However, I think it was a smart move not to do it because I think for all the fans that have contacted me saying they were disappointed that Scarecrow doesn’t appear in Arkham City, I think far more would have been disappointed if he had by saying it’s just a re-hash of the first game. It might have killed the franchise right there.

Stewi: Are you sure Mark Hamill or Tara Strong wouldn’t miss you, though?

Dino Andrade: [laughter] Well that’s not even on their radar. The fact is that it’s a very strong franchise, the two games combined have made approximately all the money so there’s no doubt in my mind that they will be making more. I’m hopeful that the character will be coming back and I think that one of the reasons why is because the sequel was so different from the first game that it made the fans hunger for more instead of being disappointed in something they felt was a re-hash.

2 thoughts on ““There You Go” with Dino Andrade: Part 2

  1. Pingback: “There You Go” with Dino Andrade: Part 3 | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

  2. Pingback: Trailer Tuesdays: Batman: Arkham Knight | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

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