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Interview: Sean Schemmel

Turn on the hit anime series such as Dragon Ball Z or any of a number of other anime series and you’ll most likely hear the voice of Sean Schemmel. Sean has voiced over 100 different characters ranging from adorable Pokémon to your friendly neighborhood super mutant companion in Fallout 4, Strong.  However Sean is most well known as the main character of the English dub of Dragon Ball Z, Goku.  He recently made an appearance at Alamo City Comic Con in San Antonio, TX and somehow I was lucky enough to snag a one-on-one interview with the legend.

GC: How did you get into voice acting?
SS: There was an open casting call for a show called Dragon Ball Z in 1999 and I answered the ad at the behest of friends and got the lead role. That’s the short version. I was playing French horns in orchestras before that and teaching music.

GC: Is it true that you originally auditioned for the role of Captain Ginyu of the Ginyu Force?
SS: That is true. I originally auditioned for the role of Captain Ginyu and about 12 other voices, Goku, King Kai, and Nail being among them which I ended up getting those 3 parts. I really thought I killed my Captain Ginyu audition.

GC: At what point did you realize just how big the Dragon Ball franchise had become a phenomenon?
SS: It took a couple years actually. I didn’t realize I was the lead character until 2 weeks into recording, and that was pretty Gokuy in terms of my awareness of the character. So it took me a long time, and I’m still astounded by it. We were even surprised after we did Battle of the Gods and Resurrection F that it had that popularity at that point.

GC: What was it like meeting Masako Nozawa (Goku’s Japanese voice actress)?
SS: She is wonderful, magical, and I truly have the utmost respect for her. She’s kind of an amazing presence in person, you feel this larger than life persona that’s subtle yet humble. She’s really amazing. It was very exciting to meet her.

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GC: Did you know that this month during The Voice Thailand someone auditioned singing Cha La Head Cha La?
SS: I actually did, I got sent that video several times. I thought he was great. I love that song, it was funny.

GC: You did the voice of Batman in The Dark Night Rises: Mobile Game. Were you a fan of Batman growing up?
SS: Absolutely! I would consider that role almost as awesome as Goku, and if I had the big big part of Batman it might be more awesome than Goku cause I was a huge fan of Batman growing up. I had to voice match Christian Bale for that and Warner Bros. had to approve it. I was really surprised I got the part.

GC: Do you ever use your voice acting talents to mess with people?
SS: I do! I fool people, I prank my friends. I don’t do it as often as I use to, but I usually bust into voices to entertain people cause it’s fun.

GC: Have you ever worked on a anime or video game that was ultimately cancelled before release?
SS: Yes, I did actually. I worked for a couple years on a game that was going to be a Sony title. It was a video game called Rat Race. It was suppose to be released by Sony, but then it wasn’t, and a couple other developers tried to get a hold of it. Anyway, it got shelved after I put several hours into it. It was a pretty cool concept for a game to so I was disappointed.

GC: What advice would you give to someone who has an interest in voice acting?
SS: I would say study acting. Go to a place where there is voice acting. There isn’t really a voiceover class at Universities, but there are classes in LA that will have famous voice actors teach multi-week classes. Have a mic, work with your voice, listen to other voice actors. Do impressions of those voice actors to stretch your skill set, but don’t try to copy them for auditions unless you are doing a variation that nobody can tell because otherwise you just be a guy who is doing impressions. You can still make a living doing that, but you better be amazing at it if that’s all you’re doing.

GC: Who’s your voice acting hero?
SS: Probably Mel Blanc. There are several that come to mind though. I was very heavily influenced by Rich Little, Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy, and especially Robin Williams. The two biggest influences for me would still have to be Rich Little and Mel Blanc.

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