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Interview: Yuri Lowenthal Talks Mighty No. 9, .Hack, Bayonetta, Naruto

Yuri Lowenthal is one of the most popular voice actors on the planet to date and with a résumé like his it’s hard not to say that. Yuri is best known to anime fans as the voice of Sasuke Uchiha in the wildly popular series Naruto. Yuri has also done voice acting work for other major video games including the recently released Mad Max video game as well as the upcoming highly anticipated game Mighty No. 9 where he will be voicing the main character Beck. We recently got to do an Interview with Yuri Lowenthal and discuss his voice acting career.

GC:  How did you get into voice acting?
Yuri Lowenthal: When my wife (actress, Tara Platt) and I came out to Los Angeles to work as professional actors in TV & Film, we found that kind of work wasn’t exactly regular, so in looking for alternatives that didn’t include waiting tables or temping, we came across voice acting. We didn’t know anything about it so we took a class, and worked our way up from there. Luckily, our teacher had just gotten a job directing an English anime dub…

GC: Most people know you as the voice of Sasuke Uchiha in Naruto. At what point did you realize just how big that franchise and character was?
YL: I hadn’t heard of it when I first got the audition, so I did a little research, and holy crap I found out it was huge. That made me nervous, because you know how fans get when something they love is about to be dubbed. But I had to trust that I had been cast for a reason, and I can’t do anything but do what I do and hope for the best. It wasn’t really until after it started airing and I went to a convention that I REALLY came to understand how big it was…


GC: Do you ever find yourself reading a Manga before you audition for a role?
YL: Generally, no. I used to read a lot of manga when I was living in Japan. But I don’t have as much time these days. But I do research roles online before going in to audition.

GC:  What was your first voice acting gig for a video game and how did it come about?
YL: I think my first video game acting gig came from the anime I was currently working on: SD GUNDAM FORCE. I didn’t have to audition because I was playing the same character I did on the show! Luckily, soon after that came Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

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GC: One of my favorite anime series is the .hack series and you did the voice of Haseo in the .hack//G.U. series. What was that experience like?
YL: I loved it. I love Haseo. A lot of people compare him to Sasuke, but where Sasuke only devolves, in a way, Haseo grows up, and I liked being able to make that change as an actor. And it indirectly led to my first and only cosplay appearance as a character I had voiced. Another story for another time…

GC: Have you ever read any of the .hack books like .hack//AI Buster or .Hack//Cell?
YL: I haven’t, but I love that the universe keeps expanding beyond the games

GC: How different is it doing voiceover work for a video game compared to an anime?
YL: At heart it’s the same, it’s all acting, and they’re pretty much all solo recordings unless you get on a Performance Capture stage for a video game, but where recording anime has a lot to do with timing, video games are generally about getting through as many lines as fast (and sometimes as loud) as possible.

GC: Whenever you are doing the voice of more than one character in a game like Bayonetta 2 or Dynasty Warriors, do you ever worry that they will sound too much like each other?
YL: Sometimes. That’s when I have to really trust the director to let me know if they hear me creeping too close to a different character.


GC: Speaking of Bayonetta, you’ve done the voice of Luka. What are your thoughts on how much big that series has become as Bayonetta 2 is one of the only games to ever receive a Perfect 10 rating.
YL: I think it’s amazing. I love that franchise. It’s the last game I think I played pretty much all the way through to the end (Bayonetta). If you had asked me before it came out if I thought it would be a hit, I’d have said, “No, man, this game is too fucked up to ever be a hit. It’s just too damn weird.” The fact that it became so popular gives me hope for the world.

GC: What was it like doing the voice of Jinnosuke/Kuma in Afro Samurai? Did you get to work with Samuel L. Jackson at all?
YL: Jinno/Kuma is one of my favorite characters ever. I still consider myself very lucky to have gotten it. And strangely enough, I never once got to record with SLJ, or even meet him, while we were working on the show, the movie or the game. But when the game came out, I went to a release party and he was there! So I went up to him and said, “You’ve been kicking my ass for the last four years, I figured I should at least come up and introduce myself.” He laughed. He’s just as cool as you’d want him to be.

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GC: You did the voice of 10 different Marvel superheroes in Marvel Super Hero Squad Online. Were you a huge fan of Marvel growing up?
YL: “Huge” is a huge understatement. I was a fan of both DC and Marvel (and then, in the mid 80s of independently published comics). Every time I get to play a character from one of those universes, a nerd angel gets his wings.


GC: You are doing the voice of Beck in the anticipated upcoming game Mighty No.9. What is it like being able to do voiceover work for a game directed by one of the most popular Producers in video game history Keiji Inafune?
YL: I’m so excited! I was never really into MegaMan, so I didn’t immediately connect on that level, but I had worked on some of his lesser known games like Lost Planet and Dead Rising. But I’m always inspired to see a creator take the power into his or her own hands to make the product they envision. And that’s what he’s done with Mighty No 9. It’s why Tara and I formed our own production company, Monkey Kingdom Productions back in 2004.

GC: Is there a character that you see as a lot like you personality wise?
YL: All of them are shades of me, but Ben Tennyson is pretty close. Also Joseph Oda from The Evil Within.

GC: Do you have any advice for our readers who might be interested in getting into voice acting?
YL: Besides taking a look at the book Tara and I wrote on the subject, Voice-Over Voice Actor, I’d say this: There are many things you can do that don’t cost any money to get started: Read aloud every day. Seriously. It sounds simple, but it’s a HUGE part of what we do on a daily basis. Act. The people I’ve seen really succeed in this business are good actors. So take a drama class, do some local theater, perform radio shows or make stupid movies with your friends. Mimic. Listen to the radio, watch a cartoon, play a game, and when you hear someone say something or make a sound, repeat it. Get used to how your voice sounds to you. And there’s a bunch more in the book…

GC: Are there any upcoming conventions or games that our readers will be able to see you in?
YL: Both Tara and I will be at Stan Lee’s Comikaze this month. And if you’re in Los Angeles Oct 22 or 29th, come to the Blank Theater to see me play Humphrey Bogart in Something Truly Monstrous by Jeff Tabnick. And you can always tune in to our comedy webseries Shelf Life. As usual, can’t really talk about the games under penalty of death, but Mighty No. 9 comes out soon, and Mad Max is out now and we’re always working on the next Naruto game, so there’ll be plenty. Just keep your ear to the ground.


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