Eric Vale is an American voice actor who has provided voices for a number of English versions of Japanese anime series. He is known for voicing Tomura Shigaraki in My Hero Academia, Phoenix Wright in Ace Attorney, adult Trunks in the Dragon Ball series, Ferid Bathory in the Seraph of the End series, Yuki Sohma in Fruits Basket series, Sanji in One Piece, and Loke in Fairy Tail.
Sonny Strait is most recognized as the voice of Krillin on Dragonball Z, as an illustrator for the comic book series Elfquest, and most recently, as the English voice of Re-Destro in My Hero Acedamia. He has over 20 years of experience in the arts. He also voiced Maes Hughes from Full Metal Alchemist, Usopp from One Piece, and Koro Sensei from Assassination Classroom.
Funimation graciously provided us an opportunity to interview the seasoned actors to discuss their roles as Re-Destro and Tomura Shiragaki in My Hero Academia, as well as their opinions, history, and process on voice acting.
Q: What inspired you guys to pursue a voice acting career or voice acting, and how did you get your first voice acting role?
Sonny: You know, I was in a Panel with Eric Vale a hundred and fifty years ago, we had just started, we were a bunch of voice actors in a panel and somebody asked “how do you become a voice actor?” and he said “let me ask you, how many of you started out to be a voice actor?” and none of raised our hands and then he said “how many of you started out to be actors” and we all raised our hands. And he said,” that’s a very important distinction because it means you’re just pursuing acting roles, you don’t know what’s going to happen.” And I don’t know about Eric, but for me I was acting for fourteen years before I got on Funimation and it was sort of just there and then all of a sudden I’m in a cartoon and it’s taken over my career and it’s like an amazing thing that I never expected to happen. So I never said out to be a voice actor.
Eric: Yeah, luckily Sonny answered the question for me.
Sonny: I use that all the time in my classes by the way, I tell that story all the time. The importance of appreciating acting.
Q: So how did you guys become voice actors for My Hero Academia?
Sonny: Just auditioned, you know. I looked at these audition sites and I thought there were a couple on there that I thought were in my wheelhouse and this was one of them so I auditioned for that two and I got this one. It’s a great part and I’m glad I got it, because I’ve played a few villains but not any that lasted more than a few episodes. So to play a villain for more than a whole season or whatever is a thrill, you know.
Eric: So one of the things I do as an actor is when I audition I poor everything I can into the role and the second everything’s over I immediately forget everything about it. I do that on purpose because I don’t want to hold onto any desires for a certain role because as an actor that kind of thinking really eats you up over time.
So I remember I auditioned when it came around and everyone was saying it would be a big show so I auditioned for a few hero roles and luckily Colleen and I have worked together for quite some time so she brought me in and she’s like “you didn’t audition for this role but he’s the bad guy so let’s work it out.”
Q: So this questions for Eric, Tomura is a central villain in the story and an iconic character. That said, what were your thoughts or initial impressions about him when you first started voicing the role, and did it influence how you portrayed him?
Eric: Well my first impressions of him was that “Oh, this guy is clearly insane” what his goals were seemed to be very outside the norm. So I tried to play him like that it’s kind of how we developed the voice for him. It was something the director Coleen was asking me to do. And so we read a few lines to kind of set up the tone for him. Once we did that I was really excited to see how bad he would become. So I knew he was bad, I just didn’t know how bad he would get.
Q: This one’s for Sonny. Re-Destro has a calm but cruel demeanor, how did you go about portraying all his personality quirks, would you say it a simple process?
Sonny: The first thing I did was just base off the description that was given in the character side when I auditioned. But when I got the role, I like to, especially for anime that has lasted a long time, I like to read the manga they’re based on they just help to give a little more insight into who this person is. I always try to put myself into it like, “ok if I was this guy in this body and in this experience how would I sound?” and you know, reading the manga helps a lot cause there’s always a voice in your head of how the character would sound like anyway and also when we recorded, Colleen and I worked on it in the booth with Eric as well so between all that we found the character’s voice.
Q: So you read the manga in order to prepare for the role?
Sonny: Oh yeah, but I’m way behind right now so I’m trying to catch up to it although I do know what happens with him in the manga.
Q: What have you guys learnt from voicing your characters so far?
Sonny: Well Eric probably has more to say on that because I just started voicing the role
Eric: I’ve learnt that I enjoy playing the villain more than I enjoy playing the good guy. I’ve also learnt that there is an interesting subset of fans out there that think of this evil bad guy as their comfort character and I hear that a lot. Not on me to understand just on me to deliver, but I thought that was interesting to learn along the way.
Q: Alright last question. Is there anything specific you guys are looking forward to seeing in this upcoming arc?
Sonny: I’m interested in seeing how it plays out
Eric: I’m looking forward to seeing your performance Sonny
Sonny: (Laughs) yeah, it’s fun.
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