It’s rare we get to have a chat with one of our beloved video game characters, in fact never, and this is as near as we’re likely to get! The excellent Mike Pollock has voiced Dr Eggman (Robotnik) since 2003 and we’re pleased to say that our Adrian tracked him down to answer some important questions…
Dr Eggman (better known as Dr. Robotnik in the UK) is easily one of the most famous and notorious video game villains of all time. How exactly did you get the opportunity to voice this iconic character?
After supplementing my radio career with freelance voice over work, I became part of 4Kids’ talent pool, appearing in dubs like “Kirby Right Back At Ya: and “Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy.” When 4Kids acquired the rights to dub “Sonic X,” the production team for the series was the same one from “Kirby,” and were apparently very keenly interested in having me as Dr. Eggman. It took an audition and several rounds of callbacks before SEGA were convinced to give me the role. And they were so impressed that they kept me around for the 2010 re-casting.
How does it make you feel to be involved in Sonic, easily one of the most famous and popular game series of all time?
As an actor, every gig is a precious gift, but Sonic comes complete with a built-in fanbase, so apart from being great fun and a great honour, there seems to be a fine bunch of fans who’ve welcomed me with mostly open arms.
Are you a gamer yourself, and if so, do you have a personal favourite Sonic the Hedgehog title?
I’m not a gamer. Clients hire me because I can act, not because I necessarily use the product. But from personal experience, the addition of humor in “Sonic Colors” and “Sonic Generations” made them a special treat.
You probably know Dr. Eggman as a character better than anyone, can you share with our readers a couple of great facts about Sonic’s arch nemesis?
I don’t, actually. I’m just a freelance independent contractor, working for many different clients over the course of the year. I don’t have a desk at SEGA where I report every day to do Eggman things. I’ve only visited SEGA’s office once, in fact. When they have something that needs recording, they tell us actors where and when to show up for a few hours. There’s no formal Sonic training program, so I only know what I read in the script, or whatever backstory the producers and director give me. And doing my own extensive research would undoubtedly lead to me gaining potentially conflicting information contrary to the client’s current vision.
That’s fair enough! You have played the Dr. Eggman in both multiple video games and now in the really popular Sonic Boom TV series. Are there any major difference between recording voices for video games and cartoons?
The cartoons are very linear, like a play, with a beginning, middle and end. The games are more disjointed, with the scripts sectioned off into cutscenes and assorted vocal reacts. For Sonic X, like most dubs in the US, we all recorded separately, at different days and times based on our schedule. So I’d be in the studio with the director and engineer recording my lines for an episode or two over the course of a few hours. Sonic Boom, on the other hand, was recorded ensemble style, with most, if not all, of the cast together at the same time. But we weren’t necessarily in the same place. I recorded remotely from New York, interacting with the rest of the gang in L.A. via headphones. Games can be recorded separately or together.
Sonic Boom has proved to be a huge hit worldwide (it is a personal favourite of my four year old son). Do you feel this success could help Sonic re-establish itself as a true competitor against Mario and help launch more games in the near future?
I wish the best of success for all my clients, but who knows what the future holds?
Can you briefly explain a typical day’s work as a voice over artist and what tips can you provide for anyone looking to get into this part of the industry?
My schedule is delightfully unpredictable. I bounce from studio to studio (and sometimes my home studio) recording for any number of clients for as little as a half-hour to as many as four hours at a stretch, generally. If I have no work on the schedule, I focus on getting more, with my agents and managers finding auditions for me to attend in town or record from home. So the only thing that’s typical is that there is no typical. Voice acting is all about acting, get as much acting experience as you can, in school or community theater or wherever. You can also check with area radio, TV or cable stations to see if they need any extra voice talent for commercials and stuff. To get most voice-over gigs, you’ve gotta have at least one brief, well-produced demo reel (I have Commercial, Animation, Promo and Narration demos) to send to prospective employers. Consider investing in a coach for hands-on training and professional demo production. There are several good books on the subject available, too, and several online voice casting sites where those starting in the industry can look for work.
You have also been involved in Nintendo’s amazingly popular Pokémon cartoon series as the narrator since 2003. How does it feel to be involved in two of the world’s most famous video game brands?
That’s not quite the case. I’ve been Doctor Eggman since 2003, but I was only the temporary narrator for Pokémon while the regular guy was on hiatus, from February 2004 to June 2006, along with various bit parts along the way. Still, I consider myself extremely fortunate to be part of such high-profile franchises.
Do you have any future roles (either in video games or TV) that you could share with us?
The future is always a secret, thanks to the magic of Non-Disclosure Agreements, but here’s some recent stuff that you can find on YouTube.
If you could share a few drinks with a video game character who would you choose and why?
Like I said before, if I was sharing drinks with a fictional character, that means that I’ve had a few drinks too many.
Ha ha! Thanks for your time Mike, pleasure having you here at AA. Readers, you can find out more about Mike on his official page.