Yes! Finally the Mike Pollock interview is available to read! Why did it take so long you may ask? Well when we were going to do it via Skype about two months ago, I felt very sick and wasn’t feeling well enough to do it. I then cancelled the interview and told Mike to forget about it! But then about two weeks ago I asked Mike if we could do it over email, he accepted! So without further ado, here is the interview!
Hey Mike, How are you? As most of us know, you first got into the voice acting business by doing Radio work. Could you tell us what was your job and what qualifications (if any) did you need to work on the Radio?
Finer than frog hair, thanks.
You can see my whole radio résumé at http://www.itsamike.com/radio but for the most memorable parts I was an air personality — pretending to be a disc jockey on an adult contemporary radio station — and also a production director creating commercials, promos, song parodies, and comedy bits. The real qualifications for being in radio are being able to do radio, and that’s best learned on-the-job. My first paid gig came while I was still enrolled at University, whence I eventually graduated with B.S. in Television, Radio and Film production. There was some emphasis on the B.S. since my goal was to be Talent, and a degree’s not going to help you with that. To be talent you need a brain, a personality, occasionally a sense of humor, and a reasonably pleasant voice — or voices, in my case. Probably a better choice for my current not-always-radio career would’ve been to have majored in theater, but I didn’t. Any formal acting training I’ve had has been minimal, which actually might have been an advantage to me in the grand scheme of things.
So what actually wanted you or inspired you to work on the radio and how did that evolve into you working on Animes, Video Games, Cartoons, etc?
I loved listening to the radio as a kid, first for the witty banter of the DJs, and eventually to more talk-and entertainment-based programming. I eventually came to admire a man named Gene Klavan, who voiced dozens of different characters as part of his show. I also listened to phone-in shows, to absorb the melange of dialects from my fellow New Yorkers. I also listened to radio dramas, both classic ones from the 1940s and current ones from the 1970s, as well as kiddie records, which were basically little radio dramas made for kids. All this audio input, coupled with watching classic cartoons like Rocky & Bullwinkle and Looney Tunes, was subconsciously infusing my brain with the basics of voice acting. I also did school and community theater to learn the basics of stage acting.
By the time I reached college and could realize my dream of working in radio, I figured out that what I really loved was doing wacky character voices for commercials and comedy bits. After I moved from radio to a syndication company where I wrote and voiced a whole bunch of comedy bits, I eventually had a big enough collection of voice samples to send out a demo tape to animation companies. One of those tapes got me a part in a kids video playing the voices of a bunch of boats. Another tape got me a part in my first anime,Demon Fighter Kocho which led to a bunch of other anime work. Yet a third mailing got me into an episode of Pokémon, getting me in the door at 4Kids which used me in several other roles over the years.
Subsequent training with a voice-over coach expanded my demos and my workload to include Commercials, Promos and Narrations.
Now lets talk about, most likely your most famous role: Dr Eggman. Could you tell us how you got the role and how your audition went?
I believe you first voiced Eggman in the cartoon series Sonic X, in 2003. Is that correct?
You are correct. After being on the talent roster at 4Kids for a couple of years, the company acquired the dubbing rights to Sonic X, and apparently the producer was really keen on convincing SEGA to cast me as Dr. Eggman. He sent me a couple of dozen clips of Deem Bristow from one of the games and told me to study that voice so I could replicate it. After about a week’s time I went in for my audition and did my best Deem Bristow impression. I guess SEGA was not yet convinced, because a week or so later I was called back in for a callback, and once again did my best Deem Bristow impersonation. Again it didn’t pass muster with SEGA and again I was called back and did the same voice again. The third time was the charm and I finally booked the role of Eggman. The Bristowesque voice only lasted a couple of episodes, though. I realized staying deep and growly and monotone made it tough to play the comedic dialog comically. Also the director wanted me to have more peaks and valleys in my voice, much like Martin Short’s Jiminy Glick character. A few more tweaks and that’s the voice we ultimately stuck with.
You were also the narrator for Pokémon for a while. Do you know why the original narrator (Rodger Pars) left for a few series and then came back?
Also was there any memorable moments working on Pokémon?
I never asked and was never told why Rodger left. When Pokémon decided to take their business away from 4Kids Productions and none of the existing talent could perform on the show for a couple of years, Rodger was again available to return to the narrator gig, which he did.
The narrator sessions were usually over in half-an-hour so, so the only thing I remember was trying to pronounce the name of the new Pokémon.
My more vivid memory was recording my first guest shot in a Pokémon episode, playing a grandfather in “Carrying On.” Eric Stuart directed me and he couldn’t have been more delightful.
How is it working as a Voice actor? Is the pay good, and what would you say to kids who want to pursue a career in voice acting?
The pay can vary greatly depend on on the job, from tens of dollars to thousands of dollars, and the work can be very irregular. So to kids I’d say: don’t plan on making career out of voice acting unless you have something else to fall back on or your independently wealthy. The weeks when little-to-no money comes in can be nerve-wracking. Acting is a noble professional, but consider yourself an actor, don’t limit yourself to just being an animation voice actor. There are other genres like Commercials, Promo and Narration that can be equally or more lucrative, so you should be ready to audition for, and book, those jobs, too. Get stage acting experience so you’ll know what it’s like to work opposite other actors, not just alone in a room pretending to respond to non-existent dialog. Also, if live or on-camera opportunities present themselves, you’ll have a shot at booking an audition for them. Consider professional coaching or at least investing in a book on the subject.
Now to some questions from the fans!
KC from Portugal asks:
You’re a wonderful voice actor and clearly the best Eggman voice ever, but you had into the shoes of a Sonic community favourite (Deem Bristow). Did you feel the pressure?
Also, you’re known for your dark sense of humour. Have you ever considered doing a comedy TV show or something like that?
No pressure. The 4KIds and SEGA booked me because they thought I was the right man for the job, and they had to sign off on all the stuff I did, so I trusted them implicitly. I’m fortunate that the fan reaction has been mostly positive to my portrayal.
The pressure of constantly writing full-length stand-up material gets my short-attention-span sensor beeping, so that’s never been a goal of mine. But I like writing and performing comedy sketches and song parodies, so I’d consider that if the opportunity presented itself.
He also asks how do you prepare yourself for a voice acting job? Any special care with your voice?
No specific prep. I try not to yell unnecessarily, which is tough with two kids. I bring a refreshing beverage with me to my sessions to keep my throat lubricated. And I have a good ear/nose/throat doctor available in case I get a cold or something.
Michael Westgarth asks: Will Dr. Robotnik ever have his own musical number in any future sonic game? I can write the song if need be.
I haven’t the slightest idea what the future holds. It’s completely beyond my control.
TheChaosBlue asks: How was the transition from working with the 4Kids voice cast to the current one?
Since we all record separately and I never interact with the other talent anyway, it wasn’t much different. Now I record at a studio other than the company formerly known as 4KIds Productions, and the producers and director are across the country, heard but not seen at the other end of an ISDN line, instead of the other side of a pane of glass.
Foreversonic says: I follow your “Latest Deadlines” blog. For those that don’t, how did that come about and how long have you been doing it for?
When the site says “The judges would have accepted…” can anyone offer suggestions or do you think of them all?
I worked in and around newsrooms during my radio career and “dark humor” has always been a time-tested newsroom trick for dealing with tragedy (the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle disaster is a notable example). Even after I left the vicinity of the newsrooms I continued the tradition with several of my friends (most notably my pal Uncle Roy) via instant messenger over the years. My then-current radio-syndication funless-wonder co-workers didn’t find my death comedy at all amusing (“Hi, I’m Troy McClure. You might remember for such films as ‘Oh My God, There’s a Bullet in my Head’ and ‘Phil Hartman Doesn’t Live Anymore’”) even though I continued to come up with the jokes effortlessly. Suddenly, when the legendary Art Linkletter died and the gags just kept on comin’ between me and Roy, I had an epiphany moment: rather than waste all this brilliant material among ourselves, we could share it and save it for posterity via a blog. Within a couple of hours, TLD was born, while Mr. Linkletter remained dead.
The core group of writers are me and my pals Roy, Evan and Stan. Credit is always give to anyone but me via a bracketed [Thanks, <whoever you are>!] Audience suggestions are welcome via the comments, and if we like them I’ll promote them to the main blog entry, as often happens with friends of friends like Ira and Christopher.
Before we finish would you like to tell us about the latest movie you have appeared in, A Cat In Paris? What is the story of the movie and what role do you play in it?
Dino is a cat that leads a double life. By day, he lives with Zoe, a little girl whose mother, Jeanne, is a police officer. By night, he works with Nico, a burglar with a big heart. Zoe has plunged herself into silence following her father’s murder at the hands of gangster Costa. One day, Dino the cat brings Zoe a very valuable bracelet. Lucas, Jeanne’s second-in-command, notices this bracelet is part of a jewelery collection that has been stolen. One night, Zoe decides to follow Dino. On the way, she overhears some gangsters and discovers that her nanny is part of the gangsters’ team. I play Mr. Baby, one of Costa’s bumbling gangsters, and I’ve also got a couple of lines as the Zookeeper.
Catch it if it’s playing at a theater near you: https://www.facebook.com/acatinparis/app_201304636555664
Or reserve your copy on Blu-ray and DVD now from http://www.itsamike.com
Anyway thank you very much for taking your valuable time to answer these questions! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and I’m looking forward to hear your work in upcoming animes, cartoons, games, ect.
Glad to be of service.