How did you get involved with Yellowbird?
Initially it was the casting director, Linda Lamontagne, who I work with on both Family Guy and a couple of projects that we do at our studio. She spoke to me about it and it just seemed like a really fun project to be involved with.
Tell me a little more about the film and your character.
Well, I play a character who spends most of his early life nameless, orphaned, and pretty much raised in relative isolation. [He’s] always afraid to leave the safety of his own home. The movie is about leaving home for the first time, meeting other people, and going through an abbreviated coming of age that he never had when he was a baby.
It’s about going out and finding yourself. It’s going out and discovering what you’re meant to do. It’s leaving the safety and comfort of your own nest, and pushing past your own expectations.
With such a great voice cast, was there a lot of collaboration between everyone? Did you get to work together on creating the dialogue or certain scenes?
It’s difficult with this kind of process a lot of the time; especially if you’ve got performers who are working on other things. There’s almost no opportunity for everyone to be in the same place at the same time. All of the stuff that I recorded was separate. Occasionally, I would have someone else’s track pre-recorded to work off of. I think a couple of folks had the same thing from me.
Your character and Jim Rash’s character have a lot of interaction in the film.
I’ve known Jim for a while but I didn’t know he was in the movie. We ran into each other after we both recorded and found out we were both in it. It was very funny.
You didn’t know beforehand? That’s really funny.
I know. Well, even better that we had extensive scenes together.
You can really feel the emotion in your scenes with him.
He’s an amazing performer and a brilliant writer/director as well. When you’re working against experts it makes it easier for you to seem awesome.
You are quite an expert in voice acting. How do you bring so many vastly different characters to life?
I approach all character work in the same way. I just try to figure out what it is that they’re about. Typically, if you’re playing something then your entire journey has been written for you. So you can just sort of try and embody it well. That’s what I do. I try to find a point of view of the character and try to make it feel sincere. That helps to define the personality, too. You take into consideration where they’re from, what things led them to where they are at that moment, and what this particular challenge is in whatever the story is. I take all that into consideration when I’m figuring out how a character works.
What’s the best part about voice acting versus a live action role?
Well, the best part is probably that you don’t need to physically prepare yourself for it in the same way. When you’re on camera, there are certain expectations of just even basic grooming. No one’s going to pay to see a movie where someone doesn’t have like an extra bit of shine to them, even if they’re playing a homeless person. That’s what movies are about.
But in voice over, it’s entirely what you can construct with your voice. All of your physicality is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how big you are or how small you are – your race or your ethnicity, your hair color, none of that matters… so a lot of time you can just come in very casual clothes. Just whatever you need to be wearing to help you get to that place.
What was your favorite part about Yellowbird in particular?
It’s a very sweet and simple message. I always advocate people leaving their nest and exploring the world around them.