During the festivities that were taking place in Anime NYC, we’ve had the pleasure to talk with legendary voice actor Richard Epcar! Epcar had voiced many of your favorite roles including The Joker, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, and Xeanhort from Kingdom Hearts, Raiden from Mortal Kombat, Akuma in Street Fighter 4, and Geese Howard in Tekken 7. It would more than likely take more time describing the roles he didn’t play than the roles that he did.
Needless to say, I was quite nervous being in the same room as him, but, I was able to pick at his brain for a bit. He made us feel comfortable in asking questions and for that, I’m grateful for as well as his time with us. I wanted to see what goes in the mind of one with experience in both video games and anime. Being that we at 1UP Infinite are all about the games, who is better for the first interview featured on the site than a man of this stature. Without further ado, here’s the transcript as well as the full audio interview below!
Holland: Alright, so, I have a question that involves both roles you have played at two different times [Akuma from Street Fighter 4 and Geese Howard from Tekken 7]. Who would win in a fight; Akuma or Geese Howard?
Holland: No hesitation!
Epcar: Now, the better question would be who would win… Akuma vs Raiden? grins
Holland: It sucks cause the fans [have] been asking [for] Mortal Kombat vs Street Fighter for eons yet of course with licensing and the fact that Capcom doesn’t wanna see Chun-Li’s head ripped off or anything.
I started off with that question because you’re known for bringing these fighting game characters to life, whether it be Geese, Akuma, or Raiden. With that said, have you ever thought of going to one of these tournaments or events as a guest maybe?
Epcar: You know it’s funny because I think one guy who won one of the previous championships used Akuma (Editor’s note: Referring to Tokido’s 2017 EVO run). Every once in a while I’d hear these players use one of my characters to win with and I think that’s pretty cool! Unfortunately, I hadn’t seen any of these tournaments because I simply don’t have time, working constantly, it’s pretty crazy. So yeah, I hadn’t had the chance to really experience that.
Holland: As a veteran in the industry how do you feel the climate as a voice actor is now as opposed to how it was in the past?
Epcar: It’s interesting, when I started out a million years ago it was in the 80s when we started doing Robotech. The anime didn’t get a lot of respect, like, an afterthought at the time. But now I feel anime got popular and people enjoy them to the point where it’s like before, anime used to copy off of western animation and now it’s almost like it’s vice versa.
I think the real difference between them is that it was formulaic. Western animation had this formula and anime usually come with these philosophical questions. I think that’s why it’s popular because they put you in these uncomfortable situations, but it’s very real and very humanlike. I think western animations are reaching that point and it’s thanks to anime.
Holland: What was the first instance where a fan had recognized your voice from a particular medium, be it anime or gaming, and it took you by surprise? Whether it was because you weren’t aware that your voice was used for a particular role or because of a chance encounter [with a fan]?
Epcar: It’s funny because what you’re asking hasn’t changed to this day. I recorded for a bunch of games and they wouldn’t tell you what it is you’re recording for. Like, they’d give either a fake name or a code name. Then the game comes out and I see “Richard Epcar stars in [name of game here]” and I’m like “Woah I didn’t even know I voiced anyone here, I don’t remember!” So they do that all the time even to this day.
To answer your first question, it was in the Fox Lot on my way to the audition and I stopped and asked for directions. The guy did a double-take and said “ask that again.” So I did and he was like “Wait a minute, aren’t you Batou from Ghost In The Shell?” I said “Yes I am” and he had me sign a bunch of stuff for him. So I did and I was like “Okay now can you please tell me where to go I’m late for my audition!” laughs
Holland: Do you think that with the accessibility of professional-grade equipment for retail and advancements in technology in this current era, especially when the effects of the pandemic made “working from home” a valid option, it’s more accessible to get into the voice acting industry?
Epcar: I think in certain ways it absolutely has. In other ways, it’s not as easy but it depends. In show business, sometimes it depends on luck. But nowadays someone who lives in, say, Oregon can audition for somewhere else and a lot of people have been recording remotely now. That’s changed the industry tremendously. At one point you had to absolutely be in somewhere like [Los Angeles] but it’s not [as dire] as it was in the past [because of working remotely]. It’s good and it’s bad. Sometimes it’s convenient but sometimes I’d prefer to work in a studio amongst others than just be in my little cave [alone] recording things all the time.
Holland: Last question that I have for you, being someone who has tons of experience in both angles, what are the pros and cons of being a voice actor and a voice director? Which of the two do you prefer? The acting or the directing?
Epcar: When you’re an actor, you kinda have control of how you portray your character but at times you still have to refer to the director. The director, I feel, is the one who puts the pieces of the puzzle together almost like a game master. If you’re directing or producing, you have more control over the project more than the talent. So, I go through periods of time when I’m directing but at the same time I miss acting out the roles I’m directing and vice versa. I’m lucky to be able to do both, but it is a different vibe when you’re overseeing something versus being in control over what you’re voicing.
It’s nice to have control, but sometimes clients would come and dump a project on me and say “Do it.” That’s nice because I get [to lead] the project how I’d like. Other times there’s micromanaging involved. Regardless, I enjoy doing both because it all comes from the same place ultimately. I like to have some sort of control whether it’s whoever it is I’m voicing or whatever it is I happen to direct.
It was at this point that our interview had concluded, but, I couldn’t help but indulge myself knowing that this was a “once in a lifetime opportunity” thing I was getting myself into. Of the many roles he had played over the years, one of my most favorite roles from him was his role as Gaius van Baelsar from Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn.
There are light spoilers for the game ahead, but, Gaius serves as one of the final bosses in A Realm Reborn. Lately, a specific line of dialogue had become a meme amongst Final Fantasy 14 players due to the iconic delivery of Epcar towards the character.
It also alludes to Final Fantasy 14 players having to run The Praetorium quite frequently for Main Story Quest roulette as of late, but regardless, I wanted him to say the legendary “Such Devastation!” line and he delivered!
When I was finished recording, he admitted that would he been allowed to continue voicing Gaius, he would as he was quite a fan of the character. Despite unforeseen circumstances, I find it cool whenever an actor is a fan of their work no matter how long it has been since they voiced it.
Ultimately I’d like to once again thank Richard Epcar for lending his time to interview with me and those present in the room at the time. He was an amazing guest and an even amazing person to be around. He treated us with the utmost respect. I’d also like to thank the Anime NYC staff for making this meeting possible! Until next time, Mr. Epcar!
For more like-coverage from Anime NYC weekend, check out my review of Pompo: The Cinéphile!