Exclusive Interview with Jennifer Hale
We have made no secret of our love of voice actors, and it was a thrill to chat with Jess Harnell at Supanova. Just to add to that we also got to speak with the legendary Jennifer Hale, one of the hardest working actors in the business!
G-Funk: We’re the House of Geekery, we’re at Perth Supanova and we’re speaking with Jennifer Hale. How are you today?
Jennifer Hale: I’m fabulous, how are you?
GF: Just getting here and getting my bearings and now you’re here and it’s awesome!
JH: It’s pretty great here, I love it here.
GF: Now for the folks at home, how would people know you from your work?
JH: Oh my goodness. Well, they would not know what I look like, which is the best part. They would know me from animation, cartoons like Totally Spies, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? to go way back, Justice League, Powerpuff Girls, Codename: Kids Next Door…oh my goodness…Batman Beyond, Avengers Assemble, Guardians of the Galaxy, Lost in Oz…
GF: Avatar, that’s one of the favourites.
JH: Avatar, yes, Motorcity….and then game wise I’ve done…
GF: Oh, I know some of these. Metal Gear…
JH: Yes, it’s around 190 games.
GF: Far out!
JH: Yeah, it’s crazy. Metal Gear, Bioshock Infinite, Mass Effect…
GF: Baldur’s Gate…
JH: Baldur’s Gate, yes! That’s going back! Star Wars: Old Republic, Knights of the Old Republic…goodness, a few.
GF: A few?! That’s putting it mildly!
JH: Did I say Mass Effect? Yes, that’s a big one.
GF: That’s a huge, huge resume. Voice actors always have a massive list of projects.
JH: (Laughs) That’s because they get paid scale. We don’t make the big bucks but we enjoy our work.
GF: It sounds like you must work non-stop though.
JH: We do, I work every week, five days a week.
GF: What have you got going on now then?
JH: New show called Lost in Oz, we just won the Emmy for Best New Animated Series, which is wonderful. Doing some Avengers Assemble, new Powerpuff Girls, goodness, lots. I’m working on a few things I can’t discuss. I’m always afraid I’ll say something I’m not supposed to.
GF: I’ll cover the mic and you can tell us in secret.
JH: No, no. There’s a missile aimed at me that will take me out if I say anything.
GF: That’s the red dot?
JH: Exactly, the one you see hovering over my head. Ubisoft For Honour just came out recently.
GF: You’ve got all these amazing characters on your resume. Just from Batman alone we’ve got Zatanna, we’ve got Poison Ivy, we’ve got half a dozen others…how do you seperate out those different characters when you’re working?
JH: They’re very different people. For me it starts with the person, then the voice comes out of the ‘who are they?’ (Switches to Killer Frost’s Voice) Killer Frost has that very edgy kind of thing (switches to Giganta) and Giganta’s very, you know, so charming! (As Zatanna) Zatanna is much more straight forward. (Normal voice) It has to do with who they are as people. That’s where it comes from for me.
GF: I always want to endorse voice actors, because I feel that they’re an unsung group of heroes in the industry, in both animation and the wider world. Do you prefer than anonymity that comes with the work or would you like more recognition?
JH: No, I love the anonymity, are you kidding? It’s fabulous, I can go places and do things and no-one bothers me. If I’m in a bad mood that day, no-one knows! I’m just another person.
GF: This might be a topical question. I’ve done an article in the past about big name celebrities getting the big voice work, whereas professional voice workers tend to be the ‘Additional Voices’ in the background. Do you ever get frustrated by that?
JH: I don’t see the point in focusing on things I can’t control. I prefer to feel happy than sad, so I focus on the things that work and focus on that. I don’t focus brain space on that. It hurts.
GF: Good philosophy. That’s probably why I’m always angry and you look so calm.
JH: (Laughs) I’d like to live a while!
GF: Then we can keep benefitting from your work. Many of your credits, and for all voice actors, is ‘addition voices’. Can you explain what that entails?
JH: When you’re an additional voice, you’re mostly talking about features. In, for example, Wreck-It Ralph, they had a whole crew of us in there. We were all the candies in the stadium during the big thing…
GF: Oh, in Candy Rush…no, Sugar Rush.
JH: Yeah. We were different characters walking in and walking down the street. It involves being a whole bunch of different characters, following the visuals on the screen and imaging voices for those characters instantly, on the spot.
GF: So it’s really flying by the seat of your pants…
JH: It’s improv. It’s improv, but it goes out to the public instantly.
GF: That must be a lot of fun.
JH: It is, it’s a blast!
GF: You’ve got some character’s you’re really well known for, and what I like to ask everyone is if there are some other roles or projects you’d like more people to know more about?
JH: I love my indies. I love République and Masquerada and The Long Dark and the crazy little things like Shelf Life, this fantastic series that Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt did. Laura Bailey’s in it, Travis Willingham’s in it, Liam O’Brien…a bunch of people are in it and it’s hysterical. I love little indie projects like that.
GF: What was that one you mentioned, The Long Dark?
JH: The Long Dark was this great, great game out of Canada. Dave Hayter’s in it, Mark Meer and I are in it together. We actually get to be in it together. Elias Toufexis as well, it’s a really fantastic game.
GF: You’ve worked with Dave Hayter before (on ‘Metal Gear Solid’).
JH: I’ve known Dave forever! I knew Dave before he was Dave!
GF: Do you guys actually work on set together, or is it seperate?
JH: Sometimes we get to, yeah. We have a couple of time, actually. In Metal Gear we recorded quite a bit and then his movie Wolves I got to go up and be directed by him in a feature, which was fantabulous! It was the greatest thing in the world. There was this moment where it was important for me to have my eyes open for extended period of time and it was one of the last shots of the morning and I was thinking “don’t screw Dave’s movies! Don’t screw up Dave’s movie! Don’t blink! Don’t screw up Dave’s movie!”
GF: That’s what multiple takes are for!
JH: No, we were going to lose the light, it was literally the last shot.
GF: Before we let you go do you have a character you want to voice? Do you have a dream project that you haven’t got yet?
JH: Oh, anything! Something where I get to…I’ve gotten to do so much! Just to continue to work with the people I get to work with, to continue to be directed by these brilliant directors who really are the unsung heroes of these projects. Anything. I love it all.
GF: Brilliant. You’ve got such a great attitude, it was nice to meet you! Thanks for your time, we’ll let you get back out there.
JH: Listen, a big thank you to everyone who watches and plays. Without you we wouldn’t be here and you are everything. Thank you.
GF: You’re a reason we keep coming back!
JH: (Laughs) Thank you!