I am voice actor Roger Craig Smith. You may know me as Batman, Captain America, Sonic the Hedgehog, Ezio from Assassin’s Creed, Transformers: RID, or narrator of “Say Yes To the Dress” (among many other things). AMA!
I started out – oh boy – let’s see – I started doing stand-up before, during and after film school, and that basically landed me in the world of voice acting, and I haven’t looked back since!
You can follow me on Twitter @RogerCraigSmith. I’m on Facebook but I need to fix my account.
Victoria’s helping me out over the phone. AMA!
Have you said YES to the dress yet?
Real question: What is next for you?
I have NOT said yes to the dress. Not sure if I’ll EVER say yes to any dress.
I might say “Okay” to a cool pair of pants someday.
And Batman Unlimited on May 12th. And tonight – premiere of a new episode of Marvel’s Avengers Assemble on Disney XD at 8:30 PM ET.
Do you ever pause to reflect on the fact that you were the goddamn Batman?
I do, every day, when I do something stupid.
I just think That’s something the real Batman never would have done.
Is there any sort of voice actors guild? Do you all have secrets to the craft that you pass along like Freemasons?
One will never know.
Have you ever tried to smash a boulder like the almighty Chris Redfield?
I tried it once.
It did not go well.
How much about dresses did you learn about from narrating Say Yes to the Dress and if Ezio were to get a wedding dress what type of dress would it be?
What a great question.
I don’t think I’ve actually learned anything. Because as a guy, I might know the names, but I don’t know if I’ve learned ANYTHING as a narrator.
However, I’d have to say that Ezio would very likely go with an A-frame dress – A for “Assassin.”
How did you master the Italian accent?
Haha! One would argue that I did not ‘Master’ it at all. In fact, if you ask a few Italians out there, they might roll their eyes at my accent. However, I owe a debt of gratitude to Ida, and Peter, my dialect coaches on the Assassin’s Creed games, for helping me butcher the Italian language in the way that I did.
Will you be back for Arkham Knight?
No, that’s Kevin Conroy in ARKHAM KNIGHT.
For the Assassin’s Creed series, how much interaction did you have with the other voice actors while recording? If I recall correctly, there was no motion capture for the first four games.
We had very little interaction between 2 and Brotherhood. And then we did do some light ensemble recording for Revelations. However, we were wearing motion-capture helmets, which made it kind of funky and awkward.
How fun was it to record the Abstergo researcher stuff for Assassin’s Creed IV and pronouncing Ezio’s name wrong?
Oh. THAT was an absolute blast. Darby (the writer on that project) wanted to give the fans a little easter egg, and brought me into record those lines, and I intentionally screwed up everyone’s names as badly as I could. We had a lot of fun messing around with that.
While typing your answers here, which voice do you use in your head?
Kermit the Frog! Hahaha! No… gosh! That’s really weird. God, I wouldn’t know. I’m like a lot of people in that I hate the sound of my own voice, so let’s play it safe and say I hear Mark Hamill’s voice.
What is one thing people always ask you to say in a certain voice?
It’s a toss-up between Sonic Speed! or Requiescat in Pace.
Who is your favorite Sonic Boom writer, and why is it Alan Denton? Feel free to cite specific examples.
Hahahaha! I’d have to go with Alan Denton. And just rugged good looks. And a sharp wit!
In AC4: Black Flag, you had a couple appearances. One was a familiar-sounding Italian diplomat and the other was the voice behind the market analysis videos. How did these roles come up?
Again, that was Darby – basically giving an homage to the fans of Ezio, by having me sort of “spoof” a very drunk-sounding Ezio as the Italian Diplomat. Again, that was Darby having fun with the lore of the Assassin’s Creed Universe, and letting me appear as an easter egg.
In AC Chronicles: China, Ezio has a different voice and apparently you were not asked to perform the role. What are your thoughts on this situation?
I had issued a statement through Kotaku that I have no bad vibes towards Ubisoft. This is strictly a production situation where I found out at the same time as everybody else, there was no me being rejected for a role or anything like that. I chalk it up to a production decision that we all found out about together. It’s not like my feelings are hurt, or anything like that.
There’s a theory in the AC community that Ezio was actually a bloodthirsty zealot. Do you have any thoughts on this idea?
Um… wow. Let’s see. Hehehe! No comment, hahaha!
Is it weird when you play Sonic games and hear your own voice?
Sort of. It never gets OLD to hear your own voice in a video game though.
What’s your favourite voice to do?
One of my favorites is Frank Smith, who is Margaret’s dad on REGULAR SHOW.
Did you prefer voicing Sonic in the TV show or in the games?
It doesn’t matter to me. Being the blue blur is a blast in any medium.
How much interaction did you have with the other VAs for the series & show?
We recorded almost every episode of SONIC BOOM as an ensemble cast. So we had a ton of fun getting to work together – we’re all good friends outside of the show as well. They’re some of my favorite people.
What was your best joke from your stand-up days?
I don’t know if I even had a “best joke.”
Golly. I can remember creating an alter-ego known as “Rogelio.”
Who was the Latin Lover alter-ego when I had a couple beers in me. That seemed to land well with the audience, but the irony is that it sort of became who Ezio is (or was).
What accent or voice do you think you really can’t get right? Is there any you don’t like doing?
Oh, there’s a TON of accents that I can’t get right. Some would argue even Italian!
And there’s a lot of accents i can’t even do. An Australian accent is very difficult for me. Even doing an accurate British accent, to the point of having someone from England compliment you on it, is NOT an easy thing.
Most of the accents I’m comfortable doing are the more “broad” approaches to those accents. Because to do an accent legitimately, and to do it well, is a skill (one I don’t claim to have).
If you could become any of the characters that you have voiced, who would you choose and why?
I’d go with Ripslinger, from Disney’s PLANES, just to be able to fly. I feel like most people would want to be Batman, but Batman lost his parents. I don’t know that I would want to be Batman in that regard. It’s true, he has all the toys, I like that, but I’d rather not have a utility belt and still have my parents.
What inspired you to become a voice actor?
That’s honestly how it happens for a lot of people – you keep hearing – for me in stand-up comedy, I would do characters and voices in my act, and a lot of people would say “Hey, you have a great speaking voice, have you thought about voiceover?” So I stumbled into it, and fell in love with it.
Have you ever played any Sonic games before you became the current voice for Sonic?
I go all the back to the Sega Genesis Sonic.
I’m an aspiring voice actor, and I would love to know what advice you may have for young people who want to break into that business, and what your experience was going into the industry. Are there any steps I can take now, as a sophomore in high school, to work towards that goal? When I become an adult, what can I do to pursue voice acting as a career?
Holy cow! That’s a multi-part question.
You know what? Acting is acting. So whether it be voice, or onstage, or on camera, pursue acting first & foremost.
In terms of advice? I’ve started telling people plain & simple: you will never have my career. And what I mean by that is – I will never have YOUR career. Everyone’s journey on how to get here is completely unique. The advice is just – never be ashamed of where you’re at. And never lose sight of the next goal you place for yourself. And keep falling forward, knowing you’ll make mistakes, and it’s no big deal, just keep at it.
And try not to get overly concerned with where “everyone else” is at.
Just wanted to say that I love your work, with my first introduction to you being Ezio from Assassin’s Creed 2. I was just wondering if have kept up with the series, and if so what do you think of the direction the games have taken? And who has been your favorite character throughout the entire series?
You know, I think the entire franchise is in really good hands with Ubisoft. And really and truly, it doesn’t matter what my opinion is – as long as fans are happy with it, then I know we’re headed in the right direction. And apparently it’s Ezio.
Have you been doing voices your whole life? At what point did you realize you could make it a career?
You know, I guess, in a way I have been doing voices my whole life? I was real big into mimicry and being a goofy kid when I was younger. I don’t think I ever thought it was going to be a career. Doing voices in my stand-up was just to have the audience laugh at me as the character, but I didn’t think “I’m going to do these voices to impress someone so they’ll give me a job as a voiceover actor.”
What one piece of advice would you give to an acting school graduate looking to get into voice acting?
Well, you’ve already obviously studied acting if you’re an acting school graduate. Maybe take a very basic class in commercial voice acting. And go from there. But a class is helpful.
I know it’s been heard that when you’re a voice actor, it’s impossible to pick a favourite character, because they’re all like your children. But amid all the Sonics and the Chris Redfields and the Ezios, I was curious if there were ever a few characters or other such gigs you had a personal soft spot for that didn’t quite reach the same amount of mainstream attention? And also, how over the moon were you when you got to voice Sonic for Wreck-It Ralph?
You know, as far as favorite characters go… you know, getting to play Forge in Wolverine & The X-Men, quite a few years ago, was a lot of fun. I liked that character. He was a smaller part, but I quite liked that character.
And WRECK-IT RALPH – that was a COMPLETE and TOTAL shock. When my agent said “Disney wants to bring you in for some Sonic the Hedgehog” I thought They’ve got the wrong guy! And Rich Moore – getting to meet him, and see how excited and passionate he was about the gaming world, made it that much more exciting.
It was funny to have a guy like that say “I can’t believe we got SONIC THE HEDGEHOG!” and I was like “Dude, I’m happy to be in here!”
What are game scripts actually like?
And they can be complicated to voice-act, depending upon the production stye. If you record in a linear fashion it might be easier to tackle, but 9 times out of 10, you don’t get to record a game script in a linear fashion, so they can be a challenge, and very taxing on the voice.
Do you think the Apple of Eden would taste good?
Hahaha! Ironically, I feel like it might taste like bacon.
And that would be awesome.
Mmm, mmm, bacon!
How does it feel to be part of multiple different franchises and communties, especially the famous Ezio Auditore?
Hahaha! It’s a huge honor.
It’s something that you kinda sorta have to pinch yourself with.
Every gig I take, I assume it’s going to be my last gig. But the reality – when it turns into something that goes on for more than a couple iterations – is very humbling, and it’s an honor to be a part of it.
(Someday they’re going to figure out I have no idea of what I’m doing, and it will all come to an end)
In your opinion what’s been the most intriguing voice over story you’ve done?
In terms of intriguing narrative, I’d have to go with the Assassin’s Creed franchise, just in terms of the sheer SIZE of the story they were covering.
What was the best part of doing arkham origins? Are you gonna do anymore batman related stuff in the future?
Well, we’ve got Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts coming out on May 12th, so I’ve been able to visit the voice of the Bat-Man yet again. Beyond that, I have no idea. I still can’t believe I got to do it again. And would obviously jump at the chance to vocally portray the Caped Crusader if anybody ever gave me another shot at it.
Any characters that you miss doing voice-acting for?
I miss doing voiceover for Ezio. Getting to portray a character through so many different times in his life, and such a well-written character, was a dream come true for a voice actor.
What are some go-to lines you have memorized for when you want to slip into different accents?
Oh, how funny!
Go-to lines for Ezio are…
“Requiescat in Pace.”
“Keep your eye out for Baldy McNoseHair” for Sonic.
“Wesker” for Chris Redfield.
And “Impossible is what we do.” for Captain America.
OH! And “Alfred.” for Batman.
Have you played the AC games after Revelations? If so what did you think?
I actually have not gotten – I own Black Flag, and am excited to play Black Flag, but I have not fired it up yet! And Ibriefly started AC3, but again, work has made my gaming life a little difficult to participate in!
I feel like I need to turn in my “gamer card.”
Did you enjoy getting to butcher your own character’s name as the Abstergo Market Analyst in Assassin’s Creed 4?
Abso-lutely. That was something that Darby and I had a blast doing. And I was able to tell him it should be pronounced as “En-zio” because so many people assume it’s “Enzo” or “En-zio” when they say the name back to me. They always go “Oh, you’re Enzo!” because they’ve heard of Enzo Ferrari, or they say “Ezo” – like “EZ-Cheese.” It’s pretty funny. They don’t know what “Ezio” is all about.
How has voicing sonic been as an overall experience? And do you enjoy voicing sonic and being part of the franchise?
Voicing Sonic is again, a HUGE honor. Any character of that profile – one as popular as Sonic – is an absolute honor to get to portray. And I’ve had a blast being a part of this franchise, and being a part of the fanbase, and experiencing all that comes with being a part of the Sonic Universe. So it’s a ton of fun.
I would like to know if you had any trouble when you first started doing studio recordings and voice over sessions/ADR. Was it something difficult at first and eventually you got better at it? or are you a natural? And any fun stories from a recording session?
Like any new endeavor, you’re nervous as all get-out on your first try, so yeah – I had trouble mastering timing of ADR when it came to anime. It was a little tricky at first. And eventually I got better at it. In NO way am I a natural at any of this!
There are so many fun stories from recording sessions that there is not enough time in the day to recite even one of them here.
What is the best thing a director can do for you?
For me, I rely very heavily on my directors, so they basically give me the confidence to keep going in a particular direction if it’s one that they’ve started me off in. Since it’s such a collaborative process, there aren’t really situations where I make a choice, and that simply is accepted as what the character will be. So I rely on my directors to work with me on satisfying the sort of “collective creative outlook” of the entire team.
Aside acting what are your hobbies like?
I enjoy mountain biking. I enjoy playing the drums, to kind of just zone out. And I enjoy… playing video games when I have the time. And home repair, hahaha! It’s something I geek out on.
The Assassin’s Creed series has been getting a lot of heat for their exclusion of a woman protagonist (apart from the one where they actually included one: Liberation, but that fact has not been important for some of the critics, would you like to see another female protagonist added? maybe even as an antagonist?
I’m not opposed to either one of those situations. One of my absolute favorite games is PORTAL, and arguably one of the better-produced games out there, and that includes a female protagonist – AND antagonist, if you assign gender to the computer!
I posted my first VO sample to SoundCloud the other day, and even have a paid subscription now with big hopes & dreams. What’s your opinion of SC, or any other similar service, for getting your voice out there or providing demos?
Wow! I’m not too familiar with how SoundCloud works, in terms of getting people voiceover work, so I might not be able to comment on that. But when starting out – anything that gets you out there, that lets people know who you are and where you’re at, is a good thing. Congratulations on starting the endeavor, and I wish you well.
I know you work a lot on video games, so my question is what video games do you play in your free time?
Oh, absolutely. My free time is hard to come by lately, but lately I’ve been playing GTA 5 with my brother, and Mitchell Whitfield (who’s in the TRANSFORMERS: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE show). And going back to old-school Halo. I haven’t been able to play a lot of games lately. Or watching TV lately. I know, what’s wrong with me…
Why does Thomas love his mom so much?
Well… without SPOILING… Mom turned out to be somewhat of an acronym. For hardcore fans, you’ll know what I’m talking about. We’ll just say Thomas is very “loyal” to his Mom.
Funniest joke you’ve ever heard? Ever told?
The funniest joke I ever heard or told:
What was it like working with Andrea Romano?
Andrea is the consummate professional. That is a legacy of influence in the world of animation & video games that is incredible to be around. And it was a huge honor. My work with her on TMNT was an absolute delight.
What is it like being the voice a huge icon in video games? Do people often recognize you in the streets and ask you to do an impression for you?
I’ve only been recognized maybe once or twice in the streets. And the notion of being a “huge icon” in video games doesn’t really resonate with me. I’m just happy to be a part of a really exciting industry, and know full well that my time getting to be an actor in high profile video games is limited at best. So it’s crazy to think that I’ve gotten to do what I’ve gotten to do, and even thinking of myself as some sort of an icon is somewhat silly. It’s when I do stupid stuff, I think Batman would never do that. And the same goes for being an “icon.”
Apart from Victorian England which will be featured in the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Victory, which historical setting would you personally like to see next in the series?
I think something in more recent times would be fascinating – even the Vietnam conflict would be fascinating to visit. I think anything in either more recent history or going toward the future, I think that would be interesting to explore.
Of all the roles you’ve had over the years, which one (or two) would you say have been the most pivotal to the success you’ve achieved?
Ripslinger was definitely a turning point for me, because it was 3 years in the making for that character to make it to the big screen.
Are there any characters you’d like to voice that you haven’t already?
And the generic response to that is – absolutely. And I can’t wait to find out which ones those are, ha ha! Because I don’t know how long my career will last, or what opportunities I’ll have, and the reality is – every single time I get behind a voiceover mic, even if it’s not for a cartoon or video game character, it’s ALL fun. It’s a true gift to be able to work in this industry.
What was it like working with Troy Baker on Arkham Origins? Would you enjoy being a future ‘Batman’ as in ‘Kevin Conroy’? To be seen as a Superhero great? And an idol to a new generation?
Working with Troy is always way too much fun. He and I usually get one another in trouble by goofing off too much. The notion of being a future Batman as in Kevin Conroy is unfathomable to me. Kevin’s legacy as the voice of this character won’t be outdone, or replaced, so I’m happy to just be on a very short list of actors that have gotten to portray Bruce Wayne vocally.
How itchy were those dots when doing facial capture for Resident evil 5 and 6? Was it not your first facial capture?
That was in fact my first facial capture. And I don’t know if they were itchy inasmuch as they were annoying, in that they would fall off your face during a performance, and then you’d have to go back and do the performance over again.
and my friend do some voice work for a VERY modest audience. What would be one tip you have when making up a voice?
If each voice has his or her own unique laugh – then you’re on to creating a particular character.
What was it actually like to go to work to become Batman? Did you read or watch anything to get into the mind of the character?
In terms of preparation – we didn’t do too much prior to getting in the booth, and working (again, collaboratively) with everyone from WB Montreal that was there at the sessions. And Eric Holmes had sent me BATMAN: YEAR ONE and THE KILLING JOKE to sort of prepare for the tone we were trying to emulate on ARKHAM ORIGINS.
I’ve read that you’re from Orange County and was wondering where you got your start in voice over? I’m from Orange County also and want to get my “feet wet” in voice over and would like to know if I should start here in OC or LA.
I think starting in Orange County was a very safe place for me to cut my teeth, and make mistakes while learning a tremendous amount to be able to transfer it into the larger LA market. If you’re in OC, I say take a couple of years and try to – from an entrepreneurial standpoint – build a voiceover business for yourself down there, and use that area to kind of learn, that way you’re not over-exposing yourself prematurely to the LA market.
Creative Media Recording in Cypress is where I got my start.