In this episode of Talent Talk I sit down and talk with Bryce Papenbrook, a voice actor with an incredible portfolio and who’s career has exploded and been continuing to rise for over 10 years now. We discuss how he got started as a voice actor, differences between dubbing anime for home releases vs Simuldubs, how he’s managed to land so many leading roles, the hardest things he’s had to do in the booth and also how he’s managed to do all that and launch the digital convention app, Unlocked.
Throughout the episode we talk about his roles as Kirito in Sword Art Online, Eren Yeager in Attack On Titan, Makoto Naegi and Nagito Komaeda in the Danganronpa series as well as mentions of various other characters he’s brought to life.
This interview took place live on location at Supanova Sydney 2019.
Joel: So I know you’ve probably gotten this question thousands of times before, but how did you get into voice acting?
Bryce: Yeah, I actually grew up in a family of actors. My dad was working on a show called Power Rangers.
Joel: A little known show haha.
Bryce: Yeah, little known show. And he played Rito Revolto the skeleton dude in the show. And I used to go into the studio, I used to love watching him work. I was about eight and they needed a kid’s voice. And my dad said, “he’s a kid, throw him in the booth”, and I got thrown in there and became a voice actor.
Joel: So you got the experience kind of behind the scenes first? And then were able to into things with a bit more experience and a leg up?
Joel: So when it comes to voice acting, most voice actors are pretty lucky in their time if they get to voice the lead in a show. You’ve been pretty lucky in your time, especially since like 2012 to currently, you play the lead in most of the currently simulcasting shows. You’re Kirito (Sword Art Online), Eren Yeager (Attack on Titan) and you’re also the lead character in one of my favourite franchises Danganronpa.
Bryce: Awesome! Naegi and Nagito, I’m the only actor that’s in every iteration of Danganronpa.
Joel: You voice all the games also right?
Bryce: Yep, All the games and the anime.
Joel: So what was it like getting those roles? Did you have to audition and you just lucked out? Or was it one of the cases where the director kind of contacting you? Or thinking you were perfect for the role?
Bryce: No, I feel like I’ve won the anime lottery. All of the roles I’ve auditioned for, and for different casting directors. And I guess there’s this aspect to my voice that just works very well with that kind of character. I think it’s because my voice hasn’t changed since middle school. Like, that’s probably what does it. Eternally the young hero. And I’m not complaining, I mean, it’s just been so much fun, and to be part of so many great franchises that just keep continuing on and on. It’s been great, it’s been really amazing. I feel extremely fortunate for my sort of lot in the voice acting world.
Joel: So you’ve been a voice actor for quite a few years now. You’ve had the experience in the traditional DVD dubbing? Can you compare that to what it’s like doing the Simuldubs that you’re involved with as well?
Bryce: Yeah, Simuldubs are really stressful. It’s one episode per week, it has to be written extremely quickly and has to be recorded on time. Versus when you’re recording for a DVD, you go in and record as a batch, you’ll go in for an extended number of hours and record four or five episodes, depending on how many have been set in that batch.
But it’s just kind of stressful. So, for example, to come out here to Australia, I had to record ahead of everyone else in an episode, and then I’ll be the very last one in on the next episode, it’ll literally go straight to mixing right out, and they just barely made it work for me to continue and come out here. Yeah, and if the timing didn’t work, they would have had to put another actor in, which is like a nightmare, you know, to give up my role. So I’m really happy that the timing worked out. But it’s stressful, you can’t get sick, you have to record at a certain pace. And recording on Attack on Titan is not an easy thing. I mean, Eren goes through some really emotional moments. A lot of blends of emotions that are very hard to get to in the booth. So it’s difficult to do that.
Joel: So that’s a lot of pressure on you, if you did happen to get sick, and they replaced you, do often come back to do the dubbing for the home release.
Bryce: Yeah, actually, that that happened to a friend of mine, Robbie Daymond, he got so sick that his doctor said he couldn’t speak for a month. And he was the lead in Tales of Zestiria. And they actually reached out to me to come in and replace him for the Simuldub. And then he came and dubbed back over what I did for the DVD. But I had to get tagged in because he just could not talk. So it’s a lot of pressure, versus the DVD where we wouldn’t have that kind of pressure.
Joel: So I know that sometimes it’s like picking your favourite child, but do you have a favourite or at least a couple of favourite roles that you’ve had in your stint as a voice actor?
Bryce: I mean, they really do become like your kids. And a lot of my kids are angry and scream a lot. So I don’t want to make them mad. They live inside my head. It’s really hard to pick, I always answer that question with just like everything on my Wikipedia.
Joel: Now you’re clearly very busy with your voice acting, but you’re very busy separately too, because you’re also the co-founder of the platform Unlocked. Can you talk a little bit about the app and how that venture came to be?
Bryce: I am yeah, absolutely. So Unlocked is a mobile app that is our digital iteration of a anime or comic convention. And we started the company I say we my my co founder, David Vincent and I, we both go to these conventions. And they’re truly inspiring. As a voice actor, we’re in a box by ourselves and we pour our hearts and souls into the microphone. And all we get is the director hitting a button on and saying, “Yeah, that was great. Moving on”, there’s no laugh, there’s no applause and going to a convention for a voice actor especially is like their applause. So it’s truly inspiring. And we go to these cons and then just getting lit up on social media with things like “I didn’t get to ask my question at your panel”, or “I missed your autographs”. Or “when are you coming to my city”, insert some city somewhere in the world here. And we didn’t have a good solution to reach those people and connect with those people. And that’s why we started Unlocked.
And I’m really excited that Unlock is now on iOS and Android, just recently, we’ve rolled out a new feature that is so so cool. It’s a way to sign an autograph. Exactly how it happens at a convention for anyone anywhere in the world. And for the actor, the most exciting experience is having a conversation with the person coming up to get my autograph. And being able to talk to them and share stories with them and interact with them and Unlocked gives that opportunity to people who can’t make it to the convention or who meet costars, but never get to interact with me. So it’s incredible opportunity to open the world up to new people, new fans and fans that weren’t able to connect with their favourite actors. So it’s very exciting.
Joel: You mentioned that Eren causes quite a bit of strain on you. What is the hardest thing you’ve had to do in the booth to pull off an effect or scene?
Bryce: I mean, in Attack on Titan, Eren bites his hand. I pick my hand so hard, I left the bruise. Rin Okumura, during one of the scenes this monster is kind of crushing his throat. So I choked myself a little bit. But it sounds fantastic. Actually, just last week, I recorded the last episode of the newest season of Sword Art Online, the first half of the season. And I could barely speak after because it was so emotionally draining and physically draining to go through that battle and that experience with him. It was a really difficult session. But I’m so incredibly proud of what we were able to get. And I cannot wait for people to see it. Alicization has really really been an awesome arc of the show. And I can’t wait for people to see it.
Joel: So from when you record it, how long is it until you see the final product?
Bryce: You know, it depends on the show. For Attack on Titan it’s really quick. Alicization now it’s just a few weeks. In the states it’s coming out on Cartoon Network only a few weeks after we record. And sometimes it’s a lot longer, like for Seven Deadly Sins. We had everything in the can and then Netflix, held it for a little while and then just released it all. And by the end of the next day, people are already writing me saying “when is the next season?” So it’s interesting to get all these different types of releases.
Joel: Yeah, I’ve spoken to a number of other actors from Funimation and sometimes they say it’s over a year if they’re doing a home release before they’re allowed to talk about it, or tell people they’re in it.
Bryce: Yeah, NDA’s are tricky. They really are.
Joel: Wrapping up. Where can fans follow your work online and keep up to date with what you’re in and what you’re doing?
Bryce: Yeah, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram at Bryce Papenbrook, on Facebook at Actor Bryce Papenbrook and on Unlocked on iOS or Android at Bryce Papenbrook. And I’ve been talking a lot, lots of season three’s, lots of things kind of coming out and lots of new projects. So check me out on social and can’t wait for you guys to see this work.
Joel: Awesome, man. Thank you so much for your time.
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