Jennifer Hale Interview
A live interview from AVCon in Adelaide, July 2015.
J: Alright. I’m gonna start and if I could fire my question. So you’ve done a very wide range of of videogame and cartoon and movie and DVD characters, is there a particular character you wish you were still voicing? Or that you wish you could’ve done more?
Hale: So many. I mean I love that I still get to go do Cinderella. I would love to do more Commander Shepard. I love to do more Thorn from Hex Girls ‘cause I get to sing. Um, it’s ah you know, I actually have no regrets. Everything’s amazing and I’m just, I know it sounds cheesy, but I feel quite lucky. Yeah.
Guy 2: If you haven’t pursued voice acting, is there any other profession or career you would’ve like to have taken up?
Hale: Yes. Um, probably entrepreneurship which I actually am doing. Um, home rebuilding my building green communities. Oh! Actually no. See there’s like six of them. Um disaster relief. Rebuilding from disaster relief and sustainable waste for the future and empowering people to get themselves back into the global economy so they can have pride and dignity again.
J: Do you have a particular favorite genre to work in? Whether it’s action or video games or cartoons or you said you love singing.
Hale: I love to sing. I love the super crazy silly stuff that I get to do with my brilliant peers who are so amazing the Gregory Howess, the Rob Paulsens, the Erik Bauersfeld, the Kari Wahlgren. You know I love that whole zone. Um, I also though have to say, I love the evolution of acting in videogames that I’ve I’ve enjoyed being a part of which was that from the sort of more indicating acting to stuff that’s more like film on tv. Love that being able to strap straight into the truth where thought registers on the mic as well as on camera and you just get to live it. Like this is one of the things I like about mocap. It’s you just get to bring it to life. Yeah.
Guy 1: Do you remember when it become clear to you that voicing videogame characters was actually a viable thing you could do as a career? Or was it like a moment or a game when you’re like “Oh. This is a real thing that I could…”?
Hale: It’s funny you know. I never set out to do that. There’s a thing that happened in ah many voice acting careers which is the evolution of an actor you know.” Who is Jennifer Hale? Get me Jennifer Hale. We want someone like Jennifer Hale but not Jennifer Hale. Who’s Jennifer Hale?”, you know. And in the middle of that, you get quite saturated in a particular area and people need to put you on the shelf for some times, for a period of time ‘til they’re ready for you again. And I work in commercials. I work in narration. I work in videogames. I work in cartoons. I work on camera and I’ve never had that saturation on camera but I’ve had it in all those other areas and I just know… I remember I got so saturated in commercials that um videogames came along and it was frankly, I just said yes to the work. And I got to but I throw myself in and I get to develop that and make it something more than people realize maybe it could be. Which is sort of my favorite thing about anything, you know. I don’t care if it’s hanging laundry or you know. Doing videogames. It’s all the same.
Guy 2: You’ve been to one or two different conventions or on events, have you ever been star-struck yourself?
Hale: Oh. A couple of times. I mean um I got to meet Edward James Olmos which was a wonderful experience. He’s a very very interesting man. And um, I mean you know the truth is though honestly, yes and no. even meeting him like we were just people doing a job. And it’s ungrateful that I know, it’s not him that I’m attached to or you know anyone else who I’ve met who’s extraordinary. It’s you know Patrick Stewart, any of them. It’s their work. The way they expressed their work is what I am so interested in and attached to. So, I’m able to hopefully connect with them and not make them feel overwhelmed like “you’re an angel”. but like instead you go, “The work you did. The way you chose to do that was inspiring.” Like I met the guy ah Travis Fimmel, I think it is. I actually met him at just another friend’s house. Um, he’s in that show Vikings. I don’t know if you’ve seen that here. He’s doing some of the most interesting acting I have ever seen. And I sit, it was a kid’s birthday party and I spent the entire thing going, “I’m not gonna bother him. I’m not gonna say anything. I’m not gonna say anything.” Finally, I went up to him and I said, “Travis! Listen I have to tell you something.” He said, “what? What?”, and I said, “the work you’re doing in Vikings is some of the most interest…” first I said, “I’m a working actor. I’ve been a working actor since I was 17. I’ve made my living since you know, since then and you know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the whole deal. What you’re doing is cutting edge. It’s extraordinary. It’s exciting. It’s inspiring to me, so that’s awesome. Thanks.”. He’s like, “oh. thank you.”. He’s like, “yeah. See you later. You want a beer?” I just have to… ah okay. I met you know Seal. Yeah. I met Seal a long time ago at a clothing store and he invited me over to watch him record his second album. And I could only stay for about half an hour, I felt like a damn groupie and I am not a groupie. I’m in the band. I’m not a freakin’ groupie. I found it funny to excuse myself and leave ‘cause I was like, “I’m not a groupie. You’re brilliant. I could watch you all day but I’m not a freakin’ groupie. I have to go now. Suck it. Can’t do it.”
J: Um, I’m falling on for your convention’s question, how does it feel seeing people cosplaying characters that you’ve voiced?
Hale: Oh. It’s cool. It’s so cool. I mean I’m always caught up in the things they do like the craftsmanship in making the cosplay you know. And the expression of their creativity, I think that’s amazing. Yeah.
Guy 1: So when you played Shepard, Shepard is a character who is very open to interpretation from the player. How does that impact upon how you perform her? And to you, who is Shepard? How would you describe Shepard?
Hale: I am more a channel to Shepard than anything else like I wouldn’t like claim to owning that because that was created by amazing writers and an incredible production team and then co-created by all the players. You know, I am fortunate enough to be the channel for Shepard and the thing that I always key on to especially on a role like that is what’s the common humanity in this. What’s the thing that I can connect to that’s the deepest within myself and the most understandable in human and relatable, you know. And in you know, of course one of my favorite thing about that is, it’s not every day that you get to save the universe, so yeah. Let’s do it.
Guy 1: I just like to know about mocaping. You’ve been voice acting for a while, how has mocaping change the way you act? Has it?
Hale: No. it’s it’s just ah it’s it’s sort of a marriage of tooch of parts of acting. Like I only to a fine arts high school. Did a lot of theater there. Did some theater in college and mocap is sort of a combination of almost ah more of a theater style physically but film style verbally you know.
Guy 1: Yeah.
Hale: ‘cause you gotta have your body like I was working on a game about a month ago that will remain unnamed sitting on a giant piece of plywood with a huge friend of mine who was a stunt man. Incredibly powerful guy on all force like lifting things on his back still in a… it’s impossible to describe orally but you can… I’ll just show you. Sitting on a chair that was strapped with this piece of wood like getting thrown around and you’re acting the whole thing you fighter pot. You know that kind of whole thing I love it. It’s like, let’s pretend. But you have to be absolute ‘cause it’s in here. That’s where it lives. It lives in here.
Guy 2: Alright. Did you play Mass Effect yourself and if so, which romance options did you pursue…?
Hale: Yeah. I was forced to play Mass Effects for an hour by the amazingly wonderful Tom Bissell who was writing an article for a magazine called The New Yorker.
Guy 2: Yeah.
Hale: And um, I don’t play games. I’m awful at it. I would much rather go out and get life experience that I could bring into games ‘cause I feel I get too derivative. I’m around them enough to understand like format-wise, what needs to happen and you know where I need to be and how this impacts that.
Hale: Like that’s important to me to stay up on that stuff. But as you’re sitting down for hours, I can’t do it. I can’t do it. And I have some little free time, I wanna be outside.
Guy 2: But do you know if who you’ll choose in the romance options if you were playing?
Hale: Probably, Darius because in recording that was a really extra-ordinary experience. It’s one of those after-moments that you really enjoy where I was going through the script and I… when I work I’ll see the line in front of me and I find that I… I tend to quite often pick it up and say it to the imaginary person in the room with me. I spend a lot more time thinking about who’s in the room with me, what is the room like, what’s gonna happen in the room, what just happened then I never think about how I say it. I think about what’s happening around me; and I was in that moment and Carolimenyou know barreling along and I go to say what I have to say and I couldn’t talk. I was literally in tears. I was like, “Shepard does not cry.” So, I just gathered myself for a second and I said, “hold on.” And then I got the words out and I waited. Usually the director will come back. Caroline would come back and she would say okay blah blah blah blah… and there was a silence, I was like, “oh no. did I screw it up?” and then I heard , “is Caroline in tears?” “yeah. Hello.” And I was like, “yes! That’s a good.. that’s a good job.” It’s not about… I don’t set out to achieve that stuff. Of course, I would love to but I really just set out to drop into the moment and when you’re gifted with it, it’s amazing that is happens, you know. Yeah.
Guy 2: Is there anything that you’ve been working on recently anywhere that you can tell us about that a project.
Hale: oh my gosh, everythings in the a these days I did wander over yonder last week before I left, I did avengers assemble, cartoon stuff.
Guy 2: :yes!
Hale: worked on a star and the forces of… cant remember that, the rest of that title, that’s another cartoon, um game wise’s got a sequel to something coming out soon.
Guy 2: sequel to something, yeah?
Hale: Yeah, and I worked on a really wonderful indie with a production team, that’s all I can say, ah, you know what out right now, uh double fine, Tim Schafer.
Guy 2: the broken age?
Hale: yes, broken age, that was lovely to do.
Guy 2: just bought that last night.
Hale: It’s beautiful, and it’s a fun role to play you know it’s real.. im not gonna tell you anything about it ’cause I don’t want to wreck it for you, but it was really neat ’cause i know the whole where’s and why’s of everything so there’s a lot more to it than your hearing in the beginning.
Guy 2: In this part of your career, are you auditioning for these roles or the people come to you?
Hale: It’s ground hog day in this business.
Hale: I start over everyday and I have some reputation. There’s this you know there are times when people come to me and go, “will you do this?” you know. “Let me see. Of course yes, absolutely or ooh, that’s not for me. Thanks though.” My favorite thing is working with my friends. I got to work in Dave Hader’s movie. Um, roles that he did; and Dave and I have been friends for now oh god. We were together a couple of week. We all hung out a couple of weeks ago and like 20 years. We’ve been friends for 20 years. That’s nuts you know but um yeah I love working on stuff with my friends. That’s my favorite thing. Yeah.
Hale: We watch that Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt have a series called Shelf Life. It’s so much fun. I had to play this bizarre psychotic character in that thing that was hysterical. So yeah. That stuff is fun. Yeah.
Guy: Thank you.
Hale: Thank you so much.