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Paul Dobson

How did you get started in voice-acting?

Well, it was like this. I saw that my brother [Michael Dobson] was being paid to be a mental reject, and I thought, well that's one gravy train that I get to ride, thank you. [LAUGHS] So I got in there, and tried it out, and I liked it, so it's basically what you'd call the family curse.

So you got into it because your brother was making money at it and you wanted in on the action, right?

Okay, not really. I'd worked in clubs and bars and stuff for 11 years as a deejay, so I had experience working on the mic and stuff. My brother was working as an actor before I was, on stage and in commercials, and he knew Scott McNeil, so he introduced me. I was just being my usual self, just being zany and stuff. I have a habit of breaking out of my own character, if you can call it a character, doing zany voices and funny sounds and stuff. I guess [McNeil] liked what he heard, because he introduced me to Mike Donovan, who gave me my first audition, and that's how it got started.

Did you watch animation before you got into the voice-acting end of it?

Oh, yeah. I've always been a cartoon junkie.

What kind of other jobs did you do before you became a voice-actor?

I've done lots of different stuff, from working at a gas station, to medical supply...I even worked at the ferry terminal at Vancouver Island. That's right, I worked for government! But I worked as a deejay at a lot of strip clubs, and there you really got to work the microphone, because you're introducing girls every twenty minutes or so, and I'd end up doing the introductions with all these different voices. Other guys would be real straight and just introduce the girls, but I found myself using different characters every hour and a half. Like I'd introduce the girls like Marv Albert or Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Come on, you have to entertain people. I just had a hard time being a straight man. I mean, look at the job.

Do you do anything special before you prepare yourself for a role?

A few voice exercises now and then. Nothing really special.

Do you ever want to hear the Japanese track, to know how the Japanese actor handled the part?

I like to hear the Japanese sometimes, yeah. Sometimes I like to just fly into it just raw and do it the way the picture sort of dictates. Other times, it's good to hear what the Japanese actor is doing because it sort of gives you the nuances in his voice, the ups the downs, the pitches and all that.

You seem to play a lot of villains in your voice-acting roles. Why is that?

The stock answer is 'cause they're fun. But it also comes down to a tonal quality you can do with your voice - I can go into a deeper range, so I get to play a lot of villains. Also, playing bad guys is fun because you're venting a bit. Getting out that aggression. Obviously I'm not going around in real life killing people, but when you're in the studio, it's neat to be able to go out on a limb and be a little wicked like that.

You also seem called upon to do a lot of accents: the German nobleman Krauser in Fatal Fury, and the vampire Demitri in Night Warriors, for example. Is this something people request from you, or does it just seem to fit the characters?

I choose to do one with a villain a lot of the time. It just seems to fit the character, give him a little more dimension. Plus, my family moved around so much, from England to Canada and back, that I never really had a chance to hold onto one accent. In school I was always the new kid who sounded funny. At school, I got pounded on, every day, and I didn't like that too much. Public schools in England have these little freaky gangs and stuff, and they test you out by beating the tar out of you. And I figured out finally that if you make the leaders of the little gang laugh, then you sort of become their right-hand man and they protect you more. Sort of like a court jester thing. And the way I'd do that basically was with comedy and funny stories and stuff like that. I became the class clown, sort of. The grades go down, but at least you're not getting beat up all the time. Eventually, I got where I'd just try to blend in, with my voice, wherever we went.

Most of your roles really seem to take advantage of your incredibly deep voice. So how did you end up playing a role like Happosai?

[LAUGHS] Yes, the underwear-stealing little man. Well, he likes brassieres, underwear, that kind of thing...it's a real stretch for me, actually. But I find that I can kind of slot myself into the character fairly easily after, well, you know, after the upbringing that I've had. [LAUGHS] Actually, I'm just really fortunate that I've got a fair bit of range, that I can do the deep voices and get the high ones as well. And for me, it helps a lot if I can pick a voice for a character, and that makes it tough to come up with something that fits. It's like when you're reading a comic book, you have your own voices for the characters talking, and everyone's got their own voice for what they're reading. Sometimes I'll see a cartoon with a voice for a comic I read as a kid, and it'll just ruin it for me, because I had my own idea about what he sounded like. But anyway, for Happosai, that was just the voice I came up with, by looking at the character. It just seemed to fit.

What's your favorite character that you've played?

Krauser in Fatal Fury, he was one of my favorites. I loved him. Actually, Demitri and Krauser are a lot alike, aren't they? That kind of aristocratic, dangerous-to-be-around kind of guy.

You do get to play the hero sometimes, though, don't you. Like in Grey, you're the hero. Is it very different to play the hero rather than the villain?

It can be different. You get the sappier lines, for example. With Grey, he was also kind of a brooding character - he didn't have a lot of highs, or peaks and valleys, not much emotion to him. He didn't have a lot of levels, which makes it kind of hard to bring that out. It's obviously more fun to play the villain, because they're doing the things that are naughtier, more evil, things we'd get in trouble for normally, whereas being the clean-cut hero type is more like being a policeman. Nor really, though, it's usually just a straighter thing. But then usually the hero gets the girl, doesn't he? So maybe it is alright playing the hero. I like 'em both.

And then there's the tragedy angle, too...like Shion in Please Save My Earth, the character who's lost everything.

With tragic characters you also get a lot of those emotional kind of scenes, which is a challenge to see if you can bring it out with your voice. I've had emotional scenes where you're so into the character that if the scene is sad enough, your eyes can well up and those kinds of emotions just naturally start coming out in the voice. And you pray that it's not right before you're supposed to be killing someone, because then you look really stupid. [LAUGHS] With Grey, too, his girlfriend gets shot in the head, I believe. He ends up wearing her old helmet around. Everytime he reaches up, there's a bullet hole to remind him of her. Now there's a memento to have! You might as well carry around a video of her death scene. [LAUGHS] But it's fun to be the hero, because you're carrying the show, really, and it's fun to be the one at the center of attention sometimes.

What's the strangest role you've ever played as a voice-actor?

[LAUGHS] I had this part as a mime once, as a Marcel Marceau look-alike thing. It was kind of a stretch, kind of hard. Okay, I'm kidding. [LAUGHS] I'm playing this character called Dandelion in Corduroy, and he's sort of a flamboyant, clotheshorse type of person. Some people might describe him in another way, maybe a little bit of a Nancy. But he's not a Nancy, he's just...fashionable, that's all.

I hear you've just landed the lead in the War Planets series. Can you tell us about that production?

It's the new computer-generated show, from the producers of ReBoot. The guy I play is Flint Graveheart. He's a miner. The show is about this planet cluster in a system far, far away, and each of these planets have a different element, like Rock, Fire, Ice and Bone. And because each planet lacks the resources of the others, the residents raid from each other and steal stuff, like Rock steals from Ice, and Fire steals from Rock, and so on. And then they blast off back home. But then this new threat comes into the galaxy. Basically, it consumes planets whole, just locks onto them and swallows them up, and because it's such a huge force to deal with, the only way to beat is to join together and forge an alliance among the planets. And that's not an easy thing to do, forge an alliance with the people you were just trying to shoot a minute before.

So at the time all this happens, Flint was raiding Ice, and we found out about the threat, and I was sort of thrust to the forefront, because the other guys sort of look up to me. I'm kind of a man's man in that show - the others listen to what I have to say because they know I care about them, that I'm looking out for their best interests.

So you're not really a two-fisted hero?

Well, it more like I just get thrown into my job - my heart's in it, it's my job to form this huge alliance with the other planets. I actually end up working with the leader of planet Ice, because he gets to see what happens firsthand, the beasts and drones come into his world, and I end up fighting alongside the guys I was fighting just before. And he sees that, and we form a bond. But then my character has a hard time dealing with that as well - maybe I feel I'm not at the same level, because I'm just a miner and he's a king, and I feel maybe I'm not worthy of being alongside kings and emperors and dignitaries and I have this sort of insecurity complex about it.

When does War Planets start airing?

I believe it starts on YTV (Canadian cable channel) in September. When it'll begin in the U.S., I'm not sure.

Do you also do live-action work? How do the two compare?

I have done some live-action, but I'm pretty much focused on voice-acting. I prefer voice-acting, because I would much rather walk into a studio and be judged on my talent rather than on the way I look. [FUNNY OLD MAN VOICE] I'm cursed with this eyeball hanging off my chin. It's not easy to get roles, you know.

Send Fan Mail to:
Paul Dobson
c/o Ocean Studios
1758 W. 2nd Ave.
Vancouver, B.C.,
V6J 1H6 CANADA

Originally Published in:
Animerica Vol 6. No. 8



Credits include:
Happosai-
Ranma

Sarutoru
Ranma the Movie 2: Nihao My Concubine

Shion
Please Save My Earth

Billy Kane
Fatal Fury

Wolfgang Krauser-
Fatal Fury 2

Hauer
Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture

Count Mecha
Galaxy Express 999

Saotome
Maison Ikkoku

Grey
Grey Digital Target

Kobungo Inuta
Hakkenden

Demitri Maximoff
Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge

Various Ogres
Ogre Slayer

Anubis
Ronin Warriors

Speed Racer
Speed Racer 2001

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