Anime Los Angeles 2020 concluded its 4-day anime goodness on Jan 12 in the Ontario Convention Center. ALA2020 is one of the best conventions for anime fans and industry hopefuls alike with lots of charm and community. This convention included an amazing line up of guests filled with voice actors from your favorite anime, music performances, and cosplayers. You can catch my full recap fo Anime Los Angeles 2020 here.
Skip Stellrecht is an American voice actor known for his performances as Might Guy from Naruto, Naruto: Shippuden and Boruto: The Next Generation. He stars as Vicious from the renown Cowboy Bebop and has appeared in several video games like Elder Scrolls Online, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Dynasty Warriors. I got a chance to sit down with Skip Stellrecht and we got to cover a couple of topics such as how he got into voice acting, the SAG strike, and about his hobbies.
As I sat down with Skip Stellrecht, I wanted to ask him how he got his start in the anime industry. Attending several events for Culture of Gaming provided a rare chance to talk to various voice actors who all come from different walks of life. It became clear after enough interviews that many of them didn’t know that such a world existed; other than Sean Chiplock. Skip follows a similar story being one of the OG voice actors for anime and other video games for 30 years now. He told me he was part of that first wave of anime voice actors back when Kevin Seymour(alongside Mary and Les Claypool) started a company called Animaze who dubbed tons of anime; most notably Cowboy Bebop, Code Geass, Akira, and Ghost in the Shell. Skip got the part by sending an audition for Armitage and would eventually get the part to dubb Street Fighter.
“I knew nothing about that part of the industry. I called Kevin and he told me to call him back, read a comic book for Armitage, and leave a message on his phone. So I went to the store, bought the comic book and [left my audition] on his machine. Didn’t hear from him for a while until he called me and told me he had a part [for me]. After I had done Armitage, I did Street Fighter and rolled into other roles and avenues like video games.”
This story resonates well with other actors I interviewed, they not only needed a network of people offering work but also being a dependable actor who is consistent with his/her performance. Afterwards, he told me how he became Might Guy from Naruto.
“As for Guy Sensei, I was working on [a project] with Mary Elizabeth(voice director of Naruto) and she called [me] saying ‘hey we’re having trouble [finding someone for this role], would you like to come in and audition?’ Which I did and everything worked out. It’s probably my favorite role I’ve done out of everything [I’ve acted on]. The show is done but I still make an appearance on Boruto from time to time.”
Skip mentioned that it was one of the longest occurring roles he’s done in his time in the industry especially when you consider the amount of work he’s done voicing Guy in all the Naruto games. “It was a blast,” he said. “I hated to see that [role] end,” Skip told me because it had become “part of his life” after all the years he spent as that lovable Naruto character. After we talked about his start in the industry, I wanted to transition the conversation about what it’s like to make money in that industry and how he faced the unknown.
What to Expect
One aspect that I’ve been trying to work on when trying to get these interviews is finding different ways to get to know the person I’m talking to. Often my time is limited and they also have busy schedules at events like Anime Los Angeles. I know Skip Stellrecht is a voice actor but oftentimes an actor like him gets reduced to just his characters. Which is unfair to the amount of work he puts in for his trade. I asked what he got out of his time of being a voice actor and what he gained from uncovering the medium as a whole.
He told me that he enjoyed his time in the world of anime because he never knew the existence of it. Skip told me that at the time, like himself, not a lot of people in the US knew what anime was and it was in its infancy when the dubbed became a thing. “I had a blast since day one,” he said. Skip mentioned the technical aspects of performance, such as the flaps(lip-sync), maybe taxing during fight scenes but otherwise its powerful experience to voice anime characters. When he mentioned that some of the fight scenes in Anime may be harsh on his voice. It reminded me of the Voice Actor Strike by SAG against the video game industry. I asked Skip what his thoughts were on that strike since he has worked on several video game projects.
The Strike and Future of Games
“I was right on the picket line. Actors make their living by residuals, they don’t make it by their sessions [in the booth]. Especially in the dubbing world [those recording] contracts are small. But in the gaming world, games have a better contract when recording but no residuals.”
He went in-depth about some of the demands and contract deals SAG fought for such as a bump in pay for multiple characters, residuals, and breaks when performs yells. This brought the conversation back to the point of how massive the video game industry has become. Talking with Skip, he told me that one of the biggest worries would be if the industry went ‘Hollywood’ with the people they hire to perform character roles. I mentioned to him that some games are already starting to do that with Mass Effect and Metal Gear Solid in mind knowing they were hiring TV and movie actors.
“I’m a little concerned because of a lot of anime [voice actors] that have been doing this for soo long are gonna get replaced with the big names. Rather than get someone who is right for the story or character, ‘Hollywood’ would rather get a big name [actor] in there.”
The Stellrecht Effect
Before I concluded my interview with Skip Stellrecht, I wanted to get to know the person behind the voice. We often watch anime or play games without realizing the amount of work needed to have a finished product. Voice actors, engineers, writers, directors all have to band together to make a captivating dubbed anime series for an American audience. I asked Skip Stellrecht what he loved doing in his off time and what were some hobbies that people wouldn’t know about him.
“Poker,” he immediately told me. ” I play a lot of Poker. I’ve been playing [at a higher level] since I was 21 and love playing poker all my life.” He mentioned that he started at a younger age, losing more money than he had, but also learning how to become an effective player. Skip also mentioned that he’s at an age where he’s able to relax and explore different avenues of fun and relaxation. “I’m open to [anything],” he told me which included DIY projects such as gardening, working on his boat, or dessert riding with his grandsons. Skip said, “I was raised with a do it yourself attitude.”
Don’t forget to check out my interview with voice actors Sean Chiplock, Brianna Knickerbocker, and Laura Post For more great interviews, reviews, editorials, and news stay tuned to CultureOfGaming.com or check us out on OpenCritic.com.