“We never start with the voice; it always starts with the acting.”
Recently, the fabulously talented voiceover actor and voiceover coach Richard Horvitz was generous enough to answer some questions as part of an ebook project I was putting together. Below are some highlights from Richard’s responses. To read the rest of Richard’s answers, and for insights from nearly 30 other Voiceover Superstars including Joe Cipriano, Randy Thomas and Bob Bergen, sign up for your free copy of the ebook over on the right side of this page.
What do you love about your job?
Simply that I get to play, and laugh and have fun pretending, which is what I teach…I’m all about playing pretend. And we have a tendency as we get older, to lose that willingness to play pretend, or that joy in playing pretend, because everything becomes about earning money…about validating the choice we’ve made to be an actor. So I like that I still get to play, and remember what it’s like to look through the eyes of a child. Particularly in the character I get to play in animation…if I’m not playing an evil villain, I’m playing a kid. It’s just fun. That’s the best part of my job.
What do you like least about your job, and how do you deal with that?
Things that are really stressful on the voice, like soldier games and army games are really rough on the voice. (To take care of that, I drink a lot of water and a lot of tea during the sessions.) But other than that, there’s not a lot that I don’t like about my job.
What performance advice do you have for voiceover talent just starting out? (Or for those with a good deal of experience, who are looking to move up to the next level.)
Well, people often say “People tell me I have a funny voice, so I should be in voiceovers.” But the fact of the matter is that we never start with the voice; it always starts with the acting. So if you’re just starting out with voiceover acting, I would suggest you take an improv class or an acting class first. Because the voice comes second. A lot of people think that we get our copy and we look at it and we say, “Okay, what voice do I have that I can put to that character?” But it’s always about the story first, and then we’ll do the voices.
What best practices can you share in regards to finding an agent, and how do you recommend that talent improve their partnership and relationship with their agent?
Go to workshops where agents actually show up. A lot of times, I’ll teach a class and my agents will come out and give their wisdom. Also, if you have a friend who can walk your demo in, that’s always a good way to go. Especially if their voice isn’t too close to yours.
As for improving your relationship with your agent, most people who aren’t working tend to become very defensive, or resentful of their agents. I go in the complete opposite direction, and that is to say to my agent: “What can I do to help make your job easier? Do you have any suggestions? Do you have all the tools you need to help sell me?” Because a lot of people aren’t doing everything they can do. My agent, Paul Doherty once told me that if he spent an equal amount of time on every single person on his roster, he wouldn’t be able to spend more than three seconds per person, per day. So actors have to constantly be doing their own work out there.
From Daggett (The Angry Beavers) to Zim (Invader Zim), Billy (The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy), Rodney J. Squirrel, (Squirrel Boy), Richard is incredibly well-known for his voice over work in animation. Plus, gamers may recognize his voice in many video games including Psychonauts, Destroy All Humans, Ratchet and Clank, and many more. In addition to voice acting, Richard teaches voice over acting to aspiring talent as well as to already established performers, and says that teaching is one of the most rewarding experiences of his career.