Bill Rogers talks voicing Urien, why acting in fighting games can be especially difficult and more in this exclusive interview

'I can do child's play once in a while!'

Posted by Ginni 'extopdoll' Lou, guest writer • October 15, 2017 at 1:29 p.m. PDT | Comments: 21

Fighting games are home to some unique characters. From green beast-men who can summon electricity to actual velociraptors, this genre appears to have no boundaries when it comes to who fills its rosters.

While a character’s play style and special moves can also render them memorable, the first thing players notice is an avatar’s appearance. Design isn’t everything, however. For a character to truly come to life, they need a voice, right?

I got in touch with the voice of Urien, Bill Rogers, to learn about the science behind bringing the Illuminati president back to Street Fighter 5. As opposed to other kinds of voice acting, such as anime, fighting games differ slightly.

Bill Rogers: Unless you are working on a fighting anime series like HunterXHunter or One Punch Man (both series that have benefited from Rogers’ talents), most anime titles are a good amount of dialogue and only occasionally exerts.

Video games—especially fighting games—require a lot of exertion sounds. (This includes actions such as running, jumping, throwing, lifting climbing, and swimming—or, in Street Fighter 5’s case, punching, throwing, and getting punched.) Whatever abilities you can do in a video game, somebody has to voice that.

In essence, games have a greater amount of what he calls vocal stress than an anime would. In order to make Urien believable, Bill had to get into character. While this required a change from his natural tone of voice, he also had to get into Urien’s mindset.

Bill Rogers: At the end of the day, they are all still forms of voice acting, and require believable performances. Keep in mind that most villains don’t consider themselves to be villains.

They believe what they are doing is just and right. Urien lives in a world of frustration in which he must constantly prove his worth through his power. He believes himself to be the heir apparent, and yet he is constantly upstaged by his brother Gill.

This fuels a lot of his rage. It’s not to say that if Gill wasn’t in the picture that Urien still wouldn’t be an insufferable tyrant, but Gill’s presence just serves to further infuriate him.

Urien’s voice is a large part of what makes him memorable, especially when hailing back to the days of Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike. As can be expected, there were some difficulties in staying true to his voice from this title, provided by Lawrence Bayne.

Due to the limitations of technology at the time, the amount of dialogue Urien had was limited to his move set. With Street Fighter 5, there is so much more to work with: the fully cinematic story mode, individual character stories, a larger move set during battle. It really helped to flesh out the character and I was really happy to have such a wealth of dialogue to work with.

As we all know, Urien’s fame began with single phrase: 'Aegis Reflector.' The folks at Capcom wanted to make sure that Urien’s signature move sounded exactly like it did 20 years ago. We spent a lot of time fine tuning that attack to make it perfect.

From there, I was able to build on that sonic foundation and stretch the sound of Urien to the many additional attacks and lines of dialogue that were added. I’ve run into a number of fans since the character was released, and they all seem to love how seamless it all sounds. So, I guess all the hard work paid off.

"Urien is just so beautifully written. He is overflowing with gravitas and grandiose speeches. I love the dichotomy of how he can be both incredibly eloquent and at the same time filled with such undisciplined fury. He’s like a bard reciting sonnets while kicking puppies."

With all this newfound freedom, Bill was able to play with the character and make Urien unique. he found an opportunity to do this through his dialogue.

Bill Rogers: Urien is just so beautifully written. He is overflowing with gravitas and grandiose speeches. I love the dichotomy of how he can be both incredibly eloquent and at the same time filled with such undisciplined fury. He’s like a bard reciting sonnets while kicking puppies. Who knew someone with such unmitigated rage could speak so pretty.”

I need to take a moment and thank Marc Swint for making Urien as great as he is. You guys might recognize that name as the voice of Necalli, but Marc was also a script adapter on Street Fighter 5, and specifically wrote many of Urien’s greatest lines. Gems like 'Listen troglodyte,' 'You’ll get your money, pugilist,' and, 'A foolish insect that dares to defy me' are thanks to his amazing writing.

Urien is a truly Shakespearean villain, and I loved being able to go into the booth to 'cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.'

However, Bill isn’t the only cast member in Street Fighter 5. I wanted to know who else he admired, and why.

Bill Rogers: Really, the whole cast is amazing. I’m so happy to be included amongst so many greats. I love Peter Beckman’s continued fiery spirit as Zangief, Gerald Rivers as the sinister M. Bison, Jessica Straus’ sultry psychotic work as Juri, and the heartbreaking sadness of Cammy’s fight to save and rehabilitate her fellow dolls performed by the amazing Caitlin Glass.

Of the new group, Jesse Merlin is amazing as F.A.N.G, managing to vacillate beautifully between comical and frightening. Bonnie Gordon brings amazing muscle spirit and love to her R. Mika vocals. Richard Epcar did an amazing job as the voice of Akuma.

I have been a fan of Richard since his Robotech days in the 80’s and I’m so happy that he’s part of the lineup now. My pals Ed Bosco and Xander Mobus bring new blood into Ed and Abigail respectively, so the franchise just keeps growing with newly added talent every year.

Far and away though, my favorite new fighter is Rashid. Not only is the character one of my new favorites to main, but Ian Sinclair’s performance is just amazing. Rashid is a character who can be loveable and goofy in one moment and then sincere and heartbreaking in the next, and Ian just knocked it out of the park.

"Urien is a truly Shakespearean villain, and I loved being able to go into the booth to “cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war."

Back in 2001, I was a theater kid who loved anime. In March of that year, I had the opportunity to voice some random characters in a two episode OVA series called Assemble Insert. The director was impressed with my work so he called me in to audition for a number of projects after that (Boogiepop Phantom, Kare Kano, Gravitation, Genshiken).

After a while, I branched out into video games, commercials and other voice acting projects and the rest as they say is 'history.' Or should I say 'the future,' since that is where I am now and what I continue to move toward.

For those considering careers in voice acting, Bill has some sage advice:

Bill Rogers: Don’t forget what I mentioned earlier. Voice acting consists of two major elements: ‘Voice’ and ‘Acting.’ So many people come up to me and say 'my friend/mom/spouse/boss/authority figure that I look up to thinks that I have a great voice and would be an amazing voice actor.'

To which I respond, 'Great! Have I heard you in anything?' To which they respond, 'Not yet, but I’m hoping to become a voice actor!' And I say, 'Do you have any training lined up? Are you taking any classes? Are you working with a local theater group? Working with indie film directors? Student animators? Vocal coaches? Community college? Anything?' And then I hear, 'I don’t need that. I just want to be a voice actor!'

At which point, I pretty much shut down. Because if you don’t think a voice actor is an actor, and you can’t realize that all acting at its base is acting, and therefore all experience is good experience in developing your craft, then I don’t know what else to say to you.

If you really want to be an actor, all aspects of acting should appeal to you. You may excel in a certain field, but anything you can do to gain experience is a plus. Get out there and start working on it.

And while you are at it, you will meet other actors working on other projects and you will find other opportunities and this is known as “networking”. Only through a series of training, experience and networking will you be able to move forward.

A lot of people think voice acting is just finding a voice and keeping it consistent. But the thing a lot of people forget is that voice acting contains the word 'acting.' A car is made up of an engine, transmission, tires, frame, drive shaft and a plethora of other working parts that keep it going.

At the end of the day, the type of voice you use is like the color that the car is painted. Sure, it makes it look nice, but there are so many other aspects to making it a thing that you can drive …still, it is fun when you can get something red and sporty.

For more from Bill be sure to check out his IMDB page as well as his Twitter and Facebook page.
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