Do You Watch The Spectacular Spider-Man?
If so, get set for a fun interview with none other than the voice of Spider-Man / Peter Parker, Josh Keaton here on VOX Daily.
VOX: Thank you for joining me on VOX Daily, Josh, it’s a pleasure to have you here. How long have you been voice acting for?
JOSH KEATON: I’ve been voice acting off and on since I was a kid. I had roles in shows like the “Back to the Future” animated series, and “Peter Pan and the Pirates.” I briefly stepped back from voice over to focus on other aspects of my career, but have made it a primary focus in the last few years.
VOX: You have your feet in a few different segments of the entertainment industry, including on-camera, music, and now voice over. What did you bring from on-camera and music to your voice acting career that helped you ease into the business?
JOSH: Being a singer helps immensely with voice acting. You get a sense of pitch that helps in voice matching/character creation, as well as a sense of timing that makes ADR and hitting certain copy times a breeze. On camera acting helps as well because improv skills are always an asset, and most animated shows want to convey a “not too cartoony” sense of realism. On camera experience helps with keeping a character portrayal subtle and nuanced, even in animation.
VOX: Congratulations on your successes with the Spider-Man franchise. Right now, you’re the voice of Peter Parker / Spider-man in the cartoon “The Spectacular Spider-Man”, a first for you where our friendly neighborhood arachnid is concerned. Do you find that Peter Parker and Spider-Man are very different from each other when you’re voice acting? If so, how do you prepare for each of those characters and what makes them special?
JOSH: Thanks! As someone who grew up reading the comics this role has been a dream come true. As for vocal preparation, Peter Parker’s voice is pretty similar to my own, just a bit younger. Spidey’s voice is pretty much the same as Peter’s, but with a bit more confidence. As Spidey, he can say and do things that he can’t necessarily do as Peter. Also, Peter tends to sometimes overplay his geekiness as a cover for his alter ego.
VOX: As some people may know, in previous projects, you have voiced Peter Parker’s best friend, Harry Osborn. Could you please tell us how you came to be involved with the Spidey franchise and the work you’ve done?
JOSH: Well, the video games were produced by entirely different production companies than the show. What’s interesting is that I originally provided the voice for Peter/Spidey in the first Spider Man video game, but they ended up getting approval to use Tobey Maguire’s voice. As I had already completed all the recording for the game, rather than waste the audio they recorded, they put in a secret play mode where upon beating the game, the gamer could play the game again with Harry in the Goblin suit. After that, they ended up re-hiring me to voice Harry in the subsequent games. The audition process for the show was completely separate.
VOX: What kind of process did you go through to develop the voice of Spider-Man? Was there much homework to do on this or did the character come naturally to you? Any challenges?
JOSH: There wasn’t really any process as it’s pretty much my voice, just a bit younger. As for character, I already had a pretty intimate understanding of the character from growing up with the source material. In addition, I was this guy growing up… well aside from the Spider powers. I was a huge dork in high school and couldn’t get a date to save my life, but I had this double life as a child actor. Among my acting friends, I was “cool” but at school, I was already pegged as a dork from my younger years and there wasn’t much that could be done to shake that in high school.
VOX: Have you received any fan mail for your work on The Spectacular Spider-Man or voice work in the videogames?
JOSH: I have. Aside from the Spidey fans, I’ve received quite a bit of fan mail from fans of the Metal Gear Solid franchise. I played Ocelot in the third installment of the game.
VOX: When you’re recording, do you have a favorite tea or beverage that you rely on?
JOSH: I like the things they always tell you not to drink, like soda and dairy products. Everyone tells me that they’re terrible for vocal recording, but… they work great for me! In emergencies, throat coat tea and slippery elm lozenges are life savers.
VOX: Do you have a home recording studio that you can audition or work from? If so, what’s in Spider-Man’s studio? If not, is this something you are considering?
JOSH: I do have a studio at home to work on both VO and music. I record into a tube condenser mic (RÃ¸de K2) with an Avalon preamp and a Distressor for compression. I usually record into ProTools through a DIGI002 but I’ve been playing with Logic as well. I’m a huge gearhead/techie as well (remember, I’m a dork) so I’m always looking for cool new gear. I just bought a house and one room will be converted to a dedicated studio with a real vocal booth and console so I’m pretty excited about that.
As for auditioning, I still love driving over to my agent’s office to audition. I like getting to see all of my friends/fellow actors, but it’s great to be able to do things from home when driving there isn’t possible. I’m also currently in the process of setting up a mobile rig so that I can work while I travel. I’ll most likely be using SourceConnect and ProTools with a Sennheiser 416 and a SE Electronics Reflexion filter.
VOX: Are you a member of SAG or AFTRA? If you are when did you join and is there a story you can share about how you made the decision to go union?
JOSH: I’m a member of both. I’ve actually been a member of both unions since I was very young as a result of the on-camera commercials/projects that I started with.
VOX: Where do you see yourself in five years? Will voice acting be your main gig?
JOSH: In five years I hope to accomplish a lot. I’d like to release an album (much sooner than 5 years), write/produce music for other artists, and continue to pursue on-camera film/tv roles. VO will always be my bread and butter but I definitely don’t want to limit myself to VO only.
VOX: Age old question : Do you have to live in Los Angeles to make it as a voice actor in videogames and animation? Why or why not?
JOSH: It depends on what you define as “making it.” It’s completely possible to work regularly in VO without living in a primary market like LA or even other big cities like Chicago, San Fransisco, and New York. The fact remains, however, that to realize the full potential of a VO career (at this point in time), living in one of the major cities helps quite a bit. It will be interesting to see how the internet and the availability of inexpensive yet professional recording equipment will change this in the future (the very near future).
VOX: If you could meet someone in voice acting whom you haven’t met, who would it be? Is there anyone you look up to? If so, what do you admire about them?
JOSH: I’ve already worked with a ton of fantastic voice actors but there are always ones that just blow me away. Steve Blum’s Green Goblin in Spec Spidey is incredible and I would love to be able to manipulate my voice the way he does. James Arnold Taylor and Kevin Michael Richardson (Harry Osborn and Lonnie Lincoln/Tombstone, respectively) can do voices that you would never imagine coming out of them. I could go on for a long time talking about people like Peter MacNicol and many of the other actors that I’ve enjoyed working with but I think it’s safe to say that I look up to all of them. They’re all incredibly talented.
VOX: Anything coming down the pipeline that we should be watching for in your career?
JOSH: I have a few video games out right now and others on the way. I’m the voice of Ryu Hayabusa in the latest installment of Ninja Gaiden, and will be playing Larry Lovage in the upcoming Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust (that one’s not for the kids). I’m also a musician and write/produce/perform music with my brother in law. Our group is called Hallway. Finally, there’s lots more Spectacular Spider Man on the way. The first of 4 DVD volumes will be released in September, and the second season will begin airing in March of 2009. Keep checking www.joshkeaton.com, and www.spideytv.com for more details.
Any Spider-Man fans out there? Leave a comment!
P.S. If you go to SpideyTV.com you can play some fun games, including one where you take pictures of Spider-Man to get on the cover of the Daily Bugle!