Brian Beacock is a voice actor, actor, writer, producer, and musician who has done voice over work for the past two decades. His diverse body of work include roles in shows like Digimon Tamers, Bleach, Durarara!!, Naruto, Code Geass, Doraemon, and more. He’s also done voice overs for video games including his iconic role as Monokuma from the Danganronpa series. Brian has a rich background in musical theater and is currently producing an Emmy Award winning web series, Acting Dead.
CFG had a chance to chat with Brian about his career (and more) during Anime Los Angeles 2017.
Interviewed by Arlette Agati Transcribed by William Hong Photo by Davies Green
I’m Arlette and we’re at Anime Los Angeles 2017 with Brian Beacock. Thank you so much for coming!
Pleasure to be here. I have to say that even though no one can see you right now, you’re dressed amazingly and look beautiful!
Thanks, I appreciate it! (laughs) Okay, so let’s get started. I’m a huge fan of Danganronpa and I love your Monokuma. Do you feel there’s a difference between voicing for the game and the anime?
They filmed the anime in Texas. So I did the game and Greg Ayres is doing the TV series.
For Monokuma are there any preparations you take to do his voice?
It’s crazy, for Monokuma I didn’t know anything about the game going in. When you audition for games you typically don’t. So I go in there and they played samples of his Japanese voice…you just have to go incredibly high, screechy, and be comical. The only preparation I can say is get plenty of sleep, don’t smoke, don’t drink, and try not to have a session for more than four hours otherwise your throat will be gone. So I did the first game, he was fun, he was cool, and then they called me for another game. Then another. So I thought “Oh my God” this is destroying my voice! ::laughs:: He’s a great character, but I’m glad I’m not doing the series because it would be a hard thing to sustain doing every week.
Besides Monokuma, are there any roles you get the most recognition for from fans? You’ve done quite a few over the years.
I have done quite a few, I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years now. Which is impossible, because I’m only 30. Which is a lie. (laughs) Of course Takato, which is my first one for Digimon Tamers. That’s the one a lot of people know. Not the young kids unless they’re watching the DVDs, but people my age or younger; they grew up with it. That one gets a lot of recognition from amazing fans. Then there’s the new stuff like Walker from Durarara!! and Yumachika from Bleach. A show that I really like but not a lot of people saw was Doraemon. I played the neighbor Sneech…he was called something else in Japan. Of course Doraemon was Japan’s Mickey Mouse, that’s their iconic figure. It’s been around for 50 years and it’s been never dubbed into English until a few years ago. So I love playing him. He’s mean, he’s sarcastic, a terrible person, and I love it. (laughs) But I wish a lot more people watched that show.
Is there a role that you found the most challenging?
Aside from Monokuma, since the technical aspect of doing him was difficult, um, gosh, I played Sakon and Ukon in Naruto. They’re the two devil brothers that are connected. That was difficult because one of them, I think it was Sakon, had this terrible, gravelly hoarse voice, and then the other one was worse. (laughs) So it was a terrible voice over session. I know that myself and the animation director couldn’t always tell which was which because they would spin around and looked so similar. So sometimes they’d have me record all the voices twice, not knowing which character it was and then fix it in post. So those were some bloody throat sessions.
Was there a certain scene you found challenging to perform?
Well it was only challenging because it was emotional, but the last episode of Digimon when Takato says good bye to Guilmon. It’s so sad and the whole season was so well written, so beautifully directed by Mary Elizabeth Mcglynn. She was crying, I was crying…that was probably the emotional I’ve ever been in the booth. It was also the end of the show and me being a new voice over actor at the time I thought “Oh my God, know what do I do? My career is over!” (laughs) Little did I know it was the beginning, but that’s my most favorite emotional scene.
Is there a certain character you’d love to voice if you had the opportunity?
Oh gosh, yeah! All of them. Every job I didn’t get. A character I’d love to voice…well, it’s not anime, but years ago when I went to LA I auditioned for the singing voice of Aladdin for the movie. Very often they’d use different voice actors for the speaking and singing voices. So I went to Disney Studios in this big recording room with a piano and I sang. I did great and got a call back, but didn’t get it. I wonder what my career would have been if I had gotten the gig. So I definitely would like to get more original animation jobs. I’ve done a few, but I’d love to get into the whole Pixar and Dreamworks world.
What inspired you to become a voice actor? You’re so passionate about it!
I am passionate about it. I’ve been really lucky and the whole Digimon thing changed my life and got me more work for the past 18 years. I was originally a theater guy. I’ve done tones of plays, I’ve done Les Miserable the musical before I came to LA. I was working at Universal Studios doing the Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue with Mary Elizabeth and Wayne Brady. I did play where I played 39 characters, It was a one man show. I was on stage for an hour and a half by myself and Mary Elizabeth came to see the show. She was directing Digimon at the time. She said “I think I have a part for you in this new show.” I had never done voice overs, anime, and dubbing. So it kinda happened to me. She brought me in, I auditioned, and got the job. So I developed a passion and a love for it. It fortunately came to me and that’s how it got started.
So which do you enjoy most, voice acting, TV acting, or live performances?
Wow, oy vey! Well, from project to project, they pay the most or the least. I’ve done so much theater growing up that but I don’t know if it’s not my passion anymore, but I would definitely like to go to the next step. I would love to do more Broadway stuff and go to New York. Right now I’m doing a lot of TV and web series. My web series just won a prime time Emmy. Acting Dead, a zombie comedy…you can find it online, www.actingdead.com. So production, producing, and acting for film and TV is a big passion right now. But I’m still doing voice acting all the time, so I’m working every week.
Wow congratulations, that’s amazing! So for all of the acting you’ve done, what’s the strangest or funniest request you’ve gotten from fans?
Oh! To lick someone’s arm!
Absolutely! Lick my arm. It’s so bizarre. I’ve probably had weirder ones, but that was from a convention in New Zealand. Someone was like “Can you lick my arm?” and I wasn’t sure because I couldn’t understand the accent. Needless to say I didn’t lick her arm. I’m sure I gave her an autograph, but that was probably the weirdest. Hopefully it’ll stay that way, hopefully I won’t get anything WEIRDER. Right? I mean where do you go from there?? It just gets terrible…
(Laughs) Are there certain people you enjoy working with most in the industry?
Yeah absolutely. For voice over as a director I have to say Mary Elizabeth, Erza Weiss, Wendee Lee, Tony Oliver…these are amazing, amazing directors and actors consequently because actors make the best directors. As far as working with actors, you don’t’ get to work with them very much. We pass them in the halls when one is leaving the booth and the other is walking in. So I’d definitely say that the people you’re most connected with are the engineers and directors for voice overs. As far as onstage goes, there’s my friend Paul Nygro, a producer friend of mine. Leslie Margarita, we did Beetlejuice and Spider-Man together…she’s on Broadway doing Matilda. She’s crazy and a nightmare and a mess, but I love her.
Have you ever cosplayed a character? If not, who would you be and why?
Ok, no, I haven’t! But every time I go to a convention I say I’m gonna get a costume, I’m going to be that cool voice over guy that’s really in with the kids, but I don’t do it so someone needs to help me find me a costume, make me a wig, or whatever. I have to be Takato. I mean, like, old Takato obviously but I HAVE to be him. Then I’d like to go to the gym for nine months and be a sexy character, but that’s probably not going to happen either because my love of Red Vines. But I haven’t done it and I really want to. I thought this time this would be the one, but we’ll see. Next year.
Do you have any tips for anyone trying to break into the voice acting industry?
I do, it’s a weird industry. Obviously I came into the industry in a bizarre, unusual way and I think most actors will tell you the same story. It’s not like you put together a demo, get an agent, and get a job. That’s the way it is on paper, but it never works that way. First thing you need to know that being voice actor means that you’re an actor. So taking acting classes, take voice lessons. Don’t smoke, don’t drink. Figure out what you do differently from anyone else and there’s probably a million things you do differently. YouTube is huge now, so if you do voices and characters, put it on there. Be smart with social media. There’s plenty of places in LA, Bang Zoom is one that teaches classes. Internships at studios. Also the biggest thing I like to tell people is to let people know what you want. Let your friends know, put it on social media. Say “I want to be a voice actor” because you never know if there’s someone out there that’ll be like “I have this little project, do you want to work on it?” Maybe it’ll be for free, but that’s okay. Get your feet wet because no one can help you if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Also I tell the kids that no one is like you. Doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing that you think they’re better than you at this and that. What you do is only you and no one can do it better. So have a lot of faith and strength in yourself.