“Always follow your passion, do something with your life that’ll make you happy.”
LA based video game and anime voice Actor Kyle Hebert got his start in the early 90s as a fellow anime fan auditioning for Teen Gohan/ The Great Saiyaman for DBZ with a Texas based studio called Funimation. Since then, his career has taken off and he’s become a well known, looked up to man and I know I’m lucky enough to call him a great friend.
Over the years he has voiced the crazy Saiyan teen Gohan who calls himself “The Great Saiyaman”, a military officer who survives the military and its crazy alchemists literally with his eyes closed! warrant officer, Vato Falman. A dog boy ninja with a smart aleck attitude and a dog named Akamaru at his side, squad 8 member Kiba Inuzuka. A crazy boar riding, sword wielding doofus named Ganju Shiba, a soft spoken, genial, yet sexy soul reaper captain whose secret ambitions throw soul society into utter chaos and betrayal, Captain Sousuke Aizen, and most recently, a big mouthed, blue haired, tattoed, cape wearing, ambitious knucklehead from Jihaa village, that pilots a gunman called Gurren, named Kamina.
His recent video game roles include a Jedi on a star wars game (not released yet), Ryu on Street Fighter IV, two characters, Held, and the soft spoken Sigmund for a game called Infinite Undiscovery, a game that Kyle traveled to China to record.
Recently, I spoke with Kyle and asked him a few questions about the world of voice acting among a few other things.
1. What got you into voice acting, where did you get your start in voice work, did something inspire you to do so?
Growing up on Looney Tunes, when my dad said one guy voiced all those characters, I knew it was the job for me. I actually started doing character voices in radio, which was another life long passion. Back in 2000, some radio station coworkers heard about auditions for Dragonball Z, a show I had been a fan of for years. I went in, tried out, and got cast. I started out doing bit part voices and the rest is history, as they say.
2. Are there any challenges you find in voice work?
With anime especially, there’s the technical challenge of acting on top of matching lip synch. But I’ve always had a blast doing voice work, no matter what type of project. I love the director throwing curve balls at me, having to improvise sometimes, and the symbiotic relationship that develops in helping to bring a character to life. I just get the biggest creative rush……..and I even get paid for it.
3. Kind of follows question 2..are there any characters you found especially challenging to voice?
Ganju on Bleach was actually a bit tough to nail down at first because I have a fairly wide range of voices trapped in my head. I found it particularly rough to keep his low, gruff sound consistent. I’d keep changing the texture, or the gravel, and end up having to re do takes. I don’t think the first appearance of his character sounds too much like his eventual voice. I’d give anything to go back and re-record it, but ah well, what’s done is done.
4. You voice a lot of different characters, each dynamic in different ways..is there any certain type of character you’ve enjoyed playing whether it’s personality wise, good characters, villains?
I truly just love doing the work. But a recent character that I loved playing was Kamina on Gurren Lagann. Gung ho, goofy, and a big heart…….it reminded me of my DBZ days doing Gohan/Great Saiyaman. Kiba on Naruto is always near and dear to me. Aizen of course, I get a huuuuuuuuuuuuge rush out of playing since he’s so……….evil.
5. If you didn’t get into voice acting, what career do you think you’d be doing? was there anything you wanted to do before you got into voice acting?
I’d be TRYING to get into voice acting. I just love it that much. I wanted to be a DJ about the same time I got interested in voice work as a kid. I can say I’ve been blessed in fulfilling those goals. My long term goal is to be an established cartoon voice. Its a very tough and tight circle, but once you’re in, you’re set. I want to be able to record alongside a cast of people I’ve admired for years, helping to entertain the masses. I can play drums, and I think it’d be fun to be in a band, but I lack the discipline or patience involved in trying to get a music career going. I’ve just gotta keep my eye on the prize.
6. are there things you enjoy doing outside of your voice acting career? hobbies, interests?
I love movies. I collect blu ray and love going to the theater. I’ve just started getting back into comic books again. I also love playing video games. I’m just a big kid. I’m 39 and refuse to grow up. Hmmmmm, that may explain why I’m single.
7. kind of follows question 6, are you a movie goer and what types of movies do you enjoy?
I love sci fi, action, horror, comedy, and occasional dramas.
8. what do you think about the anime cons you attend? seeing people cosplaying as your characters, the fans in general?
Its great to have an outlet for fandom to get together and celebrate anime as a community. I love meeting and mingling with the fans, since I am one myself. The fans make my job possible. I’m always genuinely flattered and honored.
9. you play video games, do you enjoy any certain type of game genre or system? what about the games you do voice work in?
I’m big into shooters, fighters, and racers. I mostly voice RPGs, but I don’t have the time or patience. I’m into instant gratification. The irony is I suck at games. But I’ve always had fun, and that’s the bottom line.
10. are you working on anything currently that you’re allowed to tell us about? or anything you recently announced that you’re excited about?
I’m particularly psyched to be Ryu on the new Street Fighter game, coming early 2009. Also, voicing an original Jedi character for a new Star Wars game, which I don’t even think has been announced yet.
11. do you have any words of inspiration for your fans about voice acting or just in general to say to them?
Follow your passion in life. Its crucial to get into a career that makes you happy. Being rich is great and all, but at the end of the day you HAVE to enjoy your work. I’m certainly not rich, but the amount of creative satisfaction I get from my work is invaluable. Understand that making a dream come true takes a long time. It never comes fast, easy, or cheap. Its always an investment in your future, and you have to take that seriously. Accept the bad with the good, and keep that chin up. Thanks to all the fans for all their support. It certainly is a source of great strength and inspiration to me.
You can also hear Kyle on his podcast “The Big Bald Broadcast” all the geeky news you can use! with his co-host, Other World Steve. You can also speak with Kyle on AIM at kibavox, through his website www.kylehebert.com, where you can also find his podcast. Also his Myspace page, and Facebook