David Vincent is an award-winning voice actor and director. Honey-chan was eager to chat with him on his recent trip to Pittsburgh where he made an appearance at the Sangawa Project. You can hear his voice in hundreds of anime, video games and even see him on camera now and then. David is currently the narrator in the ever-popular series JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure currently airing on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.
Interview with David Vincent
You’ve been involved in the series Fate/Stay Night; in that series you play a rather arrogant fellow by the name of Gilgamesh. How do you summon all of that obnoxiousness?
Honestly, I love the character so much and I’ve been part of the Fate series a long time. In the original Fate/Stay Night I actually play the part of Assassin. It wasn’t until Fate/Zero that I got cast a Gilgamesh. Tony Oliver was the ADR (Director) on the series and worked very close with Aniplex. I’ve got to say it was his enthusiasm for the series that caught my attention, because I wasn’t as familiar with the series when I started. It was his enthusiasm that got me excited about working on the series as well and really getting into it. Gilgamesh is an a**hole, but one of the biggest compliments I got was someone at a convention coming up to me and saying, “You’re the voice of Gilgamesh.” And I say “I am,” and his response was “I hate you. But I love you.”
You are credited with the role of Narrator in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders and Diamond is Unbreakable. Fans of JoJo’s are not only fanatical but often as unique as the series itself. What about JoJo’s do you think strikes such a resonating chord with its fans?
First, the fact that JoJo’s has become a meme; that is when you know you’ve made it. You know that it’s a part of pop culture and that it’s become quite popular. It a super interesting series based on one of the oldest manga to come out of modern Japan. I just love all of the pop culture references in JoJo’s because I’m a kid of the 80s and there are so many references that are entirely applicable. It just makes sense and it’s bizarre.
You are an actor and acting well means understanding a role really well. How do you manage to understand the characters you play since the roles aren’t really conventional in the world of anime? Is it hard to do?
No, that is what makes it fun. Going back to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, those weird scenarios that come about can only happen in an anime. I think that is what makes it fun as an actor to go in and breathe life into these incredible situations.
You also played the role of Li Xingke in Code Geass. Can you tell us if you’re reprising that role in the new series?
The actor is the last person to know. I would absolutely love to revisit my character. I think that Code Geass is such a cool series, so of course I would love to be a part of it regardless of which character I play.
How do you define a good story? What makes a story good? Is it plot? Is it character depth? Is it the art?
I think what makes anime so remarkable is the storytelling that is involved. I think one of the things anime does really well is it creates fear of missing out. You know what is happening but you have to tune in to the next episode because you can’t miss what is coming up next. I think that is the artistic storytelling that anime really embraces.
What advice would you give your younger self about the business?
Don’t quit. Don’t stop. Be persistent and open to learning. I often get asked “how can I get started in the business? What advice do you give to people starting out in the business?” I simply say I was too stupid to quit. I just kept doing it. The only reason I’m where I’m at is because I’ve failed more than you have. You’ve got to go out there and do it. You’ve got to fail to win. In my early career I’d get frustrated that I didn’t get the parts but that is part of the process. So, for me advising myself, I’d just say that failure is part of the process.
Do you have a favorite line you’ve gotten to deliver? Or one that sticks with you?
One of my favorites is from Fate is “Mongrels, all of you.” I love that understated evilness of Gilgamesh. I actually have a tagline, which I’m very excited about; it’s from Fire Emblem from the video game series where I play Robin. It’s not really far off from my normal voice, so when people ask me to do it doesn’t hurt me and I can do it all the time: “it’s time to tip the scales.”
Who is your biggest influence as an actor?
As far as actors and voice actors, Dan Castellaneta. I’ve always admired him. He has had an amazing career. I’ve produced, directed, I’ve done a lot of stuff. Tony Oliver is one of the more inspirational directors that I’ve worked with. I’ve worked with a lot of directors, but Tony is an actor, and he brings an actor’s perspective to it. When you’re directing you’re putting together a puzzle where the pieces keep changing. You’re putting together the puzzle to tell the story and one of the cues I took from him is how I communicate with actors.
Is there a role that has stuck with you? A role that you think “I was lucky to get that one”?
I just can’t pick one. I feel fortunate on any of the roles that I’ve gotten. It’s an amalgamation.
You travel to a lot of conventions. What is it about the conventions and the fans that keeps you coming back?
I’ve been an actor for a long time and fan conventions, anime conventions, were never on my radar as an actor. I was just being an actor. The fact that this has become part of my career is one of the most delightful parts. The fact that the anime community has embraced me… it is a warm and embracing environment and the fandom is very open. It’s the fact they embraced me, that is why I have nothing but love for them and embrace them. I just love this community.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?
I play two characters in the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, I play Robin from Fire Emblem and Victor Belmont form Castelvaina. I’m also a partner in a company called Unlocked; we started this company to build this community because we love this community so much. We wanted to create one place where we can all be together to stream with your favorite actors, stream with each other, just enjoy the community.