Interview with Voice Actor Mark Meer
Interview by: Roxy Lee GG|
Hi all Roxy Lee here. I have something insanely special for all of you this time around! I have the distinct pleasure of interviewing the uber talented and awesome Mark Meer, voice actor of Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect series and several voices in the Dragon Age series among many others. He is also an actor and writer and enjoys the cosplay and convention scene!!! Being a huge Mass Effect fan this was an absolute pleasure for me. So without further ado here is a little bit about Mark and our interview.
“Mark Meer is a Canadian actor, writer and improvisor, based in Edmonton, Alberta. He is internationally known for his role in the Mass Effect series, in which he stars as the voice of the male Commander Shepard. He also provides the voices of several other characters in the trilogy, including the "Biotic God" Niftu Cal, Blasto, and the entire Vorcha species. Meer also stars as Colonel Jon Grissom in Red Sand, a film based on the Mass Effect universe, created by students at Arizona's University of Advancing Technology. His voice is featured in a number of other games from BioWare Corp. including Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, Jade Empire, Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, and Dragon Age II. He plays several characters in Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition and Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition from Overhaul Games and Beamdog, including Calishite monk Rasaad yn Bashir and the Lord of the Black Pits, Baeloth the Entertainer. Mark is also a writer and cast member on CBC Radio’s nationally-broadcast sketch comedy program The Irrelevant Show and APTN’s CAUTION: May Contain Nuts. He is one of the creators, writers, and stars of the surreal sketch comedy/sitcom mashup Tiny Plastic Men, broadcast on Super Channel in Canada.”
Roxy: Mark wow thank you so much for doing this interview with me, it is truly an honor! Apologies if I fan girl a bit haha.
Mark: Thanks for having me. You may feel free to fan girl at will...
Roxy: Well then with your permission, HOMG haha. Alright let’s dive right in, when did you start voice acting and how exactly did you get into it? Did you plan on becoming one or was there another field you wanted to get into? Any tips for any of our fans wanting to get into voice acting?
Mark: Well, when you’re an actor and that’s your only job, you’ll end up doing a lot of different projects – plays, commercials, radio, TV… And you’ll end up going to lots of different auditions. I was lucky enough to get in on the ground floor back in the late 90’s when Bioware was doing general auditions. Most actors I know don't specifically consider themselves solely "voice actors" or "theatre actors", for example. You're just an actor, working on whatever sort of project you happen to be doing at the time. I do a lot of improv, and I always recommend it as a valuable skill in all branches of acting.
Roxy: I agree, improve was always my favorite when it came to acting. What was your very first acting/voice acting job? And were you nervous? Or did you simply nail it and knew you had found your niche?
Mark: My first job for Bioware was in Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn. I had one line in the final cutscene. Bioware liked that one line enough to have me audition for Cyric, the God of Murder in BG2: Throne of Bhaal. I got the gig and they kept hiring me back on almost all of their subsequent games, mostly to play monsters and villains. I think the fact that I was a Dungeons & Dragons player and these were D&D-based games might have helped... For example, they could put me in the booth and tell me I was playing a kobold shaman without having to explain what a kobold was. Or what a shaman was.
Roxy: Always helps knowing your role ! How did you land the role of Commander Shepard. Can you walk us through the auditioning process? And did you have a part in shaping how he was going to sound and react throughout the game? If so what lead you ultimately to those choices?
Mark: I was already working on Mass Effect, helping develop how the various alien races would sound, when I was asked to audition for the role of Commander Shepard. I honestly didn’t think I’d get it, so I did the audition and went back to working on aliens. Then I got a callback. And then another. I was floored when I found out it was down to me and two other guys, and absolutely thrilled when I was told I got the part. I worked with the developers and my directors to settle on a voice for Shepard - an experienced military officer that was used to using orders under fire.
Roxy: I have to say the voice is what sold the character for me, it fit so well. What has been your absolute favorite acting role thus far? Whether it be voice/performance/stage or otherwise? And why?
Mark: Given the fact that he did a fair bit to help me pay my mortgage and reach a worldwide audience, I’d be remiss not to pick Commander Shepard. I’m also quite fond of Blasto – and very proud that he got his own Dark Horse comic book. Beyond my voice work in games, other favourites would be my characters October and Doctor Von Chaos from my latest TV show, Tiny Plastic Men. Both of them have also appeared in other projects – October was in a couple of low-budget horror movies made by friends of mine and Doctor Von Chaos first appeared in another TV show I wrote for and acted in, CAUTION: May Contain Nuts.
Roxy: Awesome so many great projects for us to check out! Now moving on to conventions, you are a true role model in the sense you always get right down into it with the fans at cons and expos whether it be in cosplay or meet and greets, what is it about conventions and cosplay you love so much? And have you always been a fan of cosplay?
Mark: I’ve always loved Halloween, so costuming is something I’ve always done. Cosplay is a fairly new term for me. I always just called it “drinking beer while wearing a costume”. I also love cons, and have attended as a fan for many years. Getting to go as a guest is a dream come true. It’s really great to get to meet the fans, and especially to get to see the amazing costumes and props they create.
Roxy: Halloween is basically my Christmas so I can relate it helped get me into cosplay as well. What is your absolute favorite character to cosplay as? And what is your favorite convention to attend? And why?
Mark: The custom Paragon/Renegade Commmander Shepard armor that David Carpenter (of Evil FX Props and Armor) made for me is pretty phenomenal. I’m also partial to Super-Adaptoid (for which I must thank my friends Brian Parsley, Laban Boldero, and Costume Geri), Sinestro (made by Sean Patton), Bizarro (made by Costume Geri), and the Hobgoblin (made by Brian Parsley and CFX).
Roxy: And are you an avid gamer or a social gamer or otherwise? Do you play the games that you are voice acting for? And when you do, do you find it strange to hear your own voice? Haha I can imagine it might be.
Mark: I do enjoy gaming, especially RPGs. And I do indeed play the games I’m in. I guess it was a bit strange to hear my own voice at first, but I’m used to it by now. I’ve been insanely busy lately, so I’ve got a growing stack of games that I WANT to play, but haven’t gotten to yet.
Roxy: I can imagine at first hearing yourself can be startling haha. Now how do you feel the geek community has changed over the years, whether it be positive or negative? And how do you feel that technology has added to how we can interact with one another, examples being social media and such?
Mark: We’ve seen a lot of things that were once considered solely the domain of us geeks (video games, superheroes, etc.) being embraced by the mainstream, and social media has made it a lot easier for the members of various fandoms to connect with each other. It’s a good time to be a geek, I reckon.
Roxy: I second that reckoning . Now what would be your ultimate dream role for the future for both voice and acting? This can be absolutely anything hehe and why.
Mark: Victor Von Doom! I’d love the chance to get to play Doctor Doom. Why? Because he is Doom, cretin! … Sorry. I was typing in character.
Roxy: Haha hey it happens I’m glad you get into it. Now is time for my lightning round!!
Mark: Ha! I will slow your lightning round to a crawl by being unable to pick just one favourite!
1.Favourite movie: Jaws, Reservoir Dogs, Withnail & I, Miller’s Crossing, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Trick ‘R Treat, The Avengers, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy…
2. Favourite TV show: Game of Thrones, Venture Bros., The Walking Dead, Battlestar Galactica, Breaking Bad, Doctor Who, Futurama, Deadwood, Mr. Show, American Horror Story…
3. Favourite Geek celebrity: Nathan Fillion, Joss Whedon, Seth Green, Felicia Day…
4. Favourite Superhero/Villain: Doctor Doom, Bizarro, Black Adam, Sinestro, Red Skull, Loki…
5. Favourite game (Pc, console, table top etc): I’ll leave out the games I’m in… ;) Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, The Walking Dead (Telltale), Skyrim, Call of Cthulhu (an utterly awesome LARP version I play annually in Britain), Arkham Horror…
6. Favourite Super power to have: Reality Manipulation
7. Favourite Character to dress up as: Commander Shepard, Doctor Doom, Bizarro, Black Adam, Sinestro, Super-Adaptoid, Hunter S. Thompson…
8. Favourite comic book or book: Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The Walking Dead, Invincible, Fables, Hellboy, The Goon, Y: The Last Man, Saga, Transmetropolitan, Planetary, American Gods, A Prayer for Owen Meany, A Confederacy of Dunces, A Son of the Circus, Until I Find You, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay…
9. Favourite Artist or writer or director: Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Tom Waits, Jim Henson, H.P. Lovecraft, John Irving, Robert Kirkman, Alex Ross, George Perez, Terry Gilliam, The Cohen Brothers…
10. Favourite website: The Onion, Propnomicon, Newsarama, AintItCoolNews…
Roxy: Oh man you’re like me I can never pick just one! What events do you have coming up that we your fans can possibly meet you and get a photo etc?
Mark: I’ll be at Dragon*Con 2013 in Atlanta, August 30th - September 2nd!
Roxy: Go check him out folks! And now finally please feel free to plug all your pages where your work can be found or any other projects you are a part of that we should check out, and also any final words for your fans and ours!
Mark: First of all, here’s some sketches I wrote and performed in from my TV show CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN NUTS…
DOCTOR VON CHAOS
| DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
| THE HALFLING’S LEAF
| NEW NEIGHBOURS
| NEW SINS
And here’s some of the other projects I’m involved in:
TINY PLASTIC MEN: A Super Channel sketch comedy/sitcom mashup about three guys who work as prototype-testers at a toy factory. I star in it along with Chris Craddock and Matt Alden, and we’re also the creators and writers of the show. tinyplasticmen.ca
THE IRRELEVANT SHOW: A CBC Radio sketch comedy show I write for and perform on. We’ve got full episodes and sketches available for free. cbc.ca/irrelevantshow
VERSUS VALERIE: A web series I co-starred in as “The Doctor”. I make my first appearance in Episode 4: The Doctor Versus Valerie. versusvalerie.com
Finally, here’s a Mass Effect comedy sketch I shot at the 2013 MCM London Comic Con with the guys from Sneaky Zebra (now part of the Nerdist Network): COMMANDING VOICE
Roxy: So much awesome coming up for you congratulations! Once again Mark thank you so very much for taking the time to talk with me, I truly appreciate it and I know all of ours and your fans do as well. You really made the Mass Effect games a true pleasure for me and I wish you much luck in the future and I hope to see you at an event soon!
Mark: You are most welcome. Thanks for having me!
Roxy: There ya have it folks, a real treat for all of us. The talented and wonderful Mark Meer. Now Stay geeky and I’ll be back with yet another awesome interview for you all soon!
-Roxy Lee GG <3
Commander Shepard: (Photo by LJinto. N7 Armor and M-8 Avenger by David Carpenter of Evil FX Props and Armor.)
Super-Adaptoid: (Photo by Marc-Julien Objois. Mask by Laban Boldero. Costume by Brian Parsley. Hood by Costume Geri.)
Sinestro: (Photo by Marc-Julien Objois. Costume by Sean Patton.)
Bizarro: (Photo by David Ngo. Costume by Costume Geri.)
Hobgoblin: (Photo by Marc-Julien Objois. Costume by Brian Parsley. Custom silicone mask by CFX.)
Doctor Von Chaos from Tiny Plastic Men: (Mosaic Entertainment.)
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August 10 2013