Interview: Troy Baker Talks Voice Acting, Shadow Of War

Posted on by Ryan Shoptaw

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Troy Baker might just be the most recognized voice actor in the world of video games. Troy has over 100 credits in video game roles and has appeared in games such as The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, Catherine, Resident Evil 6, Batman: Arkham Knight, and World of Final Fantasy. We sat down with Troy this past weekend at Dallas Fan Expo 2017 to talk everything voice acting.

Gaming Conviction: How did you start in voice acting?
Troy Baker: Before I was a voice actor I was a musician. We were recording at this studio and I just happened to be wondering around playing drums when I saw this part of the building where they were doing car commercials. I walked in and was like “Hey! I wanna be on the radio!” and they quickly went “Hey! Get Out!” What was ironic was they needed someone very quickly on the spot and I started in that. Everything afterwards just parlayed itself into the next. I literally tripped backwards into this career and to me that is encouraging because people ask me all the time how I get started into this. There really is no formula. Everyone’s story is different and everyone’s way in can be different.

GC: Do you have any inspirations in the voice acting world?
TB: Oh yeah! Pretty much everyone I work with. This weekend I have been sitting next to Nolan North who is a dear friend of mine, but is also a huge hero of mine. I think what he has specifically done for games has forged the way for a lot of people like me to really create characters inside of games in a completely different way.

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I get to hang out with Kevin Conroy who is one of my friends, but also one of my idols. Mark Hamill is another. There’s people that I’m constantly able to work with, meet, and idolize or look up to. It’s encouraging to see that they’re the same way. They are constantly learning from other people and work off them as well. I think in some way we are all each other’s heroes.

GC: Do you have any favorite lines throughout your career?
TB: Oh yeah. It’s hard to narrow it down to just one line, but I’ve been fortunate enough to be apart of some incredible stories for some incredible characters. Joel in The Last of Us. That game literally changed my life. To say that I was the Joker was a huge feather in my cap and to again be able to point to someone who really inspired me to even get me into this side of the industry Mark Hamill. To be able to play a younger version of him was good. So it’s really difficult to say that this is my favorite. I think I try to find my favorite things about the roles that I play.

GC: At what point did it really click that you could do this for a living?
TB: I’m still working on that. You finally take a look behind you and go “OK, I’ve been doing this for awhile and people keep rehiring me.” Anyone can get a job, but to get another job because of that is the challenge. It’s always about believing in yourself and being brave enough to fail.

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GC: Is there a role that you want to do, but haven’t gotten the chance to?
TB: I would have to find out what that role was first. I’ve finally brought myself to a place where I understand that I’m not going to regret a role that I didn’t get. If someone else got it, then it was for a reason. Who’s to say that I would’ve been better at it even if I didn’t like how they did it. If there was a role that somebody else did that I wouldn’t want to have been the one to come in and have messed it up. I like that role because of what that person did. For me it’s just that I want to constantly be finding a role that is challenging for me and something that is breaking the tropes, and the typical cliche kind of characters. What I’m more excited about is seeing how people are really creating the characters inside of the video game space that are on par, if not exceeding what we are seeing in TV and film.

GC: You are returning for Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. Is there anything you can tell us about it or something you are looking forward to?
TB: If you like Shadow of Mordor, I don’t know if you can handle Shadow of War. It is so so so much bigger. I don’t want to give anything away, but they have a brilliant way of how they are rolling everything out. I’m honored to be back as I’m a huge Tolkien nerd. I love the character Talion and being able to work with the guys at Monolith was an honor. We’re going to start rolling out the story a little more. The story is richer and deeper. The gameplay is huge. I can’t find a percentage or a factor of ten to explain how much bigger it is, but if you’ve been a fan of the game you are going to be so monumentally surprised and overwhelmed with how great this game is.

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GC: When you’re going about your daily routine, does your thoughts come out as the voices you have done?
TB: Constantly! I’m constantly walking around doing different voices that it just drives my wife batty. Nolan and I do this to each other all the time. I’m constantly talking in other voices. It’s not that I need to keep sharp, it’s just what I do.

GC: Do you ever pull pranks on your wife using those voices?
TB: Not anymore. She’s gotten really used to them now, but drive-thrus are fun! They’re open game for me!

GC: Do you ever go back and look at the faces you’ve made after completing a voice over session?
TB: It’s terrifying! Most of the stuff I do now is performance capture, so it’s really more about what I’m doing facially. You learn a lot about yourself. Creature sounds are the worst whenever I have to do monster sounds, but when I do the Joker it looks like I’m having a stroke. Mark Hamill always looks super cool! He looks how the Joker speaks. I look like I’m having a grandma seizure. It’s a testament to just how good he is.

GC: Have you ever cosplayed as any of your characters and seen if anyone recognized you?
TB: The only reason why I haven’t is that even though I’ve been to a bunch of these, I always see other people do it and they do it so well that I feel like my game better be on point. I would never want to really compete with anyone and there are a ton of people who are incredible good cosplayers. It’s their skill and talent. They do it on a completely different level then I do.