Interview: Vanessa Marshall Talks Metal Gear Solid, Star Wars, Kingdom Hearts 2

Posted on by Ryan

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Whenever you look up the name Vanessa Marshall you will find that she is the voice of Hera Syndulla on Star Wars Rebels, and rightfully so. That’s probably where most people know her from, but once you really dig in and find out more about her you’ll be amazed at all the roles she has played a part in. Her video game resume is quite impressive and consists of some of the biggest franchises in the video game world. Her voice can be heard in games such as Onimusha 3, Kingdom Hearts 2, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, and of course Metal Gear Solid. We recently got to talk to her about her voice acting career and she gave us some insight into the world of video game voice acting.

GC: How did you get into voice acting?
Vanessa Marshall: A voice over agent saw me perform in a sketch comedy show, and eventually she signed me. I was very lucky! I have been with the same agency since I started. I am very grateful for and very loyal to CESD Talent.

GC: One of your first voice acting roles was on Cartoon Network’s Johnny Bravo. How did that come about and what was that experience like?
VM: I simply auditioned and got the role. I was so happy to work with such talented actors! Jeff Bennett is a genius!

GC: You’re probably most famous voicing Hera Syndulla on Star Wars Rebels, but you originally did the voice of Jan Ors in Star Wars Jedi Knight 2. How different is it doing voiceover work for a video game compared to a tv show?
VM: The experiences are quite different. For video games, I am usually alone recording, and when I do an animated series, the whole cast is together. When I am by myself, I have to imagine everything and everyone. When I am with other actors, we can stimulate new ideas in the moment as an ensemble. I prefer working with a full cast for that reason. Both gigs are fun, but I like working with fellow actors.

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Since you are a voice actor in the Star Wars franchise I have to ask; How excited are you for Star Wars: The Force Awakens?
VM: I am SO EXCITED! I can barely stand it! I am absolutely standing in line the night before (like I do for every Star Wars movie), and I look forward to seeing it again and again!

GC: Your first major role was in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty as Olga Gurlukovich and Mr. X. Being so new, how did you manage to get the role for such a famous game?
VM: Once again, I auditioned for it, and then my agent called to tell me I booked it. I was so honored. Konami is amazing. I had studied dialects when I got my Masters in Acting at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, so I was finally able to utilize my Russian accent!

GC: What was your reaction to find out that your first video game you worked on went on to win many awards including Game of the Year?
VM: I was blown away. I was really glad that the game was so well received. Konami ROCKS!

GC: You went on to reprise your role as Olga in Metal Gear Solid 2: Bande Dessinee. When you went back to the studio, did you want to do it exactly like you did in Sons of Liberty, or did you want to take a completely different approach to the voice?
VM: I took Kris Zimmerman’s expert direction. It was an evolved Olga. We learned a lot with the new script. It was awesome.

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GC: You did the voice of the Car Computer in James Bond 007: Nightfire. Did you grow up watching any of the James Bond movies and how big of a deal was it for you to take part in something related to one of the most famous movie franchises in history?
VM: I loved watching James Bond movies growing up, and I still do! That is another franchise I will support wholeheartedly! So, I was, of course, excited to be a part of that game!

GC: What was it like doing the voice of Nala in Kingdom Hearts 2 as both the Lion King and Kingdom Hearts are very well known around the world?
VM: I loved voicing Nala. There was an innocence about her that I really enjoyed embracing. I also adore all things Disney, so I was “fangirl flailing” for real!

GC: You did the voice of Vega Donna in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege. Onimusha’s production was one of the first to rival that of Hollywood movies. Did that show when you were doing the voiceover work for them?
VM: It was just like any other voice over job, in so far as I was given a script, told the circumstances of each scene, and then I did the best I could to translate all that into the acting. It was a really cool gig!

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GC: Your last role in the Metal Gear franchise was Dr. Strangelove in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Was it a big difference behind the scenes compared to your previous times in 2006 and 2001?
VM: Yes, that role seemed more extensive. There were a lot of monologues, and I remember getting really into the high stakes drama. Kris Zimmerman is my favorite director. She only needs to make a vague suggestion, and I trust her so completely, that I just go wherever she leads. I felt very safe to hit the highs and lows necessary within the dramatic tension. I remember it was pretty intense!

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GC: Since you have a legacy as part of the Metal Gear Solid series how do you feel knowing there is a chance there might never be another Metal Gear Solid game after this next installment?
VM: I am very sad! I so love MSG. I hope it continues!

GC: You’ve done lots of voices for characters from the DC Comics universe (Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, etc.). Is there something about DC Comics that just draws you to it?
VM: I was more of a Marvel fan growing up, and only recent have I grown to appreciate DC. For some reason, I related more to Marvel characters (their flaws, vulnerabilities, and even their humor). I loved learning more about the world of DC with each part I played. I was, however, always a fan of Wonder Woman, so that was a supreme honor!

GC: What was your experience like doing the voice of Pepper Fairbanks in Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One?
VM: I laughed the entire time! It was a hoot! My dad was actually a TV news reporter for many years, so I was very familiar with that genre. It was delightful to play around in that world!

GC: With all the roles you’ve played in video games and tv shows, is there a character that you would say is most like you personality wise?
VM: I would say Hera in Star Wars Rebels. She is a bit of an ethical loner, as am I. She is skilled in combat, but comes from a place of non-violence and protection. I study martial arts, and I fight best when I adopt that philosophy. Hera doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk, and I hope to do the same. She is wired to help people, as am I. We have the same sense of duty, and perhaps, more importantly, the same sense of humor. Laughter softens life’s harder edges. At times, it is all we have!

GC: Is there any advice you would give to somebody who has an interest in Theater or want to get into voice acting?
VM: I always recommend Dee Bradley Baker’s site: www.iwanttobeavoiceactor.com. It has everything you need to know. It is a great place to start. I would also suggest taking improv or sketch comedy classes. Join a troupe and play! Stand up comedy really helped me find my voice as an artist as well. Writing classes of any kind can be beneficial. I think all these things combined can create an interesting, unique sound at the microphone. This has been my experience. Find YOUR voice! There is no one else like you! Go for it!

GC: Are there any upcoming appearances where our readers will be able to see you at?
VM: I will be at Dragon Con Labor Day weekend, and I may be at New York Comicon in October as well (has not been confirmed yet). Star Wars Rebels season two begins airing new episodes on October 14th (9:30pm ET/PT) on DisneyXD. And you can see me as Gamora in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy cartoon, which will debut with two back-to-back episodes Saturday, September 26 at 9:30pm ET/PT on Disney XD, and the first episode will be airing as an early sneak preview on Saturday, September 5 at 9pm ET/PT. You can always find me on Twitter @vanmarshall or via my website www.VanessaMarshall.com!