Interview with David Schaufele (Eddie) (Central Silent Hill)
Date published: 2002
Recently Central Silent Hill had the time to have a talk with none other than David Schaufele, voice actor for Eddie Dombrouski from Konami's second installment in the Silent Hill series. Below you will find Central Silent Hill's questions to him and then David's responce but please keep in mind some of the responces are confidential or just can't be answered for one reason or another.
Beginning Notes from David: First of all I'd just like to say that the production team were all really cool guys 'n gals who love their work. It was a lot of fun working on Silent HIll 2 because of the great cast.
CSH: First I would like to thank you on behalf of the entire Central Silent Hill staff for taking the time to answer our questions.
CSH: I guess the first question has to be how did you land a role on the Silent Hill 2 cast, I mean was it like one of those at the right place, at the right time kinda things?
David: Yeh, right place at the right time. Actually, both the male characters were cast by accident. We both arrived with our daughters who were auditioning for the little girl's role and because the schedule allowed, we read the male roles for the heck of it. Not really expecting to be chosen because 20 "top actors" in Tokyo were also auditioning. But hey, when it comes to vomit and craziness, near death experiences in India and beyond helped me ace the audition
CSH: Before you started on Silent Hill 2 had you heard of the original Silent Hill game?
David: No. But then I wasn't a PS1 owner. Actually, I'm easily addicted and was doing my best to stay focused on paying the bills. Not enough hours in the day to enjoy major game playing these years. My eldest daughter is a budding game ace though and my brother's daughter has every machine on the market. I thought it was a shame that they are still too young to play Silent Hill 2 but I didn't want them to discover what a crazy dad/uncle they have.
CSH: Did you know that Silent Hill 2 was going to be as big as it is?
David: Hmm. well the producers told us that Silent Hill was big and they expected #2 to be even bigger because of the increased performance of the PS2.
CSH: Some fans are wondering that after production if you got a chance to play the game? and if you did what did you think of the game play and what you saw?
David: I've only had a chance to play a demo version in the local video rental shop. There was a 30 minute time limit so I wasn't able to get too far but I was impressed with the realistic visuals. I didn't have a chance to get to Eddie yet.
CSH: When going for the role as Eddie in Silent Hill 2 did you have any kinda competition for the job?
David: As I explained above, there were about two dozen guys going for two roles. I read both, but Eddie was much easier for me to sink my teeth into. Actually, the final version was, in many ways, more subdued than earlier rehearsals. In the early stages I had a semi-automatic machine gun! Cool eh! So I was kinda bummed when I ended up with a pistol. I heard that a lot of my vomiting and crazy sound effects were lost in a computer crash. Divine intervention? You be the judge. The game went through a series of "adjustments" as it came together, which is pretty normal. Since there were only a few characters, the producers could change their minds as they went along, to a certain degree.
CSH: When you heard the background of Eddie, what was the first thing you thought and do you think it fit into the Silent Hill story line?
David: Hmm. well overall the outline reminded me of say Hitchcock's Psycho I guess, or at least that's how I described it to my friends in the early stages. Typically, people think street-fighter when I say Dreamcast or Playstation. Eddie...hmmm - poor slob, pushed to the limits...maybe Full Metal Jacket. Did it fit...sure why not. I didn't have the big picture so I couldn't judge how it was going to play out in the end. I wanted to change some of his lines and really twist things up good, transforming his character even more, but the Japanese designers tended to smooth off the rough corners rather than let us improvise or experiment. On occasion we convinced the powers that it sounds more natural to say it this way or that way. The script had dialogue divided up for each character. So it was hard to get an idea of the big picture. Even after doing the game there were a lot of question marks. We had to imagine a monster on the right or left but we had no idea what the monster was going to look or sound like. At the early stages all we've got are sketches of the characters and rough descriptions like "go through the doorway" or "you heard a noise so stop and look around". "Lean over the can and chuck your lunch."
CSH: Going with the last question what did you think about Silent Hill 2's story line?
David: Well I've worked on a few feature films so it seemed a bit "thin", "sparse" incomplete sort of, is this all there is kind of feeling. Is this going to be enough? I had just finished working on Shenmue for Sega with 300 characters, so Silent Hill seemed much smaller and simpler. I thought to myself, wow, Sega has to sell ten times as much to make the same profit as Silent Hill because of the expense required to program all the characters. Of course, Silent Hill was done in English and Shenmue in Japanese. Some Japanese producers still don't realize the benefit of considering the world-wide market in English before the domestic market in Japanese. So if the Japanese actors don't do a good job of the motion capture then the English version seems stiff and slow moving.
CSH: Would you compare yourself to Eddie or is it one of those "I'm not like him at all" kinda things?
David: Yeh, not like him, but everyone gets treated poorly at some time or another and dreams of violent revenge? don't they? I'm a rugby, ice hockey player who did ok with the girls as a rough description. They wanted a basic body type for the motion capture and I was stockier, with a more powerful voice than many of the other guys who auditioned. The early 3D Eddie looked like the Goodyear Tire man or the Pillsbury Dough-Boy. I sort of said to the art director, get real dude. A sumo wrestler I'm not.
CSH: Have you done voice for other games, animes or is this your first time?
David: Lots over the last ten years. Maybe a million bucks worth of voice work. But it's a struggle to keep half of that living in Tokyo. If you hear "N - E - C" think - Dave's monotone Japlish voice. Actually, I do a lot of television news and sports presenting as a "regular" gig.
CSH: What would be a personal message to anyone who wants to become a voice actor/actress?
David: Practice imitating your favorite characters or any voices that strike you as interesting. Over time you'll expand your vocal range and also natural inflections will come without having to think about it. Put on any Disney video and try every character. Timing is more important than tone. Tone will come with improved breathing. If you want to speak more clearly, practice whistling by blowing out AND in. As you learn to control the tone of the whistle so that it sounds the same both in and out, your regular voice will benefit from increased breath control. To avoid a big breath pop when using a sensitive studio mic, let a bit of breath out and then rest your tongue on your upper teeth. When the cue light comes on don't rush, pause and slowly release your tongue as you speak the first word. Practice the "Kenny G" technique of breathing in through you nose as you breath out your mouth. This will allow you to get through long passages without running out of air and still finish with a punch.
CSH: What did you think about doing the motion capture proccess?
David: Very time consuming. Hurry up and wait. Hard to stay focused. Hey reboot that computer, my arm is coming out of my ass! Two types are needed. Large motions such as running require reflective balls on your joints. A large studio is used with special lights around the perimeter. Close quarter action must be done with a special suit of cables on a magnetic floor so different arms and legs won't get confused by the computer.
CSH: We were also wondering if you will be visiting our little site?
David: Sure, Silent Hill rules!
CSH: How do you see yourself evolving in upcoming projects, such as other games?
David: Looking forward to doing more games. I do a lot of rough sounding street fighter guys and then some crazy amime characters. Unfortunately, producers in Japan can't always judge who will be best received by an English audience, so they usually pick the best Japanese speakers who can shmooze them. Fortunately, Silent Hill 2 was done by an American director who knew his stuff and told the shmoozers to sit this one out.
Survival tip from David: Shmooze all agents on a regular basis if you want that big break. Find out what "golden kneepads" means or polish them if you already know. I forgot, on purpose, these showbiz standards and you can't always count on being in the right place at the right time. Be damn good, improve your odds or starve. Don't accept any Eddie substitutes! Warmest regards to all Silent Hill fans, Dave "crazy Eddie" Schaufele. Again I would like to thank you David for doing this interview for us and we wish him much luck in up-coming projects.