Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ I have an awesome new interview with actor Ben Diskin for y’all to check out. If you’re a fan of shows such as: Naruto, Bleach, Codename: Kids Next Door, Hey Arnold, Zoey 101, and Digimon Fusion then you probably already know who Ben is (he’s done A LOT of other films/anime/other projects., it just would take too long to list them all). I had the amazing opportunity to ask Ben a few questions about his background, the acting industry, and his roles as Shoutmon and Cutemon on Digimon Fusion. So if y’all are ready, let’s jump into the interview!
Celinda: Hi Ben! So first of all, how did you first get into the entertainment industry?
Ben: I got into the entertainment industry while I was still a fetus. People think I’m joking when I say that, but it’s honestly true. Both of my parents are actors and while I was developing in my Mom’s womb, their agent told them he’d like to represent me when I was born. They signed the paperwork and I had representation before I’d taken my first breath.
Celinda: Wow that is such a cool story. So what do you wish you would have known about being an actor before getting into the business?
Ben: I really wish I’d known to keep my mouth shut. When you’re a kid and you don’t know any better, you want to tell all your friends about jobs you’re working on because you’re so excited about what you’ve just done. The trouble with that is it makes you look like a braggart and people make some pretty unfair judgements about your personality. As a kid, I told anyone who’d listen that I was in Kindergarten Cop with Arnold Schwarzenegger. This got out to the whole school and suddenly I’d made a bunch of new “friends.” These kids thought I was a movie star, rich, and really cool. Once it dawned on them that I was none of those things, they called me a liar, a brat, and a fake. I went from being popular to being teased mercilessly and it made me want to quit acting. To this day, I tend to keep my mouth shut about projects I’m working on because a part of me fears the same thing will happen.
Celinda: So how did you transition into voice acting?
Ben: I was with the CED (now CESD) Talent Agency since I was a baby and they’ve been one of the top dogs for VO work for several decades. One day I was approached by one of the voice over agents to do a radio spot audition. I didn’t know how to read very well at the time, so he had to dictate my dialogue to me and have me repeat it. My first major moment in voice over was doing an animated series called Problem Child (based on the movies with John Ritter.) When I realized that no one, not even my closest friends, recognized my voice coming from the cartoon character, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Being able to act without dealing with any of the “fame” was exactly what I was looking for.
Celinda: Very cool. So in your opinion, what’s the biggest difference between on-camera acting & voice acting?
Ben: Focus. When you’re acting on camera, there are several tools at your disposal. You have your expressions, your gestures, your body language, your blocking, and your voice to properly convey the emotions of your character. In voice over, you’re forced to focus on just one aspect of acting: the voice. With an on-camera character, I can subtly raise an eyebrow to convey suspicion. In voice over, you have to vocally convey that same subtle eyebrow raise. When everything is filtered through the voice, it can be like a blind man trying to understand the world using only touch and smell.
Celinda: So moving on to Digimon (which is currently airing its’ second season on Nicktoons), were you a fan before working on the franchise?
Ben: I was ABSOLUTELY a big fan of Digimon! I loved those shows!
Celinda: Since you were already a fan of Digimon, what was it like to work on a show that you had previously enjoyed as a viewer?
Ben: It was a major honor to get to work on this show. I’d been hoping Xros Wars would get a dub ever since it came out in Japan, but after a couple of years went by, I’d lost hope of that ever happening. When I got the audition, I freaked out. XD The show is a lot of fun to work on for me, since my major anime influence is Dragonball Z. I play a character who yells like crazy and it reminds me of why I wanted to do this in the first place.
Celinda: I just want to say that you do a terrific job voicing Shoutmon & Cutemon. Do you record their scenes in different sessions? (y’all can check out a clip of Shoutmon & Cutemon in Digimon Fusion below)
Ben: Thank you! We typically record all of one character’s lines and then go back to the beginning of the episode for a second pass to record the other.
Celinda: So Shoutmon & Cutemon’s voices sound so distinct, what process do you go through to prepare your voice so you can give each character a unique personality?
Ben: It depends on when we record the episode. The Cutemon voice is extremely finicky. I can’t do it too early in the morning or too late in the day. If it’s an early morning session, Shoutmon has to go first. Because he’s such a loud, scratchy-voiced character, his voice warms up my vocal cords so I can do Cutemon. If the session is in the afternoon, my voice is already warmed up from being awake all day and I’ll have to do Cutemon first before it gets too late. Doing Shoutmon at this point will actually stress my vocal cords too much and Cutemon will sound really scratchy and weird. As for giving them unique personalities, I feel like they’re written differently enough that it comes out naturally.
Celinda: Wow, that’s so interesting! So I know that you’ve voiced a lot of great characters throughout your career, is there a specific character that you haven’t already voiced that you would like to someday?
Ben: Ummm….……. You know, I never know how to answer this question. I look at each role I get as a small victory in and of itself. I don’t really lust after particular roles; I just see what life brings my way.
Celinda: Ok, so what advice do you have for anyone who wants to get into voice acting?
Ben: The voice acting industry is full of opportunities but it’s also very tricky to get started in. My best advice would be to make sure you understand what you’re getting involved in. If you want this to be your career, you’ll have to move to where the work is, take lessons, make connections, and struggle for years to get people to give you a chance even if you’re already very good. Making a career out of voice acting alone isn’t very common, so make sure you don’t overestimate your abilities. Just because your friends or family tell you you’re good at doing cartoon voices isn’t an indication that this is your future. Remember, if you’re going to be a voice actor, you have to be an actor. This isn’t “doing voices” or “doing impressions;” it’s acting. Can’t act? Don’t waste your time. It’s as simple as that.
Celinda: Lastly, is there anything you would like to tell your fans who are reading this interview?
Ben: Thanks a lot for watching Digimon Fusion!! Season 2 is airing right now on NickToons; go watch it!!!
Keep up with everything Ben is doing:
Facebook Fan Page: Ben Diskin’s Official Fanpage | Facebook