Gary Schwartz – An Interview

Gary Schwartz Interview
Gary Schwartz

Gary Schwartz, the man, the myth, the legend!

If you were to name some iconic video game character voices, I’m pretty sure you’d name some of the characters on Gary Schwartz’s credits list. Having voiced The Heavy (Team Fortress 2), the Lich (Dota 2) and even the Tank (Left 4 Dead series), Gary boasts some of the most popular games of the past decade on his resumé. Given his thirty year history in improv, it’s probably not a surprise that he’s one of the most adaptable voice actors out there. It’s probably even less of a surprise that he’s not content just mastering acting – but he’s also working on being a top author too.

His debut book, The King of Average, is an engaging tale of a boy looking to find his own self worth. I was fortunate enough to have a sit down with the master himself, and was able to ask him a few questions!

 

What game was your favourite to voice?

I’d have to say Team Fortress 2 – Heavy and Demoman. So much fun to do.

Do people recognize you on the street, after hearing you talk?

Absolutely. Once, in a bar, the bartender overheard me do Heavy Weapons Guy and asked if I was the real guy. I told him I was and he wanted to take a selfie with me. I told him to go ahead and shoot a short video with me and him and I’d do a shout out to him by name. That night he posted it on Reddit and it became the top trending topic for that night. Someone sent me a link to it and I read the comments below.

One comment said, “Imagine that! The Heavy is some skinny, old dude!”

I thought that was pretty funny.

Do you play any of the games you voiced for?

I don’t play the games, but a lot of friends do and I’ve tried to learn, but don’t have the hand-eye coordination to anything much.

Have you ever recorded lines for games that you had no idea what it was for?

Yes. When I audition, I get a picture in my email and a description of the character but sometimes no context to what the game is about or the scene I’m reading. That happened with Star Wars the Old Republic. I read the lines and imagined the situation. I got the job, but when I was in studio, the situation was entirely not what I imagined. Still they liked the reading enough to offer me the job.

Are there any games that you wish you could have worked on?

Many. All. But I don’t like doing too many of the voice shredding games that kill your chords for 2 days after. Lots of dying, attacking, killing. For instance, I’m the tank in Left 4 Dead 2 and that put me out of commission for a week after recording. I had to come back to do Helicopter Rescue etc. when I had a voice.

As you’re an experienced improv guy – did that help you in finding work as a voice actor?

It does, especially in the field of ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) sometimes called Looping or Walla. We are hired to fill in the voices of all the extras in a scene, as they are not recorded on set because they are getting clean tracks for the stars. We have to improvise what the extras could be saying and make it sound real and germane to the scene. It’s the most fun voice work I ever had and I’ve done it on over 600 films and TV shows over 16 years in Los Angeles. I’ve worked on everything from Max Headroom, Star Trek TNG, Voyager, DS9 & Enterprise, Weekend at Bernies, Dick Tracy, Jurassic Park, Batman Returns, Planet of the Apes, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Twin Peaks, Northern Exposure, X-Files, The Sopranos, and the list goes on. Great gig.

Did being a voice actor help with the process of getting published?

Not really. It’s business and having been an actor helped in sticking with it through all the rejections.

I read your blog (http://www.gary-schwartz.com/the-reason-i-wrote-my-book/) – was it a challenge to write about your experiences?

It was a challenge to make my unfortunate childhood into a fantasy that was funny, entertaining and easy to read. I had to omit some darker scenes because it did not fit the genre of middle grade fantasy adventure. But it was a great experience to turn my experiences and subsequent learning via therapy into an adventure story that kids and adults would like.

I’d imagine both writing and voice acting requires quite a bit of effort – staying in the same mindset, and in character – which do you prefer?

Acting is more immediate, but it is ephemeral. Especially improv. It’s fun to do, but then it’s over. Writing is fun (when you’re on a roll and know what to write) and it’s really satisfying that it lasts in the form of something that can be experienced over and over.

Gary Schwartz's book, the King of Average

Keep an eye out!

Given the great reception of your book so far, is there potential for a sequel? If so – hopefully it won’t take you another 52 years to jot it down!

Funny you should ask. I just completed the sequel this week! A first draft. I sent it to my editor and will polish it over the next several months. It’s entitled “Beyond Average” and there’s a sample chapter at my website – http://www.gary-schwartz.com/a-preview-of-the-sequel-to-the-king-of-average/

Would you ever want to combine video games and writing, and pen your own game?

In the 1980s I wrote a movie treatment called Max High – about computer hackers who lived in a dystopian world where InfoCorp the world information company (think Google) ruled the world and used school to train hackers to break into it. If successful they’d become part of the company. Think Ferris Beuller meets Tron. I think it’s still a good idea and would make a helluva game. Maybe that’s the next big thing for me. Who knows?

More about Gary Schwartz

If you want to find out more about Gary Schwartz, then check out his links below.

Blog: http://gary-schwartz.com/”>http://gary-schwartz.com/”>http://gary-schwartz.com/

Acting Blog: http://www.improv-odyssey.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/improvmaven

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GarySchwartz14

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/garyschwartz.writer

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/improvodyssey/

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14203127.Gary_Schwartz

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Gary-Schwartz/e/B016DTSL48/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_4?qid=1444430087&sr=8-4

His book is available at the following locations:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25998681-the-king-of-average

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/King-Average-Gary-Schwartz-ebook/dp/B01GF5QWGO

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-king-of-average-gary-schwartz/1122767238?ean=9780997586008

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2 Comments on "Gary Schwartz – An Interview"

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Scott
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Great interview, nice job. Love finding out more about the people behind these classic games.

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