Voice acting is more than just giving a voice to a character, in a broader sense it amounts to breathing life into the characters and that’s what voice actor David Kaye believes in while voicing a character. Having an experience of around three decades in the industry, Kaye has worked on more than 100 projects across genres and mediums like animation, video games, sports, radio, commercials and much more.
Many can resonate his voice with the characters of the popular shows they have watched in their childhood like Grandpa Max and Khyber from Ben 10, Shock Rock and Humungousaur from Ben 10: Omniverse, Duckworth from DuckTales and Optimus Prime and Megatron from Transformers: Animated. He has had the opportunity to work for both DC and Marvel; for DC Comics he has voiced characters like Superman, Hawkman and Vandal Savage, whereas in the Marvel Universe he has voiced Captain America, Iron Man and Professor X.
Kaye shared his journey, experience and voice acting process with Animation Xpress. During the interview, the man who tends to usually not look back, couldn’t believe the amount of work he has done over the years and that he is doing what he dreamt of. He’s thrilled to be a part of this industry and looks forward to keep going.
Having a rich experience of three decades, Kaye has definitely seen a lot of changes in the industry over the years. He says that now there’s more diversity and currently there’s a tremendous amount of content available. “People have started to be able to do things on their own, so the studio system has changed. Now it’s a treat to get called into the studio because of the pandemic. Nothing makes me happier than being in a room with a bunch of crazy, talented people and having a lot of laughs,” Kaye said of the current situation.
Talking about diversity, Kaye’s work has a variety of its own in the mediums to which he lends his voice. As stated previously, he has worked across genres and mediums but those mediums are all the same to him and his goal is “To take people out of their current world and into these new worlds, be it animation or video games, and bring truth to the characters”. Animation as a medium excites him the most followed by movie trailers, and he loves being the narrator.
He has his way of voicing characters but he definitely doesn’t differentiate between them. Commenting on the process, he said, “Sometimes I will look at things that come in. I will look at the dialogue, and just for the sake of it start to put a voice to it. I like to do things differently. People say they have a process, which I do but I start to read it and come up with a voice and start to tweak things here and there. I’ll break it down by age, and whether they are small, big or heavy. There are all different directions and layers. If I’m stuck, I will do a Google search. For example, heavy-set actors. I will then come up with something like a James Gandolfini-type voice. I mime whatever I can from my own experience, and if I’m not coming up with anything interesting then I will watch movies from the 40s or 50s and see what I can find from the characters.”
Recollecting his work for Marvel, meeting Stan Lee while working on Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest was surprising and he was star-struck at that moment and felt like a 12-year-old kid. He said it was one of the coolest things for him as he grew up reading lots of comic books.
Kaye gave an insight into his recent projects Farzar, Young Justice and He-Man and the Master of the Universe. Farzar was his first attempt at prime-time comedy where, according to him, he played “ridiculous characters in ridiculous situations. It really pushes the limits as to what you can feel comfortable watching on TV.” For Young Justice, he had to step in for Miguel Ferrer due to his sudden death. Kaye always wished to work with him but never got the opportunity. “I was very nervous because it was a tough situation to get into, but I loved it,” Kaye said about Young Justice. Commenting on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, he shared, “I used to watch it when I was a lot younger. I remember getting into animation in Vancouver in 1989, and I had never got a chance to be on board with that show. I was kind of disappointed, but it came back around and I got cast as Battle Cat. I really loved that character, he’s a fatherly protector. That was the last thing we did before the world shut down, we had to go behind closed doors and finish the rest. They were all fantastic experiences, all three of them.”
Kaye refrained from talking about the current and upcoming projects that he is working on but he shared an interesting idea that he is considering doing a few years from now. He said that people have come up to him asking to teach voice acting and he recently did a panel on the same in Toronto. Teaching is on the charts for him and if he were to open an institute, he would be opening one in Spain, Portugal or Italy.
Towards the end, he gave advice to upcoming voice artists. He mentioned, “Do everything you can as far as life experience. Travel, read, be interested, and be curious. It all helps you bring a character to life. Learn improv, get mature, but never grow up.”