If you happened to be in Silicon Valley in late August, you might have seen a few things that probably didn’t make sense in the business district. Maybe, you grabbed your morning coffee at your usual spot for caffeine and noticed you were standing next to an entire group dressed as Dragon Ball Z characters. Or maybe you noticed people walking around with swords bigger than themselves filled with excitement. Well, that’s because the first EVER Crunchyroll Expo invaded Santa Clara this weekend! So, instead of the normal football loving fans strolling up and down the area of Levi’s Stadium, you saw anime fans dressed up as their favorite stars and heroes…and it was a sight to see.
One popular character was in full force this weekend, Saitama from One Punch Man! And No Ordinary Nerd had an opportunity to hang out with Max Mittelman, the voice of Saitama, to talk about the show, fandoms, his biggest influences, and his favorite characters.
No Ordinary Nerd: It is awesome to talk with you, and this will be a treat for our listeners and us as well. How did you get into voice acting?
Max: “…I started going to college and was a pre-med student. I changed my major a few times. But, each change was in the sciences. After about 4 years, I jumped ship. I just didn’t have my heart in it. My heart was set in voice acting. I switched to Theater, got an agent and started auditioning. It took a while but I got my first job covering for an actor on Ultimate Spider-Man. I took workshops, I put in the work. That’s the life of an actor, you audition until you can’t audition anymore. I’ve learned to savor the wins. You audition for 99 things and you get one of them. But, that’s how I started working in voice acting.”
NON: You followed your heart and put in a lot of hard work. And now all of us can see the results. You have done some awesome things. From Sword Art Online II, Disney’s Spider-Man as Harry Osborn, and of course, something that is near and dear to fans all over the world, One-Punch Man. Doing all these characters, do you have a couple of favorites?
Max: “…it’s really tough to choose favorites. It’s like if you’re a parent and you have children, you don’t pick favorites. Each one is unique and each character is rewarding in its own way. I love Saitama, I love the show. I like Ryuji from Persona 5, he was fun to play. But, I also love the original work I did. For example, Harry Osborn from Spider-Man and some of my earlier work. I did a character from a show called Breadwinners on Nickelodeon, named Poltergoose. The funny thing is that when I read the script and description of this character, all it said was he was supposed to be ‘annoying.’ That was so much fun, the more broad the character is, it gives you a lot of room to improvise. It’s always fun to be the young hero, but it’s great to be the utility guy also. For me, its not about just being one character, I love the variety of voices I have done.”
NON: Now that you mentioned the description of characters on scripts and having to figure out a voice, what’s the process like creating that “voice?” Do you practice in the mirror?
Max: “…most of the time you get a script and a description. For me, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do with the voice. But, sometimes that changes once I read the whole script. Like, Poltergoose in Breadwinners. I received descriptions saying ‘Steve Urkel (Family Matters)’ and The Crypt Keeper. I mix them together. (Max does each voice and creates the final voice.) A lot of it is instinct. If you have to play a monster, you have to think about what kind of monster. (Max does a few monster examples.) And text analysis, you make decisions on specific lines and that ultimately, gives us a voice.”
NON: What about influences? What voice actors do you look up to?
Max: “…oh my gosh, so many! Too many to even name! I am fortunate to have worked with a lot of the people that I look up to. One of the first things I ever did, I was able to record as an ensemble for Transformers: Rescue Bots. That cast included Maurice LaMarche (Futurama, Animaniacs), Jason Marsden (Disney’s A Goofy Movie, Batman Beyond, Justice League), D.C. Douglas (Resident Evil, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mass Effect series), and Steve Blum (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Naruto, Ben 10.) There’s many people I idolize…so many awesome voice actors.”
NON: You mentioned Ryuji from Persona 5, our listeners are big gamers. Are you a gamer yourself?
Max: “…I am! I love video games. When it came to that particular game, I really wanted to be Ryuji, I loved Persona 5. I’m really into first-person shooters. It can be argued that my voice acting started while playing these games. I would try to trick people that I was from a different country. I would try English or Scottish accents and give my team commands in that accent (Max does a few first-person shooter commands with his accents.) I am obsessed with Overwatch right now. I haven’t played as Doomfist yet, I’m more into Soldier or Junkrat.”
NON: We love fandoms. We binge watch on Netflix. Are there any fandoms that you are into right now?
Max: “…I love Game of Thrones, that is my favorite show on TV. I love The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings. When I was younger I read the Merlin series, and that set the stage for my love of the Fantasy genre.
NON: Ok, since you mentioned Harry Potter…what house are you in?
Max: “…I really thought I was in Gryffindor. But, actually, I am a Hufflepuff.”
(This made me very happy…I am a Hufflepuff.)
But, Max was all about inclusion.
Max: “…you know what? Why should it be classified? We all have qualities of the houses. It could be some from Slytherin, Ravenclaw, or Gryffindor. I think I should be a GryffinPuffClaw.”
NON: Since you mentioned Game of Thrones, any predictions on who will die on the finale?
Max: “No…please no. I don’t want anyone to die on the show. Ok, Ned Stark. He is going to come back to life. And die again.”
It was an honor to talk with Max. His story was inspiring, he followed his heart and passion…he was persistent and now he is living out his dream. And we look forward to what the future holds for the voice that has brought smiles and laughter to Nerds everywhere.