Becoming the Joker – An Interview with Richard EpcarThursday, April 5, 2012
Richard Epcar has voiced over 300 roles in animation and video games including the roles of Raiden and the Joker in the crossover fighting game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe for the PS3 and XBox 360. We sat down with him for the following interview about his career, collecting and becoming part of an icon.
I came to L.A. to be an on-camera actor, which is something I still do. I was with my girlfriend (now my wife), Ellyn, who was in an independent film. The producers wanted to redub the movie and brought me in. When I came in to the booth they asked if I had done it before and I said “Yes, sure, a million times,” when I really had never done it before. I got the lead; they were very happy and I took to it like a duck to water. From that I got hired to do other projects, Robotech and then a lot of other things. I started directing voice actors, worked on academy-award winning films. It was something I fell into and I’m really glad I did.
Are you a pop culture fan? What are some of your favorites, from television or movies?
I love Dexter. Big fan. Love Bored to Death and Burn Notice. I’m a big “spy-phile.” I love James Bond, I love spy stuff. My Mom died when I was fifteen and my sister took me to Goldfinger; we went to the movie to get our minds off of what had happened. And that movie changed my life. I fell in love with James Bond, Sean Connery, and I thought I either want to be a spy or an actor. Fortunately, I became an actor.
Are you a collector? Where do you get your wonderful toys?
I collect a lot of James Bond stuff. If you look in my house I have several James Bond “one sheets” from the different movies and I have a lot of the Sideshow Bonds, actually. Connery, Moore – I have Pierce Brosnan. I collect figures from the different anime and game characters I’ve voiced. I have a lot of Batou from Ghost in the Shell, a lot of Gigen from Lupin the Third, and a lot of stuff from Robotech. I really enjoy collecting those things. That’s a problem; I go to these conventions sometimes and I go to the dealer room and I start buying all this stuff.
Have you always been a fan of Batman and the DC Universe?
You know, I grew up watching the show and reading the DC comics. I’m a huge, huge Batman fan. He’s one of my favorite characters, so for me to be part of this was a great honor and privilege. To be able to say I played the Joker is really something.
Tell us about how you landed the role of the Joker in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe?
For this audition the lovely Brigitte Burdine brought me in one day and I was like a kid in a candy shop. It was Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and she said basically, “I want you to read for any character you feel right for.” To me, that was every one of them! So I got to read for Superman, Batman, Joker, Raiden; all these incredible characters. They had DC Comics and Warner Bros. on the line, who said they liked me for anything. Bridget asked which one I would prefer if I had my choice and I said the Joker.
When I went in there I hadn’t prepared anything, but something happened to me when I did the Joker. Honestly I don’t even know where the voice came from; out of some dark part of my mind or body and this character just came alive. I thought out of all the characters that I had read, the Joker was the most fun. I didn’t think much of it since they had a bazillion people auditioning. She called me up and said “You got a lead, you’re going to play Raiden,” and I said “Great!”
Then she said, “You also got the Joker.” And I was just in heaven because he’s such an iconic character. For me to be part of that was such a thrill and when I went in and did it I loved every second of it.
He’s out of his freakin’ mind. He is just nuts; he has no compassion, no morality, he’ll do anything and everything. He will throw his friends under the bus. He will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. He’s iconic. That’s kind of scary actually. I just kind of let him go, I don’t try to control him.
How has being the Joker measured up to other roles you have played?
Joker is one of my favorites. You know, I do a lot of heroes and villains and I use my regular voice for a lot of characters and it’s very recognizable to fans. The Joker was somebody very different. I loved doing the Joker; he was just completely different from anything else I’d ever done.
At first some people had a problem when they found out I had gotten the role, but when they heard it they said, “Wow, that doesn’t sound anything like Richard Epcar, it sounds like the Joker.” And that was the best compliment they could have given me.