Bright and early on July 12, the first day of Connecticon XVII, voice actor David Sobolov opened the day for a press with a special Q&A conference.
Sobolov, although you might not necessarily recognize the name, is a prolific voice actor that has had roles in shows like Ben 10 (Upgrade), Young Justice (Lobo), and The Flash (Gorilla Grodd), as well as videogames including Halo Wars and Star Wars Battlefront II. His extensive credits can be viewed here.
A question about vocal warm-ups opened the panel, and he talked about having to scream as Blitzwing in Bumblebee (2018). He said the role was so “screamy” that it almost made him pass out. Vocal warm-ups were a necessity, but even with that, it sounded like a trying role.
The next question he received was about the languages he has to speak for roles, especially Klingon for his various Star Trek roles. He explained that he didn’t really have to learn it, nor did he have to speak it phonetically: Marc Okrand, the creator of the Klingon language, actually stood beside him “like a sports coach,” directing him and making sure every inflection was perfect.
He talked for a little bit about the history of the Klingon language as well. It grew from a simple but unusual line from Scotty (James Doohan) on the set–Okrand simply expanded on it to create an entire, complex language. According to Sobolov, it was based on Yiddish.
Next came a question about the toughest part of the voice acting career. Vocal strain was the rapid response, and Sobolov noted that even being in a smoky room can cause problems, or screaming in general. Outside of work or during work, screaming causes trouble over time, and later Sobolov said his voice would sound a lot different had he not been a voice actor and had so many, well, “screamy” roles. He noted that there is “no way to [scream that intensely] safely.”
He was then asked what his most recent challenging role was. Although he needed to think about it for a moment, he said it was his role as Tatsurion the Unchained in Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters. The character was rather emotional, but the voice range and dialogue was rather limited. This role helped him develop characters, instead of just working on voices for a character.
Sobolov was then asked what the weirdest directions he’s received over the course of his career are. While working on RoboCop: Alpha Commando, an animated RoboCop series, he was told to be “flatter,” while staying “funnier,” and being “more robo.” Which is an interesting combination of directions for any character, much less RoboCop himself! He also said that when auditioning for an accountant character, he was asked why he sounded so much like an accountant. Later, he was asked about the strangest character he ever had to voice, and he cited the robots he voiced in Solo, which spoke in what was essentially just gurgling noises.
Unsurprisingly, Sobolov was then asked if directors usually know what they want in terms of voice. He confirmed that they rarely do and that he sometimes does the unexpected on purpose. He prefers to do something interesting rather than just making someone happy.
As time grew short, Sobolov’s upcoming projects came up. A highly anticipated project was a VR series called Vader Immortal. He isn’t allowed to say very much about it, but he said each episode cost nine million dollars. He mentioned that his characters will be showing up in Ben 10, Young Justice, and The Flash, though of course, he wasn’t able to give us very much information on the appearances. He was also excited to talk about a Guardians of the Galaxy series premiering on the Disney Plus streaming service in the fall.
With time almost out, Sobolov took things in an interesting, and fairly unexpected, direction. He brought up how he used to record voicemail messages for threatened women. Although a friendly man in conversation, he has a very deep, gruff voice that definitely would sound intimidating if unexpectedly heard on a phone line, even in a very generally benign message. This was usually enough to stop any harassing calls.
Sobolov then signed off, as he had a signing session downstairs starting shortly. All in all, it was a great way to kick off the convention.
Connecticon XVII ran from July 12 through July 14 in Hartford, Connecticut. To learn more about Connecticon XVII and some of the other panels it hosted this year, keep on checking N3rdabl3 throughout the week! And if you would like to learn more about Sobolov’s career or upcoming projects, you can check out his Twitter here.