At this year’s Anime NYC, AsianCrush nabbed a private interview with American voice actor Ray Chase. Best known for his breakout role as main protagonist Noctis in the English version of Final Fantasy XV, Ray has continued amassing a prolific collection of leading men and young nobles in video games and anime, including Fire Emblem characters Roy and Alfonse for Smash and Heroes.
Otter Lee (AsianCrush): Describe your journey with Noctis and Final Fantasy. Were you a gamer or fan of the series before winning the part?
Ray Chase: Absolutely. I’ve been a gamer since I was six years old. I had a DOS computer and I played all those games way before voice acting. I played Final Fantasy Legends I, II, and III for Gameboy, and Final Fantasy Adventure, and it ended up not being a real Final Fantasy game I found out later. I also played Final Fantasy VII when I was in college.
So I definitely knew about the series before, and when I got the role of Noctis I played through all the numbered ones in a row, which was a lot of fun.
What was the audition process like for Final Fantasy XV?
For VX, I was sent Noctis, Ignis, and Gladio. I worked really hard on it and got a callback a week later. I was really nervous for that callback. Apparently, I didn’t do very well at the callback, but they booked me anyway because there wasn’t anyone in second place. Then we did the demo, which I did with a different voice. The demo came out and Tabata-san, the director, said “We should find a different Noctis.” And the casting director, Keythe, went to bat for me and said “No, Ray can do a younger voice. Give him a shot!”
It was a month long recasting process where I had to give a whole bunch of different auditions before I got the part again. We got notes. Once we found the voice, it was “Well, can he act?” They gave all these different acting choices for me to do. It was very long and very scary.
How would you say your personality matches up to Noctis? We’re both dorks, absolutely. We both rely on our friends very much, though he is a prince and I am not, so we are very different in that respect.
Did you find anything difficult to record? Not particularly. We had the director there, giving us feedback, and Dan Inoue, the head localizer and writer, helping us every step of the way. It’s really hard to record games when you don’t know what’s going on because you don’t have any art–you don’t even know what the characters look like a lot of the time. But Square had Dan there every single day and he was able to answer all of our questions. I always felt like I was in really good hands.
And how did you find your way into VO?
It was a long journey. I spent about five years doing odd jobs, bartending and tutoring and ushering. I was always doing little things online to try and find work. I’ve been in theatre since I was a little kid, and I got a film and television and theatre degree when I was in college at USC.
What were your favorite theatre roles you got while growing up? I was the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors, which is a really fun role. I was Claudius in Hamlet, which we got to perform in London.I did a a lot a lot A LOT of theatre, and improv too. I was head of the improv team at USC: Commedus Interruptus, for a year. I’ve done a lot of performing.
What was it like originating the role of Alfonse for Fire Emblem Heroes? I say originate because the game was launched internationally worldwide.
*Laughs* That was nuts. I auditioned for Alfonse not knowing what the heck it was. I was like “What are these characters? They look like Fire Emblem, but I’ve never heard of Askr or a summoner, what is this? I ended up getting the part. I was only in for an hour, but then they said “While you’re here, we think you can do a Gaius impression and we also want you to try for Roy.” Within an hour, I recorded all three of those roles and went home, thinking “What the hell just happened?”
Did you know Alfonse was the main lord character? We really did not know what that game was. We knew that he had a lot of story stuff, but it was very confusing. The way they described it was like “Yeah, you throw a ball into a volcano and then a Fire Emblem character comes out. You summon them onto a map.” And I was just like “What is this game?” It made no sense and we just knew that Alfonse had some of the story, but of course, we don’t record all that stuff.
Right. You just record all the fight scenes and “Why are you touching my head?” clips.
Exactly, but we were done with Alfonse’s stuff in half an hour. It was nuts how fast that session went. And then to have it be such a huge success was a very big success.
Do you keep up with all of Alfonse’s memes? Of course. Reinhardt too. Don’t worry about it.There’s print I have of Alfonse for Valentine’s Day that shows him on a bench saying “There’s room for two on this bench.”
He can be pretty good if you invest in him. How do you feel about the seasonal versions of your characters?
I’m so glad. I wish we could do even more. I love Alfonse’s spring one with his GIANT spoon. It’s so perfect. Then Roy’s had some cool ones too. Oh, and Gaius. I forgot about Summer Gaius.
They’re all very popular characters when it comes to fan service. Now, if you had to dress up as one of your seasonal heroes, which would you choose?
Definitely Spring Alfonse because I’d love to hang out with those bunny rabbits. That would be a lot of fun.
When you were playing Gaius, did they have you listen to the previous actor’s portrayal? Yeah, they wanted me to do a voice match on Gideon for sure.
He’s very low.
For sure. *In the voice* So. Hot.
Now, this is kind of a nerdy question, but what kind of improv comedian do you think Alfonse would be?
You want to know how he’d do if he went on stage? I think he’d do extremely poorly. He’s such a studious, serious guy. He’s all about reading and preparing and training before hand. Sharena would probably be more fun and just jump up there, but Alfonse would be very stuck in his head and not know what to do.
What’s your experience been like with the Smash fandom since you became the English voice of Roy?
Very positive. I’d been playing Smash for years. It’s just been a dream to become part of that game.
Did you play as Roy at all?
I did. I mained Roy and Doctor Mario.
Will you be voicing Dr. Mario next then?
Of course, I’d love to do that. Woo-hoo, yes–here we go!
Do you try to play the games you do work for? Definitely. I think I’ve gotten to almost all of them. Some of them are way too long like Persona 5. I just can’t do Persona 5. I do try to play every single game I’m in though.
Is it weird to hear your voice on there or like, your death quotes? No. You forget what you’ve recorded. You’re recording so much that you forget what you did the next day a lot of times. You don’t always know what’s going to make it in or what it looks like. So when you come back to it, you’re still playing it for the first time.
For those looking to follow in your footsteps and break into video game or anime, can you share any advice? Is there anything that makes or breaks a booking?
I think being creative is a huge factor. When I auditioned for Noctis, they said one of the reasons there wasn’t anyone in second place was because they didn’t want someone who sounded like everyone else. I think a lot of people had an idea of what they thought he should sound like that limited them.When you get a piece of copy, always try to give it your own spin instead of trying to sound like someone else because they can get that someone else. Be yourself!
How do you prepare to voice younger characters? Is it purely a physical process or do you use another method?
It’s a head voice thing, just trying to keep it out of your chest. Roy is just up here, so my chest isn’t vibrating when I’m doing his voice. Where as Noctis, the resonance and vibrations are all down here. It’s just keeping the voice placed in a certain way.
Now, you already said that you aren’t a lord or prince, but were your adolescent years like? I spent a lot of time at the library, reading. I was very nerdy. I grew up in Las Vegas, and we have great libraries.
What sorts of pop culture do you consume in the way of films, TV shows, or books? I watch a lot of cartoons and anime. I play video games. I don’t watch a lot of live action things really, except the Great British Bake Off. That’s about it. I’ve also been really into podcasts lately. Been listening to a lot of those.
Do you have any upcoming projects you can share with us? Gun Gale Online is out starting today. That’s the Sword Art spinoff. And then some day, Bloodstained is going to come out. I play Gebel, the bad guy. And then, yeah, a lot of stuff that I unfortunately can’t talk about.
How has your con experience been going at Anime NYC? This is amazing. A woman named Samantha takes incredibly care of us. She hires the best liaisons and staff. We did our show here, Loud., Annoying., and Very Annoying, the one I have with Max Mittelman and Robbie Daymond. Just being able to walk up and give them our laptop and have them just be on it and able to set it up was awesome.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve never shared with your fans? That’s hard because I’ve done A LOT of interviews. I also don’t live a very crazy life. I’m very boring. Let’s see…. My fiancee hates this about me, but my favorite ice cream is banana with gummy bears. It’s the best thing. You’ve gotta get it sometime!
Thanks, Ray, for fitting us into your incredibly packed and busy schedule!