Here is a interview (Questions and Answers style) I’ve done with Rob Wiethoff, the voice of John Marston in one of our favourite games, Red Dead Redemption. This interview took place 4 months ago while i was the co-founder of a different website.
Q: How did you prepare for a western voice?A: Luckily, I didn’t have to prepare for the voice at all. I sound like John Marston all the time. That’s probably why I booked the role, in fact. I’m lucky too, because I know that there are people in the past have had to use an accent other than their own for characters and I’m sure that could be very tricky at times. All I had to do was memorize my lines and spit them out — which I found, at times, easier said than done.
Q: What was your experience working with Rockstar games?A: Working with Rockstar Games, for me, was easily the most enjoyable work experience of my acting career. I could never say enough about how nice it is to work with people that are organized, know what they’re doing, are interested in what they’re doing, and are excellent at it. It’s one thing to work with people that have some of those qualities, but it’s very rare to find a group of people that are all fulfilling each quality.
I’d never done motion capture before this project and I can tell you that it was something very different. I’ve seen videos on YouTube that show how motion capture is done. Unfortunately, I watched them after I was given a crash course on the sound stage we used for Red Dead Redemption.
Because there were so many characters in this game (and the majority of us had never done motion capture), I was very impressed and appreciative of the amount of patience that was shown by everyone from Rockstar Games.
I’ve been in touch with some of the people that I’ve worked with in the past because I want to stay on their “radar”. It never hurts to remind people that are in a position to further your career that you exist. I have been in touch with some people from Rockstar Games several times since my work was done though, because I genuinely like these people. I’m very happy for them that the game has had as much success as it has, and I would be thrilled to be privileged enough to work with them at any moment in the future.
Q: If you were a cowboy what would you call your horse?A: If I were a cowboy, I’d probably have to name my horse Dusty. I’ve always liked that name. Maybe, one day, I will have a horse. If I do, I’ll call it Dusty. I’m not sure anybody who knows anything about it would ever call me a cowboy, but I’d have a horse with a cool name.
Q: Have you had the chance to play the game yet? If so what are your opinions on the game?A: I’ve played the game and I really like it. Unfortunately, even though I’ve been playing it for the better part of my free time since about 1:00 am on May 18th, I haven’t finished it. I get so side tracked hunting and starting trouble that I can’t ever manage to finish the missions.
I have to admit that it’s very weird to hear my voice while I’m playing. My dogs don’t like it when I have the sound up loud because my character does so much yelling in the game. Unless they’re sitting in the room with me, when I start playing the game my dogs will come running in thinking I’m getting attacked or they’ll creep in thinking that they’re in trouble. Weird.
Q: Do you think Clint Eastwood is a badass?A: Clint Eastwood is probably the number one badass of all time, right?! I don’t need to explain why. You either get it or you don’t.
Q: Did you feel any emotional contact for the character John Marston?A: This question is hard to answer because each player has the choice to make John Marston do whatever the player wants him to do.
I can say that the connection I do feel with John Marston is that even though I haven’t always made the right decisions, I like to think that it’s important to me to make the right decisions now.
What are the right decisions? — I don’t know.
I remember, when I used to build houses, that there are many ways to fix problems that may come up. There were right ways and there were wrong ways. It was important to the people I was working with that problems that came up were to be fixed the right way even though it may not be the easy way. They would always say that when you come across a problem and you are thinking of a way to fix it to remind yourself that “right is right and wrong is wrong”. If that makes sense, I’m glad you get it.
I like that John Marston realized that what he was doing was wrong. Even though it wasn’t easy for him to change his life to try to go forward making right decisions, he did. We all make mistakes. We will all make more. All we can hope is that we don’t hurt anyone else and that we learn from our mistakes and try to live “right”.
Q: What did you like most about the character John Marston?A: I really like that John Marston isn’t afraid of anything at all.
This question, too, is hard because of the fact that the player can choose to make John Marston do whatever the player wants. I do think it’s cool, though, that no matter what the situation is, John Marston is never too scared to do anything.
Q: Do you feel about the ending?A: I haven’t finished the game so I can’t tell you how I feel about the ending.
Q: When did you start voice acting?A: I started voice acting about 5 years ago when I did a TV commercial for Hardee’s Thickburger. The audition was just for one TV commercial, but after we shot that commercial they decided to have me do a radio ad as well.
I had been brought in for several other voice auditions previous to Red Dead Redemption, but none of them worked out for me.
Q: How did Rockstar games find you?A: Rockstar Games found me through an audition that I almost wasn’t able to get to. I’m very thankful I did, in fact, make it.
I can remember getting a call from my agent telling me that I had a last minute audition for an untitled video game project. It was about five or six o’clock when I got the call on a late-December, rainy evening in LA. I was in heavy traffic headed home from wherever I was when I got the call. Of course, any audition is a chance to further an acting career so I was not going to not go. I can remember thinking at the time, though, that all I wanted to do was get home. This audition was all the way on the other side of town, I had no idea what it was for [because everything has to be so secret so nothing would get spoiled], and it was going to take me an hour to get there. I wasn’t happy about it, but I went anyway.
I can remember when I was in the room with the casting director, he taped my audition and when I was done he stopped the camera. He said that he was going to have me read it again and tape over the first take because, “I believe you and that’s great. It’s just not what they’re looking for.” Just before we went for take number two, he was called out of the room for something by someone that also worked in that casting office. When he came back, he told me that he was sorry but there was no time for me to read it again. At that point, I left there thinking that I just went all the way over there and nobody was even going to see that I auditioned because I thought the session runner erased what I had previously done.
When I received the call from my agent telling me that I booked the untitled video game project, still, I had no idea what I was going to go shoot. It wasn’t until the first day of rehearsal that I realized what was going on.
I’m so happy to have had the experience with Rockstar’s Games. I really couldn’t have worked with better people. There were so many good actors in the game, too, that it was educational and entertaining to work alongside them.
Thank you to everybody who submitted a question and a huge thank you to Rob Wiethoff for the interview. We look forward to seeing you in future projects.