Final Fantasy XV’s Ray Chase, who voiced fan favorite lead Noctis Lucis Caelum, spoke to The Natural Aristocrat at Anime NYC 2019 about Square Enix’ development process and the ebb and flow of the voice acting industry.
During an Anime NYC 2019 interview, Ray Chase described what built up the foundations of his vocal range, the difference between working in the Gaming and Anime industry, and the fear of losing a role. In fact, fans will be surprised to hear that Chase temporarily lost the role of Noctis Lucis Caelum for sounding too much like Gladio in the Final Fantasy XV demo. However, he received a rare opportunity in the industry to reaudition and won it back. In part because fellow FFXV voice actor Keythe Farley “went to bat for him.” For that, Ray Chase is forever grateful.
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: A lot of fans have described you as a voice chameleon. How you’re able to jump from voices like Noctis Lucis Caelum to Piccolo effortlessly and that kind of thing. What does it take to bring that kind of range out of you? Is it something you always practiced when you were younger?
Ray Chase: Absolutely. I did something called Forensics back in high school which was Competitive Speech and Debate. There was an event in that called Humorous Interpretation / Dramatic Interpretation, where you take a script and you play all the parts yourselves. You’d have to switch back and forth in-between each character and just do do an entire play like that. In order to be successful in that, you had to have a lot of range to differentiate the characters, since you’d be playing twenty people at a time.
So that’s something I’ve been doing since high school, trying to disguise my voice in a lot of different ways. I’m glad the casting directors allow me to. Not everyone always gets that…
Is there a lot of difference between doing dubbing for a Video Game studio as opposed to an Anime studio? How different is that day-to-day process? Let’s say at Square Enix for example.
It’s very different depending on who you’re working for even within different business divisions of Square Enix. Kingdom Hearts’ recording process is way different than Final Fantasy’s recording process. Which is way different from Deus Ex’ recording process.
The basic change is that with Anime, you’re looking at the finished product. You see what the finished product looks like. You can do your performance to the lip flaps and make it work. Whereas with video games you have usually have no idea what the finished product looks like. You’re just kind of shooting in the dark, hoping that it’s the correct line, in the correct place.
For Final Fantasy XV, they did an amazing job of really honing in on the English Adaptation. Making sure that we had all the tools we need because in previous Final Fantasy titles they didn’t always have that. They didn’t know what the ending was going to be or they didn’t know certain things within the world of the game. But we had the Head Writer, Dan Inoue, there for every single session!
It was amazing to be able to work on something from beginning to end like that, with all the information there. It’s usually not how it works. Usually you just have a spreadsheet and you’re just picking and choosing figuring out where lines play, hither and thither. So yeah Final Fantasy XV was really interesting in that regard.
Can you ad lib at all?
Can’t ad lib when it’s dubbed to Japanese unfortunately. There is a couple of instances where we were able to have a creative reign, like we had something in Japanese… Takka asks Noctis to pick up beans and it’s some line like, ‘Ah, I don’t like beans very much.’ But it didn’t work. We had 2.3 seconds and just could not figure out something that would work. And so I said what if he just says “Beaaaannnns…” And that was it! That ended up working!
How do you protect your voice? Especially with screams and those kind of things. I mean over the years repeatedly doing that has gotta do some kind of damage. Do you have any rituals you practice?
Yeah, I had my tonsils removed which ended up being a really big thing. I didn’t realize how much that was holding me back… But man it’s really painful when you’re an adult. I was out for a good ten days. Just pain, that was rough. Then I ate a pineapple which is really dumb. I found out my dad also ate a pineapple when his tonsils were removed. So it runs in the family! That was really bad pain.
Things to do to help… Try to find out if the session you’re going in for is vocally stressful and then try to schedule that on a Friday. That’s like the only thing you can really do. If you start out on a Monday where your voice is shredded and then get through a whole week of sessions it’s going to do a lot. It’s going to compound the damage. If you do it on a Friday and then you have the weekend off, then that’s one way of sort of isolating the hard part.
Have you ever lost your voice during a recording session?
All the time, yeah! All the time! It’s just… It is what the job is and it’s understandable. For video games, they need a lot of different instances of dying and getting on fire, (laughs) and stuff like that. It can be really rough.
What was your first major voice acting addition like? Were you nervous?
My first time… I didn’t do shows first, I did a lot of video games, and for Final Fantasy XV, that was nuts to work on the demo. I was super nervous and the writer Dan Inoue was like, “Oh, I saw your YouTube channel…” I had this YouTube Channel with like 100 dumb videos. He was like, “It was very interesting to go see your history,” and I was like, “Oh s***!” I deleted all of it that night. They’re gone! They’re somewhere in a vault all locked up.
I was very scared about losing the part and I did lose the part after the demo came out. The feedback was that he sounded too much like Gladio, and I had to reaudition for the role of Noctis. Thankfully, I got it. You don’t always get those opportunities to r audition for roles. Most of the time, game comes out and you just find out that you’ve been recast. Your part’s been cut… But Keythe Farley went to bat for me and for that I’m forever grateful.
You mentioned before the fear of being cut from a project. Has that ever happened to you for something that you went all the way through? Spent hours, days, months, maybe years on a title… Only for the role to be cut or recast?
Absolutely! For Fallout 4, I was a big character and the character was removed from the game. That was sad because I’m a big, big Fallout fan but I got to be in Fallout 76, so it’s all good. They actually still credited me in Fallout 4 which they didn’t have to do. There were a few other instances not as notable as that.
At the Fallout cast party, I actually talked with Matt King and Matt Mercer. We were in conversation and they told me their story was being recast. Matt Yang King was the villain in Far Cry 4 and then was just recast. And so for him, that was crushing but then you realize all the other successes that he’s had. So it happens. It’s kind of goes around, comes around sort of thing.
Was Noctis Lucis Caelum your favorite character to play ever?
For sure Noctis, and Roy means a lot too. Because I played him when I was a kid. It’s a big deal to be someone you’ve always wanted to be!
Be sure to check out AnimeNYC.com for the latest on the annual Anime convention at New York City’s Javits Center. Ray Chase has now been a featured guest at Anime NYC two years in a row, so there’s a good chance he’ll be back at Anime NYC 2020.