From March 22-24, 2013, I attended EvilleCon in Evansville, Indiana. This was my second year attending, and I was really excited for this one’s special guests. I had put in five interview requests and was lucky enough to be granted all of them, including one with Chuck Huber, voice actor extraordinaire, best known perhaps for his roles as Dr. Franken Stein (Soul Eater), Android 17 (Dragon Ball Z), Hiei (Yu Yu Hakusho), Shin’s dad (Shin-Chan), and Austria (Hetalia Axis Powers), though that is nowhere near a complete list.
As if voice acting wasn’t enough, Chuck is involved in a number of other creative roles as well. He’s been on TV, in films, and on the stage, most notably Chicago’s Goodman Theater and Texas’s Stage West and Trinity Shakes. He’s also co-written and -starred in La Fragilidad de los Segundos, wrote and directed Arbor Day – The Musical, and many others. Of course, he’s also written children’s books, and plays, among other projects. Outside of the world of art, Chuck was the Principal of St. Bernadette Academy for six years and has taught around the world. He’s played the role of a a founder or board member of several schools. He’s also on the executive board of Stage West in Texas. Try juggling all that on top of being a loving husband and awesome father to six kids!
Chuck has been one of my favorite people to listen to speak at a panel and to interview. He makes you feel at ease instantly, and utilizes dozens of accents to add to his already dynamic way of speaking. He’s hilarious and intelligent, and all around just a really chill guy. What follows below is my interview with him. Photos from the con are credit of Alex Kessler.
DHGF: So, Chuck, do I call you Mr. Huber?
CH: You call me captain. No, call me Mr. Huber. No, call me Sally.
DHGF: Alright, Sally—
Sally: No, go with Chuck.
DHGF: Alright, Chuck. [laughs] Pretend people don’t know who you are. What are your biggest roles?
CH: The biggest role I started with was Android 17 in the DBZ series. I was Garlic Jr. before that but nobody liked Garlic Jr. as much as they liked Android 17. Then was Hiei in Yu Yu Hakusho and from there it’s just everything else. The big one right now is Stein from Soul Eater and… that’s probably the biggest one right now.
DHGF: How did you start out?
CH: In voice acting for anime, I started with my friend Brad Jackson said, “Hey, they’re holding auditions for these Japanese anime over in North Richmond Hills,” and I was like, “Well that sounds like a scam!” but it was true so I just said, “Okay, get me an audition,” and we did and I went and auditioned and… you know, once you get in the door that’s it. They just keep using you if you’re good, so I must have been decent.
DHGF: You have background in acting, right?
CH: I started acting at summer camp doing skits and stuff with my brothers, making movies and everything, but then all through high school I did acting and junior high too, and then went to college for it, and my career went from there.
DHGF: Cool! Actually, you graduated from DePaul? That’s where I’m going in the fall for Community Psychology. When I saw that, I was like, “Oh wow!”
CH: Are you really? Wow. If you have any sociology credits you need to get, Dr. Deena Weinstein is the best teacher at DePaul University. She is fantastic. Her Sociology of Rock Music or her Mass Media and Culture are great classes.
DHGF: Those are actually both classes I would be interested in.
CH: I mean, I took her Sociology of Rock Music, and then, from then on, I took every class I could from her. She was that good a teacher. Good teachers are everything.
DHGF: I agree. Well, back on topic… What is your favorite or most memorable character that you’ve played?
CH: Hiei is probably the one people remember the most. Probably my favorite character is Hiro Naharo from Shin-Chan just because I like the family environment; it’s a lot like my real life. But all of them are usually pretty enjoyable.
DHGF: Which one did you do the longest?
CH: Let’s think. I think Hiro is probably the one I did the longest in terms of most number of years, or Hiei because that went many seasons, too. Yeah, probably Hiei or Hiro.
DHGF: Who would you say the craziest is? I know you said in an earlier panel you do crazy people a lot. Who do you think the craziest is?
CH: Probably Professor Stein. Probably Stein. He’s pretty insane. But he’s holding it together barely, which I like, ‘cause I feel like that’s me sometimes. [in an dramatic voice] Why are you staring at me like that? It’s scaring me! [normal voice] No, I’m kidding.
DHGF: You mentioned during one of your panels that you’ve voiced for video games. Which games have you voiced for?
CH: The one most recently that I did was Borderlands 2 and then there’s a Walking Dead video game that I did, a Ghostbusters video game, Neon Flux, all the DBZ, the Yu Yu Hakusho… Comic Jumper, lots of them. Most of them with Okatron 5000, Chris Sabat’s studio.
DHGF: How does that differ, voice acting for an anime and a video game?
CH: It’s very similar, except in video games you typically don’t have flaps to match, because you’re recording it before they’re finished making it, typically. Other than that, it’s fairly similar. There are more lists of general reactions they have to get for video games. It’s a little more technical sometimes.
DHGF: Do you ever get the chance—like, other than at conventions—to hang out with other voice actors?
CH: The feature that I did—I have a feature film that I’m just finishing editing called Arbor Day The Musical—and in it was Brina Palencia [Nae, Steins;Gate; Ciel, Black Butler], Jonathan Brooks [Prussia, Hetalia; Raven, Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike], Vic Mignogna [Edward, Fullmetal Alchemist; Spirit, Soul Eater], Aaron Roberts [Sunny, Toriko]… I was with them for a while on that film and we got to hang out. Now Vic has me doing the Star Trek thing with him—it’s Star Trek Continues, an ongoing webseries—and Chris Sabat [Kazuma, Yu Yu Hakusho; close to half the cast of Dragon Ball Z] and Paul Wingo have a company called Deep Space Moustache. It’s a film company and I work with them a lot. And I probably see Brina every… I’ve seen her every week for the past year? Maybe more. I work with her a lot. We worked on the Troubadours together and Arbor Day and… lots of projects. [dramatic] She’s my favorite.
DHGF: What do you like to do other than your career?
CH: Hang out with my kids, when I have time. I like… mostly that, just hanging out, you know, playing games. I like dancing still. It’s hard to find places where you can go dancing where it’s not… ‘cause it’s either like tss tss tss and it’s crowded and Dallas and I don’t like that. It’s gotta be the right vibe of dancing for me to want to dance. But I really like dancing.
DHGF: Okay, cool! Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to be a voice actor?
CH: Yeah! If you want to be a voice actor you have to live in L.A., New York, or Dallas/North Texas area. You have to be a good actor. You can’t be just a voice actor. It’s very difficult to be just a voice actor. You should be an actor in the broad sense of the word, because we all use different portions of the acting industry to make our money, [British accent] our daily bread, as it were, so that we can eat every day. [normal] You just have to take classes, go to college if you want, be in the mix. If you show up to auditions you can meet people, if you take workshops you meet people, that’s basically how to get in the industry. If you just don’t leave, eventually you’ll get in. You have to suffer a lot of rejection though. That’s just part of it.
DHGF: How do you handle rejection?
CH: I used to cry a lot, be really sad, and then I got over that and I was like, “I’m just going to go in and pretend it’s a rehearsal.” So I never auditioned anymore, I just rehearsed. I go in and I have the script and it’s just a rehearsal, so I let go of being nervous. It’s just my character, my role, I’m going to do it like I would in a rehearsal, which is collaborating with the director but being clear about my ideas. Then when I leave I forget that it ever existed and just follow onto the next one so I don’t have to think about landing it. I always know what the next audition, the next job, the next project I’m working on it, so I never have to linger on the past.
DHGF: That’s a pretty good outlook.
CH: Yeah, there’s nothing in the past.
DHGF: I see that you have a wide range of accents and dialects that you can do.
CH: [in a Russian accent] Yes, very much so. I have dialects all over the place.
DHGF: How do you practice those?
CH: [continues in Russian accent] With dialects you practice one sound at a time. You figure out which sound it is that you wish to change. [normal] I dunno. I just make noises!
DHGF: Do you have any favorite accents that you like to use?
CH: The American. [laughs] I do like the Scottish dialect. I had to do a Welsh one for a project; the Welsh is a very difficult dialect to get, as it’s very specific and different than other dialects. It’s like Gimli in Lord of the Rings. That’s the Welsh dialect. [imitates Gimli] Raar! I’m Gimli!
DHGF: I see that you were in Age of Empires. Do you remember what you role you might have had?
CH: I think it was small, like, you’re a person sitting there, and… [does various grunts] I think I was a bunch of non-player characters sitting around, mining things or whatever.
DHGF: And you play monsters on occasion?
DHGF: How do you get into character for those? Like, how do you do those?
CH: Just let the rage out, let the anger and hatred flow from your body like water. Nah, I mean, when you do monsters or whatever, you just get to be big, like, [roars]. You need to let your monster out. There’s nothing really to prepare other than not knowing how to not hurt your voice so that you don’t shred it, which is always a problem when you’re voice acting.
DHGF: You’ve also done plays and stuff outside of voice acting. Were you in anything that fans might be able to look up?
CH: Plays, not really, because you often can’t video tape it. Although I am doing Taming of the Shrew this summer with Trinity Shakes in north Texas, which is going to be very fun. It’s the best Shakespeare in the country in my opinion. I’ve got a new movie coming out called Odd Man Out. I play a guy in a wheelchair. My movie is coming out shortly, but I’m not in it. I’m just the director and writer. I did The Mechanical Grave, which John Keeyes directed. It’s a really, really interesting steampunk series.
DHGF: Do you direct and write a lot on the side?
CH: I’m getting more and more into the directing and producing side of things. You’ve got to make your own stuff happen. If you don’t make it happen, nobody is going to walk up to you and hand you your career. Well, some people get that, but they’re just a product, they’re not really in control. So if someone walks up and hands you your career, you’re going to be controlled. I like being able to make my own things, my own stuff happen, which is fun.
DHGF: So you ended up answering my question about what you’re doing now.
CH: Yeah, right now we’re finishing up the edit on Arbor Day: The Musical. Basically we’ve got to finish that, and once that’s done I’ll be able to think about other things. Because it’s been eating my life up for two years. It’s been destroying my life for two years. All I do is think about finishing the edit of that movie and then my life can continue.
DHGF: So do you have to spend a lot of time away from your family?
CH: Yes. Yes. Too much time sometimes. My wife is very good with the children so it’s better than if I were home alone. [laughs] They’d all be like, street urchins. “Hungry? Go eat some peaches from the peach tree down the street,” or whatever. But yeah, definitely too much time away from them.
DHGF: Are there any other strains with being a voice actor?
CH: The constant not knowing where the next dollar is coming from is difficult sometimes, because you don’t know when you’re next gig is happening. It’s very difficult because you don’t know when… you just might never work again. [laughs] It’s just like the Dread Pirate Roberts. “Good work, sleep well, I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” You know? You never know if you’re going to keep working. That’s a little stressful, but when you’ve been doing it long enough, you forget that that can happen. You just kind of keep moving on with life.
DHGF: What’s your favorite thing about being a voice actor?
CH: Actually probably the conventions.
CH: Yeah, I mean this is a lot of fun. It’s always interesting and different and the fans are always good. There’s no other industry where you can get to meet the fans directly. I mean, I’m sure there is. I’m in acting, and after plays you get to talk to people, but they’re not like, fans. This is a totally different thing; we’re like a family. You can go anywhere in the world to an anime convention, and it’s just like you’re a part of the gang.
DHGF: Do you have any last words? [Chuck laughs] Uh, that came out wrong. Do you have any last… statements you’d like to make?
CH: Yes, no I do. These are my last words: Roses are red, bacon is good, poems are hard, bacon.
DHGF: …I like it.
CH: Thank you.
I really enjoyed hanging out with Chuck. He called a friend of mine who wasn’t able to make it to the convention. He was completely in character as Dr. Stein, until he said, “I’m sorry. I’m going to have to dissect you now,” and my friend responded, “I’m okay with that,” which gave us all a good laugh. (Later she said, “You don’t say no to Dr. Stein.”)