Photographer: Tim Schaeffer @timschaefferphoto
About "To Your Eternity"
A lonely boy wandering the Arctic regions of North America meets a wolf, and the two become fast friends, depending on each other to survive the harsh environment. But the boy has a history, and the wolf is more than meets the eye as well.
Jacob Hopkins is taking the voice-over world by storm. He currently stars as the lead character Fushi, an immortal being who takes on the form of a deceased nameless boy, in the anime series "To Your
How did you get your start in voice over?
What was it like working for the Cartoon Network on The Amazing World of Gumball?
Believe it or not, my very first voice over audition and gig was in fact Gumball Watterson on The Amazing World of Gumball! Working with Cartoon Network for four solid years was a dream come true for me. I grew up watching their channel every single day, and to finally be a part of it was beyond me. Since The Amazing World of Gumball was created in London, I actually recorded at a private studio in the valley and Skyped with my voice director, Richard Overall, for the recording sessions. The show was always a blast to work on, and each session was tons of fun.
In your opinion, is there certain personality traits that make an actor better suited for voice over work instead of on-camera acting?
Your own unique personality is a great start, and the willingness to bring your own character traits to any role is a plus. To start with on-camera acting, it can begin by understanding who the character is you are portraying, and their background or backstory if that is provided for you. The personality traits that bring nuances to that character and keep it interesting such as your body language, facial expressions, mannerisms, being alive in your eyes and at the moment as life really is. Try to avoid being too stiff and just let loose to let your interesting personality take over. As for voice over work, there's no camera to pick up on your facial expressions and body language; all you have is the mic. There is also the realization that many times you are embodying an animated character. With that said, you need your personality to come through solely from your voice. This requires a bit of an exaggeration in your acting, but not too much if you still want to keep your performance grounded, like my role of Fushi in To Your Eternity! You have to work on speaking very clearly (diction) and manage the pacing of your words (keep it conversational). If you want to be able to do a variety of voices, you should work on increasing the range of your voice (both high and deep) and practice different tones as well (booming voice, gravely tone, raspy tone, intentional voice cracks, etc.) All of that is what I call "color," or nuances you can add to make the personality of the character more interesting.
What's your favorite cartoon past or present?
Prepare for a college thesis here…
Dragon Ball Z: the first cartoon I ever really got into. And by that I mean I followed the plot, never missed an episode, theorized about characters, etc. Still to this day it is my all-time favorite.
Regular Show: this show never ceased to make me laugh. Everything about it seemed so relatable at the time.
Gravity Falls: Alex Hirsch’s masterpiece. It had mind-blowing mystery after mind-blowing mystery and starred some of the best characters in cartoon history. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it.
The Amazing World of Gumball: I swear it’s not just because I’m in it. I was actually a huge fan of the show before I was on. The show has an incredible variety of unique animation (3D, 2D, Claymation), hilarious writing, and super good voice acting (again, not just because I’m in it). It teaches good family morals and is for everyone!
Do you have to do any physical movements while working on voice over?
As a matter of fact, yes! Physicality is very important in voice over. While you don't want to make any noise with your body because the microphone will pick it up, smaller movements with your arms or maybe getting into a certain stance can help make your performance sound more believable. One of the best lessons I learned from doing on-camera acting since I was five years old is using your physicality to make a character seem real. I use this lesson every time I voice act. I try to put myself in the situation of the character the best I can and emulate it through my voice. Maybe the character is tumbling down a hill, so rocking your body back and forth could emulate the shakiness in the character's voice. Maybe the character is trying to reach for something, so extending your arm and tightening your vocal cords could emulate the strain in the character's voice. And remember, while using your body to improve your voice acting, make sure your mouth stays in front of the mic at all times!
How long does it usually take to finish doing voice-over for a series?
For Gumball, each episode was about 12 minutes long, which took about two hours to record. Each season had about 40 episodes, which took 40 weeks to record, since we were usually doing one episode per week. All in all, each season took about 10 months to record. Sometimes I actually recorded two episodes per week, and other times I recorded pickups for previous episodes. Pickups are when you re-record lines from previous sessions to get either a clearer read or an alternative line. The schedule fluctuated from time to time, but the regular was one two-hour session per week.
For Dragons: Rescue Riders, the schedule fluctuated more for me. My character Axel Finke is a recurring role, so I wouldn’t record every week. The time it took for each session changed as well. If I was in the entire episode, it would take about two hours, but some episodes only took an hour. I would also sometimes record with other cast members at the same time.
For To Your Eternity, the series premiere took a total of five hours to record, it was split into four hours on the first day of recording, and one hour the next day. The first episode was all me; no one else to play off of, just me. It was the best recording session I’ve had to date. I really got to show what I could do with such an emotional character, and I’m super proud of how it turned out. The next four episodes took about an hour to record, since Fushi didn’t have many lines in them. I won’t give away why if you haven’t seen it! Now I’m back to four-hour sessions! This is a new show, and I’m super excited for you guys to check it out!
What other projects are you working on?
Right now, I’m focused on To Your Eternity. Since this is my first lead role in an anime series, I’m super excited for you guys to see it! Throughout the series, we get to see Fushi embark on different journeys with different people and learn what it truly means to be human through family, isolation, tragedy, and happiness. You can catch new episodes streaming on Crunchyroll and HBO Max every Monday.
How can fans reach you via social media?
My Instagram is @hopkinsjake and my Twitter is @HopkinsJacob5.
Thanks for having me!