By Marty Mulrooney
Alternative Magazine Online recently reviewed The Walking Dead – Episode 1: A New Day (PC), describing it as “Telltale Game’s most accomplished project yet.” Of particular note was the voice acting, which AMO described as “stellar, with Lee and Clementine in particular sounding 100% authentic and real. Whether Lee is threatening to kick somebody’s ass or comforting Clementine, he always sound great and it’s a constant joy to hear him interact with the 8-year-old girl in his care.” It is therefore with great pleasure that AMO presents an exclusive online interview with the voice of Lee Everett, Dave Fennoy aka ‘The Hulu Guy’!
Hello Mr Fennoy, thank you for your time and welcome to AMO!
Happy to be asked to answer a few questions for your readers and the gaming community.
Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself please?
Hmmm, you never know where to start with such a wide open question… that said, I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. I used to wonder why my parents moved there… it was called for years “the mistake on the lake”, “the armpit of the nation” and several other not so nice phrases… but in retrospect, it was a great childhood and after High School I escaped!
I was a child stage actor, a musician as a young adult, a radio personality… don’t you call them presenters?… a husband and father… now an ex-husband… still a father and a father-in-law since February when my daughter got married. After years on the radio in the Bay area, I turned my attention to voice over work. I moved to LA in 1990 and began my VO career. Since then I’ve voiced too many commercials to count, many many TV Promos and In Show Announcements, narrations on numerous subjects and of course many cartoons and games.
Where might AMO’s readers have seen or heard your acting over the years?
Assuming your readers are mostly interested in games, I’m on more than 40 titles. Some recent games include Transformers 3, Starcraft 2, five characters on DOTA, Law and Order, and of course the recently released Walking Dead.
When did you first decide to get into voice acting?
I mentioned that I began my career in 1990 in LA, but to be very exact my career had its birth even before I was on the air in San Francisco. In 81 AND 82 I was writing commercials for a radio station in the bay area and whenever I could I would voice them and later as a morning jock… ah, presenter… I would do the comedy voices of many of the characters on my show.
How did you become involved with the The Walking Dead?
I got involved with the Walking Dead in the usual way… an audition arrived in my email. I did it, sent it, and a few days later got the call.
Had you previously read any of the comics or watched the TV show adaptation?
I had seen the graphic novel and watched the show infrequently. I thought it was good, but have to confess I wasn’t a regular watcher.
What attracted you to the role?
I liked the idea of playing a game character that was multifaceted. Even the audition stated that they wanted the character to be very real and that the game would be based on relationships.
How would you describe Lee Everett as a character?
Lee is a complicated character. A former college professor on his way to jail for killing his wife and her lover. He is a good man with a secret, his crime, who takes on the job of caring for an 8-year-old girl orphaned by the zombie apocalypse while thrown together with people he probably never would have spent any time with as they all try to figure out how to survive.
What has it been like working with Telltale Games?
Working with Telltale Games has been great. They are smart, creative, and have come up with what I see as a game for grownups.
Your character quickly builds a strong relationship with a young girl named Clementine. Have you met the voice actress for Clementine or did you both record your lines separately?
As with most games, all my VO work has been done solo. I haven’t had the pleasure of working with Melissa, or Adam, or any of the other very fine actors.
When it comes to Clementine, is it easy to convey the protective nature of Lee’s personality as a father yourself?
Yes, I call upon the feelings I had as a young father caring for my own daughter.
The game allows the player to have quite a lot of input into what Lee will say – does it ever get confusing recording so many different responses within a single conversation?
The Telltale crew makes sure that I know content and context of the lines I am saying. We spend a lot of time making sure performances match each other.
Do you have any visual aids to help set the scene when recording your lines?
They bring the artwork to all the sessions so I get to see where the action is taking place and have a clear idea of what the characters look like.
The Walking Dead is an episodic video game – do you record your lines in advance or will you still be going back into the studio in the months ahead?
We still have a lot of recording to do!
Do you find voice acting easier or harder than traditional acting?
I don’t know that it’s easier or harder… in many ways it’s the same and yet different. Every nuance has to be in my voice. On camera, to quote Jack Nicholson sometimes you can “let the clothes do the acting.”
And of course I don’t have to worry about hair, makeup, or waiting for them to get the lighting right.
How close is Lee’s voice to your own? It sounds very natural!
Lee’s voice is my voice. I just talk and let the emotions flow.
You have worked on a number of video game projects throughout your career, including other adventure games such as The Curse of Monkey Island as well as blockbuster console hits like Metal Gear Solid 4 and Mass Effect 2. Are you a gamer yourself and do you enjoy working on such projects?
Argh! I knew you were going to ask that… gotta confess, I’m not a gamer… but I love, love, love being a voice on games.
Is it nice being known as ‘The Hulu Guy’ in America? We actually don’t have Hulu here in the UK!
No Hulu?! Wow, how do you survive. Kidding… but seriously, Hulu is where the world of TV is going. Appointment TV is so last century and paying for cable or satellite is a huge rip off!
Do you ever get people recognising you in public from your voice alone?
Not often, but sometimes. I was at a restaurant not long ago and the waiter gave me a puzzled look and then with a flash of recognition on his face said “Dude… you’re the Hulu guy aren’t you!”
Sadly, he didn’t even comp me a dessert. More often, I’m in a conversation with someone and when the “what do you do’s?” happen… I get a few moments of celeb status. Wonder if that would work on Sofia Vergara?
What’s next for you after The Walking Dead?
I’m sure it’ll be more Hulu, more commercials, and of course more games. Oh, this fall look for the graphic novel ‘Anomaly’ to be released. It’s gonna be the biggest graphic novel ever and it has iPhone/iPad apps that allow the pages to come to life with voices and information. It’s truly going to be amazing.
Thank you for your time Mr Fennoy, it has been an absolute pleasure interviewing you and I think that you’re doing a fantastic job as the voice of Lee Everett in The Walking Dead!