Interview: Mike Pollock the Dr. Eggman Voice Actor in Sonic X and Games.
- Written by Andrew Paulson
- Category: Interviews
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A fan-favorite in the Sonic community, Mike Pollock is the current official English voice actor for Dr. Eggman in both the games and the Sonic X series. Visit his website at Itsamike.com for more information on him.
Sonic Related Résumé:
Sonic and the Secret Rings (2007) - VG (English version) ... Dr. Eggman
Sonic X (2003-2006) - (English version) .... Dr. Eggman/Ella
Sonic Riders (2006) - VG (English version) .... Dr. Eggman
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) - VG (English version) .... Dr. Eggman
Sonic Rush (2005) - VG (English version) .... Dr. Eggman
Shadow the Hedgehog (2005) - VG (English version) .... Dr. Eggman/Prof. Gerald Robotnik
Conducted by Andrew Paulson on July 27, 2008.
Sonic Scene: This is Andrew and I am here with Mike Pollock for the latest Sonic Scene interview. Thanks for joining me today, for those who don't know, tell us what your role in the Sonic world has been.
Mike Pollock: Well, for the past four years or so, I've been the voice of Dr. Eggman in Sonic X and the games, as well as Ella in Sonic X.
Sonic Scene: You started voicing Dr. Eggman in the Sonic X series before the games, how did you end up getting the role originally?
Mike Pollock: 4Kids acquired the rights to dub Sonic X, and the production team for the series, with whom I'd previously worked on Kirby Right Back At Ya, were apparently very keenly interested in having me as Dr. Eggman. SEGA apparently needed a lot more convincing, so after what seemed like an endless series of auditions and callbacks, I finally won the role. A few weeks into the production, the producers casually mentioned that they still needed to cast Ella, and half-jokingly asked me to try. Sure enough, I ended up getting her role, too! I still find that hysterical.
Sonic Scene: How did you come up with the voice for Dr. Eggman? Did you research and listen to past Eggman/Robotnik voice actors such as the late Deem Bristow?
Mike Pollock: I was originally given clips of Deem Bristow to try to match. After the first few episodes, the voice sort of settled and became a little less Deem and a little more me.
Sonic Scene: Now for a even better question... How exactly did you come up with the voice of Ella? How did you keep from laughing while doing the voice?
Mike Pollock: Ella's voice was pretty much all up to me. They said she was a Latina of some kind, so I first did the most accurate Hispanic accent I could. That lasted less than one episode. The next time I came in to record, they asked me to re-record Ella's first appearance and "soften" her accent, to avoid offending anyone. I did laugh plenty of times. Thats why the delete button was invented.
Sonic Scene: Have you watched many of the other Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon series? What are your thoughts on the other voice actors who have voiced Dr. Eggman before you? Such as Jim Cummings from the Saturday AM Sonic series, or Long John Baldry of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. Besides yourself, who is your favorite?
Mike Pollock: I haven't gone out of my way to seek out the others, but I did stumble upon reruns of the Saturday cartoon during a hotel stay a few years back. I was surprised at how different it was. I'd say Cummings is probably my favorite, only because his résumé is as long as your arm, and his soundalike replacement work for Disney is phenomenal. As I pride myself on my own versatility (going from Eggman to Ella, for example) I admire Mr. Cummings volume of work, and am honored to have shared a character with him. He's probably never heard of me.
Sonic Scene: What are your own personal thoughts of the character of Dr. Eggman and the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise? Are you a fan of the series yourself or just a fan of the character you voice?
Mike Pollock: I wasn't familiar with it before I got cast, but I've since grown quite fond of it. I knew it was staggeringly popular, so I was honored to become a part of it. I'd watch it on Saturday Morning but found the plots a little confusing, so I'd mostly watch to see how my own performances turned out.
Sonic Scene: Is there a specific Sonic X episode or storyline you enjoyed the most doing?
Mike Pollock: Not specifically, but I liked certain moments like when Eggman would break the so-called fourth wall and address the audience directly. I remember one episode in which it took a phone call from a "viewer." I also liked the moment in one of the later moments when he got to show his tender side to Chris, with a sincere "so long, kid." Nice to be able to show some depth and other dimensions to the character.
Sonic Scene: How did you first get into voice acting? Has it mostly become your main career or do you also do other unrelated work?
Mike Pollock: I started in radio in Upstate New York back in the 80s. When I came back to New York in the 90s, I had enough of a demo tape to send out to producers and managed to book a kids' video, an anime and an episode of Pokémon. Things pretty much snowballed from there. For the last 15 years I'd also been working for a radio syndication company, writing for their showprep services, but they recently decided I shouldn't be doing that anymore so voice acting is my full-time gig at the moment.
Sonic Scene: Have you always wanted to get into voice acting?
Mike Pollock: As a kid I wanted to be in radio, which is kind of voice acting, but as the years went on, I realized the opportunities available as a freelancer for many studios rather than just working for one radio station. That realization began during my radio career when I was asked to do stuff that wasn't produced in-house at the stations. Mind you, if I found another radio job, where I could spend lots of time behind the mic, I'd seriously consider taking it.
Sonic Scene: What are the differences in doing voice work for a cartoon series (Sonic X) and the video game series? Is there more work involved in a game then in a episode of Sonic X?
Mike Pollock: The games are more disjointed. The cartoons have a linear plot that you can follow, more or less, but the nature of video games means they can fork off in many different directions, so there's a lot of recording many similar lines (Pick up the hammer! Pick up the cup! Pick up the chair!) which can get a little tedious.
Sonic Scene: What are your current thoughts on the Sonic video game series? Have you ever played any of the games and which one was your favorite to voice Dr. Eggman in?
Mike Pollock: Nope, I'm not a gamer. But my favorite was probably the Olympic Games because they had a huge demo kiosk for the Wii at our local mall. I stumbled upon it and noticed that that was one of the games you could try. I had no interest in trying it but I did ask the salesgeek to play as me for a minute so I could get the gist. I pointed out who I was and did some of the dialog from the games for the guy. That was fun.
Sonic Scene: Do you ever run into many Sonic/Eggman fans who figure out who you are or get noticed by them?
Mike Pollock: Nope. It's easy to be anonymous when you're a voice actor. I did have a little fun at a state fair once, though. A kid won a plush Sonic at a midway game and I spotted him as he walked by. While the rest of my family enjoyed their ice cream, I blurted out, in my best Eggman voice, "Look, it's Sonic!" I laughed when I saw the kid's head whip around, but I gave no hint that the sound came from me. I wonder if he thought he was just hearing voices!
Sonic Scene: What are your thoughts on the controversy surrounding 4Kids and Sega's decision to replace the official video game voice actors with the Sonic X crew? It seems a good number of fans think highly of your voice work as Dr. Eggman (especially in Sonic 06), but haven't thought the same as the other 4Kids voice actors.
Mike Pollock: It would be tacky to badmouth my colleagues, so I won't, but I feel fans' pain. When voice actors have to be replaced, usually due to a death, the replacements are never as good (the aforementioned Jim Cummings channeling the late Sterling Holloway and Paul Winchell for Winnie the Pooh and Tigger being notable exceptions.) Still, the Sonic replacements were a business decision, and at the end of the day this is a business. I've been the replacee myself, when the entire cast of Pokémon got replaced, though in my case I had replaced the original narrator and he ended up getting his old job back. It sucked for a while but I eventually got over it. I appreciate the good reviews from the fans, but I'm also in the unusual situation of replacing a man who subsequently died (Contrary to popular belief, Deem Bristow passed away after we were cast, so his passing didn't prompt the mass replacement). I wonder if I get less hate then my collueagues because fans know there's sadly not much chance of the late Mr. Bristow getting his old job back.
Sonic Scene: Do you have any advice or comments on any young adults or kids who want to get into the voice acting scene? What to try and avoid early on or such?
Mike Pollock: Do as much acting as you can, in school or community theatre or wherever. You can also check with area radio, TV or cable stations to see if they need any extra voice talent for commercials and stuff. To get most voiceover gigs, you've gotta have a brief, well-produced demo reel (usually several to cover different genres -- I have Commercial, Animation, Promo and Narrartion demos) to send to prospective employers. If your willing to invest some cash, you should train with a coach. (*Shameless Plug Alert!*) I've been studying with Peter Rofé of www.pdrvoicecoaching.com in New York. He produced my latest round of demos, and asked me to share my animation experience in his new book, which is available for purchase through my website (along with my demos, which are free) at www.itsamike.com.
Sonic Scene: One last question for you, should The Sonic Scene change its name to The Eggman Scene?
Mike Pollock: Oh, absolutely. It would be the first step towards World domination, wouldn't it?
Sonic Scene: Thanks a lot for taking the time out of your busy schedule to hang out with Sonic Scene, goodluck on future voice work as Dr. Eggman.
Mike Pollock: Thanks! Thanks for watching, and especially listening!