First posted on 27 August 2011. Last updated on 27 August 2011.
|AJ LoCascio is a voice actor and plays Marty McFly in Telltale Games' Back to the Future: The Game.|
|LoCascio remembers fondly meeting Christopher Lloyd during a recording session with Telltale Games.|
Telltale Games is best known for developing episodic adventure games based on licensed properties. The popular Sam & Max and Tales of Monkey Island series are both spinoffs based on established comic book or adventure game spinoffs. In June 2010, Telltale Games announced a surprising partnership with NBC Universal to develop adventure games based on 2 popular movie franchises—Back to the Future and Jurassic Park. While Jurassic Park: The Game has yet to be released, Back to the Future: The Game has finished a successful 5-episode run from December 2011 to June 2011. The game series welcomes the return of Christopher Lloyd as the voice for Doc Brown and introduces newcomer AJ LoCascio as the voice for Marty McFly.
- The following interview was an edited transcript of an oral interview.
We are pleased to have an opportunity to speak with AJ LoCascio at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011 in Los Angeles. In the interview, LoCascio speaks about his experience working as an impersonator and a voice actor, his audition with Telltale Games, his chance meet-ups with Bob Gale and Christopher Lloyd, and his childhood memories of playing adventure games (or lack thereof).
- When did you realize you had a passion for acting? Was there an "aha!" moment? Or was it more of a gradual realization?
- I'm still waiting for that "aha!" moment, honestly. This was something I sort of did as a kid, this impression of Michael J. Fox, so when I heard Telltale needed a Marty McFly, I thought, "I need to try to do this! I got this!" I called them up, sounding as Marty-like as possible – trying not to sound crazy, but still sounding as much like him as possible.
- You once worked as a Jack Sparrow impersonator. Was that your first foray into impressions? What was that experience like? Do you have any other impressions?
- I guess you could say that. I did a lot of plays as a kid, but I'm not a really fan of thespians, so I had a hard time with the theater scene. I did a lot of stuff there, and Jack was sort of this fluke that happened as a result of a Halloween costume gone terribly, terribly awry. It just kind of took off, and became my first step into this whole bizarre world. I would just get calls from all over the place – I was in New York at the time, and I would be flying all over the country doing weird treasure hunts in Florida, or on boats, or birthday parties, or opening up Planet Hollywoods...just really weird, crazy stuff. Exciting, but lonely and exhausting, because I was doing all that stuff by myself, for quite some time, and you get tired of the character when you have to be him for so long, which hopefully I'll never get with Marty. Really, I stopped doing Jack Sparrow because I hate cold weather, and that company was based in New York, so I moved to California, and kind of got lucky with Marty.
I've got a lot of impressions – I've got so many they all kind of Three Stooges their way through my head and they can't quite get through the doorway. My favorites are my Obi-Wan Kenobi Ewan McGregor and my Down With Love kind of lighter Ewan McGregor...I guess there's Joker, which is a bit of a strange one, because it's Mark Hamill, but it's still lots of fun to do. I know he's retiring – maybe I should try for that!
- You have experience as a short-film actor, director, producer, and now a voice actor. Which have you found the most rewarding? The most fun?
- Wow, that's an interesting question. I love doing voiceover, because it's fun. I get to stand in a room, and just scream, or whatever, and it's very cathartic. Directing and editing and writing and producing are all really stressful, but I love doing it. The thing about me is that I don't have one thing I love to do; I love to do a lot of things, and I obsess over them all equally in their own time.
- Would you share your audition process and your overall experience with Telltale Games?
- The audition process was literally me calling them up, and them telling me to send an .mp3, which I think is their way of distancing themselves from the crazies. I sent in the .mp3, and it got a great reaction; apparently, the studio's accountant sent my .mp3 around the office, and even to Bob Gale. I didn't know I had the role at that point; I was waiting for four months, so I was still freaking out. They kept asking me to send in different .mp3s - lines from the movie, lines from the game script – and then a lot of waiting.
I really love the guys at Telltale. When I went, I was expecting a bunch of stuffy jerks, and honestly, I've actually become friends with a significant amount of them. They're all basically different versions of myself; they're all super-geeky, they like Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Star Wars...all the things that I love. They're awesome to work with. I love them.
- Are you doing any voice work in any of Telltale Games' upcoming games? If you could choose, which game would you do?
- I don't know yet. I've been floating around some of the projects, but we'll see whether I get any of the roles or not. Hopefully now I'm part of their voice actor pool, but we'll see whether I actually wind up in anything.
I'm a huge Fables fan; I want to be in Fables. That's what got me back into comics – I loved comics as a kid, and Fables was like my Bible. But now that I've found out that the guys that I work with are making a Fables game, I said, "I need to be in that. I'll do anything!", so we'll see what happens. Though I did tell them that for Jurassic Park, I'd love to be a dinosaur voice. I do a great brontosaurus.
- Are you much of a gamer? Was Back to the Future: The Game your introduction to adventure games? Were you familiar with Telltale Games before you were hired to do voice work for this game?
- No, I'll be completely honest. I do play games; when I was a kid, I played through Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and Carmen Sandiego, but I don't really game unless my younger brother throws it in front of me. That's usually how I get introduced to stuff, and he doesn't really play adventure games. But I was familiar with Telltale Games. Everyone always told me I'd love Sam and Max and Monkey Island, and I wasn't really sure why, but they were right. They were fantastic. So I wasn't familiar with them from playing through all of their games, but I knew who they were; I was always aware of them.
- What was your favorite parts of the Back to the Future: The Game?
- I don't know why, but I really like the part at the end of the first episode when Marty's on the back of the truck and he has to break Doc out. I also liked when Marty was in the prison cell with Jennifer because I got to do a scene with Claudia.
Actually, I was sort of the reason she got connected with Telltale...I met her at the Enchantment Under the Sea fan event and told her I was doing Marty in the game, and she said it was something she was interested in.
As a fan, in terms of the story, it's interesting. It's weird to see Doc be the villain – and he really could be the villain, in an alternate universe. I kind of love that, to a certain degree. I think it goes in an interesting and satisfying direction. I mean, they took these movies, which are very concise and let you live and breathe through this character – you get to do everything Marty would do, that we don't cut away from like in the movies. It's interesting.
- You met both Bob Gale and Christopher Lloyd. As an admitted Back to the Future fan, how was that experience? Michael J. Fox has a cameo in the final episode. Did you meet him too?
- I've met Bob Gale a couple of times, and I've met Christopher Lloyd a couple of times...it's weird to have them recognize me. I used to watch them on DVD special features, and now it's funny to see them in person, saying, "Hey, AJ!" with me replying, "Hey, Chris!" Very random: I had lunch with Christopher Lloyd last week, we shared a bowl of edamame...it was very surreal. I sadly couldn't meet Michael J. Fox, he was in New York and I was in California, but I'm sure he's aware of my existence by now, as I'm very much aware of his! Our paths haven't crossed yet, but I'm hoping to someday – I love him, he's one of my heroes.
- Why do you think that Back to the Future is so prevalent and popular, 26 years after the initial film's release, with a fanbase that is still growing?
- I think it's simple...it's a perfect movie. Especially the first one. The characters, the plot, the music, the direction...everything's perfect. When you have a movie – or anything – that is perfect for what it is, it kind of transcends its own time period and genre. Look at the first Star Wars, or Indiana Jones, they're exactly what they should be. Anytime you have something that great, it's going to break all barriers. That's why I think Back to the Future resonates, no matter how old it gets – it'll get dated, it's already dated; but it's nostalgic and fun, and it's great to see all the fun 80's culture, especially for those of us who grew up in the 80s. It's just...it's just great. I can't think of any other way to say it.
- If you could change anything about your experience of working in this game project, what would it be?
- I probably would have eaten more before I got the role. I wasted away to nothing, because I was anxiety-ridden between the waiting and other things going on in my life. But the waiting was a huge stress for me, so...yeah. I would have eaten more. Wouldn't be so afraid of James Arnold Taylor. He did the voice for young Emmett Brown in the game. He's a nice guy, but I was terrified of him; he's a huge professional, he's done Michael J. Fox's voice before, so I was very intimidated by him. I shouldn't have been; he's a really nice guy.
- What do you think of Telltale Games' model of episodic gaming?
- It's interesting. I've never really seen it before. It's crazy, it's ballsy. As a kid, I always wondered why people didn't release games in episodes. And now, for the last year or so, my life has been Back to the Future, and from a voice actor's perspective, it's great; I got to go in once a month to record my lines. But I know it's quite tasking for them, as they're doing a lot of projects at once, so it's very difficult. I like it, but I can see why a lot of companies don't do it – it's very stressful, and it takes a lot of work; I know that Telltale Games is literally working until the minute before each episode is released. They're sort of the pioneers of something really unique and great. Hopefully they'll keep it going.
- AJ, thank you for taking the time to do this interview! Best of luck in your future endeavors!