Ian Sinclair Interview

During Sakuracon, Raelet at Gamepress got the opportunity to chat with Ian Sinclair, the voice of Berkut in both Fire Emblem: Echoes and Fire Emblem Heroes!

During this time, we discussed how he felt about the Fire Emblem franchise's most recent villain, what his experiences are on his other roles in voice acting, and how he was able to psych himself up to play Berkut to his full, unhinged glory.

My name is Rae, I work for Gamepress, which is a mobile game website. Specifically, our largest demographic is Fire Emblem Heroes.

Haha yeah, awesome!

I know that you recently were doing work for Shadows of Valentia and Fire Emblem Heroes, so all of my questions are pretty much going to revolve around that.

Do it!

Do you play any of the other Fire Emblem games?

Uhh, no, that was the first one that I got to experience - I watched a bunch of videos. I have a 3DS and it just never came across my path. But it’s really cool, I dig the gameplay and the fact that you’re able to have such a deep story with, you know, such involved characters. And a lil’ 3DS JRPG - I was like, ‘ah, this is awesome!’

So, no Shadows of Valentia play?

🙈 I have not because of different video games that I’m playing right now. We’ve gotten to that point of being gamers where I have five things that I gotta get through before I can get back to Skyrim VR!

Oh yeah, the Steam Backlog is real.

It’s real!

Alright, so then, what was your favorite role to voice throughout your career?

Different characters for different reasons. As a Cowboy Bebop fan, it was really cool to be a part of Space Dandy, and that was just amazing production to be a part of. Everybody was working 110% - and so it was really cool to be a part of that, and the process itself of doing Space Dandy was incredible, and it was emotionally a huge thing for me.

But now that I’m in Dragon Ball Super, it’s hard to pick a favorite because I was a Dragonball fan growing up, and had all the Gokus and Vegetas action figures and the - I had a Trunks that I always had on my shelf, and I was a big fan and so now I get to fight those people and so that’s just about the coolest thing ever and I’m very excited!

Back to Fire Emblem - what was it like voicing Berkut when he was going all crazy and possessed?

Oh yeah, that was the best part. It’s one of those things where you pull a lot from your own emotional truths that like - I mean, I’ve not been raised to believe that I’m going to be an Emperor. But I really started to think about it, I was like, ‘Well, he’s not a bad dude. He’s just been fed this line for his whole life’ It’s like, ‘no bro, [points] Emperor, [points] you, oh - you’re gonna be Emperor, hey, don’t forget: Emperor!’ and he’s like ‘yeah!’, and then this farmboy with a stick keeps beating him! Over and over and over again!

It doesn’t make sense, and his uncle doesn’t allow it and then his entire life- it’s just a lie! So you find that truth, and if I was in that situation where I had my family telling me that, and it’s like… I mean, just imagine: you’re gonna have this job. And you’ve trained your whole life to be this job, and then you have this random person be like ‘Hey, I wanna do that job!’, and you’re like ‘Nooooo!’ And so I was able to use that and, you know, tie it in with other emotional truths that I could and, yeah I had a nice full breakdown in that booth.

It was great, it felt great.

It definitely seems like acting has a lot of empathy with the characters associated with it.

You try! You try.

Alright, and so some of those voice lines you had in the game are pretty notorious in the Fire Emblem community. “Uncle” and “Lies” specifically- and so you really enjoyed getting to cut loose with those kinds of lines…

I did! The directors and everybody really let me go for it. ‘Cause sometimes it’ll be like, ‘Oh (lol), okay, don’t have a real breakdown…’ But they- they really let me go for it, and… it got quiet, like as we’re recording those parts. Everything else, you know, we’re joking, we’re making things, we’re like, ‘Yeah, screw that Alm guy!’ And then when we started - once Rinea was like, ‘I don’t… reeeally want to be Empress’, and he starts just *losing it*, it got reaaaal quiet.

And then the director and everybody would be timidly, ‘...okay cool, next take… are you okay? Yeah, cool, next take…’ And it was great, it was - it was one of those things I walked away, deep breaths, ‘well, that was cathartic.’

A little bit of emotional release, there.

Oh yeah, just completely losing it. It was great!

When did you find out that you’d be voicing Berkut in the mobile game, Fire Emblem Heroes?

I didn’t know about that for the longest time. I heard that they were doing it. Then I heard that a bunch of my friends were doing it, and then I got the call that was like, ‘Hey, can you fly out to LA, it’s like... gonna take you less than an hour to do this work’, and I was like ‘Yeah, I love LA!’, and I got to go out and see a bunch of my friends… but that would have been… early last year, I guess? Huh! It’s 2018, ain’t that somethin’?

But yeah… I found that out… and I didn’t expect to get to do any more of him, so, so it was just a really neat kind of like, ‘Okay, I’ll come back and play!’

So you didn’t have to audition or anything, they just called you up because you were the original?

I had done Berkut the year before, and once I started doing… with Valentia, and then it was like another, six to a year until... yeah.

Fire Emblem Heroes, the mobile game. It has this thing where it does these seasonal variants of characters, it has these alternate units of characters - so there’s like these Christmas units and they have sack of gifts that they hit people with, and spring units where they throw carrots instead of daggers and things like that. So if Berkut were to have an alternate costume, can you think of one that might be really fun to voice?

Um… I’m trying to think of what I would like him to be like… in, because it would have to be in something, like super undignified, like- like one of those, like… little boy outfits where it looks like a sailor suit, you know what I’m talking about? Like with a little beret and just 😡.

They had summer costumes last year! There’s a chance!

See stuff like - yeah, like - it would be, like the beach episode in any anime. That’s what I would like, I would like beach episode Berkut! Just 😡 shame!

You haven’t played the Fire Emblem games, so how much information did you get about the character when you started doing it?

Oh, they told me everything. That was the really good thing about the whole Cup of Tea Crew is they walk you through everything. The client from the Japanese company was there for any question I had, any variant, they… they went into a lot of depth, which is why I was able to do what I was with the character because the director really kinda... He was able to give you the full world perspective on it and- and talk about the emotional stakes and everything for your character. That’s how I was able to get there! Because if not I would have been like, ‘Bad guy is bad!’

For sure. And so, how much did they kinda tell you about some of the pronunciation of some of the….

Oh, every one. Every single, like-

Like his weapon, the, uh… Kriem, the uh…

[Tries to pronounce it for a moment]

...Yeah no, it’s gone! I’m not even gonna try. Um… yeah, they were very specific about that, and I appreciate that, because… if they were like, ‘I don’t know, figure it out’, you know you’ll be at a con at some point and they’ll be like, ‘You know, it’s Mjolnir! It’s not Muh-jull-nir.’ (lol)

Right! Right, yeah. Okay, so, in terms of the game Shadows of Valentia versus the voice work for the mobile game, how was the experience different?

Night and day. Night and day. One of them was really ‘find this character, craft it, and make it and… just the lines, there’s this huge character arc, and, and… all this change’, and the other one was like ‘Do that Berkut voice, here’s twelve or thirteen queues, here’s how you feel, roughly this’. And then, they would- there was a good amount of directing, they made sure I did it the right way, but it was- Heroes was easy. Heroes was just kinda going in and being like, ‘oh, it’s like- 😊’.

There’s video game sessions where you just kinda sit in there and it’s just an Excel sheet and you go “Huh! Blah! Brap! Brah!” and you go through it… that was closer to that… than the other one, which was… this long script which had all these different moving parts.

Super easy! Super easy. Took me an hour. Less than an hour.

Did you get any information about his iteration in the game? Like his artwork, or…?

Yeah, they told me - they showed me a mock-up, and they talked me through it, and they were like, ‘Yeah, but it’s like ten queues, so good luck!’ so I just went in there and… It was really nice to go back to him because I had formed that character in my mind and I had gone back through and watched all of the cutscenes just to be like, ‘How’d it all go?’ And so I had a good feeling of Berkut by the time I came in for Heroes, and so it was like, ‘Oh, you want Berkut? Got it.’ I know how he kinda lilts, I know how he talks, and I know that smug little rich boy when I have to be him.

So what would be your reaction if you were to find out that he’s one of the worst characters in the game?

I mean, he’s not a GOOD person, but…

As in like, a terrible unit. Nobody wants to use him!

Oh, [Hushed] I heard about that. It’s like… ehhh. I heard about that. It’s, you know- but it actually warmed my heart, because I heard about it from people saying [mimes typing] “You know, he sucks in Heroes, and I can’t really use him… but I’mma get him ‘cause it’s Ian” and I went, ‘Ahhh, thank you.’ It means a lot.

Alright, well thank you so much! Any further comments about Fire Emblem?

Buy all of it! And thank you for watching and playing it. Thank you.