career of Richard Epcar is a varied one. He has written and
directed television shows from "Dr. Quinn, Medicine
Woman," to the American incarnation of "Power
Rangers" and other live-action Saban shows, and done the
same for the English language versions of such movies as
"Eat, Drink, Man, Woman." He has also written and/or
directed the English language versions of many animes, including
the current "Mon Colle Knights" and "Transformers:
Robots in Disguise."
His live action acting has spanned movies ("Memoirs of an Invisible Man"), television ("General Hospital," "Days of our Lives") and theatre, while his voice work can be heard in many places - in the ADR tracks of many popular films, including "Independence Day" and the recent blockbuster, "Gladiator," as well as in many popular animes, such as Fist of the North Star, "Trigun," "Macross," and as Bateau in the modern classic, "Ghost in the Shell."
To us Digi-fans, however, he's the voice of both Myotismon and Etemon - ironically playing the most popular and most loathed villains from the series. He took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some of my questions.
McFeely: On Digimon, youre known as a voice
actor (and a director, according to your website, though this is
news to the fandom), while on other anime shows, youve
written and directed. Youve also written, directed, acted
and handled ADR in assorted live-action series and movies as well
but which of all these is your favourite to do? For what
Richard Epcar: Its hard to say which is my favorite because I enjoy it all. To be honest with you cartoons are easier to do than live action because its easier to do the lip-sych on cartoons. The fun thing about cartoons is that you can be big with the characters where as in live action you generally have to match what the original actors are doing. And yes I was one of the original directors of Digimon.' I directed many series for Saban, but was only credited on a few. The reason for that is that whoever is directing the pilot or first few episodes of a show is whose name is on the credits. Even if they are no longer with the show. Once the credits are cut-they keep them the same credits throughout the series, basically because its cheaper. But unfortunately a lot of work that I had done for that company was never credited, which is why you didnt know that I directed the show and that I did the voices of Myotismon, Etemon and Apemon and others.
CMcF: When, and through what circumstances, did you decide you wanted to build yourself a career in this industry?
RE: Well I started out as an actor and I still consider myself an actor. I also consider myself a director and writer. I think all of my creative stuff comes from the same place. Im really fortunate that Ive been able to channel my creativity in a number of ways. But back to the original question, and that is, Ive always known that I wanted to be an actor and in this business. I was always in plays throughout school, when I was growing up. So in a way I guess I was lucky, because there was never any doubt in my mind that I was going to be in this business.
CMcF: When did you get your big break into the industry? What were you doing beforehand?
RE: Im still waiting for my big break, the one that will catapult me into on-camera fame. I have been very fortunate, however. I came to L.A. in the early Eighties, (Im sure some of you reading this are going, I was born then!) anyway- I had a couple hundred dollars in my pocket, from selling my drum set, I didnt know anyone out here, but I knew that I was going to live here. As I said I was very lucky. I only had to do a straight job for a few months and then I got into a Rep Theatre company. There I met my wife, Ellyn Stern, and she introduced me to someone who was dubbing a film into English. They asked if I could do that, and being an actor, I said, sure. Well I got the lead and I really took to it. You can either dub or you cant, and generally musical people can (remember I said I was a drummer?). Anyway from there I did a ton of voice work and then one day a studio had a feature length cartoon that no one in town wanted to do. They asked me if I could do it, and being an actor, I said, sure. So I wrote and directed it and changed it completely and made it funny and it was a big hit called, Captain Schnauzer. The company that did that had a series called Swiss Family Robinson that wanted to do for the Family Channel, but they wanted me to do it, and being an actor, I said, sure. And it just continued on. The next film I did into English was Cinema Paradiso, the movie won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, and ever since then I have not stopped doing this work. I just finished 3 Academy nominated films, and I have 3 more to do before the end of January, which is next to impossible. Thats another thing, Ive got a reputation for not only doing these films well, but also fast.
CMcF: How did you branch out from the area you started in, to the other fields in which you have worked within the industry?
RE: See above. I still act on camera and on stage. As I said I do a lot of things that I feel are connected. The other cool thing is that DreamWorks, Universal Pictures and UIP have asked me to supervise foreign dubs of their films. So last year I spent 6 months in Europe. I was working on the German dub of Gladiator, and I also supervised the mix at Pinewood Studios in England (down your way I believe) and I did Chicken Run (the Hebrew, Norwegian, Polish version) Galaxy Quest (the German version) and El Dorado (the Norwegian version). I had a great time traveling all around.
CMcF: Through what events were you approached for the Digimon series? As I said above, it was not previously known that you had directed any episodes during the series when you were approached for the series, was it to actor direct? Whichever it was, how did you come to work in the other capacity on the show?
RE: On Digimon I was asked originally to direct. As I said before, I had done a lot of shows for Saban, and they asked me to do it-so I did. I left Digimon because of the DreamWorks projects. When I left I was replaced. When I returned, they had this character Myotismon that they thought I would be right for. Actually one of the jobs I did when I first got to town here was, I played Dracula at the Universal Studios Show Castle Dracula. So basically Myotismon is my Dracula without the accent. But he looks like Dracula, doesnt he? Then they asked me to do Etemon, which is really me doing Elvis. I had so much fun doing him and I got to sing - I was very sad when that character ended because I really loved doing him. Thats probably one of the most fun experiences Ive ever had behind the mike. The funny thing about him was when I was in Israel doing Chicken Run, they were dubbing Digimon into Hebrew. When they found out that I was Etemon, they went nuts.
CMcF: Youve only been identified as two characters Myotismon and Etemon (and their respective other forms) on Digimon. Of course, judging by the size of your credits list, youre a busy man, so I dont know that you could answer this question but if you can remember, have you done any other voices on the show previously?
RE: I have been in now and again to do various voices on the show. The only other one I remember doing is Apemon. And the only reason that I even remember doing him is because I did a promo for Fox television and they wanted Apemon. You have to remember that Im doing stuff all the time, like a lot of these guys, and after years of this stuff, a lot of it starts to blend together. There are characters that stick in your mind, like Myotismon and Etemon because they were so much fun, but as I said, you do a lot jobs, then you move on to the next one.
CMcF: Have you done any recording for the third, current season of the show?
RE: Yes I have been there several times to do some characters - unfortunately I cant remember who they are. Sorry.
CMcF: Now, as to the directing when did you direct for the show? You have never been credited as in any capacity in the show credits, so asking you is the only way to find this out.
RE: Yes as I said earlier, I basically co-directed most of the first season.
CMcF: Have you ever found your voice (or indeed, your face) recognized by anyone when out and about?
RE: Yes - sometimes people will say they recognize my voice. I was at Twentieth Century Fox and I was auditioning for a TV part and I asked directions from someone and the guy started rattling off my credits. It was kind of a shock. He also asked me for an autograph and it was a really nice thing. The other time was when I was on Days of Our Lives for a long time and people at the market recognized me. It was fun. I think its nice, when people want to let you know that they liked something you did.
CMcF: Would you say that you have been cast in - or obtained writing or directing work on other projects as a result of notoriety derived from previous high-profile work, or would you consider each project to be independent?
RE: It depends. Theres no question that sometimes working on one show will lead to another. Or that a contact that youve made somewhere, will lead to something else. The dubbing world is really pretty close knit. So those of us who work a lot are pretty well known to the people who do this a lot.
CMcF: Its my understanding that a lot of voice actors rarely watch the shows they work on. Does this hold true for you? If you do watch the shows, what are your opinions of them? As a writer and director, perhaps watching is not as necessary for you Jeff Nimoy previously described it as frustrating, as it can make you wish you had done things differently.
RE: Well, I can appreciate what Jeff means. Theres always going to be things that you wished you had done better or different. If I can see something that I worked on, sure I would like to see it. Generally Im too busy to watch something on TV. The films that I do, sometimes they give me a copy after weve finished and yes I will watch it. Saban did something really nice with Transformers, they gave us copies of the shows we wrote. They had never done that before, but its great, because now I can see them.
CMcF: Its fair to say that voice actors receive little appreciation for what they do, beyond cult and fan followings. What are your opinions on this? Do you like the anonymity that seems to go hand-in-hand with the job? Or does being on camera appeal to you more?
RE: Well, I like it all. I really enjoy doing voice work because youre not limited to what you look like. You can do all sorts of characters and that is really fun. But would I like a huge on-camera career? You bet!
CMcF: What advice do you have for those out there who aspire to be voice actors? How should they go about making their way into the industry?
RE: Well, I think that you have to move to L.A. True, some work is done in New York or Canada, but I still think the bulk of it is done here. If youre serious, you have to train. Take classes with reputable teachers, who are recognized by the industry. Make demo voice tapes and then pound the pavement. Meet as many people as you can and audition for everything that you can, and keep training and working towards your goal.
CMcF: Are there any individuals in the industry that you would like/hope to work with in the future?
RE: Voice wise Id like to work on 'The Simpsons because its so well written, and Actionman because Im right for the bad guys. There are several shows that Id like to do - as for individuals that Id like to work with, Id love to work with Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins, Id love to work with Sam Neill again, Clint Eastwood, Robert DeNiro, there are many more. I just want to work with good people who enjoy what they do, are professional, and are fun to work with.
CMcF: Are you friendly with any of the other voice actors on the shows you work on?
RE: Yes definitely. We all pretty much know each other. Most of them are wonderful people. I also know a lot of them because I direct and see them, where as when you only act, you dont always see the other actors.
CMcF: What do you do in your spare time? What hobbies or interests do you have?
RE: I still play my drums. Im in a band right now and when time permits, we get together and play and that is my therapy. I also like to work out - that is important to me. I collect James Bond stuff.
CMcF: What are you working on at the moment? What can we expect to see from you next?
RE: Right now Im working on the movie Iron Monkey. Its a great film, a lot of action. I have two more lined up right now and Universal called to see if Im available to go overseas again. Cartoon wise Im working on several cartoon shows including Mon Colle Knights and a very funny cartoon called Mummy Nanny for Bob Buchholz and Jeff Nimoy, its so much fun because theyre letting me do ten different voices, and the shows hilarious.
CMcF: Any final words youd like to impart to the fans?
RE: I would just like to say thank you to the fans. If they like something that I do, that makes me happy. I have a lot of fun working on Digimon and shows like it. Dont get me wrong its also a lot of hard work, but I really love it and Im really fortunate to be getting paid for something I love.
I wish you all a wonderful New Year, one that is peaceful, safe, healthy, prosperous and fun. All my best to all of you.
Check out Richard's website HERE.