Paul Eiding’s voice can be heard in many videogames – from an elderly robot in Ratchet & Clank Future, to a cowardly mayor in Diablo III, to Theseus in God of War II. But Metal Gear fans will probably all associate his recognizable voice with Colonel Roy Campbell. Some of the most iconic quotes in the series are uttered by Eiding, including ‘I need scissors, 61’ and of course ‘Snake? Snake! Snaaaaake!’ (Paul Eiding: “I can’t tell you how many phone rings it is now.”). Fragged Nation, Korrupt Ronin and YongYea conducted an hour long interview with the actor, in which he shared some pretty interesting or funny anecdotes.
Roy Campbell in Metal Gear Solid 4
Paul Eiding started his voice over career doing narration for training videos, as well as on-camera work for commercials. He played a variety of roles and was even cast to voice an olive. Later he did a play where he played an African man servant, a cockney soldier and a five year old girl (wearing pig tails and a skirt). Because of his versatility he was casted for Hanna-Barbera (a successful American cartoon studio), and it went of from there. He then met Kris Zimmerman, who would later of course do the voice direction for Metal Gear Solid. When she was casting for the game, she called Paul Eiding in.
During the course of the interview, Paul emphasized on the important role Kris Zimmerman played in the whole process of providing the English voices to the characters. “This is my understanding. Konami had hired someone else to do the casting, and hired Kris to direct. But they saw a ton of people. […] And then Kris said: well listen, let me bring in a some people. […] Well, 29 of the 30 roles that were cast were people that Kris brought in. Because Kris knows her stuff.” Paul said his daughter is also doing voice work, and has worked with Kris on a videogame as well.
According to Paul, this was one of Kris’ directorial instructions
Paul was asked which of the games in the Metal Gear series he has played. “I have not played all the games. I have not finished a game, I’ve attempted [laughing].” Paul concluded saying he sucks at it. “I love the lore as much as I know of it. […] I’ve gone on and watched lots of cutscenes (not just my stuff), because it’s so rich! And the man [Kojima] so fricking bright! Our view of the world is very similar, I agree with a lot of what he’s putting out there. So I really appreciate it on that level as well.”
How did he prepare for playing a military role? “I was a sergeant in the military. And I was in charge of a group of guys. And it was really hard because I was one of the youngest ones in the group, but I was the leader of the group.” Metal Gear meant a turning point for his career. “Up until that time, most of the things that I got cast on vocally were more cartoony, more over-the-top […] So it was really cool to get into a character that was actually closer to my real voice.” [At this point Paul imitates his growly Campbell voice, joking that this is how he sounds in the morning]. “And since then, because of Metal Gear, so many of the thing I get offered are down there, in that range.”
While the colonel orders Snake around in the games, in the real world it’s the other way around. “I suck up to David [Hayter]. Listen, he’s a writer / producer! Are you kidding me? I’m still begging him to put me in one of his movies. […] David is one of those guys that I will do anything for. He’s a class act. […] He’s a winner, he really is. I wish him nothing but huge success. And he’s doing okay!”
Is there any other Metal Gear character he’d like to play? “Meryl.” he said, laughing, but added on a more serious note: “Who else is there but Snake?”
“[When playing the role] I think about all the things that are going on inside Campbell, and his relationship with Snake. I’ve never had a relationship with another man like that. I’ve had friendships, but no one that I would put out there on the line, knowing that his life may be forfeit, but caring about the guy. That’s some heavy duty stuff. So there’s a responsibility there, and there’s a power that he has, that father figure. I have daughters, and I wanted to think of him as a surrogate son, you know what I mean? In a way. So there are all kinds of things happening that way. The great thing about Metal Gear (the original) is that we got to work together. I think that was brilliant on Kris Zimmerman’s part, to bring us in together. […] That really created that bond.” He talked about the passion people in this business can share. “Very quickly the passion for Metal Gear came to us. Because it was so well written, and so well directed.”
Further into the interview he talked about recording the first Metal Gear Solid game. Garbage trucks would pass by the house where they were recording and they would have to stop and wait. “It was horrible, but at the same time [going back to the days he was doing improv] it was extremely exciting because it was so creative. And that’s when I felt, being in that studio, in that funky little house with David and Kris, that we knew that what we were doing was something special.” He continues to talk about how impressed he is with the technical advancements in the game industry, including facial capture and mocap. “When you see some of the stuff that is done nowadays and how it’s done, I don’t see how anybody could be jaded by it. […] It all blows me away, it really does. I’m so excited to be working in an industry in this time.”
“I’m so thrilled all people have finally realized that videogames ain’t ‘Donkey Kong’ anymore. […] There are still people today who don’t really get into them, that don’t really think of them as being anything more than a game. […] There’s more to learn from a well written game than there is from a lot of feature films out there.” He added that he would put most games above tv nowadays as well.
Paul has also done voice work for some of the Syphon Filter games, and while he likes them, Metal Gear is still more special to him. “Metal Gear has a special place in my heart.”
On the Young Campbell from Portable Ops (who isn’t voiced by Paul): “I think he’s pretty hot.”
Paul said he was ‘overjoyed’ when he could return for MGS4, because it’s never certain wether this will happen. “People ask me if I’m upset about not being in V, it’s like: no. It is what it is. […] You never know, I never take anything for granted, and I’m always overjoyed when the phone rings, when someone invites me to come play. […] Any time you got a chance to bring a character back which you’ve done… as far as I’m concerned there’s nothing better. The way he [Kojima] writes, the way he creates his characters and the interplay, you never know what’s coming next. You think you understand where something is going, but he always gets you in some way […] I love that stuff. […] There’s been very few characters that I have done that have meant as much to me as Campbell. […] He’s the guy I want to be! […] And something that means something to people? Oh man, thank you! Seriously, I mean, that’s what it’s all about. […] You guys and everybody, the fans that love this game, and I’m get to be a small part of it – are you kidding me?”
How does he think Campbell dealt with Snake’s death after MGS4? Paul answered, jokingly: “They probably shared a latte… No, I’m sorry.” He then told about a fan (Andrew McDonald) who wrote his own ending and asked him for some Colonel recordings. You can check out the videos here. He does feel Campbell wouldn’t let Snake just die alone. “He’s hurting. There is some pain from what he had done. And guilt.”
Somewhat related are his thoughts about colonel lying to Snake. Did he ever think Campbell went too far? Paul gave a pretty deep answer to this question: “Having been in the military, and knowing what one has to do, you let go of part of your soul when you do that sort of thing. But if you truly believe it’s for the greater good, you’re willing to sacrifice that. But you have to live with the consequences of that. Wether anyone knows that you’ve done that, you know. And there were those moments, where I said: oh my god, do I really care about this man, or not? And I decided that yeah, I did. And Kris and I have talked about it, and it’s one of those situations where if I truly believed it was for the greater good, then you have to do it. But if you do, there are consequences. More to your soul than to, you know, any outward sort of condemnation you would get from anybody else who knows. And if you don’t truly believe it was for the greater good… you have to believe that, because if you don’t really believe that, than you have really sold yourself out. And you sold out a true friend.”
One of the most memorable moments in the series is when the AI goes crazy towards the end of Metal Gear Solid 2. So how did the recordings for these lines go? “Kris did a wonderful thing. She held all that stuff off to the very end. We did everything, and then at the end of the session, she gave me these two pages of dialogue of just me saying all these crazy things. And I said: what does it mean?, and she said: don’t worry about it.” They didn’t want to tell Paul what it was all about yet. “And that’s where I met the man, that’s where I met the brains behind it all [Kojima]. I didn’t meet him on [MGS]1, but he was there for [MGS2].” Kojima gave Paul a signed sheet, now one of his prized possessions.
Did Paul improvise any of the lines? “I’m sure there was some stuff, but most of the time, because it’s so tight and so well written that I wish I could take credit for a lot of it, but no, it was on the page. And my job was to make it sound like it wasn’t on the page. That’s the actors job, to make it sound like it’s coming out of you and not from a writer.”
Paul was asked to describe Kojima. “He didn’t do any directing. If he did it, he did it through Kris.” [Paul explained Kris was always the one giving the directions to the actors, so they don’t get bombarded with different people’s instructions] “I’m sure he was giving suggestions, but I just remember him smiling a lot. And when he smiled, that meant I was doing something right. And listen, I don’t mind telling you that I was nervous. I wanted to give the man what he wanted, because I have such respect for his mind. And it also pissed me off, because he looks so damn young! […] How are you this smart? This is not fair! Yeah, it was pretty cool.”
Paul said he was really bummed he missed Kojima at Comic-Con a few years back, especially since he won’t be at the Konami booth this year (because of the current situation). “Don’t get me started on that.”
Has he seen Metal Gear Solid V (as he isn’t in it)? “You know what? I’ve not. I’ve stayed away.” Paul admitted. “All I can say is this […]: Kris said people are going to be surprised. Not about the game, she can’t talk about the game at all.” She talked to him about working with Kiefer Sutherland: “She had no idea what it was going to be like. But she said: all I can tell you is that he is a dream to work with. Said he’s been really receptive, because she knows the game better than he does. She said he’s just been wonderful.”
Paul’s parting words to the fans: “Without you we are nothing. […] Nothing that I do can live without people being involved: listening, playing the games, caring about them. And I just feel blessed that I get to be involved with some really good things that people give a crap about. […] I really, truly appreciate every fan out there, and that’s the absolute truth.”
To watch the interview yourself – and if you have an hour to spare you should, because Paul is really entertaining – follow the link at the bottom.
Source: Yong, Paul Eiding Twitter