In an interview by Fragged Nation (Daley), YongYea and Korrupt Ronin, Raiden voice actor Quinton Flynn talked about the Metal Gear franchise, Raiden and his hopes for the future of the series.
Quinton started his career with commercial and animation voice overs, and began voicing video games later. Aside from Metal Gear, his voice can be heard in games like Mass Effect 2 and No More Heroes.
He was asked what Metal Gear games he has played. “I’m not a gamer.” Quinton said. He lacks the skills. He did try to play MGS2 but didn’t succeed. He isn’t as familiar with the series as some of the other voice actors. “I know from what I’ve done and from what I’ve experienced, and yeah, certain moments do pop out for me.” But according to Quinton it’s a fact that the fans who play it and do research do know more about it than he does.
How did Quinton envision Raiden in the beginning?
“Well, I just had no idea to be quite honest. I really didn’t.” He got to see a picture and description of the character. Kris Zimmerman was the casting director, and they had worked together before, so together they looked for the right voice, Quinton auditioned and he got the role.
What are some notes Quinton has to keep in mind while playing Raiden?
The difference between ‘regular Raiden’ and ‘Jack the Ripper’, who sounds more grim and menacing. “It does take the guidance of Kris in directing me when we’ve done the series for me to get back into either space. Because oftentimes we do scenes out of order.” So during recording Kris would tell him to give her ‘clean / young Raiden’ or ‘more / less Jack’.
Daley asked: was it ever awkward in MGS2 to take over the lead from David Hayter?
Joking: “Not a problem for me. No, not at all. It was great, it was awesome. And it’s the way it should be, let’s be honest.” He continues in a more serious manner: “No, it was never a problem. In fact it was never discussed. It just wasn’t. You’re the first person to bring it up to me. […] No problems. I mean, David is a really well balanced individual. And just like anybody else, whatever our role is, we take it and we do the most with it that we can. And I’m sure he probably was even hip for the storyline before I was, and he has done a lot with that character. I would say probably more than I have done with Raiden. […] In Metal Gear Solid 2 David and I worked a lot together sitting alongside one another, following waveforms across the screen, dialogue. Back then we weren’t chasing pictures.”
When MGS2 first came out, Raiden got a lot of flak. What were Quinton’s thoughts about that at the time?
“Well, I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t understand it. I didn’t.” He was quoted in an interview saying: I wasn’t aware that there was a problem, all I’m aware of is that there’s a for and against. “So it didn’t hit me on a personal level because as you know, even back than there was no virtual world like this.” Also, in his community around him there wasn’t anyone who came up to him to tell him he loved Snake and hated Raiden. “So I wasn’t bothered by it, I just didn’t understand it. Eventually I did, because what happened is, you know, Hideo Kojima was pretty clever in that he created a story and he created a character that was to be a surprise.” But he probably didn’t see the backlash coming. Even if some of the audience ends up never liking the character. “[…] That’s okay, because the best press is any press, good or bad. So as long as you’re talking…” A bit later in the interview he added: “People in general don’t like change, and the knee-jerk reaction […] usually comes from fear and anger. […] As opposed to pausing and going: alright, why don’t I try this, something new? Let’s just see how it tastes.”
The final moments of MGS2 are particularly memorable, as the ‘colonel’ AI is going crazy and starts giving Raiden incomprehensible messages. How closely did Quinton work with Paul Eiding (the colonel’s voice actor) here?
“I remember mostly about Metal Gear Solid 2 is I did get to work with pretty much everybody that I interacted with in the game.” For later installments the recording was mostly done separately, except for scenes with dense dialogue such as ones with Vamp and Raiden in MGS4. “But yeah, Paul and I worked together and some of the stuff he said to me was hilarious, it was brilliant. You know, and it was wacky, and it was nutty, and all kinds of shit’s going down. […] I just went with the flow. […] I read what was on the page, they told me what to do, they explained the situation, and then I went with it, you know? It’s all about playing. It really is. And yeah, we had a great time.”
Quinton: “I guess [Raiden] was excited about that, and who wouldn’t be?”
On the subject of Raiden’s famous ‘naked cartwheels’, Quinton said: “Well, it is funny, and when you’re young, it’s weird. It’s like it doesn’t make any sense. In fact, as an adult, I wonder: what was Hideo thinking?” (For our thoughts on what Raiden’s nudeness may signify within the story of the game, you can visit this article) Quinton added that there hasn’t been a moment in his life where he had to do a naked cartwheels, but if he had the skills and the ability he might choose to do them anyway.
Raiden has changed quite a bit throughout the games, how did Quinton approach that?
“I had to re-audition for the role.” This was to show the team that he was able to give them the changes that they needed for the character. “So again, it came down to: where is this guy today? What does he sound like? You know, what has happened? […] He’s gone through hell and back, and he’s a world-weary, war-torn cyborg ninja. So that had to apply, not only in my acting, but it was their choice to drop the voice, it wasn’t mine. I was quite happy to do it, because I love changing voices, that’s what we do as voice actors. […] And than the fact that there’ was this duplicitous nature was even better, […] it’s almost like getting two characters in one.”
Does the feedback on Raiden in MGS2 have anything to do with the change in voice?
“That I wouldn’t know, quite honestly. […] It’s a good question. You’d have to ask Hideo Kojima, I don’t think he speaks English. […] Quite honestly I don’t know, they didn’t tell me, and it wasn’t for me to… it was almost like being a part of a secret organization or the FBI or the CIA, on a need-to-know basis. […] Kinda like at the end of MGS4 where Rose shows up with Raiden’s son. It’s like, I didn’t see that coming, I had no idea.”
Yong: How do you think Raiden dealt with Snake’s death after the events of MGS4?
“Depending on how much humanity he has, it depends on how he would be affected. I’m sure it would be devastating, as a loss is to anybody, but I’m sure also that he would take along what he learned from Snake with him, and try, as we do when we learn from others, try to take the best bits, and then carry on. And then I would say that sometimes there would be reminders for him in his life of Snake, through others.” These would remind Raiden to do the right thing. So Quinton thinks Snake’s death would be a life lesson for Raiden, as it is for anyone who loses someone. “You can’t live and not react, and not be affected. And I think for him, it probably would turn into a greater conviction. Certainly he would have anger about it, he would act out, as many people do, myself included, when you’re in a hurt place. And then he would find a balance, when somebody speaks reasonably to him and maybe to his more rational self.”
Yong: Which Raiden do you prefer voicing (young MGS2 / cyborg MGS4 / Jack the Ripper)?
“I think Revengeance is what I dig the most, that blend of Raiden. I think it’s a delicious blend, I think we should be able to buy it at Starbucks or any coffee house. […] I do love Raiden, and I love playing that role. […] I would say, probably of all my characters, he is my favorite, next to Spiderman. Because I’ve gotten to do so much as an actor. I’ve gotten to cover the full range of emotions and spectrum that I have as an artist. And I was honored by BTVA [Behind The Voice Actors], in getting ‘best male performance in a lead role in a video game’ for Metal Gear Rising Revengeance as Raiden. I got a BTVA award. So that’s pretty amazing, you know. That’s the first honor that I’ve received as an actor, and to get it for that says a lot. Especially because at that time I was going through a difficult time in my life personally, and I remember thinking: am I going to be able to carry this off professionally? Am I going to be able to do the best work that I need to do? And it turns out: yeah, apparently.”
Quinton said he was very surprised to learn that David Hayter wouldn’t be voicing Snake in Metal Gear Solid V. As many will remember, initially there was a petition going around to bring Hayter back. “Not only did I sign, I wrote a letter of support to David. […] Because he’s brilliant.” Quinton said. “He’s a good friend, I love him, and he deserved the role. He originated it. […] So yeah, I supported that. And then, whatever decisions were made, as we know in any kind of business, there is more to this story that we don’t know. So it had to be some kind of a business decision. Why, I don’t know. I don’t know that I’ll ever know. And only David knows, Hideo knows. They probably know more than Kiefer knows. I think he got the job and I’m sure he was happy to do it. I’ve not heard what he has done at all. I don’t have any inside [information]. He’s Kiefer Sutherland, so I can imagine what it will sound like. I’m sure it’ll be fine, but hm… whatever.” Quinton asks the hosts about their thoughts on it. Yong explains they chose Kiefer because of the facial capture. Quinton: “And I’m going to contradict you on that, [because] David is an actor. And trust me, acting is acting is acting, don’t let anybody tell you anything different. When you’re acting with voice, you know, you have a certain set of skills. […] So there’s that, there’s acting for the stage, which is big, there’s acting for tv, which is smaller, there’s acting for film which is less […] And David could have done it just […] is capable of a job, I’m telling you. I believe it’s a business decision that has to do with commerce more than anything else. Because ultimately it’s not going to be Kiefer’s face.” It’s not that Quinton doesn’t like Kiefer. “Everything I’ve gotten from Kiefer as far as an actor and interviews I’ve seen, he just seems like a stand-up guy, genuine guy. So I’m sure he’s going to do quite a capable performance. I don’t have any problem with him.” He added that actors being replaced is ‘just a part of the game’ in the business.
Ronin: What is it about the series as a whole that keeps you reprising your role as Raiden?
“I love the role. I’m happy to do it anytime. Create an animated series, I’ll do it. I’ll do 48 episodes in a season. I’ll do a 120 in a season. I’ll do as many as you like because I love this character. […] So it’s up to them though, because they go to create it. And I’m just waiting. You know, after we did Rising Revengeance, I said to one of the creators who is a writer/producer: any thoughts on the sequel? ‘Yeah, yeah, we do, we have some thoughts on the sequel.’ I said: Any thoughts of when it might be? Now we recorded [in] 2012 if I’m not mistaken, and I thought he said ‘maybe a couple of years’. So, I had assumed, incorrectly, that we might be recording in 2014, and that didn’t happen. And then I thought: well, certainly they’re developing things. […] And then I found out the information not long ago about Hideo Kojima and Konami and that split, and then I went ‘oh noooo!'”
Quinton’s reaction to the news of Kojima supposedly leaving Konami
“But I do wonder, and I guess it’s because I’m hopeful, that maybe… because I don’t know anything about the rights, I don’t know if Konami owns the rights and they’re like ‘it’s done, you can’t have it, you’ll never do it’ or ‘we have the rights, and we’re going to do it with somebody else’, or Kojima has worked a deal where he can go on to do it somewhere else with someone else. So these are questions I have, and I hope that they will do it again.” Yong explains that Konami will continue the series and are already hiring new talent.
Daley asks about Quinton’s opinion on this situation. Would he return as Raiden without Kojima?
“I find it unfortunate like anything, you know, it’s a breakup. Who wants mommy and daddy to divorce? No-one. […] You know, it’s a drag. And again, I’m only a child, they’re not letting me know what the real story is. When I grow up someday, maybe I’ll be able to find the papers. So there’s that. I don’t know anything about it to be able to comment on it. And as far as Konami going on without him and should they like to hire me to reprise the role, absolutely I’ll do it.” Daley says he wouldn’t want the series to die because of this situation. Quinton: “And I would hope that whatever Hideo goes on to produce in the future, that when it’s brought over to America for us to do, that I might be right for a different kind of role. […] You know, because hopefully he has interest in…” Daley interrupts to ask if Quinton got to work with Kojima a lot. “I didn’t get to work with him at all. […] I never met the man. But I was just going to say, I’m hoping he has an interest in the English speaking produced games, and likes what we’ve done, and I hope he likes what I’ve done as an actor, so that’s why I’m saying: should he have any say in the future, it would be great to able to work for him on a different project. And as far as Raiden goes and the Metal Gear series, to me it’s just like the James Bond series, or Sherlock Holmes. You know, it’s a character, it’s a story that I think needs to continue, it needs to be developed, and if that means bringing in additional people, hopefully they’ll honor the character, the story, and continue it forward in such a way that everybody gets excited. Like today’s Daniel Craig’s James Bond. Amazing to me. And BBC’s Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, is amazing, in the same way that as a young boy I was amazed by Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes. […]”
So, in conclusion, it does seem from the interview that a sequel to Metal Gear Rising was being considered (Kojima expressed interest as well shortly before the launch of the first game), but the presumed break up between Kojima and Konami may have thrown a wrench into the plans. Of course Konami could always continue with the franchise when they want, but as of now, the future of Metal Gear remains uncertain.
To watch the entire interview follow the link in the source section.