Hey guys! A few weeks ago I got the shock of a lifetime when I found out that K Harrison Sweeney not only read but commented on one of my blog posts. After I found out we talked for a while and I asked him if I could ask him some questions. He graciously said yes (imagine my surprise and excitement) and here it is! So grab a drink and get to know the VERY cool and VERY funny K Harrison Sweeney!
Here you go. Sorry it took so long.
It's my pleasure to interact with the fans. We had no idea RDR would be this big.
1. Why wasn't Irish in Undead Nightmare?
Mr. Irish's BAC is so high that he's impervious to the Zombie curse, which would have made everybody want to play as him instead of Marston. But that damn Rob Wiethoff sandbagged me in a fit of a professional jealousy rage over this, and RockStar sided with him.
Actually, I had booked another gig while RockStar was shooting "Undead Nightmare." Believe me, I would have loved to have been in that game. For a man of the West like me who loves the zombie metaphor, that extension to RDR is epic.
2. Are you yourself a gamer? If so what's your favorite video game?
I'm admittedly not much of a gamer myself. With the exception of "Red Dead Redemption," I only ever play Star Wars games. I played a little bit of "Halo" and "Halo 2" with my friends when I first moved to LA, but they'd hate playing with me because I've got "two left thumbs."
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic I & II, on the other hand... if either of those two games are in my house while I've got nothing to do, I won't see the sun or a shower for a week. I'm pretty big on Star Wars Battlefront I & II as well. I've always been a Star Wars nerd. Though when it comes to Episodes I-III, I thank God for the advent of DVD so I can skip through all the Hayden Christensen/Natalie Portman scenes. I'm very old school Star Wars. My idea of true romance is a rebelious princess who falls for a space pirate whose got a walking carpet as his co-pilot.
Long story short, I should play a leprechaun Jedi in the next Star Wars production.
3. How did you get the part?
I got the role by going to an audition that my agent had sent me on. Veronica knew my forte is dialects and movement, so she submitted me on a call for an interactive game set in the Old West. My particular audition called for an Irishman. The casting associates were somewhat stressed out at the time, telling us in the waiting room that the producers were British so if we weren't from Ireland or Wales, don't bother. A few of the other actors there for the audition got psyched out by this, but I have five different Irish dialects to call up on a moment's notice. You want a bloke from County Kerry? Boom, I'm from County Kerry. You want a Mick from Ballycastle? Clank, I'm from Ballycastle.
They had us walk from one wall to the other to see how we moved, then had us improv some dialogue with the casting associate who was running the camera. I bullshitted about growing up in Ballycastle and moving to America for college.
4. What was it like working with RockStar?
RockStar's great to work with. Rod Edge, who's also directed a few of the Grand Theft Auto games, is one of the more fun directors to work with out there. He's a Brit himself, so he and the producers were a bit taken aback when I first revealed that I was American.
But since I'd found out that this was being done by RockStar, I did everything to bring my A-Game. Acting is a crapshoot, with little to no job security. Just because you get cast in something, that doesn't mean you're going to work regularly forever. Fortunately, as fun as Rod & the gang are, they are first and foremost pros who never settle for any scene just being "OK." Rod made sure everything was either as tough as nails or funny as shit. And he was open to the programmers who would come up with something last minute too. Anything to ensure the game on the whole as kickass as possible.
There were quite a few times they'd keep some of my adlibs, like checking the horses' balls... or in the Shaky end scene when Irish makes fun of Shaky by stuttering and walks off saying, "Oh, my Virgin ears." Rod tweaked an improv of mine after Marston roughs me up for trying to rob some nuns, so when you hear me walk off in pain and say, "Mether Fecking Mary," that's Mr. Edge's funny bone of perfectionism.
The writers themselves came up with some of the funniest lines I've ever been given. When we did our last voiceover session in NYC, there were times when I had to catch my breath because I was laughing so hard at some of the shit they wanted me to say.
5. Do you play multiplayer and if you do what character do you play as?
Like I said, I don't play games much... but if I were to play multiplayer, I'd most likely stick with Marston. I feel warm and safe in his arms. His voice makes me coo like a wee baby.
6. What do you like most about the character Irish?
Honestly, my favorite thing about having played Irish is that I'll walk up to bands who are getting ready to take a break from the stage back home in Wyoming... they'll look at me like I'm on crackrocks, and I'll say, "Who here plays video games?"
They'll say, "Yeah..."
"Who's played 'Red Dead Redemption'?"
"Dude that's my favorite fucking game of all time!"
So I'll do the Irish voice and say, "Yeah, well I played Mr. Irish and I wanna sing "Friends in Low Places" with y'all!"
They end up whoopin' & hollerin', I have a few beers with them, and I sing some country songs with them. When they'd tell anybody else who wanted to sing a song with them to get the fuck off the stage.
Since I grew up in Wyoming, "Red Dead Redemption" is perfect as one of the things that has put me on the Industry Radar. Grand Theft Auto set in the Old West? Fuggitaboutit!!! RockStar went above and beyond-- not just with their stories and characters in this game-- but even just seeing the shadow on the ground of the hawk flying above... the details that RockStar programmers went through to accomplish the reality of the Old West is mother's milk to me. I grew up in a small town of 5,000 people with 6 stoplights in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. It just made sense for an outlaw like me to be in it.
As far as I'm concerned, RDR is not just a video game. It's interactive cinema. Guess that's why it's been named Game of the Year.
7. What's your favorite Irish mission?
Honestly, I'm a big fan of the first mission. Here's why.
For starters, we of course only get our lines for our particular scenes. RockStar, like any other epic franchise, makes sure to keep all aspects of the production as tight-lipped as possible. So after shooting for a few days in January of 2009, they brought me back for some more missions that following June. Then we did voiceover sessions in a booth that following October which essentially covered all of the programmed stuff like walking around or riding drunk on that horse.
Point being, with very little knowledge of the plotline and huge spreads of time between each shoot date, by the time I first played the game I'd completely misconnected the fact that Irish's first mission sends you on a goose chase. I mean, I knew Irish was a cowardly bastard, but I laughed my ass off when I found out that I sent you to kill some people... and when you try to find me for the next part of the mission, I'm on the completely other side of the map! That was genius.
When I found that out while playing for the first time, I literally shouted out, "Way to go, RockStar!" I mean, I acted in the thing and it surprised ME!
8. What is your favorite western and why?
"Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid" is my favorite Western of all time. Written by William Goldman, who won an Oscar for it before writing "The Princess Bride," it stands the test of time. Newman and Redford in their hay days as two of the most notorious criminals... Butch Cassidy is huge in Wyoming since that's where his "Hole in the Wall" gang was based.
Great story about Butch... the Wyoming Territorial Prison, where I've worked during college and shot a certain amount of my short film this summer, is the only place that ever held Butch Cassidy without him breaking out. But he was released because the cattle barons whose ranches he'd work on between robberies... they all lobbied together to have him let out of jail! Talk about your lovable outlaws...
Plus, it's got one of my favorite lines of all time from when Butch & Sundance are being chased by Pinkertons... they've ditched their horses and are on a cliff. Sundance wants to fight it out with the Pinkertons, but Butch keeps pressing them to jump into the white water rapids below. When Sudance finally shouts, "because I can't swim!", Butch laughs and says, "Can't swim?!? Why hell, the fall alone will probably kill ya!"
9. Are you friends with the other voice actors?
As far as the rest of the cast is concerned, we all had so much fun working together that I've ended up writing roles for a good amount of them in my upcoming Redneck Zombie Romantic Comedy I'm producing next Fall of 2012.
I love Rob Wiethoff... I've crashed on his couch many a time. I've been reading gamers' comments on Rob's headshot, saying he's a pretty boy. Far from it. That tattooed SOB could kick your ass seven ways from Sunday in a bar brawl. And leave enough of you left over for his two pit bulls to feed on. I've written the lead role as my brother for him in my film.
Steve J. Palmer has been helping me with the publicity on our film. Brad Carter and I talk somewhat regularly, both of us dabbling in stand-up. We've been talking with Anthony DeLongis, Joe Ochman, and Frank Noon about possibly being in "From the Trailer to the Grave" as well. All of us are pretty much constantly working.
Outlaws to the end.
10. Are you really of Irish descent?
Whenever people see my red lamb chops and ask in person if I'm Irish, I'll tell them "Actually, I'm full-blooded Aborigine." It's downright silly to ask a man who looks like I look whether or not I'm Irish or Scottish. It's like asking Hugh Hefner if he likes naked women.
Having said that, I'm honestly more German/Scandinavian. 8D
11. What other accents can you do?
I can do every single accent you can think of. I don't know if it's from trying to be like Mel Blanc while watching all his Bugs Bunny cartoons as a kid or what, but once I hear any dialect, I can parrot it and make it my own. Some people can play a song on any instrument after immediately hearing it. Others can sing right away. I hear voices and reproduce them. Believe me, I've prayed for more useful skills like car mechanics or architecture know-how. God gave me a set of ears and a mouth that can mimic stuff.
Most of my more recognizable work has come from doing accents. In my "GPS" commercial for Foster's Beer, I'm doing an unintelligible Australian accent. I appeared in TNT's "Rizzoli & Isles" this summer as redneck rv camper. I've got a few one-on-one scenes with Eddie Murphy in Paramount's upcoming "A Thousand Words" where I play an mostly naked British man.
The RockStar producers heard me playing around with different voices on the set between takes, so there were a few days when I played other random characters that they had forgotten to cast. I forget who all I played... just a few random one-liners... but I do remember doing a Mexican colonel because Rob wouldn't stop laughing after my lines; every voice I do has a particular body posture and face that goes with it, and I guess the one I did for that Mexican colonel made Rob laugh so much that Rod had to tell him to settle down. Rob defended himself, "I can't look him in the face when he's doing that voice, man!"
Indeed, the only way we were able to finish that scene was when Rob looked just over my right shoulder while I said those lines.
12. What are your thoughts on doing voice overs for animated films v.s. video games?
My thoughts on animated films v. video games? Apples & oranges. Just please keep growing apple and orange groves!
It's a great time to be an actor, what with all the cinematic video games and multitudes of cartoons out there these days. "Avatar" really paved the way for making MoCap (Motion Capture) acting more of a mainstream career for those of us who can do it.
I love to work. Make as many cartoons and video games as possible so you can hire me.
13. What modern voice actors are you a fan of?
Andy Serkis has quickly become a legend and personal hero of mine. Mel Blanc sewed the seeds for my love of doing voices. I still watch those Looney Toons when I've got time. I was quoting Bugs Bunny saying things like, "He's trying to slip me a Mickey!" to the audience... before I even knew what a Mickey was.
Going through college, the voiceover actors for the Simpsons, Futurama, and Family Guy were my gods. Dan Castellaneta, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Tress McNielle, Billy West, John Di Maggio, Seth McFarlane... those cats are the hall of fame of VO acting. I've recently become acquainted with Ken Hudson Campbell, who does voiceovers for just about everything. I grew up watching Ken... he was in one of Fox TV's first shows, "Herman's Head," played the Santa Claus in "Home Alone," the guy Bill Murray first runs into every day in "Groundhog Day," "Armageddon"... the list goes on. So it's very surreal for me to be doing shows with him and having him in my Fantasy Football league. Ken's a fellow Chicago Bears maniac, so I'm okay with him winning my league.
But Andy Serkis... having played both Gollum and Smeagol in the same epic films, and then going on to provide both the MoCap for Kong in "King Kong" as well as a live-action role, and then recently providing the MoCap for Caesar in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"... that man is king right now. He's a consummate artist. Most of my training and experience is in Arena Theatre, which has an audience on every side of the stage. There are no walls. MoCap takes me back to this primal level of acting; you have to picture all of the details of where you are and be able to translate that to the audience. It's a very organic way of storytelling.
As much as I love people being able to see my beautiful face, I love even more being able to put on a skin-tight suit covered with reflective balls and providing the MoCap for some creature that I can't be in everyday life. I could die a very happy man if I could have a career like Andy Serkis'. I can't thank RockStar Games enough for giving me my first crack at it.
14. What are your thoughts on the controversy about Irish's character? (If you don't know about it a news outlet wasn't too happy about him being the "stereotype of the drunken paddy")
I think anybody concerned with the drunken Irish stereotype should relax. It's FICTION, people. While investigating Kickstarter as a fundraising resource for my film's publicity campaign, I saw a project on there where people were trying to raise money for a new edition of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" where the N-word is replaced by "Robot." So Huck travels around with Robot Jim. It's hilarious.
Anybody who throws a thrombo over Mr. Irish being a negative stereotype obviously doesn't get enough lovin' in a day. My advice? Bring the object of your affection some flowers, put the Allman Brothers' "Whipping Post" on the record player, make sweet sweet monkey jungle love, and take a nap.
When you wake up, make yourself a bowl of Captain Crunch and a White Russian. If your asshole still hasn't relaxed after all of that, smoke a bowl. Then play "Red Dead Redemption" and laugh your ass off while being a part of a story that gives William Goldman a run for his money.
I'd like to thank K Harrison Sweeney for this awesome opporunity! It was great meeting and talking with you!