October 2017 interview with Ray Chase

Interviewers: Glenn H. Morrow, lithiumkatana17, Tennyo

Interview conducted on October 27, 2017 at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort in St. Augustine, Florida

[Note: The following interview has been edited for flow and occasional removal of private details]

– The Lifestream: Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with us, especially with how tired you are.

Ray Chase: No problem. I’m glad we were able to make it happen.

– The Lifestream: We apologize for taking you back to this dark period, but during the time when Noctis’s voice needed to be retooled following the initial release of “Episode Duscae,” was there a particular line or mindset that helped you discover the Noctis that was inside you all along?

Ray: So, in April of 2015, we were told to change the voice actor, and [FFXV voice director] Keythe [Farley] and [recording studio] Rocket Sound said, “Ray can change his voice up, it’s totally fine.” Tabata listened to my reel — I made a reel, and it was all made-up things — and one of them happened to be a prince who said something like “I’m just a prince.” Some sort of line that just happened to be about a prince. He said, “That’s what I want to hear. Do more of that.”

He liked something about it, so we recorded an aggro version, an emotional version, a neutral version, presented that to him, and then he gave us the blessing to continue, and we re-recorded all the “Episode Duscae” stuff.

– The Lifestream: Was there ever a point where someone from the localization team came to you guys and said any significant portions of already recorded material would need to be redone?

Ray: The head of the localization staff, Dan Inoue, was with us the whole time — every single session — so by the time it got to us to record, we had already gone through the Japanese recording and timed it out, so we already knew that it was going to be fine. Only certain cutscenes if they were rewritten would we have to do over again. The scene where Noctis is on the throne at the end — “Kings of Lucis…come to me!” — we had done it where he was crying, and then we took it out, so we did another take where he was a little more resolved.

That was the only time we ever really did a cutscene over again.

– The Lifestream: When you were recording, obviously you didn’t know all of what was going to be mandatory dialogue and what would be relegated to optional content. Did anything surprise you?

Ray: While we were recording, we had no idea what was going to be the catchphrases, and I would always joke “That’s the new catchphrase.” We had no idea what was going to be played. Like “Cake, baby” was just one of those things that was played a lot, and all it was was a line — “Piece of cake, baby” — that we tried to shorten to fit the Japanese. So a meme was born.

– The Lifestream: How fun was it doing the “Assassin’s Festival”? What was your reaction when you heard this crossover with the “Assassin’s Creed” series was happening?

Ray: [laughs] I couldn’t believe that there was a crossover between these two. It was so unbelievable to me that they could actually pull that sort of thing off. We saw how lore-friendly it was, how much fun the developers were having making it, and it was really, really fun.

We got to see a sillier side of our characters than we normally saw in the game. Even more so because we got to see Gladio macking on girls and stuff like that — Ignis with his nipples — so it was great.

– The Lifestream: In a reddit AMA you did last year you mentioned that you were genuinely emotional while filming the last campfire scene because it came at the end of the recording process, but you also really nailed the emotions when Noctis is crying in that new scene added to Chapter 12 at the end of September this year — you do have a genuine gift for emoting believable grief. Revisiting that now, would you say that comes from somewhere or do you just feel that you’ve had time to sharpen your skill as an actor?

Ray: I can do emotional for about an hour and a half, then I’m done.

The campfire scene was a big one because it was one of our last scenes we had done. Saying goodbye to my bros was also saying goodbye to the people on the other side of the glass who I worked with and who had given me a career, so it was hard to get through, but doing emotions is something I’m totally comfortable with as a voice actor for a lot of my anime work, of course — even sustained crying.

I did work for “Anohana.” It was an hour and a half of just crying through the session, doing take after take after take — but it’s fun. I like those sessions.

– The Lifestream: We know the voicework for FFXV started in October of 2015, well before your work on other titles such as “NieR: Automata,” but with the various DLC that has come out, there certainly must have been some overlap in your scheduling here and there. Was it hard for you to master such different roles simultaneously?

Ray: Not really. It was like going to different parties with different people in a way, because they were recorded in different places with different people. A “Kingdom Hearts” recording session, for example, is very different from a “Final Fantasy” recording session.

– The Lifestream: For the Master of Masters from the “Kingdom Hearts” series, you use your normal voice. Was that what you auditioned with or was this a later choice from the director?

Ray: That was just the voice I used in the audition. It runs kind of counterintuitively to what you’d expect from someone in a dark hood.

– The Lifestream: Having already voiced Edgar from FFVI in addition to Noctis, what other character from a past “Final Fantasy” would you be particularly excited to do the voice for?

Ray: Oh, man, there’s a lot. There’s a lot of good, fun characters from the franchise. It’s weird, because a lot of them are voiced now, so you wouldn’t want to say, “Oh, I’d want to do that,” because now they do have a voice, like Squall or someone like that. Someone unvoiced, I would love to do Steiner.

(affecting a gruff yet comical voice) “Steiner from ‘Final Fantasy IX’. Someone like this.”

(reverting to normal voice) Someone very funny and overbearing. I just love those kind of characters.

– The Lifestream: As a longtime fan of the series, you know how the stories are usually told, and XV was so different. You have to wander everywhere to learn everything. Even a lot of the characterization is tucked away in optional events, whereas in past FFs, there might be a hidden scene here and there, but for the most part they give it all to you. Do you think this is a good direction for “Final Fantasy”?

Ray: I think this was a response to “Final Fantasy XIII.” It had really good lore, but it was in very vague cutscenes. For a lot of people who just watched the cutscenes, it didn’t make sense. You had to read the Datalog, and you don’t want to go through the Datalog when you’re playing through a level.

I feel like that alienated a lot of people, so for this one they went in a new direction. They said, “We have lore and stuff, but it’s really about this core friendship,” and I feel like that’s what a lot of fans relate to. When I meet people at conventions, they talk about those bonds and bonds with their own friends or friends they made through playing this game. I think it brings people together that way rather than being focused on what’s going on with the Astrals. It is there, and people certainly like finding it out, so I think that way they can please everybody.

– The Lifestream: Assuming there aren’t any non-disclosure agreements keeping you from telling us, what roles do you have coming up that you’re excited about?

Ray: I don’t think there’s anything that’s been announced, unfortunately.

– The Lifestream: Again, thank you so much for your time.

Ray: My pleasure.