Joe J. Thomas is a voice actor who has been featured in video games, commercials, movies, and animations. Joe has done work for companies from NBC to Microsoft to EA. He originated from Cleveland, Ohio before moving to Los Angeles, California. For more information about Joe J. Thomas check out his official website. He has kindly answered our questions below.
How did you end up doing the voice acting for video games?
The theater was where my acting career began. In the early 80's I landed my first agent in Ohio and got a few small voice acting gigs. After that it was mostly theater and a couple indie films. It wasn't until about 4 years ago that I got back into voice acting. The theater, improv and singing experience had given me the opportunity to develop a lot of characters and accents. Video game VO, anime and cartoons seemed like a natural goal, so I auditioned for everything that came my way.
Which was your first game that you worked on and your role?
The very first game I voiced was a small independent game called "Action Bird!". Strangely enough, my role was "Joe" the main bad guy, er... bird. I think the game got some recognition in some game development contests. You may be able to find a few screen shots out there, but I don't think the game (or the company) exists any longer.
Do you play video games yourself?
Yes, I love to play a lot of different games. First person shooters, puzzle games, crosswords, sudoku, etc. On the non-computer side there's chess, mah-jongg, and a variety of pencil games.
Have you stared working with Blizzard on specific parts for Diablo III?
Blizzard's great to work with. I've actually finished recording a couple characters for Diablo III. Unfortunately, I can't say more until the game is released! I hope I'm fortunate enough to do more for the game - it's looking really good in the previews.
What do you like most about your job?
The best part of my job is bringing a new character to life. It's a lot more than just the voice. It's a full-on acting job. Each one has their own personality, flaws, quirks, in addition to all the vocal characteristics. There's a great dynamic between the writers, director, and actor - when it's just right, the character really jumps off the page.
How long have you been doing theater?
Uh-oh... an "age" question! I started performing on stage back in High School, around the late 1970's. My school did three productions per year, plus the local theaters also had summer productions. By the time I graduated, I had done a dozen or so different shows - the acting bug had bitten pretty hard. It was great experience, and provided a solid foundation for the characters I use on a daily basis.
What would you recommend for other people who want to get into this line of work?
Get into some local theatre, improv or singing. There are a lot of local groups where you can get your acting chops with little or no money to lay out. Once you've got a good base to work from, take some Voice Over classes and learn about the technical and business side of things. You'll have to wear a lot of hats to make it (artist, salesman, accountant, etc). There are also a slew of books on the topic that cover the career aspects in depth. Plus I'd suggest joining one of the online VO forums. There are several. I hang out at Julie Williams VO Forum myself. Oh... and play the games! (that's the easy part...)
Is there anything else you would like to add?
A lot of people get into voice acting because they're told "they have a nice voice". That's nice. But what's more important is your acting and business skills. There are lots of folks with a nice voice who don't make it. It's a hard career and not for everyone. Truth be told, the voice isn't really that important. You'll need a thick skin to handle the audition process. There's a lot of rejection. In the end, if this is something you love to do - go for it! The time in the booth voicing a new character is worth all the hard work you'll put in... at least it is for me ;-)