INTERVIEW: JACOB HOPKINS

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photography by Byron Brown Photography

story by Ella Audrey Rae

How did you get into voice over work? “I had already built an acting career for myself before I got into voice over. I started acting at the age of five doing commercials, print jobs, and TV (my biggest role at that time was Alexander Drew on HBO’s True Blood). By the time I was eleven, I had six years of acting experience, but really wanted to move into voice over so I signed with a voice over agent, and began my voice acting career.”

You voice one of my favorite characters of all time, ‘Gumball’! How did you get that role? “Thanks…he’s one of my favorites too! As insane as it sounds, Gumball was my first voice over audition and gig! One fateful day, I got an audition for it which consisted of a two-page scene. After sending it in, I got a callback where I went into a sound booth to record a longer scene. Then, I was brought into the studio where they record Gumball (it’s actually not Cartoon Network Studios, but a studio called Dubscape). I got to meet the sound engineer, Greg Hall, and my voice director, Richard Overall… who lives in London! In fact, the show’s based in London, which means the majority of the cast and crew reside in London and record and direct me over Skype. Once I got to know everybody, I had to record about three different scenes. After that, I became their top choice and began recording full episodes. After all of that, they finally gave me the role, and the rest is history.

What was it like behind the scenes? “Hilarious, tons of energy and absolute joy. Each and every session was filled with laughs and hard work. We all got along perfectly, and there was never a bad moment.”

Byron Brown Photography

Did you ever improvise any lines or jokes? “Of course! In order to be Gumball, I had to add tons of creativity and color to my performance. One of my favorite improvs was in The Burden where Gumball and Darwin are looking all over Elmore Junior High for the school pet, Chris Morris. I thought it would be funny to say, “You can run, but you can’t hide! I can smell you!” because Gumball’s a cat. They ended up using it and actually animated Gumball having cat eyes when he said it!”

What was your favorite episode or scene to perform? “My favorite episode will always be The Bros. It’s about Gumball and Darwin rekindling their brotherly bond because Gumball’s spending too much time with Penny. I have a brother, so that message will always have a special place in my heart. My favorite scene on the other hand is when Gumball goes Super Saiyan 2, and as a long time Dragon Ball Z fan, that was basically a dream come true.”

Did you think the show would become so iconic? “I knew immediately it would become a Cartoon Network classic. It’s like no other show! It has so much variety, a billion different forms of animation, and it appeals to all audiences and generations. Truly a one of a kind show.”

How is it to be on Netflix’s Dragons: Rescue Riders? “I’ve been a huge fan of the How to Train Your Dragon book series ever since I was in elementary school, so it’s pretty awesome that I’m in that universe!”

What is your favorite thing about your character? “Axel Finke is a little like Deadpool and Starlord put together: he’s a little bit of good and bad. While he’s seemingly loyal to his evil genius uncle, Magnus Finke, he also joins the Rescue Riders on various different missions. His unpredictability is uncanny, and fun to act out!”

Byron Brown Photography

You guest-starred on How I Met Your Mother, such an iconic show. What’s your favorite memory and how was it meeting the cast? “I’ll never forget kicking Chris Kattan in the crotch (not actually, it was a stunt… I’m not a monster). It was my first time doing comedy, and I loved getting laughs from the cast and crew while acting out my jokes and stunts! Everyone was incredibly nice, and they treated me with such respect and kindness.”

You are also on the Goldberg’s. How was it being on such a funny show with an amazing cast? “I always love coming on the Goldbergs set to live out a life in the 80’s. I play Chad Kremp, Adam Goldberg’s best friend and (sometimes) voice of reason. Working with such talented comedians like Wendi McLendon-Covey, Sean Giambrone, and Jeff Garlin is great! It’s also really hard to keep a straight face around them.”

What did you learn from working around actors who have had such long careers? “I’ve learned how to be professional about my acting career. As fun as acting is, it’s a business, and businesses have to be handled professionally. You have to know what you’re doing and take risks while acting. Playing it safe will never produce good acting. I’ve learned how to be courageous and fearless while on set, and I have everyone I’ve ever worked with to thank for that.”

What’s your favorite on set memory? “This is actually a super unique favorite on set thing, which is working with the real Chad Kremp! He plays my father (his father) Charles Kremp. He is such a great guy and so fun to talk to, he has given me a firsthand history of all the real life memories of him and Adam Goldberg, their families, and his life as a teenager in the 80’s…it’s surreal!”

What’s your advice for people wanting to get into voice acting? “Practice, practice, practice your craft! Do your research, find local workshops to attend and always practice different voices, techniques, and editing skills on your own time. I also worked with a singing coach that taught me all kinds of skills, vocal warm-ups and exercises, and breathing techniques…Gumball sang a lot! The best way to learn is to experience things and learn from others whohaveexperience. Once you’ve honed your skills, research different voice over agents online and interview with them. The best way to get auditions is to have an agent out there sending you auditions. Good luck out there, aspiring voice actors! I know you can do it!”

Watch Jacob on Netflix’s Dragons: Rescue Riders now.

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