At the 2018 Taiyou Con in Mesa, actor Robbie Daymond held panels revolving around his extensive voice acting career. Daymond has voiced a number of characters including Prompto (Final Fantasy XV), Akechi (Persona 5), Spider-Man (Spider-Man 2017 animated TV series), and many more.
Starting as an actor in theater and on-camera, Daymond eventually transitioned to voice acting. Outside of his day-to-day lending voices to animated characters, he functions as one-third of the comedy group known as Loud, Annoying, and Very Annoying.
(The following interview has been edited for length.)
Nerdvana: Final Fantasy XV was a game that had so much pressure behind it. It had a long cycle of development, rewrites, concepts, etc. How did that impact you as an actor?
Daymond: Zero, outside of wanting it to be good because I knew that it was anticipated. I’m a fan of the series, I knew how long it had been in development when I had auditioned for it. I didn’t have my hopes up when I auditioned for it because I had just finished Final Fantasy Type 0, so I thought it would be unlikely that they’d cast me in another lead in the next follow up game, but they did! So once we started working on it, not really.
…If you’re too worried about the outcome, you’re probably gonna screw it up. The worst thing you can do is be worried about how fans are going to receive something while you’re supposed to be doing the work. That’s a guaranteed way to trip yourself up. So no, I just went in there and did my job and I always wanted to do my best.
Nerdvana: Prompto, in my opinion, is a character that grows on you.
Daymond: Yes! Like a pimple!
Nerdvana: He’s very stereotypically the fun, happy guy and then you realize there’s a lot of depth to him. After playing it myself, I feel that he was probably the most human out of them all. Was that something that came out organically or did you really aim to build upon his relatability as a character?
Daymond: Yeah, there was a tactic. A lot of it is writing but I definitely knew the archetype… …you could play him very ‘surface’ the whole way if you really wanted to. I could play every line like upbeat, comedy relief but we didn’t! So that was a big part of the goal was that when the director and I went in, right from the beginning day one, we said “We want this guy to be human and real and relatable.”
Definitely not bagging on the Japanese [voiceover], the Japanese is great. But I’d like to think that our version is a little bit more that [real]. To the point that we abandoned the Japanese audio pretty early in the recording process and stopped using it as a reference. So after a couple of sessions we were like “Nah, we got this guy. We don’t want to be influenced too heavily.” So we would only use those references for technical things like distance, level, when we didn’t know the context of what was going on, and how long the line had to be. I’d like to think our English Prompto is a little bit more grounded and human.
Nerdvana: What was impressive was that the English voice cast is always something kind of trendy to bash on, but for XV a lot of people really appreciated it.
Daymond: You know, I think there’s a little renaissance going on in dubbing in general. I think that there’s always been great performances throughout the year and some not so great performances as we all know in dubbing. I think the community is coming around to it too. I think that there’s a core group of us out there who are dubbing that really want it to be really good.
We do it because we love it and want to make the fans happy and come out to these conventions and have something to be celebrated. So I’m glad that the fan reception of Final Fantasy XV has been as positive as it can be.
You’ll always have the sub purists out there but I don’t really care about them. (laughs) Like I’m glad they enjoy the subs, I enjoy subs, but when you get so blind to being like “Agh no!” you just can’t listen to English then I think maybe that’s more of a fan hang up than anything else. And I don’t mind saying it. (laughs)
Nerdvana: With the recent SAG-AFTRA ruling, what is your current take now that it [the strike] is done?
Daymond: Well, the nice thing about the strike was I could still work on Final Fantasy XV, because any game that was contracted before 2015 you could still work on; that’s where the current contract ended. For me you know, video games are maybe 30 percent of my income, so I wasn’t too scared. I could strike as long as we needed to. Personally I think it set a good precedent for the future. We got some stuff on the back end, we got a lot of things that we wanted.
If I were to be critical at all, I would say that we could have gone further. We could have made them sweat a little bit more. We bailed a little bit early in my opinion, but that’s just my opinion. We got a lot of things that we wanted and I think people were ready to get back to work. …So I’ll always support the union, we trust they make the right decisions for us and they do a lot of good stuff for us.
Nerdvana: A little while ago, you and your cast mates from XV did a stream and everyone was getting such a kick out of it and loved it. Would you guys ever want to do another stream together?
Daymond: Well we, Max Mittelman and Ray Chase [voice of Noctis] and I, have a comedy group called Loud, Annoying, and Very Annoying. We have a Twitch channel that we stream on just for fun. We have no aspirations of being professional streamers, but whenever we have one it’s pretty good. It’s usually a couple thousand people that come out, hang out in the chat and meme it up, it’s pretty fun.
We did six weeks of Overwatch and we earned $10,000 for St. Jude’s. We do a lot of charity streams, stuff like that. We had friends who were voice actors in Overwatch and we try to play games that people are in. And sometimes we just goof around and play Mr. Massagy at three o’clock in the morning. (laughs)
Nerdvana: Switching gears to Persona 5, you played Goro Akechi and this was your first Persona role. Seeing as how being a Final Fantasy fan, you kind of had an idea of the fan base and the potential for it. Persona was completely new to you so how different was that experience?
Daymond: Yeah, I didn’t know anything about Persona, I just reached out to a studio and they happened to be casting for Persona 5 at the time a couple weeks later. I have a couple stories like that where I just have lucked out! You know where someone introduces me or I reach out and it just happens to be the right time. It was the same for Sailor Moon, it was the same for a couple of other projects, so I’ve been lucky in that sense.
Did I know the fandom was so big? Not until Max Mittelman told me, who plays Ryuji in P5. Yeah, now that I’ve seen the feedback from it: holy smokes! It’s one of my most popular roles when I come to conventions. So I’m really grateful for it, and it was a really great character, so I had a lot of fun with it.
Nerdvana: When you were going into XV it was more of a story of friendship, brotherhood, saving the world on a mass scale. And then you switch gears to Persona 5 which is much more oriented to social justice and sort of political, how was that for you to change from such subject matter?
Daymond: Oh, I can literally go from doing an off-the-wall comedy show in the morning, to doing a super serious anime that afternoon in the same day. So changing from project to project wasn’t so hard. I think that you just kind of hit the reset button every time you go into a new session and just sort of live in, wherever you’re at, in the moment.
Nerdvana: You have quite a musical background, including conga drums! Is music a passion for you or more so a pastime?
Daymond: You know, it was. …Tough part is you dedicate yourself to one kind of art and sometimes the other one falls through. So I don’t play music nearly as much as I’d like to. The nice thing is a lot of the shows that I do incorporate music, so that’s where I get my musical outlet every now and again.
I get to sing in cartoons. I get to do wacky character voices. I do sessions singing sometimes. I have a friend who’s a Grammy/Emmy winner and he does pitches for theme songs and all this stuff. I’ll just go in and sing for him just cause he asked me to. So I do get a chance to do that. It’s not as big a part of my life as when I was making my living doing musical theater, but I still really enjoy the time I get to play the guitar, play the piano, or sing or do anything like that.