Hades Voice Actor Logan Cunningham On Finding His Voice, Favorite Performances, And The Characters That Influenced Him thumbnail

Hades Voice Actor Logan Cunningham On Finding His Voice, Favorite Performances, And The Characters That Influenced Him

Supergiant Games Logan Cunningham interview

During our trip to Supergiant Games for our Hades II cover story, we had a chance to speak with one of the studio’s original seven employees and its principal voice actor, Logan Cunningham. From providing the voice of Rucks in Bastion to Red’s titular Transistor to Hades himself, Cunningham has played a vital part of every Supergiant title. In this rare interview, we ask Logan how he entered the world of voice acting, how he joined Supergiant Games, and which characters are his favorites to play (and which he’d want to redo). 

Game Informer: When did you first discover that you were good at creating or imitating voices?

Logan Cunningham: I don’t think there was ever a moment that I discovered that. I always did that. From when I was a kid, my brother and I, we would record stupid little… almost like our own little radio plays but based on Star Trek: The Next Generation, just with a cassette recorder. I don’t know; maybe it started there. The first time I think I realized I had a voice that people consider to be nice was in elementary school because my English teachers would always ask me to read from whatever book we were studying at the time. But I never set out to be a voice actor. [I] certainly [had] no formal training. There’s not really any formal training for voice acting that I think exists. Everybody falls backward into it, just like I did. From my understanding, from my experience with everyone, every voice actor that I meet, I ask them like, ‘Oh, how did you start?’ and it’s always the same story. ‘I did one, then I did another, a third one, and now 15 years later here I am’. And my case is a little different in that the way I got my first job was from knowing one of the people who started Supergiant Games and then also knowing [Supergiant composer] Darren Korb.

Did you have any go-to characters you liked to imitate? Or was there a character you concocted that became your primary voice?

I was pretty much weaned on Star Trek: The Next Generation, so I think even at, like, six I had a pretty good Patrick Stewart. But not really. I didn’t really focus on anybody in particular. If I encountered a voice that I liked, I would just sort of do it – not for anyone, just for me. Just on my own in the bathtub, which I still do.

The most sacred places to practice: the shower, the bathtub.

It’s where you’re at your most vulnerable. 

Yes, quite literally. When you first made your big leap into doing voice acting, as you mentioned, coming on with Supergiant, what was that initial conversation like?

It was literally my friend Amir [Rao], who I knew had left his job at Electronic Arts with his friend Gavin Simon, and they moved from LA back to San Jose, which is where we’re all from, Amir, me, and Darren, into his dad’s house and they started a startup; which was a game developer, which I don’t even think I knew that term at the time. All I knew was a friend of mine was making a video game. And they had gotten to the point where they wanted to try something with voice-over, and so now they needed an actor, and I was the actor that they happened to know personally. And they had no money, and so I was cheap. And I was roommates with Darren in New York at the time, who was already involved. He came on board maybe, like, December ’09? And then I recorded the first lines of Bastion [in] February; yeah it was Presidents Day weekend 2010. Yes, it really did just start with me doing a friend of favor.

When you look back on your first big role as a voice actor with Bastion, how did you feel about that performance at the time? And how do you feel about it now that you’ve had a chance to reflect on it over a decade later?

I was just trying to get through it. I had no idea what I was doing. None of us did. Darren and I certainly, that was our first time working on a video game in any capacity, but I just approached it as an actor. I just tried to keep the character consistent and give it as much life as I could. I had a lot of help from Greg [Kasavin] writing an amazing character and amazing story. Once we were working on Transistor, the Transistor performance is pretty much just me, but just kind of at a whisper. And with Rucks in Bastion, the narrator, what made a good take during those sessions was if the voice was right. And then in Transistor, what made a good take was if the performance was right.

Hades

To jump ahead to Hades II, what new characters do you provide the voice for in the game?

I’m not going to say. I’ll let people guess and figure it out. Hades, I can confirm because he’s in the trailer.

How did it feel when you first heard Supergiant was doing its first sequel? How did it feel to be returning to a world for the first time instead of preparing for a whole new one?

Really happy and I wasn’t surprised at all. At all. Because we loved making that game so much. It was so clear, to me anyway, that we weren’t done with it. There was so much still left to do and explore and characters to meet and stories to tell. So I was thrilled.

I was excited, too, especially because I really enjoyed your work as Hades in the first game. Can you talk about the process of preparing for that role, what that looked like, and what you felt you needed to bring to that role to bring that character to life?

Just imagining not the worst dad possible, but a very difficult one who’s just a workaholic, is constantly busy and never has time for you, is really powerful, and has a really important job. And because of it, [he’s] miserable most, if not all, the time but is also still kind of a person and has a past and regrets and all those things that make a character interesting. But yeah, coming up with the voice was a lot of fun because it is basically just Tywin Lannister and Tim Curry as the Lord of Darkness in Legend, if you’ve ever seen that movie. So yeah, getting to play around with that.

The Voice of Supergiant Games

Here are all of the characters Logan Cunningham has voiced in Supegiant’s first four games. 

Bastion – Rucks

Transistor – The Transistor

Pyre – The Voice, Bertrude, Dalbert, Lendel, Ignarius

Hades – Hades, Poseidon, Achilles, Charon, Asterius, The Storyteller

Of all the characters you’ve voiced in your games, do you have any ones that stand out as your favorite or most cherished characters? Do you feel particularly close to them the way some actors do about a role or character that they’ve played?

Favorite is probably a tie between Rucks and Hades. Rucks because he was the first and my introduction to Supergiant; my foot in the door, if you like. Hades, because he was so much fun to do. It’s really fun to play someone who’s just, like, a bastard. He’s just like a s****y person. But what often comes to mind is the Transistor, actually. Like, if I have the opportunity to sort of do that one over, I might. Or I will at least heavily think about it. My kind of immediate reaction once I played the thing from start to finish was like, ‘Okay.’ I wasn’t quite sure I was playing that guy. I felt I was maybe playing somebody else.

Now that you’ve been doing this for so long, and you mentioned before not being formally trained, what were some of the on-the-job training lessons you’ve learned over the years to improve as a voice actor?

All kinds of vocal warm-ups. Whereas at the start, it might take me a couple of hours to get ready. Now I am pretty much good to go in 20 minutes to half an hour. I know how much time I need to spend with the script if I’m lucky enough to have the time to see the lines beforehand because very often, it’s just ‘Hey, who are we doing today? Achilles? Great, all right’. And it’s mostly in the recording session itself, I’ll get a chance to read the line, whatever the next line is that we have to do, I’ll get to read through it once or twice and then I just have to go for it. So, I guess I’ve gotten more efficient. But I think everyone at Supergiant, certainly all of us who worked on Bastion and we’re all still there, we’ve all gotten more professionalized, I guess.

I always wonder about this with voice actors because I find myself doing this. You mentioned before it’s fun to sort of do a voice when you’re alone, you’re around the house just doing a voice; do you ever find yourself doing that with any of the characters you’ve played in the past? Do you ever just go around the house and start talking as Hades randomly since you mentioned how much fun it is to occupy that role? Or do you sort of retire them once the project is over? 

I don’t really, but I will find myself doing, randomly at times, voices that inspired some of those characters. I still love just walking around my place just doing lines from Deadwood as Al Swearengen, which was a huge influence on Rucks. At the very least, it’s a nice vocal exercise. But it’s just kind of one of those silly, crazy things that actors do, and one of the reasons it’s good that I live alone.

Bastion

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing voice acting or to aspiring/young voice actors who want to improve?

Make sure you’re an actor, that you know how to act. Because it’s not just doing funny voices. I think it used to be that way years and years ago. It’s not anymore. Keep working, keep improving. Take classes, take every opportunity you have. If you know people who are making things, work with them. If you know a decent amount of those people who are making stuff, one of them might make it and remember you and take you along. That is absolutely what happened to me.

How would you compare your experience working on Hades II to previous games? Has this felt the most challenging or the most exciting? How do you feel about what is being asked of you for this game compared to what you’ve done before?

Not necessarily more challenge. It’s just different. What I will confirm, and I think this has been confirmed maybe in other places, there are a number of returning characters that I did in Hades in Hades II in addition to some new ones, which are the ones that I can’t talk about. So there might be a character of mine from the first one where Melinoë, the protagonist, might mention, ‘blah, blah, blah’ to ‘blah blah blah’ and that’ll inform the performance. There is a kind of melancholy that I’ve certainly felt with a lot of the characters that I’ve been doing in the sequel compared to the original, Hades 1, which hopefully adds interesting layers. I don’t know, we’ll see. We’re still working on it.

Is there a character you’ve played from the Supergiant Games that you most identify with on a personal level?

Is it weird to say Charon?

Why is that?

He’s someone who doesn’t say words and generally would like to be left alone, I think [laughs]. I can imagine running a store just like, ‘Ah, get what you want, get out.’ I identify with that.

Transistor

What is the thing that you’re most proud of with Hades II, both in regards to what you’re bringing to it as an actor and what the game is doing to build upon the first game? What are you most excited about for players to experience?

I won’t be able to speak to my own work on it until it’s done. All I know is just I’m working on it, I’m doing it. Darren, who’s my director, is happy with what I’m doing. I seem to be delivering what he’s asking. Greg seems to be satisfied as well. It’s feeling good. It’s sounding good to me. I’m just happy that [Hades II] is happening, that it exists, and that it is already as good as it is. And that people are beginning to discover that on a larger scale. 

Hades was such a massive success for the studio. As someone who was there from the humble beginnings, how have you personally internalized Hades’ overwhelming success?

I get recognized occasionally on the street for Hades, which is very strange. And that’s largely I think due to the NoClip stuff that we did. In support of Hades once 1.0 came out, we did some videos for Twitter, for YouTube, and, obviously, through NoClip, quite a few of our faces got out there in a way that they hadn’t before. Pre-Hades, the sort of public faces of Supergiant, the recognizable faces, were basically Greg and Amir. And Darren, on occasion. But now it’s me at the bar that I go to all the time, and some, like, 23-year-old kid coming up to me like, ‘Sir, are you are you…? And I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah, I am’. And it blows his mind, and in my head, I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m him. Somebody’s got to be. It’s me, yes. Thank you for playing, nice to meet you, good to see you.’ So that’s been an alteration or an accommodation I’ve had to make my life since release. Obviously, winning the BAFTA was huge. I was much more excited for all the other people who won BAFTAs. Greg and Jen [Zee] in particular, who I feel have gone unrecognized for their amazing work for far too long. 

How has it felt seeing Supergiant’s growth from what it was in the beginning to where it is now?

We just have more resources now. Certainly, from my perspective, from my role there, I’m privy to this; we have access to a much higher, I don’t know if caliber is the right word, but we are able to at least get in contact with and have conversations with and possibly even cast actors that we wouldn’t have been able to get 100 feet in front of, or even 100 miles, even five years ago. And now, that seems to be something within our reach and is within reach, and I’m excited for people to discover that as well.

But at its heart, we’re the same. We’re the same people. Amir and Darren and me, we still make each other laugh with the same jokes that we made each other laugh at when we were 17 or whatever. We still share, whenever we do get together, horror stories, war stories from making Bastion. From Transistor, how terrified we all were making that one. The kind of wild child that is Pyre and how we didn’t learn really how to describe that game until it was out.  But we’re kind of like a shark: we don’t really stop. We don’t take too many breaks. We just move on. We finish something once we’re happy with it, and then we let it out.

We’re in a better place now than we were. Hades was our first experience with our Early Access, and that worked out really well for us. And we’re doing the same with this one. We were pretty still early on with Hades, and we knew that Early Access was something we were going to do, I remember talking to Amir about it and him just saying ‘Yeah, this is the game we’ve made so far that I’m least worried about’. Because of Early Access, anything that’s wrong with the game, we’ll just fix it before we ship it. So we’re not gonna have to wait three years until we ship a completed thing to figure out if people like it or not. Or even know what it is or how to describe it.

Hades II is available now in Early Access on Steam and the Epic Games Store. Be sure to visit our cover story hub for more exclusive features and videos about the game. 

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