Review Fix chats with voice actor Hunter Davis, who discusses his new role in “Sunny Side Up” and more. A veteran voice actor with credits on Skylanders, Final Fantasy and Batman projects, he’s definitely someone worth keeping an eye on.
Review Fix: How did you get into voice acting?
Hunter Davis: I grew up as an only child so I was always doing different voices in my room by myself, and those skills would later be helpful throughout my acting career. After I moved to Los Angeles, I did a series of impression videos on YouTube, and those caught the attention of one of the major voice over agents here in town. I sent them a demo reel, and they decided to bring me on board. Ever since, I’ve been actively pursuing and expanding my voice over career whether it’s in animation, video games, or film.
Review Fix: What are some voice actors that have had a huge effect on you?
Davis: One voice actor that is more or less universally beloved and has inspired me would be Mark Hamill. Obviously we all know him from Star Wars, but I was a huge Batman fan as a kid and was blown away (still am) by his Joker. I think his ability to play two very different but equally iconic characters is a testament to the power of voice acting. Any voice actor with incredible range will always be the most impressive to me. I’m a huge fan of Phil LaMarr and John DiMaggio and then of course the granddaddy of voice actors, Mel Blanc.
Review Fix: How have your previous roles prepared you for Sunny Side Up?
Davis: I believe that every project and actor does contributes in some way to the next one. Working previously on projects with director Mike Melo allowed us to have a great shorthand during filming, my voice over work helped prep me to do hours in the booth recording my character Gregory’s inner dialogue, and my theatre background is where I developed a foundation to be flexible and open to both play and discover when performing a scene.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in Sunny Side Up?
Davis: As I mentioned, Mike and I had worked on several projects prior, and I believe he always had me in mind for the role of Gregory when he wrote the film. At that point, our working relationship was very solid and close, and I think he felt he could trust me with the material. There wasn’t ever much of a debate on whether I would play the character or not; it just came down to booking a flight to New England to film during a blizzard that I was terribly unprepared for.
Review Fix: How is this role different from your other work?
Davis: I think a big reason why this role was different that other projects was that I was living the life of Gregory in real time. I stayed in the apartment we filmed in, slept in Gregory’s bedroom, and didn’t leave that apartment once for a couple of weeks. This was all by design between Mike and myself. As shooting went on, that line between real and fictional started to blur, and it’s rare you get to immerse yourself in a project to that extent on a 24 hour basis.
Review Fix: What did you learn about yourself through this role?
Davis: I learned how easy it is for me to tap into my own doubts and social anxieties if I let them get to me. Like I mentioned before, I really was living Gregory’s lifestyle everyday, and normally when you “go method,” you’re at least able to go to your home or hotel room at the end of the day and recharge. That wasn’t the case with this film so Gregory’s negative voice and struggle to communicate slowly amplified my own issues. This got to the point that after filming, I went to a bar and was immediately overwhelmed and had to leave. It just goes to show you the importance of the lesson Gregory learns in the film about how these things can quickly consume your life if you let them.
Review Fix: Has COVID affected your work in any way? How have you pivoted?
Davis: Like almost every industry, COVID has severely affected work in Hollywood. All productions shut down for months and we’re only now starting to come out of it. One thing that hasn’t been hurt too badly, however, is voice over. That work has continued to be steady because it can be done remotely. This has led to me refining my home studio setup to make it easier for remote VO work which I had put off for far too long. Being trapped at home has also allowed me the benefit to work on my own personal projects and scripts that I hadn’t had time to get to previously. I find time is too often an excuse that gets in the way of creativity.
Review Fix: How would you like this film to be remembered?
Davis: I would like the film to be remembered as something a little off beat that took chances. It’s not your typical movie, and I’m sure some audience members will not be prepared for a constant inner dialogue voice over that’s actually the antagonist of the film in a lot of ways. There are bold choices in the film, and I hope people take the story as an accurate (if artistically done) representation of social anxiety and the negative inner voice we all battle with to some extent.
Review Fix: What’s some advice you’d give to someone who wants to become a voice actor?
Davis: Voice acting has a lot of pros and cons that come along with it. In some ways it’s a lot more competitive than on camera acting because the community is much smaller and you have these amazing voice actors that have the range to do all sorts of roles. With that said, you also aren’t limited by your looks or type and have the ability to play roles you wouldn’t normally ever be cast in on film. I’d recommend watching lots of animated programs and really study what makes one show different from the other and what stands out about the characters. It’s a very easy trap to think that voice acting is simply about doing a voice and forgetting the acting part of it. Almost anyone can do a silly voice, but selling that voice as a real character with depth and emotion is the first step.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Davis: COVID has created a lot of question marks for the film industry currently as we try to navigate through the pandemic. I’m always excited for what’s next, and I’m hoping to get a couple of personal projects off the ground in the new year and get them on camera. I also have a great professional relationship with our director Mike Melo so if things go well, I expect to be working with him sooner rather than later. Other than that, I’m constantly doing voice over work and want to continue to build that career in conjunction with on camera work.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Davis: I just want to thank anyone who takes the time to give Sunny Side Up a chance, and I hope it’s able to help people in some way or fashion. Social anxiety has a much bigger awareness after COVID so if this film connects with people in that way or even helps folks that know someone with social anxiety understand it a bit better, then the film has succeeded in ways we can’t help but be thankful for.