Greg Ellis is a veteran actor who’s known for his many supporting roles in video games, but he’s considerably a jack-of-all-trades. His portfolio spans across more than 20 years of work. He also bares roles in cartoons and also live action films and television, including Titanic, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The X-Files! Of course, as a fan of Grasshopper Manufacture (No More Heroes, The Silver Case, killer7), I know him best for his roles as Johnson, the skull-head sidekick in Shadows of the Damned, and Brian Buster Jr. in Travis Strikes Again! I got a chance to have a short but pleasant interview with him. Be sure to check out the shows he’s working on through his personal website.
Console Monster: We over here are fans of Grasshopper Manufacture’s games, and you’ve portrayed a few favorites from that company’s games including Johnson from Shadows of the Damned!
Greg Ellis: Ahh yes, I remember that. He was fun to record!
CM: Did the casting director or any of the game developers give you a particular direction for his portrayal, or did they let you provide your own spin on him?
GE: We received a bit of a breakdown, we got a visual of how the character looks in both 2D and 3D. And then we interpret the character and bring voice to it. I remember with that game, we were at the end of the session with Kris Zimmerman, the voice director. I just went this freestyle rap with the character, and they enjoyed it so much that they ended up putting it in the game. I also recall Steve Blum was in that game and voiced the main character, Garcia.
CM: Speaking of Steve Blum, I’ve shortly spoken with him about voicing the main protagonist. He told me there was a bit of a panic because they needed to replace the original voice-actor for Garcia, the main character. And they only had a few days before the game needed to be finished. Were you privy to any of that during your time working on the voice?
GE: No, I didn’t hear anything about that. Even if I had, as an actor I just show up to work on the recording sessions. Even for professionals, sometimes that can occur for a number of reasons, you never really know.
CM: Speaking of voicing these characters, it was kept a secret that characters like Garcia and Johnson would return for a mostly-unrelated game almost ten years later in Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes! You voiced Brian Buster Jr. in that game, but nobody was aware that you were also reprising the role of Johnson in a later part of the game and perfectly got back into that character’s voice after so long!
GE: Yeah, it was a pleasant surprise to me as well! It’s always a delight to get back together to voice these characters once again. Especially for a game that players have such fond memories for! It’s always great to hear how much the fans enjoyed it. You never know when these kinds of games get a sequel, so it was great to hear we were coming back to reprise them!
CM: Any chance you had an opportunity to do another freestyle rap for Johnson?
GE: I think I had the chance to do another rap, but can’t particularly recall.
Editor’s note: While Greg Ellis did not perform another rap song for Travis Strikes Again, his theme song featured rapping vocals by the Japanese voice-actor for Johnson from the original game.
CM: Either way, it was such a mind-blowing moment when fans of Suda’s work were playing through the game. Nobody saw it coming, and it was such an awesome surprise hearing both you and Blum voice the main characters after so long!
GE: That’s great, and anything Blum is involved in means the professionalism and quality will be there. And it’s so nice to hear how happy fans were with us 10 years later.
CM: Absolutely! So regarding those games and people that follow your work, is there anything else you’d like to add?
GE: Just a big thank you for supporting the games, the voice actors, and if people want to continue supporting me, follow my show “The Respondent” which is available on all social media channels!
CM: Thank you so much for your time, Greg. I really appreciate it!
Greg Ellis can be found on realgregellis.com which has all the information regarding his involvement in programs such as The Respondent and Voices In My Head podcast series that features guests like Clancy Brown, Andrei Romano, Tom Kenny, and Rob Paulsen. You can also find him on Twitter.