Christopher Sabat: Super Voice Acting Every Single Time

January 8, 2019
With Dragon Ball Super: Broly set to release nationwide in Australian cinemas, we had an “over 9000” interview with the (voice of) Prince of all Saiyans himself.

Are you excited for everyone to see this latest film on the big screen?

This will be the first time we’ve seen Broly on the big screen! I love going to see Dragon Ball films in the theatre personally – to see modern, beautifully made, gorgeous films presented in that format is epic, like every single time! These movies specifically use animation techniques that just look great on a big screen.

You’ve voiced Vegeta for such a long time, and he’s easily one of the most prominent characters in the series with a great arc. What do you love most about Vegeta’s character?

I just like the fact that he’s changed so much. He’s changed so much that everyone says Vegeta is a better father than Goku. People say that Vegeta’s this really likeable character and it’s almost like we’ve forgotten that Vegeta killed his friend that he travelled with (Nappa) just because he didn’t feel like dealing with him anymore. It’s hysterical that a guy who was so evil has actually become such a redeeming character. Now he’s like this fun family man. He’s also such a nice polar opposite to Goku who is a person I wouldn’t even be able to hang out with. He’s too goofy and too nice and altruistic for me. I like people that are not afraid to say what’s on their mind.

Is there anything you dislike about Vegeta?

The only thing I dislike about Vegeta is the fact that Akira Toriyama keeps giving him the shaft as far as stealing victories from him. In Resurrection F he should have been the one to kill Frieza. For some reason Akira Toriyama always wants him to be second best, and yet he won’t leave him alone either. It’s like Vegeta’s in everything. He’s in all the shows. All the movies. But he won’t make him the star and that’s crazy. In doing that though, he made a much more rounded, interesting character.

Have you met any of Vegeta’s other-language voice actors?

I have. I’m actually good friends with Ryō Horikawa (Japanese voice of Vegeta). He has been to my studio in Dallas and I’ve actually taught classes in his studio in Tokyo. He’s a really, really nice guy and the more I’ve gotten to know him the more I’ve come to understand that his experience working as Vegeta was very similar to mine. I thought that when the Japanese recorded that they were recording in this room with all producers and Akira Toriyama sitting there milling about every single line and trying to get everything exactly the way it was intended. But according to Ryō, he was a relatively young actor at the time and Akira Toriyama wasn’t there and he was just pushing through it. He didn’t even know if his character Vegeta was going to survive. I thought he would have known the whole arc, but at that time nobody knew.

Do you and Horikawa have similarities in the way you prepare to voice Vegeta?

I’m pretty lax about the way I prepare. But he is a super thespian, like very, very particular on the way he handles it. Now, of course I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but he drinks a lot more than I do too, so he has a lot more to compensate for from the night before.

What can the fans look forward to in the new Dragon Ball film that they haven’t seen in the universe before?

I’m not entirely sure what we’re going to see just yet. I’m most excited just for Akira Toriyama’s retelling of this story. It looks like we’re going to see Vegeta and Goku in some sweet outfits. It looks like we’ll get to see Frieza again. I’m just not sure how all these pieces fit together just yet. If we’re seeing Broly, I’m hoping we get to see Broly’s backstory which means we get to see the early Saiyan stuff before it was destroyed by Frieza. I wouldn’t mind seeing Goku and Vegeta fuse as much as Vegeta hates it. I think all the fans are wanting that too.

©BIRD STUDIO/SHUEISHA ©2018 DRAGON BALL SUPER THE MOVIE PRODUCTION COMMITTEE

Is it strange hearing your voice on screen? Do you like to watch the shows that you voice?

I’ll be honest, I’m in so many different shows that it’s impossible for me to watch all of them. Plus, when I get home, the last thing I want to do is actually watch more anime. I just want to watch anything else, just to disinfect my brain from work.

What kind of movies or shows do you watch?

I actually love dramatic series. Right now, I’m watching Ozark: Season 2. I do that and also try and play video games as much as possible.

What’s your favourite video game that you’re playing at the moment?

Far Cry 5. It’s phenomenal. With the new Far Cry game there’s a character you’ll meet and he’s the main villain of the game. He’s called ‘The Father’ and it’s crazy that we’ve gotten to a point in video games where the motion capture is so good that I went to a convention a couple weeks ago and I saw this guy, he was also another guest, and we were riding in the car to the convention and it was killing me trying to figure out who this guy was because I recognised him, but couldn’t figure out who it is. Then finally it dawned on me that ‘holy crap that is the main villain in Far Cry’. They mapped his face so well he looks identical to what he looks like in the game. It’s incredible. I love that video games have finally gotten to that point.

You’ve worked on so many amazing properties, is there one in particular you’ve always wanted to work on?

I’ve been so lucky. In the anime business I’ve done pretty well. I’ve kind of checked off all my bucket list items. I’ve been in Ghost in the Shell. I’ve been in all of the classics. If I could go back in time I’d love to have been in Cowboy Bebop. I guess in terms of a character I wanted to play I’d love to do Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid. I’d love to play a Solid Snake character. Not to say that any of the other versions of Solid Snake weren’t good, I just love the character. I’ve also played almost all of the games. I’ll be honest, I skip a lot of the cut scenes because they’re way too long. Some of them are so convoluted that I can’t even pretend to understand the story.

Do your kids watch anime? Have they seen any of your stuff?

They watch anime, but my seven-year old Hero, she’s supersensitive about that. She cries in Pixar movies or gets visibly upset. We have to skip over the scene where Musafa dies in The Lion King. I’m worried if I introduce her to Dragon Ball she wouldn’t like it. I’m waiting until later for us to watch it together. I do let her watch other shows that I know she would like. She likes Show by Rock!! It’s actually an anime that’s done by the people who made Hello Kitty, oddly enough, and it’s about these guys that are all in a band and they turn into cats. Hero loves that. She’s seen some of Sgt. Frog. She likes that show, but she hasn’t watched a ton of anime yet. Right now, in my opinion, she’s just too young for some of it.

Anime can get pretty heavy…

Exactly. I mean it’s not the same for all kids. My younger daughter could probably watch anything, she doesn’t care. Her favourite colour is black because it’s dark. She likes dark stuff and she likes to be scared.

Dragon Ball Super: Broly is in cinemas January 24, 2019.

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