Remember that game called Starfox 64 that came out some time ago? What about Starfox 64 3DS that came out just last year? Oh, of course you remember! They were only some of the best Starfox games to date, I mean what kind of Starfox fan would you be if you hadn't played these games? What if we told you that we had an interview with Mike West, the voice actor for Fox McCloud in both games? Would you believe us? You should, because we do! Mike has lended his voice talents to a plethora of voice related jobs, from radio to TV, all the way to video games, and that's where Starfox comes in. Without anymore delay, we present to you, the fans, the StarFox Elite interview with Mike West, Fox McCloud himself!
Q: How did you get into voice acting?
When I was a kid, I used to do crazy voices and sound effects. My brother had a reel to reel tape recorder that I "Borrowed!" I would do fake radio shows and dumb noises. I could never figure out why my friends didn't want to spend hours with the tape recorder like I did. Most of them went on to be doctors and firemen and stuff. Now I understand!
Q: You told us via Twitter that you enjoyed doing voices for video games. To date, which video game did you enjoy acting for the most?
I would have to say Starfox is the one I enjoyed most, because it ended up being the most popular and legendary games. I never hear from people like you about the other games over the years. I can't believe how much interest fans of the game have. I guess that says a lot for the developers, code writers and artists.
Q: Prior to working on Starfox 64, were you aware of what Starfox was?
No. I had no idea. I just remember getting a call and asking if I could show up in Redmond Washington at a building on the Nintendo campus. I walked into a room with about 10 people sitting in a circle. They handed me a script and asked me to read for the various charcators. I was pretty happy to get a call back with word that I got a few voices for an upcoming game!
Q: What was your reaction to Starfox 64 selling over 300,000 copies inthe first week of release (in the US) back in 1997? (For readers, that broke the record of both Mario Kart 64 and Super Mario 64)
I didn't know that! I just remember getting a game delivered from Nintendo saying thanks. I didn't even own a console at the time. Our kids were delighted when I came home from the store with a box so they could play the game that dad voiced. I also recall getting called into the studio for various commercials and pro-mo spots that I guess they used all over the world. I never saw them!
Q: What was it like coming back to do Starfox 64 3D?
I thought it was hilarious that they called us back. I had heard rumors about the game being brought back. I was a little worried that I couldn't hit the high notes of some of the charcators. I am a lot older, but Starfox hasn't aged at all!
Q: Compared to your performance in the original Starfox 64, how do you think you did in Starfox 64 3D? Which was a more enjoyable experience?
I guess the first experience was the most enjoyable, just because I didn't know what to expect. But coming back a little older and wiser and knowing that I had the job the second time around was pretty rewarding too.
Q: Did you record alongside the other voice actors or were you alone?
No. You go into a booth. On the other side of the glass are the engineer, producer, director and an assortment of other people who made sure we were matching up the first game. So just me and a microphone and my original reads in my headphones so I made sure to match everything.
Q: Some lines in the game were ever so slightly altered. Do you have any idea as to why?
I wondered about that too. But I never got an answer. I could do a little digging and find the producer and get back to you on that one!
Q: What determined how Fox McCloud would sound?
I guess I did. They showed me a storyboard and asked me to figure out what Fox would sound like. I remember giving them a bunch of different ideas. They wanted young, hip and energy as I recall. I don't know about the young hip part, but he does have a lot of energy!
Q: You also did the voice for James McCloud, father to Fox McCloud. Compared to Fox, how much easier or more difficult was it voicing James?
I guess I was trying for someone who could be related to that little fox, but more mature and serious. Did I accomplish that? Hope so!
Q: Some fans refer to you as the true voice of Fox McCloud having voiced him in what is considered the greatest Starfox game(s) since the original. How does this make you feel?
Pretty special and honored. You never know how the project will turn out, or if it even gets released. Sometimes that happens. You get paid, but you want to see what the experts do with your voice. I am totally blown away by how many people know of the game and when I say I was lucky enough to work on it, the reactions from people young and old is fantastic.
Q: It's only natural that we ask who your favorite Starfox character is?
I think Fox is pretty cool. Young, brash, kind, responsible and at times funny. I guess I like to think of myself like that when I was young like you guys!
Q: Are there any plans of you coming back to the series for a possible future Starfox game? Or is this one of those questions you can't answer, even if you knew?
I would tell you if I knew. I would love to do more. I am waiting for the call! Make it happen for me SFE! You have connections don't you?
Q: If the opportunity were offered, would you be willing to voice Fox McCloud ever again?
In a nano second!
Q: You are forever part of the franchise we all know and love. Is there anything you would like to say to the fans?
Well, when I saw your forum online after someone that was a fan sent me to, a lot of people though I was a fake. It was then I knew how big and important and personal this game was for so many people. I just wanted to pop in and say hi to all of you and it turned into a major controversy on your forum. Very funny! I would also like to say how talented the people behind the scenes are that make these games. It's amazing how many people it takes to make a game like Starfox.
I want to thank you for tracking me down. If you ever want me to record a line or two as Starfox, I would be thrilled. If you ever need anything, just shoot me an email.
I also want to mention that I was a radio announcer from the age of 17, until 5 years ago. I worked mostly in Seattle with a stop in Los Angeles. I am retired from full time radio, but I host a Sunday show called Breakfast With The Beatles. It's the highest rated radio show in Seattle. I do freelance voice work for everyone from Microsoft, to Nintendo to Apple. I am also an auto journalist for CBS. You can see my car reviews on the CBS local sites. Just click the auto section and take a look.
Our son is a musician. He recently played on the Jimmy Fallon show. His music is actually on a lot of TV shows, movies commercials and video games. His band is called Telekinesis. My son is Michael Lerner. My real last name is Lerner! Our daughter works for a record label and her husband is the road tech for a band called Death Cab For Cutie. They are touring Europe as we speak, or write. I have been married for 31 years. My wife and I have known each other since the 7th grade.
I am a pretty lucky person.
Great interview Mike! We would like to make it known that the forum he is referring to is actually Starfox-Online, another dedicated Starfox website, as we have not had one [yet]. And we wish we had connections, we really do! We thank you Mike for taking the time to do this interview with us and shall be viewable to all for many generations to come. And, to end this, we'll post an unedited pic of the picture he sent us!
Yeah. That's who you think it is!