This is an exclusive interview conducted by MGS:TUS, with the voice actor and TV actor Josh Keaton. He voiced the character Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 3.
MGS:TUS: Josh, first of all take a moment to introduce yourself for those of our readers who may not know who you are.
Josh Keaton: Well, I just celebrated my 24th birthday. My father is from Brooklyn, and my mother is from Lima, Peru; I’m L.A. born and raised, have three sisters, and love the typical “guy” things. (Cars, gadgets, computers, videogames) I have a couple of cars that I customize and work on, and that same tinkering mentality carries over to my computer.
I grew up playing Atari 2600 when I was really little, and loved my NES and subsequent Sega Genesis. I still love video games, but play most of them on my computer.
MGS:TUS: How did you become involved in the word of acting?
Josh Keaton: I was a very precocious child. I was speaking and reading at a very early age and would go up to adults and have full-on conversations with them. Everyone would always tell my parents I should be in commercials; my older sister was already involved in the entertainment industry at the time and I would tag along when she went to auditions. I wanted to do what my older sister was doing so my parents put me in the business as well.
MGS:TUS: Do you have any preference over what type of acting you like doing most?
Josh Keaton: Well ultimately I want to be doing big feature films. I love watching movies and the characters that are created. What I love about video games nowadays is that the technology is there to essentially make them into interactive movies. As I love video games, I love having the opportunity to help make them into a game I would like to play. Everyone knows how distracting it can be when a great game has sub-par voice acting (even the original Resident Evil – one of my favorite games). But ultimately, I would like to carry lead roles in big films – this way I can create a complete character as opposed to just supplying the voice.
MGS:TUS: Give us a quick rundown of some of the past projects that you've been involved with.
Josh Keaton: Well with respect to video games, I played Harry Osbourne in both Spider-Man games, I was Ranmaru in Onimusha 3, I played Tick-Tock in Shell Shock, and just finished voicing the role of Crispy in the upcoming Area 51 with David Duchovny.
I’ve also done a lot of animated cartoons such as Disney’s Hercules, Back to the Future, Fox’s Peter Pan and the Pirates, and Kangaroo Jack to name a few.
On camera I was a series regular on Jerry Bruckheimer’s short-lived Fox show Skin, I recently guest starred on Will and Grace, starred in The Even Stevens Movie, and have done a variety of other TV work and Independent Films.
MGS:TUS: How did you come to audition for Metal Gear Solid 3?
Josh Keaton: I’ve worked with Kris Zimmerman on many other projects over the years and she called my agent to set up an appointment.
MGS:TUS: Did you audition for any other characters, aside from the role of Ocelot?
Josh Keaton: She felt I would be good for Ocelot so that’s the only character I auditioned for.
MGS:TUS: How would you describe your time spent recording MGS3? How much interacting did you get to do with the other actors, and who were some of those actors?
Josh Keaton: I recorded my parts over the course of about three days. During this time, I worked with David Hayter, and Neil Ross, as well as one other actress who I believe was replaced (playing Eva). We read many scenes together, and I only spend about one day doing all of my solo stuff.
MGS:TUS: What was the interaction like with Kris Zimmerman and the rest of the recording crew?
Josh Keaton: I’ve known Kris since I was about 10 so we go way back. Everyone that I worked with in the cast was very nice.
MGS:TUS: What was your past knowledge on the Metal Gear series before receiving the script for MGS3?
Josh Keaton: I remember the very first MGS, but hadn’t yet played MGS2, so I didn’t really know much of the story.
MGS:TUS: Were you aware of your characters history in Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2? Did you try to base anything in your acting from or off of this?
Josh Keaton: Well I didn’t know the MGS2 story and being that this was a recurring and popular character, I wanted to do it justice in the eyes of fans of the game. Even though this game’s story precedes that of MGS2 I knew that this was an origin story of sorts for Ocelot so I really wanted to make it a worthy predecessor to the Ocelot the players already knew.
MGS:TUS: Speaking of the script, what was the length of the script that you received for Metal Gear Solid 3? What were your initial thoughts when reading it over?
Josh Keaton: The script was HUGE! It was about the thickness of two phone books! And I didn’t even get the entire script. With video games, especially popular video games, there’s a lot of secrecy that surrounds them and many times, you’re only given the parts of the script that you’re in. I was initially surprised with the depth and complexity of the story line, but this ended up being a benefit because it helped to explain the character.
MGS:TUS: You have an interest to play the game but haven't yet; what are your expectations from the game?
Josh Keaton: Well I’ve heard nothing but good things about it and I love games with good stories, so I’m looking forward to playing it.
MGS:TUS: What are your favorite types of games in general? What are some you've gotten the chance to play through?
Josh Keaton: I’m a big fan of first person shooters and I love survival horror games (the whole RE series). I also love driving games like Crazy Taxi, the Simpsons, and 18 Wheeler.
MGS:TUS: Changing topics a bit now, unlike many of the other actors we've had a chance to talk with, you've also appeared in many on-screen roles. I want to talk first about some of the guest appearances you've made on some popular TV shows, and you experience with these. First of all: Will and Grace.
Josh Keaton: I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a nicer and more supportive cast. The people on that show work so well together that everything just flows really easily. They also go out of their way to make it a good working environment for the guest stars.
MGS:TUS: The Jamie Kennedy Experiment
Josh Keaton: I had to wear one of those hidden ear prompters and could hear everything the producers were telling me. Jamie Kennedy is a lot taller than I expected. I guess I got him confused with Seth Green (who’s very short), so I was a bit surprised when he walked out and was 6’2”.
Josh Keaton: This was fun because of the special effects makeup. The story was that my little brother was playing with our dad’s shotgun, I tried to take it away and it went off sending one of the shotgun pellets through my eye and blinding me. I looked tore up.
MGS:TUS: Boston Public
Josh Keaton: My character was kind of a badass who got mad at the teacher because he was going to be held back and physically attacks him. The teacher, however is no slouch and promptly knocks my character out cold. Great actors on this show.
MGS:TUS: You've also held a few reaccuring roles such as on "Skin".
Josh Keaton: Skin was disappointing because it was really shaping up to be a good show and I ended up being a series regular in the show, but my character first appeared in episode 4, which sucks considering it got canned after three episodes. They put us up against Monday Night Football and Raymond for cryin’ out loud.
MGS:TUS: The Young and the Restless
Josh Keaton: As with most soap operas, my character, Brenden, only appeared from time to time to cause trouble.
MGS:TUS: You had the chance to play a leading role in The Even Stevens Movie, what was the experience shooting this as compared to the rest of the screen work mentioned?
Josh Keaton: This was like a paid vacation. It filmed for a month in Hawaii; my room had its own Jacuzzi on the beach. And I got to work with The Ladies Man himself, Tim Meadows. Nice people in the cast, too.
MGS:TUS: On another note you're also very actively interested in music also; What type of music and groups are you interested in?
Josh Keaton: I have very diverse musical tastes. I love R&B (Brian McKnight, R. Kelly, John Legend, Mint Condition) as well as hip-hop, old school (Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Hall and Oates), Jazz (Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Charlie Parker, Harry Connick Jr.), Classical, Rock (everything from Deftones to Dashboard), and even Country.
MGS:TUS: What type of music are you working on now?
Josh Keaton: My music is very R&B/Soul influenced. I’m a piano player and love live instrumentation, so it has a lot of that feel.
MGS:TUS: Another important part for most voice artists includes Commercial/Promo, the stuff we hear every day on TV. Some of the commercial work you've done include voices for Six Flags, McDonalds, Verizon, UPS and Universal Studios among others; some promo voices which include: The OC, The History Channel, FOX Kids Network, etc.. How would you compare this type of voice work to say, animation?
Josh Keaton: Well there’s not really a whole lot of character development involved and much of one’s success in this area of the business really just depends on their speed/efficiency. Most TV or radio spots get an hour allocated to them to record. I usually don’t take more than 15 minutes. Commercial/Promo work is what I would consider my “day job.”
MGS:TUS: What is your best advice for anyone who would want to break into on screen, or voice acting?
Josh Keaton: Always be working on your craft. Also, luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation, so always be ready.
MGS:TUS: Thank you Josh you taking the time to do this interview; are there any closing comments you'd like to add for our readers?
Josh Keaton: I always do my best to make my characters something that makes the game more enjoyable, and as a video game fan, I’m a pretty tough critic. I’d like to thank everyone that has enjoyed my performance in MGS3, as well as metalgearsolid.org for taking the time to do this interview. My website (http://www.joshkeaton.com) will always be updated with my most current projects.
-- Interview by Brian Barnes-Spencer, 2.25.2005