The Voice Of Rosen
Actor Michael Rosenbaum is no stranger to video games. Since voicing Valens in 2003’s Gladius, the star of Smallville, Breaking In, and Sorority Boys has gone on to do voices in both 2006’s Yakuza and 2008’s Dark Sector. But it’s hard to believe any of them prepared him for his work as Nick, Juliet’s decapitated but still talking boyfriend in Lollipop Chainsaw. Good thing he has friends in high places.
EGM: So I’m going to skip the question about how you got the gig since it was probably the usual story about your agent blah blah blah…
Michael Rosenbaum: Actually, no. I got the gig because James [Gunn, the game’s co-creator] and I are best friends. He just called me up and said, “Hey, you want to be in my game? You’ll be this head who’s attached to this zombie killer’s waist, your girlfriend’s waist?” “Yeah, sure, okay. Sounds fun.”
EGM: That was it, he just asked nicely?
MR: Yeah. That’s what happens when your friends who are talented ask you to do things. When it’s your friends who are not that talented ask you to do things, it’s harder to say “Yes.”
EGM: When you did the voice work, did he show you pictures of Nick’s head to give you an idea of what they were looking for?
MR: Yeah, he showed me some ideas, but I really just went in and yelled for three hours. We just blazed through it.
EGM: Did you get to improv any of your lines?
MR: A lot of it was written, but there’s kind of a method to it where I’d say the line how it’s written three or four times, but then I’d do my own version of it. There’s a lot of different ways you can say, “F*** off.” We just had a lot of fun with it.
EGM: Since most of your lines are with Tara Strong, who does the voice of your girlfriend, Juliet, did you get to record them with her?
MR: No, and that always sucks. When I did the voice of The Flash on Justice League, it was fun because, when I wasn’t off filming Smallville, I’d be in the same room with everybody and you get to work off each other. But for this, I did it on our own. Though James would often read Juliet’s lines, which would make it easier.
EGM: This game has a rather impressive cast that includes Michael Rooker from The Walking Dead, Gregg Henry from the movie Payback, and Sean Gunn, who most people know from Gilmore Girls. But the one that stuck out for me was Linda Cardellini from Freaks and Geeks, who also did a voice for Gladius.
MR: Oh my god, I forgot about that. Yeah, I know Linda, she’s another of James’ friends. She’s a lot of fun. She’s a lot funnier than people realize.
EGM: Were most of the people in the cast brought in by James? I know he worked with Michael Rooker on the movie Slither, and Sean is his brother….
MR: Yeah…nepotism, what the f***? Heh heh heh. James would have these Sunset Sundays at Sean’s house, and all of the people who are in Lollipop Chainsaw would come to these parties for years. We’d have Mafia nights, where we’d play the game Mafia. So most of the people [in the cast] are people James knew. It’s always easier to work with your friends. I actually did the same thing with my first feature, Old Days [which costars Morena Baccarin (Firefly) and Nick Swardson (Grandma’s Boy)] because I knew they’d come in and work their asses off and not be a pain in the ass.
EGM: Lollipop Chainsaw has been criticized by some people for its sexual content, what with Juliet being a scantily clad teenager and all. When you first got the script, were there any lines that you thought were going too far?
MR: I don’t think so. I think you have a really strong female character in Juliet, and once you establish that…I mean, she’s a high school cheerleader zombie killer and I’m a decapitated head attached to her belt, I think everyone gets the dark sense of humor that we’re throwing at them.
Of course, I haven’t played much of the game yet, so maybe I’ll call you back in a couple weeks and say, “Wow, I was wrong, this really offended me. Why did I do this, Paul?”
EGM: Do you have any other games coming up?
MR: I don’t. Like I said, I’ve been working the last year on Old Days, which I directed, and we’re editing it now. And I’ve got Hit & Run [with Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Bradley Cooper (The Hangover)] coming out in August.
EGM: So I know you do play games. Are there any that you’d really like to do a voice for?
MR: There was a game based on the movie The Warriors, that’s one of my favorite movies, I would’ve loved to have done a voice in that. Modern Warfare, I’d love to do a voice in that. My friend is such a huge fan of Diablo, so I’d like to do a voice in that, too. I have a lot of fun with these games, I am a bit of a gamer, so having a voice in a game is like…I was going to say “playing with myself,” but I better not.