| Last week I had the extreme good fortune to sit down and have a nice IM conversation with Luci Christian.
Over the course of a couple of hours we hit on just about everything and the contents are below.
If you ever get a chance to meet Luci, do so! You will not regret it.
~ Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with me today. So, what have you been up to lately?
Luci: Well, a lot. Thankfully. I’ve been working in Houston and Dallas, trying to keep up with my life, trying to file my taxes….you know, basic rockstar stuff.
~ Sounds like a real blast lol
Luci: It IS! I’m terribly fortunate. In fact, I’ll probably bore you to tears with how grateful I am about my life in general.
~ Oh I doubt that lol
Luci: Well, it all is pretty cool. I know so many people who… oops! heh.
~ … I’m assuming there’s a second half to that sentence?
Luci: …who’re struggling in jobs they don’t like, who’re unhappy….and, from those perspectives, I feel really fortunate. You assume correctly, grasshopper!
~ So every actor has a specific moment in their life. The moment when it dawns on them that acting is what they want to do as a career. What was that moment like for you?
Luci: I didn’t have a moment. I’m not kidding. Lemme tell you how it happened…. I was put onstage when I was 3. In high school, I discovered I had a natural aptitude for drama, plays and the like, but I didn’t honestly think I could turn it into a career. BUT… then I got a full scholarship offer if I declared Theatre as a major… so that’s how I picked my college and my major.
Then I ended up in Graduate School getting a masters degree… because the guy I was with at the time wanted to go get one… After I got the second degree, I hadn’t the money to head to LA or NY yet… so I came to Houston because I had an aunt that lived here and the Alley Theatre was here… all sort of happenstance…you see?
~ So it just kind of all fell into place around you?
Luci: Pretty much. It’s not terribly directed or exciting, but there it is.
~ Well it’s always nice when the world re-adjusts itself just for you.
Luci: I always knew I loved performing, though. It was a natural part of me and my personality. It IS nice when things fall into place! not that I didn’t struggle… we all struggle to make it… but I’ve had help and tried to do the best with what I’ve been given. That’s all we can really do, right?
~ Indeed. So, back at the beginning…. what brought you into ADV to voice act for anime?
Luci: My first foray into the world of anime was with Steven Foster back when he was doing Those Who Hunt Elves.. I worked for three hours, I think, and that was it. I never heard from them again.
THEN… my talent agency called one day and said they had a voice over audition for me for Neo Ranga. I got cast in that, met Don Rush, and that was that. He asked me back a couple of weeks later to read for Kaname in Full Metal Panic.
It should be said that after Neo Ranga, I went home and told my roommate at the time that I had NO SKILL at voicing anime, that I thought I was AWFUL.
Anyhoo, that’s how it began for me.
~ You moved from theater into voice acting, what was the biggest adjustment you had trouble making?
Luci: Hm. Well… voice acting is…very directed energy. not to sound too new agey, but it’s true. You put all you have, emotion wise, into this channel and direct it out through your pipes. It’s just focused a different way. and amped too. I’ve gotten to play characters in anime that I’d never have an opportunity to play in theatre or film…which is awesome. Not as much type-casting.
~ In a period of 6 or 7 years (since 1999), you have emerged into one of the most popular voice actresses in the industry. How does it feel to be seen as such a celebrity of the buisness?
Luci: It feels….nice? weird? unreal? great? All of that.
~ Good answer lol
Luci: I can honestly say that it isn’t something that I pursued, that it all happened very organically and so, from that perspective, it’s very gratifying. It’s a great perk – to enjoy what you do, to work with people you like, and then have some sort of acclaim on top of that…it was and continues to be a pleasant surprise.
~ So, 2003 was a big year in general as you also made your Con debut that year. So, I’ve read some interesting stories about that con so far but straight from you, what do you remember most about that con?
Luci: LOL Um…I remember being a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing… a sweet fan cried when they met me that was a little….freaky…but sweet… and then there was the infamous hugging incident….lol
~ Infamous hugging incident?
Luci: Oh man, it would sound all wrong in type…but let’s just say I felt a little gross and too Mrs. Robinson for my own good… really, that first con was awesome. It helped me understand a terribly important aspect of this industry…
~ So fan interaction is important for you?
Luci: Well, sure. In the sense that it clarified for me what anime represents for people. When I was younger, I was a reader. Through cons I saw the same kind of role-play/escapism/hero identification that I used to do through books.
It just helped me understand why so many people are into the shows. And most of the time, generally, fan interaction is nice simply because they’re sweet, appreciative, and I like meeting new people.
~ You’ve played a very wide range of roles from young boys to adult women. How does your approach to a character change based on age and gender? Does your characterization process get altered by these kind of factors?
Luci: Wow. that’s a big question.
~ hehe I like being the one that asks the tough questions
Luci: Yes, you go on with your bad, tough self, L.B.!
Luci: To be frank, I usually have very little idea of what is expected of me in any role, and I tend to ask questions and trust the director to guide me into the right sound. Really, when we’re playing around with voices I usually try a number of things and let the director hone in on whatever they think it should be…it starts out kind of formulaic, with age/gender/whatnot, and as we work with the script and animation it becomes a little more organic.
~ So you don’t have a specific process that you like to use to find your voice? That’s interesting.
Luci: Not really. Sometime you just hit it…other times it’s something found through trial and error.
~ Makes sense. So, jumping back a bit to Kaleido Star. Sarah was definately one of my favorite characters in that series, did you do your own singing in that series?
Luci: HA! I only laugh because I just recorded that last night…and I actually said “do you guys want me to actually sing?”….because no, the singing is already in there. But I do sing! Maybe not like her, but I am a singing fool. Ask anyone.
~ I’m sure that anyone who reads this interview would love to have a sound clip of that to listen to.
Luci: I’m sure they would. It would rawk them till the dawn.
~ lol Well it would be amusing at the very least
Luci: There are some shows I had to do some singing in…but it’s mostly silly.
~ Oh I plan on asking you about one of those singing incidents later actually.
Luci: I DID dub the Hello Kitty’s Animation Theatre theme song with Monica and Jessica Boone, and we liked how it came out…
~ I know that when I watched that series (Kaleido Star), I had more than a few times when I had to pause my DVD to stop laughing during one of your scenes. Did you ever get a bad case of the giggles while recording?
Luci: Absolutely. Sandra and I both think that Sarah is a hoot. She’s so terribly JOLLY…and she has great hair and when we loved recording the scene where Sarah and Kate have their conversation. We really wanted it to be so good that no one could tell I was talking to myself.
~ Personally I loved the scenes with you and Vic the most.
Luci: heh…Vic is hysterical.
~ Another title that got quite a bit of buzz upon it’s release was Princess Tutu which unfortunetly ran into some problems after the first volume was released. Was there any sense of frustration at the delay of volume 2 being released on your part?
Luci: Yes. There was. Because I really liked that show!
~ Yes, I remember how much you raved about it in the official ADV chat that you did for it.
Luci: I wanted to see what happened and I was excited about working on it…but sometimes the business side of things and the creative side of things aren’t on the same schedule. Oh man, I just did a commentary with Chris Patton for the final disk today. It’s a great show. That’s all. A solid, decent show with a great story, good characters, good sound and animation, all of it. BUY IT PEOPLE!
~ Now that’s an endorsement if I ever heard one!
Luci: For real.
~ You’ve been in a wide range of mediums including theater, anime, film and TV. What would be your favorite performance medium?
Luci: Hm… I would say….theatre feeds your soul. it’s therapy work for your heart and psyche and is incredibly gratifying. Film, tv, radio, anime…offer other challenges. and pays a lot more. In my world, it’s all good. I just want to work and make a living doing what I do. I think I have a lot more to learn about all of it.
~ Speaking of favorites, which kind of anime do you prefer the most to be in… comedy or drama?
Luci: Good question… I’m going to go with dramedy. The best shows, I think, are a mix of both. like life.
~ Care to give a prime example?
*at almost the exact same time as I sent my last question*
Luci: Full Metal Panic would be a good example.
Luci: Ha! we’re so on a wavelength!
~ One of those mind melds lol
Luci: Mind meld…a good band name..
~ I’ll have to suggest that to my band when I meet with them tonight.
Luci: Dude…bands are rad. I don’t have one..but I’m for them!
~ And now that I’ve asked you that, I have to ask you about Azumanga Daioh. You and Monica were the anime equivilant of the Odd Couple and if I may quote Monica, in the interview that I conducted with her, she said “I really got into Nyamo…in fact anytime I hear Luci sing that “Love letter” song it still makes me cringe.”. So, it’s not often that I hear you play the more… out spoken one…. So, what were some of the backstage highlights of performing this part that the audience might not know about?
Luci: Heh. That character was FUN. It was awesome to play such a cool, bipolar grown up… recording the Nyamo episode in volume 1 was just the bomb. It was so much fun, and I felt like we really did some creating of our own… I even threw in the Dutch Boy line, if you track that down… and the drunk scene!
~ Yes, I laughed quite hard at those scenes
Luci: I think we were practically crying, we were laughing so hard at some of that…”sleep barfing’…and then to bring back the pillow reference at the end and tie it all together…lol, good times. Note- I don’t remember that much detail about most sessions, but THAT was an awesome session!
~ So do you still find yourself singing the ‘love letter’ song?
Luci: Occasionally, at cons…and to annoy Monica…
~ lol Excellent. Sticking with comedy, how was it combining live action theater with anime for Super Milk Chan?
Luci: It was a blast! Really, it was a riot. So much fun.
~ Do you still get fans who are skittish around you from your portrayal on there?
Luci: Um, I don’t THINK so. (that’s not really ME, people…you can approach me, I won’t bite)
~ hehe I know that Christine Auten had quite a hard time with fans who were afraid of her after Milk Chan was released.
Luci: Well, she was so marvelously crazy in the footage…. She’s insanely talented, btw.
~ Oh I believe it. Any fun stories from backstage that didn’t make it into the final DVD versions?
Luci: Too many. Really, it was too much fun. Anything associated with Steven Foster is going to be a riot to work on, no lie.
~ Shifting gears slightly, let’s talk Madlax! I love this show! I’ve had the distinct joy of interviewing more than a couple of cast members thus far for this site and now, it’s your turn. So, what was your intial reaction to this show?
Luci: Hm…my initial reaction was….what the crap is going on here? I was fed bits and pieces of the plot as we went along…but I didn’t know why Margaret was so spacey, and what the connection was with Madlax, and why everything was so IMPORTANT…the rain, the red shoes… Monica took great care with the script and told us not to goof with it, that it was all important and would become clearer over time. She was right…it’s a great show.
~ Did you petition to play the role of Margaret or was it more the suggestion of the director, Kyle Jones?
Luci: I don’t petition to play anything. I just don’t. Kyle auditioned me for Madlax and Margaret…and cast me as Margaret. I don’t mean to sound weird with the petitioning thing, but I just never want to bug directors. I trust that things will come as they will, that people will read you for what they want.
~ Did you feel any kind of affinity for playing Madlax? Nancy is wonderful in that role but hearing that you auditioned for me has my mind reeling with the possibilities of what it would’ve been like had you played that role.
Luci: It’s always nice to think you’re reading for the title role of a show (hi, Tutu *smile*), but I didn’t have time to really set my mind on it or be disappointed about not playing her. I was grateful to be another good role.
~ During the conversations with SSS, you got a couple of chances to have your comedic instincts spar with the likes of the devious Jay Hickman. So, from your perspective, what was a night of everyone getting together to have a conversation with SSS like?
Luci: Ha! Jay IS devious…and brillant, blast him. It was a freakin’ hoot! Kyle Jones and Jay Hickman in a room together is a party waiting to happen…lol. They’re really so funny. Everybody felt free to let their hair down.
~ I loved the conversation you had back on Volume 1 (I believe) with your laundry being threatened. lol
Luci: HA! That was funny…but I have a fondness for Margaret’s O-Town special…that made me giggle for days…
~ So, I’m guessing that the screen name fancypants56 was just thought up on the spot?
Luci: Yes, that was a spontaneous creation.
~ Even more hilarious than the Conversations, was the Sock Puppet Theater on Volume 6. So, let’s ask the burning question right now…. how much did it make you melt when your left hand got to make out with Chris Patton?
Luci: Number one, it’s not my hand. Number two, melt really isn’t the right word. When I dubbed the puppet…um, tonguing Chris Patton I was totally laughing…and a little grossed out…in the laughing way..
~ That wasn’t your hand?… who’s hand was it?
Luci: I’ve no idea…maybe Kyle’s? In the credits you’ll see all of the helpers listed under “hands” I’m listed under “voices”
~ lol Fair enough.. though I can honestly say that’s the first time I’ve heard of an actor having to match ‘sock flaps’
Luci: Yes, it was a STRETCH. lol
~ One of your more recent projects is Diamond Daydreams which has you teaming up with Kyle Jones once again. This series is told in an interesting format with every two episodes telling a different story, was this an odd adjustment for you or were you able to just go with the flow?
Luci: It was kind of nice, actually… to come in and just do your thing for a couple of eps. not to have to carry an entire show… it was good.
~ I haven’t seen it yet but it is definately one that I am looking forward to.
Luci: Well, it was kind of cool because that’s an ADV title that has some Funimation talent in it as well…in my particular eps, Laura Bailey plays my old friend.
~ That’s very cool, I’ve been noticing that Funimation and ADV has been sharing talent more and more lately.
Luci: Yeah…it’s nice to go between the studios.
~ So, we’ve now reached the point of the interview when I’m going to pick five of my favorite characters that you’ve played (not an easy task mind you) and I’d like for you to tell me, what were your favorite and least favorite parts of not only the character but performing them in the booth.
~ Yukari Tanizaki from Azumanga Daioh:
Luci: Favorite thing…getting to stretch myself comedically…getting to play a grown up…the drunk scene. Least favorite thing…my voice hurting from all the screaming. The fact that she didn’t say more later in the series.
~ I personally am an advocate for Yukari and Nyamo getting their own spin off series.
~ Yukari and Nyamo: The College Years!
Luci: I should say that my favorite thing actually about Yukari was her wide emotional range…too funny….and least favorite, from a human being perspective, is that she’s so shallow and such a poor teacher..but in the world of anime that makes her sooooo funny.
~ Ok… Duck from Princess Tutu:
Luci: Favorite things: Drawn so lovingly, so much range of voice and emotion between the duck, the girl, and Tutu. It was a challenge to do them all justice. I felt like I had to work. Least favorite thing… um… that it ended.
~ That’s it?
Luci: There wasn’t a thing I didn’t like about that show…except I will say that Tutu was the hardest of the three to play. Don’t ask me why…but it was tough to let this soft-spoken ballerina superhero get mad or yell when she needed to. Also, I worked on Tutu with Jin Ho Chung, who’s a great director and friend…and Matt was our engineer, who I’ve known for years through theatre…so all around everything about that show was a free gift. and I got paid to do it!
~ Next up… Tetsunosuke Ichimura from Peacemaker:
Luci: Wow. Favorite things…love how spunky Tetsu is, liked how Peacemaker unfolded, great ending….his voice settled in pretty quickly, which was awesome. Least favorite…hm… Wow, I don’t know. I can’t think of any really bad things…I did think for awhile that the plot was a bit slow, but by the end I was okay with it. I would say something about yelling in a boys voice, but Peacemaker wasn’t near as taxing vocally as, say, Abenobashi.
~ Fair enough… Mugimaru from Nurse Witch Komugi:
Luci: Aw! That was fun. Okay, I liked playing off of the Canadian voices, and it was fun as a chick to be the pervy rabbit… But that voice was a bit painful, and more than two hours of it made me feel like my throat was bleeding. The show itself was so funny. Really, one of my favorite things was that they used the Canadian cast. Very cool.
~ Sakura Haruno from Wandaba Style:
Luci: Easy. Favorite things – being bratty as Sakura and working with my dear friend John Swayze. He had such fun directing that show, and it was cool to help him make it ROCK. Least favorite…that we didn’t get to really sing as Mix Juice.
~ Yes, I was really disapointed about that too.
Luci: Yeah, we wanted to.
~ I must say that the opening and closing themes to that anime do get regular rotation in my ipod lol
Luci: Heh, it’s funny how some themes get to you like that. My guilty pleasure favorite is the opening of Super Gals. Love it.
~ Ok, one comment I keep getting is that I don’t ask enough fun questions. So, before I finish this interview off… if you were stranded on a deserted island provided with all essential needs such as food, water, shelter… what three luxuries would you want to take with you?
Luci: Hm…. I’m thinking, gimme a sec…
~ Take your time lol
Luci: Important people….friends and family I can’t live without…. um…. a big chest full of books, magazines, and music… and enough lip balm and coffee to keep me puckered up and wired for days on end. Oh, and my doggie. Who would be totally hot and shedding all over the place.
~ lol Ok technically that is more than three items but we won’t nitpick.
Luci: Yes, let’s not.
~ So, if you were any fruit OR vegtable… what would you be and why?
Luci: lol…I would be a mango…
Luci: Because they’re pretty to look at and smell good…and though it may be a royal mess getting it skinned and cut up to eat, in the end it’s totally worth it.
~ lol Good enough answer.
Luci: Thanks. I worked at that one.
~ So, what are you most looking forward to in the coming year that’s anime related?
Luci: working. I know that sounds trite, but I’m an actor….and working is good. I look forward to new challenges in this field, to meeting more people and stretching myself.
~ Any new projects that you’d like to reveal here for your fans?
Luci: Well, I’m HOPING that FMP 2nd Raid will be in my future… but really, I can’t say for sure what’s coming down the pike.
~ Well I certainly hope that you’ll keep me informed of any major developments.
Luci: You got it, toots.
~ lol Ok, I can now check off ‘get called ‘toots’ by a voice actress’ on my things to do before I die list.
Luci: Yay! Happy to help. Toots. *giggle*
~ So, that’s all I have. Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to talk to me. It was a real treat. Finally the obligatory question that I ask everyone, are there any parting words or thoughts that you would like to leave with your fans?
Luci: Thank YOU, kind sir. And thanks, everyone, for taking the time to read this. I appreciate being able to do this work, and I hope you’re pursuing those things that YOU want to do. Thanks for the support – blessings to you and yours.
Thank you again to Luci Christian for taking the time out of her very busy schedule to talk with me! If you’d like to keep up to date with her career, you’ll want to join her official yahoo group.