The Kyle Files [EXCLUSIVE Interview: Tristan MacAvery]

DISCLAIMER: The opinions and views expressed in the following interview may not be those of the staff  of Kyle Hebert.com. 

Q: Tristan......that's a rockin' name.  Any stories behind that?

A: Originally, I suppose, the Teutonic/Anglican version of the name was “Tristram.” Wagner’s opera Tristan and Isolde is part of the Ring cycle, and of course that’s where veterinarians Tristan and Sigfried Farnon got their names in the All Creatures Great and Small books. In my own case, it’s just a cool name that I ended up with. The whole thing is Tristan Alexander MacAvery. Yes, you may kneel when you say that…  I guess I should also say that I chose the name myself, changing it from my birth name back in California in 1986. Thereby hangs a tale. Maybe I’ll tell it one day.

Q: Gendo Ikari in Neon Genesis Evangelion is probably your most prominent role. What else have you done?

A: I’ve done about 50+ voices for ADV Films, among them Grandpa Danbei in Cutey Honey, the evil frog Joyrock in Slayers: The Motion Picture, Waldiss (another bad guy) in Dirty Pair Flash, Mission One, and the slick and sinister Kogure in Golden Boy 3 (known best for the Kogure Korkscrew Kiss).
  
Q: How did you become a voice actor? What's your favorite role?         

A: I’ve had little voices in my head for decades; I figured it was time that I got them out of there and put to work to earn me some cash! I found an agent in Houston back in 1995, and a year later, Tiffany Grant (who worked with my agent) got me involved with ADV. I’m working on a book called Confessions of an American Seiyuu to tell everyone all about my experiences, warts and all; with luck, it’ll be available in the fall of 2003.

My favorite role? That’s really hard to pick, since so many roles are so cool for different reasons. Gendo is a chance to look at a character in depth, to try to find nuances in the delivery of a line or rephrasing a line. A character like the Boss in Golden Boy 6 is fun just because it’s so over-the-top that you can go into the booth and just get wacky. (Amanda Winn Lee tells a joke on the Golden Boy himself, Doug Smith: About half an hour before his recording time, she’d take him a package of donuts, a candy bar, and a soda—anything to boost the sugar level way high—and get him into the booth “stoned” on a sugar rush, so that he’d have the energy to kick down the role! Now, that is a fun role to play!)

Q: Was Gendo hard to voice?  How was Gendo like/unlike you?       

A: I would rather have had the chance to see or read the entire show before voicing Gendo; the shades, the subtleties, the deepest parts of the role—these may have been lost in the original series released by ADV. (Writer/Director Matt Greenfield hadn’t even seen the whole thing when he started working on the script. This should give us all a clue.)

I have at least a little of Gendo’s monomania; I become absorbed by projects, single-mindedly following a particular route until it either gets me where I want to go or I hit a brick wall. This is not necessarily an enviable trait. I’ll defend myself by saying that at least I’ve not tried to overtake all of reality! Gendo is clearly intelligent, dedicated to a vision, and despite all the times he seems to be a using granite-hearted bastich, he’s also a passionate and ardent lover. C’mon, the man is trying to end the world in order to be back with his wife—is that staying-power or what?!?!

Q: Aside from being a voice actor, you're also a published author. What can you tell us about that?

A: Probably a lot more than your readers would like to know! <grin> I’ve been writing for over 30 years, and I’ve been a “published author” (meaning that my work was accepted for publication in something other than a school newspaper or something) for 25 years. I’ve had work appear in a variety of literary magazines, as well as articles for Writer’s Digest, Heart Life, and even a Playboy Party Joke. My first novel, a demoniacal horror tale called Divine Intervention, came out in 2001; my second novel, an intelligent romantic intrigue (believe it or not) called Lion Dance, came out in August of this year. Next up, a “haunted house murder mystery” called Tea for Twenty, which should be out next spring. And don’t worry, there’s a lot more where this came from.

You may not know that I also wrote and directed scripts for ADV Films back in 1998: Princess Minerva, Dark Warrior, Ushio & Tora, Panzer Dragoon (egad!), Galaxy Fraulein Yuna 1, and the first four episodes of Those Who Hunt Elves. I also scripted the first two dub scripts of Master of Mosquiton (which Matt Greenfield has taken credit for) and the first two dub scripts of Original Dirty Pair (which Janice Williams has taken credit for). If you look on the DVD of Those Who Hunt Elves, Greenfield has also taken credit for writing and directing those episodes. I believe that the dictionary definitions of “thief” and “liar” might be applicable here. You can make up your own mind.

Q: Do you feel your voice acting experience has helped or influenced your writing or vice versa?

A: Both, unquestionably. That’s a kind of cop-out answer, but I plead the chicken/egg problem. Each influences the other in countless ways. I always wrote strong dialog, even when I first began writing. Then again, I always had those little voices in my head, so which really came first? My advice is this: Voice Actors—read lots and lots of dialogs, whether in scripts or novels or whatever. Writers—listen to lots and lots of dialogs, whether in shows, television, or real life. It pays off on both sides!

Q: Is Gendo evil?

A: EVIL (adj) 1. morally bad; wicked. 2. harmful or tending to harm. 3. disagreeable (has an evil temper). 4. unlucky; causing misfortune (evil days). (The Oxford Illustrated Dictionary)

Gendo is beyond the common concept of morality; his vision is one of absolute reality, and the manipulation and control of that reality. It can be argued that he harms others, because his manipulation of absolute reality will affect everyone, thank you very much—and yet, if you look at the concept of the Human Instrumentality Project, the goal is to reunite all of reality/humanity/everything into a single consciousness. In other words, Gendo isn’t “playing God,” he’s actually creating God.

There’s a whole can of worms in the very concept of good/evil that would take much too long to get into here. However, I would offer one tiny insight into Gendo that you might not have considered before. According to Christian mythology, Lucifer was the highest of all Angels until God decided that he would create humans—creatures which had the free will to defy God, and in fact had the ability to become stronger than God. Figuring this was a bad deal for Angels, Lucifer fought back and was “cast down.” Instead of Hell, Lucifer is actually part and parcel of man’s desire to become more than himself. Since it is man’s goal to become God (by reuniting All That Is with the power of his own will), Lucifer—known as the Light bringer—is simply helping God to fulfill His original (perhaps unintended) idea. Gendo is the personification of the Light bringer himself.

That ought to spark a few interesting conversations! <grin>

Q: Did you "get" the end of Eva and could you clarify it for the rest of us who didn't?

A: All theories and explanations are correct. That’s the beauty of the ending, whether it’s the original episodes 25/26 or the film End of Evangelion. Everyone creates their own concept of the ending, and therefore shows each person exactly what his next step of enlightenment really is. The more you see in the ending, the more you see in the universe.

If that’s a little too Zen, I’ll offer this: Both endings are based upon the realization that there is no reality other than the one each individual creates. In the original series, Shinji has to come to terms with the fact that his reality is his own creation from beginning to end, and therefore all the pain and isolation he feels is because he’s put up his own walls and fears—his own AT Field, so to speak. At the end of the original series, he breaks through, is briefly reunited with all of the guides, or guardian angels, or whatever you want to call them, who congratulate him on his arrival at the next level—and then he’s left alone to contemplate what he’s going to create next.

The ending of the film is a little like the ending of the movie The Quiet Earth (highly recommended!). The concept is that consciousness is all that molds and creates the world, and once Shinji has discovered this, he recreates a world from its very inception, with Asuka as his Eve. The line “I feel sick” is the indication that she’s pregnant. Shinji will rebuild the world from the beginning, using this ancient myth of First Man, First Woman to start over cleanly.

Disclaimer: None of this is “official party line”—it’s just my sick and twisted concept. For more info, listen to the amazing audio commentary track on the Manga Entertainment DVDs. (Beats anything ADV ever even attempted to produce, I can assure you.)

Q: How much wood would a wood-chuck chuck if a wood-chuck could chuck wood?

A: Approximately 2.3152375 cords per day, based upon an average weight-to-teeth ratio of 12:1 per woodchuck, the overall softness rating of the wood being chucked, and a small slice of meatloaf.

Q: Any word on an American debut of "Neon Genesis Evangelion: Iron Maiden"? (Playstation/Dreamcast game)

A: Not a clue, alas. Heck, I don’t even have “Super Mario Bros!” I’m a word and puzzle game person.

Q: Which Eva Unit would you pilot and what would you do with it?

A: Gimmie that big red mutha with the progressive knife, and let mego carve up a certain building on Bintliff Road, just off of Harwin, in Houston TX. In the name of oppressed anime fans everywhere, I would vanquish the evil ADV to the bowels of Hell, rescue all of the works that they’ve usurped and destroyed over the years, and skewer the miscreants to the Lance of Longiness and impale them on the moon forever. ALL POWER TO THE OTAKU!!!!!

Q: If our resident Asuka jumped in her Eva, squashed you underfoot, and wiped your guts off on a nearby building, what would you do?

A: Given my condition as you describe it … I think I’d just sort of… drip into nasty puddles for a while …

Q: What would you say to Gendo if you met him in real life?

A: “Okay, Ikari-san, level with me: Just who in all of NERV did you really get into the sack? Just Ritsuko and her mom, or is it true what they say about clones? And do you have a spare that I could borrow for the evening???”

Kidding. (Well, sort of.) Actually, I’d have to say something like, “You have those who fight you, those who follow you, those who do not know you exist, and those who pray for your death. In all of these, you have no one who wants to listen to your vision. I am listening.”

Q: How can fans get in touch with you? Do you have a website?

A: You betchum, Red Rider! Visit the site at www.aslansmuse.com . I do my best to keep it up, although I get pretty far behind. You can read lots of stuff that I’ve written, including sample chapters from my novels, stuff that’s going on in my life at the moment (more or less at the moment, anyway), and even a few rants which have probably placed me on some FBI list somewhere. Further down the page, you can find an A-to-Z list of all kinds of things—look under “E” for email. (Gosh, isn’t that logical of me???)

Just a little warning on the emails: I get absolutely crazy-busy sometimes, and I can get waaaaay behind on answering emails. (Just ask Steve!) So if you don’t get an answer right away, please forgive my tardiness—just know that I’ve read your email and thank you very much for writing. It sounds cliché, but it’s true: You guys are what I do it for. FANS ROCK!