Mike Pollock aka Dr. Eggman Interview
There's no one more sinister than the vile Dr. Robotnik... or Eggman, Eggface, Baldy McNosehair, Egghead. In his 30 years as the main antagonist in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, Dr. Eggman has brought the world to ruin, unleashed great evils across her fertile lands, and even split it into multiple pieces. So it has to be a lot of fun playing the role of such an evildoer, right?
We had a chance to have an email interview with the voice of Dr. Robotnik, the one and only Mike Pollock. We tried to derive as much information out of him as possible, but as the ever-consummate voice actor has proven, he has remained as tight-lipped as ever.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in the 1970s loving theater and rado [sic]. I listened to old-time and then-current radio dramas, did all sorts of school and community theater, and got involved in the high-school radio program at a local college’s radio station. When it came time to choose a career path in the 1980s, I looked at both radio and theater as options, but chose radio for being the slightly-more-stable employment choice of the two. During college, I interned and then part-timed as an air talent, board-op and production guy at the blg local radio cluster in Syracuse, New York. After a few years of that, I moved to Rochester, New York, in the early 1990s for a short-lived stint as a Production Director at a rock station, from which I was fired after a year for being “not Rock & Roll enough.” Then I went back to the New York area for an almost-15-year gig at a radio syndication company. I started out duplicating and shipping programs on audio tape, progressed to writing and occasionally voicing comedy bits and song parodies, weathered a temporary layoff, and ended up regurgitating news stories until the workload became too burdensome and my boss decided we should part ways. During the layoff, around 2001, I put together a demo reel of my comedy bit characters, and sent that out to some anonymous classified ads which led to booking roles at 4Kids and NYAV Post. Those gigs both snowballed into other work for them (including Sonic X) and for other similar companies, all while moonlighting on the syndication day job to which I had returned. I also started training with a voice-over coach to kick-start an expansion into commercials, narrations, promos and other genres. That gave me the skills I needed to transition to the exclusively-freelance lifestyle in 2008 when radio gave me the final boot.
How do you see the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise compared to where it was in 2006 with Sonic the Hedgehog '06?
Since I’ve spent two decades as an independent contractor, I’ve learned not to judge my clients’ output. That’s not what they hire me for. I’m there to breathe life into the scripts they give me to the best of my ability. As long as they choose to keep hiring me, they can do no wrong.
How has Dr. Robotnik/Eggman evolved in the last couple decades in your eyes?
Again, that’s for others to judge. All I know is he’s just as much fun to perform today as he was when I debuted in Sonic X on August 23, 2003.
With the newest Sonic game still under wraps, what can you tell us about its progress in your department? Have the voices been recorded?
Thanks to the magic of Non-Disclosure Agreements, any upcoming projects that have yet to be released may or may not exist. As I’ve learned to say, most cagily, “If I knew, I couldn’t tell you.”
What name do you prefer Robotnik or Eggman?
My scripts have always said, “Dr. Eggman,” but as William Shakepeare wrote:
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
— Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
How does voice acting work in gaming, do you know what scenes you're representing, or do you just receive the lines without context?
When I arrive at the studio (or my home studio these days) for a typical four-hour session, I’ll receive a very minimal script. It’s mostly my lines (we tend to all record separately), except for cutscenes which are more-or-less complete for context purposes. The director and the rest of the production team will give me as much backstory as they think I need, I’ll ask any questions I might have, then I’ll go line-by-line and give them two-or-three takes. If they like my interpretation, we move on to the next line. If not, I’ll do it until I get it right. It’s all highly efficient.
You have a big presence on social media and you really like to interact with fans. What exactly do the fans mean to you?
Without fans, I wouldn’t have whatever form of celebrity I’ve been able to enjoy, so I never take the fandom for granted. I’m grateful for each and every one. We do butt heads and run into problems occasionally when folks want to interact with the fictional character rather than the factual actor, but after an explanation and a moment’s thought, meeting me in reality seems to make sense to most people. My character performance really works best when my clients hand me scripts to read. I also often try in vain to get folks to notice the myriad of other work that takes up the bulk of my time.
For several years now Robotnik has been a sort of two-dimensional character. If you were the writer, how would you spice up his story to make him more multidimensional?
I hung up my dialog-writing hat when my radio gig ended, so I’m not going to try to beat the Sonic writers at their own game. If they hand me words, I’ll do whatever I can to lift them off the page.
How do you feel about past Eggman voice overs, were there any you particularly loved or disliked?
I loathe playing favorites, since it’s not fair to all the non-favorites, but the Sonic Boom TV series stands out simply because I seldom get to work ensemble-style with my extremely talented colleagues. Even recording together remotely instead of separately is better than nothing.
Do you know if there has ever been a Sonic Adventure 3 in the works and if it was scrapped? If there was a SA3, what do you think Eggman's role would be since Adventure 1/2 both proved there are evils far greater than Eggman.
Not as far as I know, but I usually only know about things when they involve me, and when they do, I can’t talk about them. I’m not one to speculate on plots. I’d rather leave the content-generation to the professional content generators.
Thank you for your time.