In a recent interview with Gaming Reinvented, former Bowser voice actor Scott Burns discussed taking up the character in Super Mario Sunshine. He discussed the challenges of the role, how he got into character, and fan reception of his final performance. You can read a few excerpts below:
On getting into character and having some fun with the role:
In subsequent recording sessions I was able to work with video of Bowser, matching his feet stomps, chest thumps and laughing. Adding physicality to the voice lends to the character becoming even more 3 dimensional… not to mention an exhaustive cardio workout from the multiple takes.
On exactly what style Nintendo wanted Scott Burns to pull off as Bowser:
They told me that while Bowser was technically the bad guy who’s only goal in the game is to mess up Mario, they didn’t want him to be TOO scary because kids would be playing the game. I thought about it a moment and applied my version of a Santa Clause voice with a bit of growl to it. They liked it and the first English speaking Bowser was born.
On the challenges of voice acting for a video game, as well as the mixed fan reception to Scott Burns’ performance as Bowser:
I think some fans probably would have liked to have the voice be more fierce, and I’d have to agree with them. If I could do him now, I’d like to put a bit more nuance into the performance as well. They also told me they were going to alter the pitch on some of the lines so, ‘go ahead with what you’re doing.’
One must remember that doing voices for video games is a technical feat as much as acting. Each line must fit into a certain time frame. For instance, they’d tell me, ‘OK… Bowser’s yell has to be exactly 3.8 seconds long, let’s do it again.’ Or, ‘Can you make him growl, but then have him morph that into a laugh? This one needs to come in at 4.5 seconds.’
Scott Burns ultimately left the role after recording Super Mario Sunshine due to conflicts with his membership in the Screen Actors Guild. Nearly two decades after the game originally came out, it is very cool to see some reflection and exposition on the work that went into the role. Hats off to Scott Burns and Gaming Reinvented for a great interview.
Bowser is set to show off his speaking skills again soon, though, once the Super Mario Bros. animated movie launches next year with Jack Black taking the role.