Ninterview: Meet Trevor White - Voice Actor For Frank Honey
Posted by Orla Madden
WAFFLES?! Uh, what are we doing?
Last month, our Wii U consoles were graced with the latest addition to the LEGO video game franchise, LEGO City: Undercover. It brought numerous missions and a brick load of entertainment thanks to its selection of fun and witty characters.
One of these characters, in particular, seems to be the people's favourite, and we can see why. It's hard not to love Frank Honey; he's cuddlesome with endless charm, and has some of the most memorable lines in the game, with the result being gamers chuckling throughout the LEGO adventure.
But there's always a voice doing all the hard work, and Trevor White is that man for the lovable sidekick. We grabbed Trevor to chat about how he began his career in voice acting, his role as Frank Honey, and if Frank had a spin-off game, what would it be.
Nintendo Life: Welcome Trevor, thank you so much for agreeing to chat with us. Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
Trevor White: Where to begin? I suppose my birth. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada back in the wild 1970s. (Were they wild? I'm not sure. I was only young). I went to Queens University in Canada, majored in Economics, realized what a terrible bore that was, and started acting. I moved to London in 2001, and have been living here ever since.
NL: You've appeared in a number of TV series, such as Downton Abbey and Episodes, right up to getting a part as a Yuppie in the hit block-buster film The Dark Knight Rises. Tell us how you first began your career in voice acting.
TW: I started doing voice work back in Vancouver: commercials mainly, but also the odd video game or animated series. Over here in the UK the variety of voice work is amazing. I've been lucky enough to do dozens of video games, TV shows, animated series (the US version of Chuggington), audiobooks, and over 20 Radio Dramas for the BBC, including Moby Dick, Revolutionary Road and The Great Gatsby.
NL: We must say you did an incredible job voicing Frank, he's clearly a favourite amongst many who've played the game. Did you have to audition for your part as Frank in LEGO City: Undercover?
Every character and voice job is so different, I think you try to be inspired by the material, and whatever it is that you as a person and performer can bring to it.
TW: I think I did. It was honestly so long ago I can't remember! Sometimes you get offered the part having worked with the director or producers before, or sometimes you have to audition. One of the nice things about voice auditions, as compared to acting auditions, is that you don't have to memorize. Memorizing is really boring.
NL: Was there any room for improvisation at all with Frank's character, or was the game pretty tightly scripted?
TW: Tons. Having said that, I think the script is brilliant, and one of the best things about the game. It always helps hugely when you've got great writing, it's such a joy and so much fun to play with, and then if the director and writer are up for you to noodle around the words and improvise a bit, all the better. I had so much fun with Frank - he's probably the most fun character I've ever voiced.
NL: Did you work with any of the other voice actors directly, or was everything done in isolation? Do you feel that this affected your performance?
TW: It was always in isolation, but sometimes the studio will play in the other actors lines, for context and to help with continuity and performance.
NL: Who would you say are your inspirations as a voice actor? And for your portrayal of Frank Honey?
TW: Every character and voice job is so different, I think you try to be inspired by the material, and whatever it is that you as a person and performer can bring to it, rather than maybe being inspired by a specific individual, if that makes any sense! But I just loved Frank's heart, sincerity and simplicity. And the fact that he puts himself out there without shame or self-awareness. Like a big puppy, I suppose.
NL: Do you see much of yourself in Frank?
TW: People do describe me a as a bit of a puppy, now that I think of it. Not because of my appearance, I hope, but maybe more because I'm quite upbeat, energetic and outgoing, and probably more than a little bit naive.
NL: Hypothetically, Frank Honey gets his own spinoff game. What should the plot be?
TW: I think Frank would love to marry Ellie, and maybe do something really fun like be a Space Astronaut Police Chief on another, as of yet, undiscovered planet, where everyone thinks he's really clever and funny. That would be nice.
NL: Were you a LEGO fan growing up?
TW: Absolutely. And my 10 year old nephew lives for it. And it's cool how LEGO can now live in the virtual world as well.
NL: Would you consider yourself as a big video games fan? If not, what do you like to do outside of your hectic schedule?
TW: I do like video games, but I don't really play them that much, as I find the commitment to solving any one particular game can be huge. Like watching 7 seasons of The West Wing or something - that is a SERIOUS commitment! Truthfully, the franchise I like the best are the Resident Evil games. There's just something weirdly satisfying about shooting zombies, and getting scared running around in dark corridors infested with the walking dead. I can't explain it.
NL: Are you interested in doing any more game voice roles in future? Are you working on anything at the moment?
TW: I have just finished working on a few games, but because of non-disclosure agreements, I'm not allowed to say which ones until they're released. But weirdly I have been doing a lot of Russian characters lately, which has been fun, and even a Dutch one. That's the beauty of voice work, you just never quite know what's going to be next!
NL: We appreciate your time for the interview Trevor, all the best for the future from all the team at Nintendo Life!
Ninterviews are a series of interviews where we get to know interesting people with a passion for Nintendo. Please contact us if you have any suggestions for future Ninterviews. Click here to see the full series.