Interview: Clifford Rippel on his role as Vincent in Silent Hill 3

Clifford Rippel played Father Vincent: a strange and mysterious priest of The Order from Silent Hill 3. It has been several years since since Silent Hill 3 hit the Playstation 2 and PC. I caught up with Clifford to go over his role from one of my favorite games of all time.

If you’re a die hard Silent Hill fan, check out the interview to find out some interesting bits of info that you might not have known. You might be pleasantly surprised by some things Clifford has to say!

ROH: Silent Hill 3 released in 2003, and Silent Hill 4 in 2004, what have you been doing since then? Any other voice acting jobs or did you take a different career path?

CR: Well, first let me start off by saying that I wasn’t involved with Silent Hill 4. I know many people seem to think I did the Jasper character, but that’s not true. I auditioned for it twice, but in the end, I didn’t get it. I don’t know where the mixup came from, but I’d like to help resolve it. But to answer your question, shortly following SH3 I did the Kirk Levin/Ark character for the mech game Murakumo, with Jeremy again directing the voices. I was working fairly heavily up through 2004, doing a number of commercials, educational voice overs, and small roles in 2 Japanese films. It was the birth of my daughter in late 2003 that took me in an altogether different direction regarding career. During my time in Tokyo I was becoming more and more passionate about the coffee industry, particularly espresso machines, so we returned to the States by way of Seattle and I spent the next 6 years working in that field. Now, strangely enough I’m back in Japan living a much slower life in the country.

ROH: That’s interesting about Jasper. A lot of fans swore you were him; thanks for clearing that up!

So, after Silent Hill 3, you did some work in the acting field, the coffee industry, and then moved back to Japan. I hear that many places in Japan are quite peaceful.

I’ve been told that you have some control over the Bela Lugosi property or rights? Tell me about that. That’s pretty interesting.

CR: It’s not quite like that, though the work trying to promote the character image was fun. I’ll try to be brief about how it all came about. I approached Kurt Hanson of KH Media in Tokyo about partnering on the Bela project. It turns out Kurt helped Art Clokey get his Gumby characters picked up in a licensing deal with Sony Character LIcensing, and Bela Lugosi Jr. as Art’s lawyer was closely involved. Bela Jr. asked Kurt if he could do the same in Japan for his father’s image, for percentages. I in turn would get percentage of percentage of any deals completed in Japan. Basically it was permission to promote, and start negotiations. I owned no rights. We did this actively from about 2000-2004 only as the return for our time and investment was little.

We did however get quite creative, with demos, a faux commercial and a re-invisioned video game proposal.

ROH: A video game with Lugosi? That would have been interesting. You don’t see many emotionally driven games anymore. Vampire games especially are slim at the moment. The Legacy of Kain was pretty good and I’m still waiting for a sequel, but I doubt that will ever come.

What are your thoughts on the Silent Hill series. Whether it be 1-4 or the newer titles not made by a Japanese team? Have you been following the newer titles?

CR: Well, we thought it would make for a good psychological horror game at the time, but we couldn’t really convince anyone in Japan to take that risk.

When I was hired to do SH3 I knew nothing of the game series. I guess up til then as a player I leaned toward shooter action, sometimes puzzle. Stuff like Tomb Raider, Halo, Medal of Honor series, 007, etc. I think this actually helped me, as I wasn’t influenced by what had gone on before and the SH atmosphere. For me personally, the Silent Hill series ends after game 4. I know the world continues to this day, but Team Silent’s vision and all the passion that I could sense with our team at the time made it quite a special experience. I know nothing of the titles after The Room. If different people are making it, then it’s a different creature wouldn’t you say? I hope all the best for whatever new titles come out. It’s possible that Jeremy may be involved with one, and that can only help.

ROH: A lot of fans don’t like to consider the newer titles “worthy” of the series. Silent Hill: Origins was pretty faithful to the classics. Shattered Memories was one of my favorite games in the series. While it was farther from supernatural, and closer to psychological, I still preferred it. It had a nice tale to tell. The newest title, Silent Hill: Downpour seems pretty good so far.

Tell me a little about your experience working with the team on Silent Hill 3. How did you go about creating Vincent’s mysterious and coy manner?

CR: The work was done very quickly, but yet thoroughly and with sense of perfectionism. There were very clear ideas about what made for acceptable takes. Not just, OK we got all the technical elements taken care of.

My schedule was 1 day motion capture, 2 days voice. Everything, all the scenes scheduled fairly tight, so not much time wasted in waiting around. We came in on a personal scene schedule, left when our individual scenes were completed. The production team knew their craft well, so it was an element that didn’t distract through any delay or arguments. When I showed up for the motion capture, after dressing in the black spandex and reflective balls, the main person I communicated with was Jeremy. His thorough understanding of the world, and characters, the team’s vision and what was needed was clearly evident. Though I know Akira was around here and there, especially during the voice days, if there was something that needed to be expressed to me it came through Jeremy. We did a run through of a particular scene mainly for tech checks, position, and timing. Then a real take. Most times, because all during the process little tidbits or suggestions were being given, we rarely needed a 3rd or 4th. For motion, I know we really didn’t need to worry so much about our voice takes or having a filled performance as the only important capture was a bunch of stick figures. But everyone gave their all none the less. Having a 100% performance really helped to quickly get back into character when we finally did voice, which was more than a week later. We could watch our video playback in the booth.

There really wasn’t much to go on to create a character. It’s different when someone plays the game. They get to see the whole picture, they get the whole story. I’m not sure I planned him to be as you say he comes across. I didn’t have an entire script, you see. I had these snippets of character interaction. Only my scenes, only the character’s lines without direction. Possibly location was indicated. First time I ever read them, I was like holy shit, what is this? This is some messed up stuff! And, outside of the audition (2 days) conversations, I think I talked to Jeremy once about character. So, I had to analyze what I had, what was said. Trying to find the need in each scene, what I was trying to get from the other person. And the character is trying to cover all his bases, with different parties, so there is that sense of, when is he being honest or not? He won’t get what he wants by being direct. His lines help a lot with this manner. Most people don’t really talk as he does, I think. It was like playtime toying with people. Incredibly fun to be someone so out there, so maybe that comes across in the performance. I found out what Vincent needed for the scene, I worked off the reactions of the other actor, and I used myself in a lot of it, and played, and then those things were refined by elements Jeremy would add, or say to pull back on. Jeremy had to make sure that it worked, or that the scene added to the whole.

ROH: With news of the Silent Hill HD Collection releasing, what are your thoughts? Will you be picking this re-release up? And what are your thoughts on the voice acting change/drama as of yet?

CR: I think it great that the collection will be released. Of course, great if the original voices are included. Ha ha. I wouldn’t be too pleased to find out after all the effort, they scrapped the inclusion idea. Won’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t want it if I can’t see and hear the original Vincent. I’m waiting to see if it truly will happen or not. They still need the final go-ahead from the top, and the top is so far removed from all the emotion that it seems a longshot. But yes, having all the games together on one disc would be a great way to enjoy the series. A lot of sleepless nights for a while. Probably get more sales if the price is right.

Well, from what I’m hearing the controversy or drama seems to be winding down. I think if given a moment to think, all the original voice actors would get on the same page with this thing. They realize that in the long run, it can only be a good thing. How else will it ever live on? That doesn’t take away from legitimate arguments that I’m hearing, and that I have myself. But regarding the new voices, I’m not going to diss them for the work. I wouldn’t have turned the job down. I just think re-recording voices in the first place wasn’t exactly the best idea. A disconnect from the fan base that made the game what it is. Of course new fans wouldn’t necessarily know or care. I’d be curious to see if it seems like a dubbed movie, as all the motion capture came from the initial voices. I’m just assuming they kept the original motion capture, but I could be wrong.

ROH: It is certainly great that the Collection has the potential to have the old and new voices. In my interview with Troy Baker, the new voice of James Sunderland, he said that they indeed have to voice over the original motion capture. So it’s a little difficult. He compared it to an anime.

Has Konami contacted you in regard to re-using your performance for Silent Hill 3? Have you kept in contact with any of the other cast members?

CR: Yes, Konami got in touch with me through Jeremy. I signed and sent out my release earlier this week. That takes care of my voice, but still leaves a few for SH3 remaining. Not that they wouldn’t sign, probably just they don’t know about it as they can’t be found yet. One thing I will say about the release, is that for most if not all of us in SH3, this is the first time we’ve signed anything ever regarding our voice work.

No, no contact at all recently. Right after SH3, I had short gig with Donna Burke on an English CD but that was it. I would see Matt Lagan around now and then up through 2004. Now I hear he’s in Los Angeles working in the film industry. Other than doing Murakumo with Heather, I have no idea where she is now. I would be nice for a reunion of sorts, but definitely incomplete without Richard.

ROH: How has fan interaction been? Are you in contact with many or hoping to be? Monica, Guy and Donna are on Facebook with fan pages of their own.

CR: You know, fan interaction has been almost non-existant due to a bad call on my end. I really wanted to chime in all along, as I started to see a small fan base grow for my character. I was certainly aware of people mentioning things about Vincent or myself. I activated long time ago a Youtube page to respond to certain comments, but never really did anything with it. I think I was influenced by some things said to me by Konami right as we were completing the voice work. Not to reveal information about the work, the plot, the script, the characters, etc. I just kept my mouth closed, too closed for too long. So, yeah, now I’d love to have more contact. Hope so. I had been avoiding even making a personal Facebook page for so long, but I guess I should re-think that and start one up. Just hope the fans forgive that I’d been so silent.

Thanks to Clifford for giving his time for the interview.

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