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    |   AMMO   |  HEALTH  |  5  6  7  |  \===/  |    ARMOR    |#| ....  ......... |
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Jon St John interview

Feburary 2021

Selected timeline
  • 1996: Duke Nukem 3D (3D Realms)
  • 1998: Sonic Adventure (Sega)
  • 1999: Half-Life: Opposing Force (Gearbox Software)
  • 2001: Half-Life: Blue Shift (Gearbox Software)
  • 2011: Duke Nukem Forever (3D Realms)
  • 2012: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (Valve)
  • 2013: Dota 2 (Valve)
  • 2019: Ion Fury (3D Realms)
  • 2019: Postal 4 (Running With Scissors)

Among gamers Jon St John is best known for his iconic performance as the gun toting, alien ass kicker Duke Nukem. Which is a little ironic given Jon's more liberal views.

Jon has clocked up an impressive number of credits in many of the most critically acclaimed games of all time, along with enjoying a long a successful career spanning several decades.

What were you like as a child growing up?

I was a young child in the 60's and grew up a little shy, a nerdy teen in the 70's.

What do you consider the golden rules for VO (voice over) work?

If it's not in your range, pass and recommend somebody for the gig. It's better to have a great EAR, than a great voice. Your acting ability is more important than vocal quality.

Why do you like to focus on gaming VO work?

As opposed to commercial work...better roles to act out

1999: Half-Life: Opposing Force, Drill instructor Dwight T Barnes

Who inspires you? Who are your heroes?

Mel Blanc, Gary Owens, Tom Hanks

What’s your biggest career regret?

That I didn't go in on an investment opportunity to buy a radio station in the late 70's. (Those other 4 guys made a ton of money)

What’s your advice for people considering a career in VO?

Don't take the word of your family or friends that "your voice is great, you should be a voice actor"...try to get the opinion of a professional in the industry with a good ear and track record. Don't quit your day job. Make it a hobby initially, until you have a big enough client list to support your lifestyle.

Which of your work are you most proud of?

My radio broadcast production work over 45 years. Back in the time before digital editing, I was a master of analogue production effects, tape splicing, multi-track editing, etc.

Do you consider yourself much of a gamer?

No. There was a time when I enjoyed it, but my likes have changed over the years. (Maybe burnout?)

What changes have you seen in the industry over the course of your career?

Analog to digital, easier auditioning, better pay, way more competition.

2001: Half-Life: Blue Shift, Dr Harold Rosenbury

Have you rejected any roles and why?

Yes. I turned down a national TV advertising campaign in 2016. I was asked to be the voice of the Trump for President ads. I answered "No" within seconds, not even considering it. I posted about this on my Facebook page and as a result there was quite a buzz on reddit, and the story went viral. Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by the Weiden+Kennedy advertising agency in New York whose creative director at the time happened to be a Duke Nukem fan, and he asked if I would provide my agents contact info so he could book me to be the voice of the BUD LIGHT PARTY campaign. (As it turns out, this gig paid far better than the one I turned down.) I love a happy ending...for various reasons.

Which catch phrases are you asked to do most often by fans?

Hail to the King, Baby. Your face, your ass, what's the difference? Looks like those alien bastards shot up my ride.

What was it like working with Valve in their offices?

Awesome! Great people, cool environment, out for cocktails when the day's work was done...need I say more?

What do you enjoy about directing other VOs?

That I can help them to sound their best. I feel like my understanding of a script is something I can easily convey to the actors involved.

Are there any games or characters you’d love to work on?

All of them.

Do you have any good stories about your time working with 3D Realms on Duke Nukem 3D?

It was among my very first directed voice acting sessions, so I was a bit nervous until we got warmed up, then it was fun.

2003: NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, Crew chief

Your VO work on Big Red Racing seems to be made up of lots of laughing and silly noises. How much of it was improvised

I wish I could give you an answer of some kind, but I really do not recall.

Did you also provide all the foreign accents for this game?

Probably. Again - sorry for the crummy answer.

Big the Cat (Sonic Adventure) is an extremely goofy sounding character. How do you feel about voicing such a goofball?

I've never liked the voice I first read for them, (which they chose) because I was just being silly, stupid at that moment. I feel that I could have given them something better.

What led you to working with Valve and Gearbox Software on Half-Life Opposing Force?

I was contacted directly by them, not an agent...so I guess networking at that time was paying off.

Is it fair to say that your character of Drill instructor Dwight T Barnes is inspired by Full Metal Jacket?

Yes, though they ended up toning me down quite a bit for the takes they ended up using. I recall the session being hilarious because I was ranting R. Lee Ermys's most raunchy lines at the top of my lungs, and the guys in studio and on the line were cracking up. Even made myself laugh...that was a cool gig.

How did you feel to be invited back to work with Valve and Gearbox Software on another Half-Life game?

Awesome. This was early on in my videogame acting career, so I was stoked!

2012: CS:GO, Commander (Match announcer)

Your character of Dr Harold Rosenbury is very sophisticated and intelligent sounding, what was it like to play someone not quite so violent for a change?

It was nice...but during that time I had also played nearly the entire male cast of CANDYLAND, and had several other "sweet, kind, and funny" roles in other games, so it wasn't a stretch or anything.

There are quite a few YouTube compilations of various insults you’ve delivered in NASCAR Racing 2003, did these make up the majority of the lines you recorded?

Oh no, there was quite a bit of needless commentary and exclamations about incidents, track conditions, etc. It was a lot of lines as I recall.

In TV actors generally are given more ownership of their character over time. Did you find this when working on Duke Nukem Forever?


Were there particular lines that you recorded for the many unreleased iterations of DNF that you were disappointed they didn’t get released?

None I can think of.

You must have been excited to hear from Valve again to voice the commander for CS:GO?

Yes...they know how to show a voice actor a good time!

How much direction did you have for the type of voice they wanted?

Very little...they described the character and scenarios...I took it from there.

2019: Ion Fury as Dr Heskel

By the time you worked on Dota 2 you must have had your own office at Valve?

That would have been cool, but no...they did put me in nice recording studios in the L.A. area, often at Warner Brothers Underground, which I've always enjoyed.

The character of Axe sounds like its lot of fun to voice

You know it is. Axe is AXE!!!!!

What was it like to be working with 3D Realms again on Ion Fury?

A breeze! Fred Schreiber and his group are top notch. They basically listened in on my recording, asking very little in the way of direction. This felt great - a nod that my talent was acknowledged and appreciated.

How did it feel to get back into the Duke universe again, but as a different character?

Fantastic! I LOVED being the villain!!

With Postal 4 you’re playing quite a gun happy character, do you worry about getting type cast?

Nah, I've been through all that with Duke over so many years. It isn't an issue these days.

You can follow Jon St John on Twitter and enjoy personalised message from Duke Nukem himself on Cameo

Jon also owns and hosts the King Con Cruise fan convention if you'd like to hang out with the man himself