Wes Johnson [Interview]


Hello Folks! We have an absolutely wonderful interview for you fine folks today! As avid readers here at TWS may know, we are obsessed with the world, lure, and creativity of the world of Fallout. From Fallout 3 to the latest release, Fallout 76, it has been a wonderful world to literally play around in. So fun it is, that we have showcased several of the fine voice over actors who have worked on these projects. The number of how many we have spoken to escapes me at the moment, but they all have been wonderful.

And today I feel as though we have hit the proverbial mother load! Today we have some words from the brilliant Wes Johnson! Wes is so great that Fallout may not be his greatest accomplishment as a performer, but it certainly tops our list here at TWS! You know and love him as The Silver Shroud in Fallout 4, as well as so many other amazing voices over the last 10 years. D.C. residents, and basically hockey fans alike, will probably recognize this genius even more for his close to two decades of announcing for the Washington Capitals. And, well, just SO MUCH else.

Wes is genuinely wonderful human being, and we are so excited to have him grace our digital pages today. So without further ado, I will end my babbling and turn it over to some wonderful words from the man of a thousand voices, Mr. Wes Johnson!

When did you realize that you wanted to join the world of the performing arts to make a living? What initially drew you to this world?

I was called up onto the stage during a magic show while I was in grade school by a magician. I’m not sure if he was any good really, I was just a kid. As a magician, he could have been truly shite, but real magic DID happen that day. I got a few laughs from the audience, and it changed my world. We started putting on shows in the neighborhood, and I would write in to the local horror movie host Count Gore De Vol on a regular basis, thrilling when my letters on toys I sent in made it on the air. It wouldn’t be until my freshman year in high school that I’d set foot on a real stage in front of a packed house, but the moment I stepped on that stage playing a physically comic role and got big laughs, I was a goner. There was nothing else for me in this world other than performing.

I understand you started your career working in the world of stand up comedy and improv. I am always curious to know what folk’s early years are like in these types of performance. So how did you get into this world, and what were those early years like?

Stand-up comedy for me was a way to find a stage and perform characters and voices in front of a live audience. My start was not the smoothest. On my very first Open Mic Night in Washington, DC, I followed a juggling comedian named Kevin Lee up onto the stage. Kevin had just KILLED IT. The audience was primed when I got up, and the host set the egg timer to 5 minutes – that’s all the time I would have. I ran out of material and ways to handle drunk hecklers after about 40 minutes (it was actually only about 2 minutes in). After another minute of struggling, which took a sweaty lifetime, I grabbed the egg timer, forcefully turned it to 5, heard it ding and said “Oops! Looks like my time is up. If anyone if looking for me, I’ll be home hanging in the closet.” It was my first real laugh of the night.

I would go on to do sketch comedy with comedy and improv troupes Fresh Victims, Gross national product and The Loyal opposition. One of our Fresh Victims sketches, “The William Shatner School of Acting” made it onto Funny or Die. Willian Shatner saw it. His reply? “Sounds more like Cagney.” 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7tqfrzx6WE

In 2004 you appeared as the hilariously named “Fat Fuck Frank” in John Water’s brilliant comedy A Dirty Shame. Waters is a renowned mad genius in the world of film, who has created some very original and enlightening films. So, how was your experience working under the guise of one of the kings of weird? What was it like to work on a project like this?

That was one of the best experiences of my life. It was such a friendly set, and having a chance to work with John Waters and legendary Dreamlanders was, well, a dream come true. I absolutely adored Mink Stole, and getting a chance to work with Tracey Ullman, Johnny Knoxville, Chris Isaak and the amazing Selma Blair – what’s not to like? How many people have been blessed to inhabit a character created by John Waters and designed by the legendary resident Ugly Expert Van Smith? The atmosphere on set reminded me most of high school drama department days. I couldn’t wait for each new day (or night) to begin so I could come out and play with my friends in John Waters amazing sandbox full of sex addicts. I count so many of them as my dearest friends, especially Susan Allenbach who I’ve known since we were just starting out as wait staff in a performing night club. And really, now many people get to say they were Selma Blair’s biker boyfriend in an NC-17 film? Good times 


We have showcased several VO artists from our beloved Fallout franchise. You’ve done several roles in both Fallout 3 and 4. So how has your experience been working with Bethesda in the Fallout universe?

I’m rarely happier than I am behind the microphone in a small darkened studio bringing characters to life created by the feverish minds of developers at Bethesda Game Studios. From the early days of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind to Fallout 76, it has been a working partnership that I cherish. Todd Howard has assembled such a remarkable group of creative minds and talents there. Getting to work with sound designer Mark Lampert, writer Emil Paglurilo, and so very many other talented souls there is simply a joy. The characters I’ve played remain near and dear to my heart. In the Elder Scrolls I love Sheogorath, Lucien Lachance and Hermaeus Mora… I feel very close to them. Love EVERY character, but those are special. Playing the Arena Announcer in Oblivion actually helped change the way I call Washington Capitals games for the NHL as their Arena Announcer. As to Fallout, it’s been so much fun playing Protectrons, Super Mutants (especially Fawkes), Moe Cronin, The Silver Shroud and so many more. I loved Fallout 1 and 2, so when Bethesda took over, it was a real honor to be involved in the new incarnations.  I take it very seriously (and yet, have so much fun).  I actually play many of the games I voice, so it’s a weird extra level of involvement in games that are already super immersive. Can’t wait to start playing Fallout 76  ☺.

 

While on the subject of the Fallout franchise, I know that this world has some very devoted and die hard fans. I know this because I am one of them. Anyway, I am curious to know what your fan interaction has been like over the years? Whether it is at conventions, or just possible random encounters, how has your experience been with the Fallout fans?

I’ve had a GREAT time interacting with fans of all of the games I’ve voiced.  It’s such a solitary job when voicing, just you, the director, perhaps a writer.  Then you play by yourself to experience the in-game world.  So when you finally get a chance to meet people who have SHARED that experience, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s fun to see the look in someone’s eyes when a voice they’ve heard on a daily basis for years on their consoles starts coming out of me. It seems very weird, I’m sure. I’ve had people who seem far too old to be saying that they grew up listening to me in Fallout, or Oblivion, or Skyrim. I mean, I’m way too young for that, right?  Haha. But it’s super rewarding. And it’s always the best when someone shows up cosplaying as one of your characters. I’ve seen a good number of Silver Shrouds in the past few years. Not many Protectrons or Sentry Bots. Perhaps that cosplay is a bit pricey, haha. But I’ve seen some remarkable Sheogorath and Lucien Lachance cosplays. Erin and Paul Clark do a great Sheo and Dark Seducer combo, and @britishcosplayer does a cool Lucien on Instagram. Just one word of caution – don’t get too authentic when playing Lucien AFTER Applewatch (spoilers).

 

I understand you are also a current and legendary figure in the world of sports announcing in the D.C. area. How did this work come around? And how have you enjoyed the work? Were you a pretty big sports buff prior to taking on these gigs?

I’ve always been a big fan of the DC sports teams, and in a way, even though I’m in my 19th year as the Arena Announcer of the NHL’s Washington Capitals, that’s still what I am. A big fan. Although I get to be louder because I have a mic ☺. And now of course, I have a championship ring after the Caps won the Stanley Cup Championship last season. 18 years wait for me personally and it was so worth it! A magical time for the entire city, and I was right there singing “We Are The Champions” along with them. Good times.

 

I have called Washington Bullets then Wizards seasons in the past as well, and have three Championship rings from the Washington Kastles, DC’s professional WTT Tennis team. I consider myself very fortunate to be doing this, as I never started out to do it.  I was doing morning radio in the DC area and took an award certificate that our show received into the Washington Bullets office for Juwan Howard, who was a regular on our show. As I was leaving I jokingly said “Hey, let me know if you ever have an opening at PA Announcer.” I was joking because I grew up listening to the guy they had calling games for the past 20 years. I wasn’t expecting her to respond with “The guy who was doing it just retired and we are doing auditions next week – do you want to sign up?” Right place at the right time with the right question. I auditioned, got the job, and never looked back. It turned out to be a great occupation for me, and I love UNLEASHING THE FURY at Caps games.

https://www.facebook.com/wesjohnsonvoice/videos/vb.1186502437/10217049765974770/?type=3 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

More hockey games. More video games. More films. More TV. More announcing for the National Hot Rod Association. More writing and cartooning. Finishing my children’s book. More of being a husband, Dad, and pet couch to a shedding Himalayan cat and a spoiled rotten Chiweenie. I love my life, and I’m not ready to give any of it up. No matter how many aspiring PA Announcers keep cutting the brake lines on my car.

As to appearances – I plan to be at MAGFest in Washington DC January 3rd through 6th (www.MAGFest.org), and NOT CON AT SEA in the sunny Bahamas with Duke Nukem, GlaDOS, Sniper, Spock and Gob February 15th through 18th (www.NotCon.us ) and hopefully AWESOMECON in DC come April, but that has not been confirmed. But even if I’m not there, you should go because TIM CURRY WILL BE THERE. The antici…PATION is killing me! (http://awesome-con.com/ )

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My son Max’s animations that he creates at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I see big things in his future. And big laughs for us all.

 

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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