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JP Karliak And Max Mittelman Explain What Makes Video Game Voice Work Unique - Exclusive

The new Netflix series "The Boss Baby: Back in the Crib" sees Theodore "Boss Baby" Templeton (JP Karliak) once again board Baby Corp. He and his family (including now-adult brother Tim Templeton, played by Max Mittelman) have to fight against nefarious circumstances surrounding the once-beloved corporation. It's a funny action-comedy ride into mystery, backed by an extraordinary cast of vocal talent. Karliak and Mittelman are no strangers to voiceover work, with over 300 combined credits covering everything from Western animation to anime and video games, including fan favorites like "Horizon Forbidden West," "Red Dead Redemption II," and "The Last of Us: Part II," among a host of others.

In an exclusive interview, Mittelman and Karliak gave us a little insight into the elements that make video game voiceover work unique compared to other types of voiceover work. We chatted about the unexpected skills the work requires, the differences in how the work is accomplished, and more. The actors discussed the wide variety of voice work they've done, including top-shelf Western animation like "The Boss Baby: Back in the Crib." But they also revealed that working in the gaming world is an entirely different experience, and in ways one might not expect.

Video game voice work makes you a great cold reader

The process with video games — and how little the voice actors know ahead of time — requires them to take a separate approach from a scripted series or film. "One of the benefits of animation is [that] we get the script ahead of time. There is that preparation that you can do and get into it," JP Karliak explained. "Video games are very much seat of your pants, you show up, the spreadsheet of 600 lines in front of you. If you've got a big character ... the director will talk you through each thing, 'So, this is what's happening,' and you're trying to absorb as much as you can and make really good choices on the fly."

"It causes you to be a really good cold reader," Max Mittelman agreed. 

Working without an advance script was also a regular part of their experience with anime. "It's less like traditional acting and more trying to solve a problem of, 'Okay, we have this much space to get this emotion in there and try to make it all work.' It's a much more puzzle-y thing," said Karliak.

For Mittelman, that's part of the draw of the work. "I enjoy doing all of those. They're all different skills, I feel like, and you get to work different parts of your brain ... That's my favorite part of the job. It's the variety, and getting to do so many different things."

So when you hear your favorite video game characters in those high-end cinematic scenes — the ones that make you cry — that's a very talented actor being coached by a director to give, essentially, a cold read. Capturing these emotions authentically in a limited amount of time, and giving a distinct feel to sometimes dozens of characters (for example, Karliak's role in "Red Dead Redemption II" was "The Local Pedestrian Population"), is a whole different challenge from "traditional" acting.

You can catch JP Karliak and Max Mittelman in "Boss Baby: Back in the Crib," now streaming on Netflix.