Jacob Hopkins : « Je me souviens avoir regardé Dragon Ball Z à la télévision et pensé : ”Je veux faire ça !”. »
Retrouvez l'interview VF dans HypnoMag #22, pages 6 à 12.
You started acting at a very young age. One of your first roles was as Billy in two episodes of Season 5 of How I Met your Mother. Where does your passion for acting come from? Do you have any memories of filming How I Met your Mother?
I'd have to say my passion for acting comes from being able to step into the lives of characters and become them. There is a very fascinating aspect about seeing life through the eyes of a completely different person, adopting their mindset and perspective and performing as them. Growing up as a child actor was especially fun as I viewed this process almost as "playing pretend." So when I filmed the How I Met Your Mother episode "The Wedding Bride," I was a Taekwondo master in my mind! All of my scenes were with my sensei Jason Lewis, and I remember having a blast with him. He was incredibly kind to me and would make every scene a lot of fun. I remember filming the scene where I bolster his courage to confess to the woman he loves, and after the final take, he swept me up off the ground in a big hug saying, "Great job, buddy!"
The following year, you also starred alongside Paul Bettany and Stephen Moyer in the film Priest, and worked with Stephen on True Blood where you played Alexander Drew in 2012. What do you remember most about filming these projects?
What's crazy about those two projects was I never even met Stephen Moyer when I filmed Priest! It wasn't until True Blood that we finally got to meet and work with each other. In Priest, I was a small child who saw Paul Bettany's tattoo of the Cross on his forehead. My character recognizes him as a vampire hunter, but without fear, I innocently ask him, "Did it hurt?" When I filmed that scene, I asked him the question and then my mother in the movie grabbed me and walked away with me in fear of Paul's character, and when the director yelled out, "Cut!" Paul replied with "Of course it did!" Everyone on set was laughing up a storm and I was the only one who didn't get what was happening! As for True Blood, I have much more prominent memories of that experience. I played Alexander Drew, the oldest vampire, stuck in a nine-year-old's body on the Vampire Authority. Growing up, I was (and still am) a massive fan of all creatures of the night, so playing a sadistic vampire was a horrifying dream come true. I was the youngest person on such a mature show, but the behind-the-scenes work was anything but frightening. Everyone I worked with acted kind and caring towards me and treated me respectfully and protectively. Working with Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgåd, and Christopher Meloni was loads of fun. This was my first breakout role, so I remember meticulously studying my castmates' acting as I worked with them, helping improve my own. I learned so much from all of these incredible stars, and I will cherish those memories forever. One of the most fun parts of the show I got to film was my death scene where Christopher Meloni picks me up and stakes me. I was on a harness, which is the coolest thing you can let a nine-year-old do.
You also play Chad Kremp, Adam Goldberg’s best friend in the comedy series The Goldbergs. Do you have anything in common with this character?
A lot more than you would think! Much like Chad, I love 80s pop culture like Star Wars, Transformers, Tron, Indiana Jones, Styx, etc. Our personalities are very similar, such as our love for sports and athleticism, drumming, home movies, and our more gentler nature. I'd say the only difference is that I chose to be an actor, whereas the real Chad Kremp became a florist! But I get to play the florist part of him in the show, so I'd say that's close enough.
You have been a voiceover actor for several years and are perhaps best known as the voice of Gumball Watterson in the animated series The Amazing World of Gumball on Cartoon Network for four seasons. Is it more difficult to play a character only using your voice?
It was definitely difficult for me when I first started out! I became an actor when I was five and didn't start voice acting until I was eleven, and during that interval, I only knew how to do on-camera acting. So while I had my acting chops down, I didn't know any of the technical aspects of voice-over work. My first voice-over audition was actually Gumball Watterson, and upon booking the role, I had no prior voice-over experience. In order to prepare myself to take on such an iconic character, I had to go in the studio to record snippets of episodes and whole episodes for two months just to see if I could handle the endurance and energy needed to play such a hyperactive character (which proved to be no problem for a hyperactive eleven-year-old). During those two months, I also had to go through vocal training. I learned how to manipulate my vocal cords to reach certain pitches in my voice, how to add vocal tones such as rasp, gruffness, bass and vocal fry, and perfected my diction. I also took singing lessons in order to smooth out my voice, making it more malleable. In fact, once the writers learned I could sing, they started writing and composing songs for Gumball!
Among your current projects, you lend your voice to characters in anime series such as To Your Eternity and The Prince of Tennis. What drew you to these projects?
I grew up on cartoons and anime at a very young age. I remember watching Dragon Ball Z on TV as a kid and thinking, "I wanna do that!" After voicing Gumball for four years (among other characters like Axel Finke on Dreamwork's Dragons: Rescue Riders), I decided that I wanted to put my foot into the door of anime. After auditioning for various anime for about 4-6 months, I finally landed my first anime lead as Fushi in To Your Eternity! What appeals to me so much about the show and role is that it isn't like your typical anime. It's excruciatingly tragic and not for the faint of heart. Fushi is an immortal being who can never die and serves as a sort of encyclopedia for all living things. He can transform into anything he comes into contacts with, such as fruit, a monstrous bear, a wolf, and even a gold coin. He can even create other things out of his body. But even with all this power, he can never truly save his loved ones. They will die eventually as he will outlive all life on Earth. After they die, he can turn into them, finding a way to always be with them. But at the same time, he is destined to be alone, and that is where his true tragedy lies. It's such a beautiful story about the meaning of life and strengthening your bonds with your loved ones because you never know how much time you have with them.
Moving on to a much lighter and less philosophical note, I play Oishi in Prince of Tennis! He's the Vice Captain of the Seigaku Tennis Club and serves as a role model for his fellow team members. He may not be the strongest player on the team, but his caring and soft nature is the heart of it all. His teammates jokingly call him the "mom" of the group as he's always making sure everyone is playing hard but also playing safe. Once he's paired up with his doubles partner Kikumaru, they become unstoppable and dominate the court, hence their nickname "The Golden Pair." I was immediately drawn to Prince of Tennis because it has that classic Shounen sports anime feeling. Every episode is centered around comradery, training to be the strongest, and going head to head against powerful opponents, and I'm all here for it! It's also the longest-running sports anime to date, and we just started releasing new episodes of the latest installment, "U-17 World Cup" on Crunchyroll, which I'm super excited about!
While you yourself are still in university, you have already been involved for several years as a Celebrity Ambassador with The Jonathan Foundation, a non-profit organization that works for the education of young children with learning disabilities. Why is this a commitment that is close to your heart?
I've been a celebrity youth ambassador for the Jonathan Foundation for eight to nine years. Their founder, Raja Marhaba, leads the Jonathan Foundation. Raja and her team help youth, teens, and young adults with learning disabilities and special needs to obtain the best possible education they can and reach their highest potential. It begins with getting proper IEP's (individualized educational plan) as well as a variety of other services that fit their needs in the best way possible. Raja also advocates along with the parents, so it is a learning and teaching process for all which creates an enriched family environment. As a celebrity youth ambassador, I use my platform to promote the foundation's message as much as I can, such as doing podcasts, videos, various social media promotions, and attending. As well as donating to their annual fundraiser event (and any events they hold for that matter). If any of you readers are interested, you can visit their website.
Do you have an upcoming project you’d like to tell us about?
I have two anime projects coming up! One is a big role in a long-running and very popular one, and the other is a big role in a newer one that's also popular! Unfortunately, that's all I can say at the moment, but you can follow my Instagram @HopkinsJake and my Twitter @HopkinsJacob5, where I'll update you all on those announcements. In fact, one of them should be coming out very soon, sometime next month!
Photos : Lindsey Ruth