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Ed Trotta, the Original Voice of Diablo’s Tyrael, Speaks

IncGamers: Thank you Ed for taking part in the Q&A. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and some of your stage and screen roles.
Ed Trotta: I’m a native New Yorker, trained at the Paul Arts Center at the University of New Hampshire for a BA in ‘Speech and Drama”. I spent the first twenty years of my career based in New York, and much of that time on the road with “Godspell”, “Hair”, and “Equus”. When I wasn’t gainfully employed by others, I would start a theater company, with the help of colleagues, to “hire myself” for roles; I was a founding member of The Green Mountain Guild, The Roundhouse Theater, and The Portland Stage Company.
I also performed on most of the soaps produced in NY (must say “daytime drama” these days to be PC) “Edge of Night” (final episode), “All My Children” “Another World”, “Somerset”. I also did a couple of “General Hospital” episodes later on when I got to LA. Switching from stage to screen in ’87, when “Sweet Bird of Youth” closed prematurely at The Ahmanson, I found work on “Hunter”, “McGyver”, “Max Headroom”, “Babylon 5″, “Star Trek / Voyager”, and a bunch of pilots and MOWs. I had film roles in “Liar Liar” and “Desert Heat”, as well as less ‘significant’ indies and such. I describe it as ‘big roles in small movies and small roles in big movies’. I supplement the career with commercial work, especially portraying Abraham Lincoln for Honda, Wendy’s, Library of Congress, Cartoon Network, etc. Lincoln is my specialty. I also do a one man play titled “Two Miles a Penny” about ‘the life, legend, and likeness of Lincoln’.
IncGamers:  How did the role of Tyrael come about? What was the audition like?
Ed Trotta: Earlier that year (?) I moved to The Wallis Agency for representation. Kristene Wallis has a strong background in Voice Over, having been in that market when only a few VO agents ruled the town. She got me an audition with Pemrick & Fronk, casting directors for that project. I wasn’t in a sound booth for it, but spoke at a bitchin’ mic in a regular conference room setting. I had fun, which is what an actor is supposed to do at an audition; drive safely, park legally, and have fun.
IncGamers : How did you find the “right” voice for a character whose face was perpetually cloaked in shadows? Were you given any information about Tyrael’s background and motivation?
Ed Trotta: Oh yeah, but most of the description went right over my head. All the story-line background is pretty dense. What filtered down to my understanding was simply a sort of ‘epic’ character – and one of the good guys, which is rare for me since I’m dark and usually play villains. You’re right about the face, though. Being able to see would have made finding the voice easier. I do puppet work, highly recommended by Stanislovsky for any actor, and always watch its face, as I move its lips, to discover the attitude, tone, and… voice.
IncGamers: How long was the recording session for Diablo II? Was anyone from Blizzard Entertainment on hand to give suggestions or feedback?
Ed Trotta: I never spent more than 7 hours or less than 2 on a recording session. Naturally, there were staff on hand; sound engineers, writers, VO directors… remember, this is a process wherein the voice is recorded before the artwork is designed around it. Many ADR sessions require you to match voice with picture or, worse (harder), sync with picture. I had the luxury of having folks direct me along the lines of the ideal.
IncGamers: Our favourite Tyrael line is: “Stop! The Beast contained herein shall not be set free, not even by you.” Do you have a favourite quote?
Ed Trotta: I just finished a round of Diablo II, and felt Tyreal got stronger and stronger as it went. I liked, “Fool…!” and “…that even I cannot imagine”, and yet my favorite single line is still, “Greetings, mortal…”
IncGamers: At the end of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, Tyrael shattered the Worldstone by throwing his sword into it. Was Tyrael praying when he was “powering up” his sword? What language was he speaking?
Ed Trotta: I loved that conclusion. Tyreal was really “letting his hair down” (does he even have hair?), and yes, he was in prayer while powering up his sword. The language? It was a combination of Farsi, Gaelic, and “California surfer speak”. In other words, the language we will all be speaking if we survive long enough.

IncGamers: What do the words actually mean? Just some non-English words put together to sound cool and mysterious? I ask because I don’t speak Farsi or Gaelic, and I don’t surf (laughs).
Ed Trotta: The prayer interprets, “Father of the Universe, grant my wings the energy of youth, bless my vision with the wisdom of my years, and please let the hot-tub be unoccupied when I get back to the hotel”.
I have no idea what the words mean. They were an incantation, a mantra if you will, and only Tyreal himself will ever know.
IncGamers:  Have you ever spoken to strangers in your “Tyrael voice” just to see their reaction? I imagine Tyrael would be a hit with the ladies.  
Ed Trotta: Hey, I’m a hit with the ladies. I never use Tyreal (or any character) to get laid. I do my best work in check-out lines at the grocery store. I like running into gamers, engaging them in conversation, and then dropping the bomb that I’m Tyreal (if they’re fans of Diablo), but I don’t lord (of destruction?) it over anyone. It’s a job. I’m fortunate to have it… had it.
IncGamers: We understand that you will not be returning to voice Tyrael in Diablo 3, due to a scheduling conflict. Would you care to elaborate on the issue?
Ed Trotta: Nothing much to elaborate on. I was in West Virginia starting another regional theater, Summit Stage II, directing stage adaptations of “Animal Farm” and “Moby Dick” when Diablo 3 was casting. It was too far to fly, on too short a notice, and… blah blah blah. Just a matter of straight-up unavailability. Too bad, because Tyreal is a character I would like to have kept.
Actors, VO actors especially, can get “attached” to characters. I play Malfurion Stormrage in “World of Warcraft”, but haven’t been able to slog through Knaack’s novel, “Stormrage”, nor have I had the patience to master the game. Diablo is different though. I wanted to review my work as Tyreal, and so determined that I would play the game to get to Tyreal’s role in it. As you know, you have to kill that big worm before you meet him. By then, I was hooked on it, and had to play all the way through to assess all my appearances as Tyreal. It took months to accomplish this, so I avoid getting addicted to other games. I favor three characters to play; Paladin, Amazon, and Barbarian.
When gamers meet me and learn that I am several characters in Blizzard games, they are initially enthusiastic “Wow you’re…!” then surprised, “You’re…?” and eventually disappointed, “You’re…???” because I’m sixty years old, and these characters are buff, legendary, and, as I said, epic. But it’s all good. Just close your eyes, listen to me, and I’ll make them live. V.O. work is great fun, and I love being made to look so awesome!
IncGamers: Fans like myself will certainly miss hearing your voice in Diablo 3, would you like to voice Tyrael again in some future Diablo project?
Ed Trotta: Of course, and if you’re suggesting a rally-round your original Tyreal VO artist, I’m all for it. Don’t boycott Diablo 3, but bring it to their attention that ‘the old guy worked for me’. Let’s see what they do with a different “epic angel”.
IncGamers: Diablo fans are a passionate bunch, someone may well decide to take up the quest to get you re-instated. I hope you will return as Tyrael soon!
You can see more about Ed Trotta’s career and his many roles by visiting his home page: www.edtrotta.com. For more on anything Diablo releated check Diablo: IncGamers.
Thanks to community member fmulder for conducting the interview.

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