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Katsucon 2013: “Hellsing” Focus Panel With Crispin Freeman

HellsingUltimateCoverOn February 16th, Katsucon held a panel dedicated to the action horror anime Hellsing. The event was hosted by FUNimation’s Sarah “Sully” Sullivan and voice actor Crispin Freeman, who had many anecdotes to share about his role as the vampire protagonist Alucard.

Regarding how he first got the part, Freeman was working in New York City in summer 2001 and was thinking about going to Los Angeles for more work when he met several of the folks that he ended up working with on “Hellsing”.  Talisen Jaffe was doing the casting for Hellsing and approached Freeman to work on the role after a lot of casting failures. Apparently, the actors who had come in either didn’t have a deep enough voice or couldn’t carry the kind of vicious tone they were looking for.  Once the original Hellsing TV series and the first set of the Hellsing Ultimate OVAs came over to FUNimation, they decided to license the next four and got a great reaction to them. Freeman was a bit unsure about the prospect of returning to Hellsing, as the licensing process took forever and Alucard is a very demanding character from a physical standpoint. Performing Alucard requires Freeman to be very relaxed – except when Alucard has to rip some heads off. Freeman considers Shizuo from Durarara to be a similar character to Alucard, in that both roles require being a force of nature when it comes to acting them. Crispin also expressed some wonderment at his inability to separate from Hellsing as he has been cast as a character in Fate/Zero, Kirei Kotomine, who is played by Alucard’s Japanese voice actor. At one point Freeman also divulged that he enjoys the abridged series fan parody of Hellsing.

Freeman was asked about what he thought of the 9th and 10th Hellsing Ultimate episodes, but he hasn’t seen them or read the manga so that he can stay unspoiled about the storyline. Sullivan also confirmed that FUNimation does not currently have rights to those latest episodes, as they have not been offered for licensing in the USA.  On the subject of Alucard’s character, given Alucard’s conflicting nature Freeman sees him as being incredibly bored and desperate for a good fight rather than just being an aimless badass. He seeks to portray everything Alucard does as something he does to please himself, including when he purposely limits himself.  Crispin also see Alucard’s reason for existing as part of a game to see if humans can overcome the demonic powers on their own, rather than having someone else do it for them.

Much of Freeman’s take on Hellsing comes from his interest in comparative theology and he loves how Hellsing explores other aspects of the Dracula mythology, rather than the sexual angle of Bram Stoker. While Hellsing may shy away from the idea of the Vampire as the ultimate embodiment of sexuality, for Freeman there’s still quite a bit there in the relationships between the characters. When asked about the nature of the relationship between Alucard and Integra, Freeman spoke at length about how Integra is clearly the master in her relationship with Alucard and how that ties back into Alucard’s desire for a good fight.  He also sees Seras as very different from Integra overall, and distinct in Hellsing Ultimate compared to the TV series. To Freeman Seras is straightforwardly submissive in the TV series, whereas her role is a more complicated one in the OVA’s. Freeman also expressed love for the character Luke Valentine, as he is a total wildcard in how he acts.

When asked about how he and the other folks involved in casting Hellsing would deal with “Girlycard”, Freeman said that it would probably require using his voice at first before they went with a female voice, but they aren’t sure yet as that part of the show hasn’t come up for dubbing yet.  As for how he acts Alucard, initially Freeman tried a couple of different accents before he and the producers chose to go with a straight American accent as the others didn’t work. However, Freeman was very excited to finally use his Transylvanian accent in Hellsing Ultimate.  As the panel came to a close Crispin was asked about the stop-start nature of the production of Hellsing and expressed a lot of frustration with it.  Getting into character as Alucard takes a lot of physical work to make sure that it’s done right, and every time Freeman really got into the role they ran out of material to record. Creating Alucard’s laugh requires a “rage at the gods” level of emotion that can be very difficult to pull off since he’s usually very laconic.

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