Interview with Tara Strong: The Voice of Rikku

Canadian voice actress and singer Tara Strong discusses the popular character Rikku from Final Fantasy X. She describes how the character was brought to life and one of the secrets of the Al Bhed language.

Tara Strong's Profile
Tara StrongFave Voices: Melody, Bubbles
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Games: Final Fantasy X & X-2, Kingdom Hearts 2
Character: Rikku

Rikku in Final Fantasy X-2 by Yoshitaka Amano

Sheila: Hi Tara, how did you get into voice acting?

Tara: I started acting professionally when I was 13 and I'd always done silly voices and my agent at the time thought I could do cartoons. So, she set me up for Hello Kitty and I booked the title role and that's how it all got started.

Sheila: Have you done anything outside of voice acting? Any film or theater?

Tara: Ah yes, I've done lots of TV and film roles. I had a sitcom in Canada for a year. I've done theater. I sing also, I've had some singing gigs. And I play a role on Sabrina, The Teenage Witch named Gwen who never gets any spells right. So, I like to diversify and have a lot of fun.

Sheila: How did you get the role of Rikku in Final Fantasy X?

Tara: I worked for the director, Jack Fletcher, several times before. He auditioned me and I, luckily, booked the part.

Sheila: Were you aware of the huge franchise of Final Fantasy and how big this project would be?

Tara: Not really. Generally, you really don't know how big a project is going to be unless It's something you've heard of previously, like it's a Disney feature or a series that exists already. So, I didn't know there was such a big fan base for Final Fantasy. It turned out to be a nice little thing.

Sheila: What background information or materials were you given about Rikku before you actually started putting your voice to the character?

Tara: I got to see some of the original recordings in its native tongue. I received a description of the character from Jack Fletcher, from some of the writers, and you know, basically before any job, the creators give you overall descriptions of the characters and you take it from there.

Sheila: Was it easy to fit her personality?

Tara: Yeah, I mean, she's pretty straightforward and I just followed the script.

Sheila: What was the most challenging aspect of doing the voice acting for Rikku?

Tara: I guess the most challenging thing about voicing any foreign dubbing project is making the character look real and acting in the moment while still making sure the mouth flaps match you speaking in a different language.

Sheila: Did any of your past voice acting roles, characters you've done before, sort of help you make this character?

Tara: Well, all of my past experience in animation as well as dubbing has helped me do any of the projects that I work on.

Sheila: Is there a favorite scene or favorite moment or line that you have while you were doing the voice acting for Rikku?

Tara: [laughs] I have no idea. [laughs] There is just too much stuff to remember.

Sheila: Was the Al Bhed language scripted or did you just make stuff up as you were supposed to speak it?

Tara: The Al Bhed language was actually created by one of the writers and he knows what every single word means, he knows the translation for every single word and he was quite fantastic. I, myself, didn't know anything. I would have to be told on a word by word basis or with a guide that was printed out in front of me.

Sheila: Okay, so did any of your foreign language experience help you speak the Al Bhed language?

Tara: Not really. Al Bhed is a fictitious language, but my ear helps me out.

Sheila: Were you given any creative freedom when doing the lines for Rikku? Did they let you add or change lines as you felt would better suit the character?

Tara: When you do foreign dubbing, you have to stick to what's written because they've previously mapped it out so that it looks like the character is saying the words that youfre saying. Sometimes if it doesn't fit, you can slip in little words like 'it' or 'the' here and there to make it look perfect.

Sheila: Have you seen the product? The finished game?

Tara: No, I have never seen the product or finished game.

Sheila: As a voice actress, what advice would you want to give any of our site visitors who may be interested in doing it as a hobby or possibly a career?

Tara: A lot of people ask me that and ask my husband that, and that's why we created our web site which is voicestarz. It's everything you could ever want to know about getting into animation. It's advice for myself along with, you know, all of the major people in animation, voice actors, directors, casting directors, show creators, and there is a section on dubbing and foreign dubbing. If you have any questions once you've signed up for the site, you can always ask me or anyone else who is on live chats. Any question you have will always be answered.

Note: This interview was originally conducted in 2002 by Sheila for using a voiceover by Dh for the audio download.

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