Q: Before we get into anything too specific, I gotta start off by asking – how does it feel to be a part of one of the biggest entertainment properties in history?
A: Man, it’s like a dream come true dude. You know, it’s like, I mean come on man, a billion dollars in 3 days? I don’t know too many actors, anybody, you know, making money like that besides them sheikhs, you know, that’s making all that damn oil and making that good money. But for me, it’s like a dream come true homie. Just to be a part of it. Just to know that my likeness, my voice, my character, my movements, my personality, just everything about me 100 percent, to be a part of that – I’ll take that with me to the grave, hopefully God willin’ an old age.
Q: I’m going to revisit some of those points, but let the world get to know you first. What’s your story? What’s your background? What were you doing before all of this?
A: Well, before man, you know, me, I started as a local neighborhood cat. I’m from the hood. I’m born and raised in Watts, California, which is South Central, the worst parts of South Central, the projects. So, you know, I’m an ex-gang member. I’ve been through it. I’ve been on both sides of the gun. Man, I know what it feels like to be shot. I’ve been shot several times and I know what it feels like to put bullets in a m%&*#@ f%&*#@. It’s something that, you know, I come from the bottom, so to make it to somewhere like this, you know, I come from the drug era, through the crime, through the good times, through the bad times. So, I’m just a hood dude man and kind of made it up to the top. You start from washing dishes and like in this industry now it seems like I’m sitting up here with the top dawgs in the penthouses – you see where I’m at right now. I’m overlooking the city man, and this is how I’m being treated right now and I’m taking advantage of it.
Q: To start looping back on getting you to this point then, I know that creation of this game required more out of you than just sitting in a booth delivering lines and reading from scripts. Can you talk to me about the creation process and how you were included? I feel like sitting here listening to you, even in these first few minutes, that you are Franklin and Franklin is you – you’re both one in the same. The character obviously looks exactly like you, etc. So how much of you is in the game?
A: It’s like I tell everybody, it’s like 90-something percent of me. I give the other percentage to Rockstar because they created it. They created Franklin. It’s their character. That’s what it is. But I brought the likeness, the looks, the voice, the personality, it’s all me man. I brought a lot to it. My movements, ’cause you know you’ve got to wear the full-body motion sensor suit. People get it messed up saying it’s just a voice actor. They think we’re sitting in a booth looking at a character on a screen, and we’re just reciting words to the character that’s moving. Nah man, it’s the same technology and equipment, arguably better, than that that they used to capture Avatar and all these great, big blockbuster, big budget films, So, we really are motion capture actors. We’re doing really big things in this industry. It was a 3 year commitment. Day in and day out. Plenty of scripts, talking about thousands and thousands of pages of scripts, and countless movements and stunts. It’s a remarkable trip that I went through. I’ll never forget it. Great directors and everything. They let me do what I do to make it feel natural. You know Franklin is me. I naturally gave all of me. It’s not they gave me a script and I read it. I translated it and did it how I would do it – how Shawn “Solo” Fonteno would do it. I was able to get off the dialogue and make it mine. They wanted a real hood dude man, and they got one. 100 percent.
Q: Do you have a favorite character? An unbiased choice? Am I even allowed to ask that?!
A: Yea, you’re allowed to ask it! And I’m allowed to answer! Franklin, man. I’m a ride with it. That’s me. I love that dude. How can you not? It’s like looking in the mirror. It’s like a twin – I really got a twin out here. I’m bumping into myself on billboards everywhere. All over the world. I’m looking out the window, there’s one right here. It’s crazy. My mom had a twin and I never knew about it, but I found him 3 years ago. We’re here to stay now.
Q: How well do you think hip hop and urban culture was represented in the game? I mean aside from you and your character, do you feel as though they were spot on? Do you feel like they incorporated enough to really resemble and replicate the hood? To embody the music that’s going on on the west coast and throughout hip hop overall? There’s a lot of Kendrick and TDE on the radio stations. A lot of west coast music – obviously it all centers around that.
A: Oh man, 100 percent. They did it. They hit the nail on the head. They included DJ Pooh and a host of DJ’s. Big Boy, my boy, up there at Power 106. They included a lot of guys – Alchemist, Oh No. They got down. They kept it real west coast. They let us do our thing. They kept the urban, you know, the hip hop, the street life, the hoods, from the poverty to the riches up in their. 100 percent on in my opinion.
Q: I saw one of your “interviews” with TMZ, I believe the first time they tracked you down, where you said voice actors, or better yet video game actors, could be the next film or television actor. Where do you see the career path of video game actors going?
A: If you’re asking me where I see it going, I see it getting up there with the big dudes. The Denzel’s and all of the other cats. That’s what I see and that’s what I want. But what we always want and what we see don’t always come. But that’s what I see and that’s what I want, for real. We’re good actors. We did a great job with this. So when I made that statement when TMZ came and they asked me that, I was making a statement to pretty much say this sh#$ was hard work that we did. This was real hard work. 3 hard years – just grinding and grinding. Plowing through piles and piles of scripts. You have to know and people should understand that we’re sitting there in a big square room with nothing but a crate here and a pole there. And you have to imagine that poll as a telephone booth and that crate as a television or a sofa. So in that sense I think it’s much harder. Actors have outfits on. They have a real car to sit in and they have real furniture to lay on. And a real person to speak with. We have to imagine everything.
I think this is an important component to shine light on within the video game sector. You’re obviously working for a big budget studio, and they can afford to do this, and maybe other studios can’t. But I think it’s important to shine light on the fact that you really busted your ass, that you put in more time and effort than arguably many to most other voice over actors to date and, you know, maybe you’re setting the trend for the future. But it’s important. I think it’s a really important development for the industry.
It’s a real good thing man. You said it right on the money.
Q: Next move?
A: Yea, I’ve got a lot of stuff coming. My publicist, my people man, you know Echoing Soundz, they’re handling their business. They’re lining up things for me. I’m just waiting. I’m sitting here patiently. I’m a diamond in the rough. So, I think she [Echo] gonna do a good job of pulling me out. They gonna find something for me. People are reaching out, but it’s gotta be the right thing. I don’t want to get out of my character. I want to stay in my lane. Sometimes you can get out of your lane and you can have your accident. You need to do your speed limit.
Q: Just real quick – another TMZ thing that’s been circulating around the Internet. What happened between you and Ice Cube? What was the period of time in your life like? Are you also still rapping or is it a thing of the past?
A: I want to make this story real short and simple, because I know this Ice Cube stuff is humongus. Ice Cube has millions of fans out here, and I’m one of them. I’m probably one of the top ones. See, people are getting it wrong. Me and Ice Cube are real good buddies. We’ve been good buddies since the NWA days. I mean I used to sit on the porch with him at his mama’s house and discuss him leaving NWA. He had the jheri curl, the Suzuki jeep, all that stuff man. So it’s not like he was a stranger. Or that I was a stranger to him. It was just an incident that happened. It was like some homie on homie type stuff. We just scrapped it out. But it turned into something else and the media took it and ran with it, making it something worse than what it was. But we tied that up real quick. So me and Cube are like, we real good. That was just something in the past. Just some hood sh#$ that happened – we’re good. That’s my boy right there.
Lastly, I just really wanted to congratulate you. And cheers to Steven Ogg and Ned Luke as well. I think you guys delivered a spot on performance in a game that really competes to steal your attention in so many different ways – the sheer chaos of the game, the breath taking landscape, and the vast open world.
We came together correctly. You’ve got a Canadian, and you’ve a dude from Chicago, and then you’ve got a dude straight from the hood. Come on man, that’s gumbo. That’s like the best gumbo you can put together. Those are some good ingredients. Everybody got a bowl of it and they’re loving it. Rockstar is a good restaurant and they’ve cooked up some good recipes.