Jonny Cruz, the voice actor for Lucio of the Blizzard Overwatch game is an American actor, scriptwriter, producer, filmmaker, musician and voice actor from Texas but is now currently based in Los Angelas was part of the lineup of celebrity guest the Comic Con Malaysia Pop-Con 2019 event held in the Mid Valley Megamall on the 22nd and 23rd Jan 2019.
This trip to Malaysia is Jonny’s first in getting to meet and know the local Overwatch gaming community here in Malaysia as well as trying out some local culinary delights from Malaysia’s diverse culture.
The Coverage were given an opportunity to have an exclusive interview with Jonny on his inaugural trip to Malaysia and landing the role of a lifetime being Lucio, the dark-skinned, beatboxing healer hero of one of the biggest games in the world.
The Coverage: How do you like Malaysia so far?
Jonny Cruz: Malaysia is incredible. The culture is so different but everybody speaks English and it kind of matches up so I don’t get a lot of culture shocks. That’s really nice that I can actually communicate with people here. It’s been phenomenal.
TC: This is your first time to Malaysia and in the plug for Pop Con, you mentioned nasi lemak and cendol. How did you learn about these dishes?
JC: When I first mentioned that I will coming to Malaysia, some of my fans suggested me to try this food and that dish. Also, Jerry (the local coordinator for Pop Con) told me about nasi lemak and cendol (laughs).
TC: How many Malaysian cuisines have you tried and what’s your favourite meal?
JC: I tried so much and everything is so delicious. I like nasi lemak and nasi bojari but there’s this one I like but I forgot the name. It translates to ‘a single man’s meal’. (pauses) Oh, it’s nasi bujang. I like that one a lot! I also love cendol too. I love sweets but I have to stay away from it because I want to get ripped (laughs).
But, right here I just let it all go and embrace a lot of the food. All the differences and areas of food around here like the Indian and Chinese cuisines, all the good stuff, has been a delight.
TC: If you were to come back to Malaysia again, who will you bring with you amongst the Overwatch voice actors?
JC: One of them would be Gaku Space, he a blast to travel with. I would tell Cherelle, Lucie (chuckles), Carolina and Anjali… I mean, they all so very like… they like to travel too.
Lucie would do her research on the go to places and drag us along for the ride (Laughs).
TC: So, how did you get involved with Blizzard and auditioning for Lúcio? Tell us the experience.
JC: Sure. Usually, for voice actors, you have an agent. They sent you sides, which sides are the part of the script. You’ll get a character’s descriptions and then a couple of lines. And then I get some sides from my agent and I looked them over, it was like a small Latino-looking boy with a hat and a skateboard and there was Lúcio. It had five different lines. That was it!
So, I went through it. I gave my best possible representation of what the sides said — he’s young, hip and fun older-brother-type. And it’s very encouraging and I said to myself, “I can do that!”, you know. I also put pieces of myself into it, my altruistic pieces, my encouraging and fun sides – ready to hang out, kinda like sporty sides.
A couple months later, I got an email from my agent saying, “Blizzard wants you to be part of the new game, Overwatch.” I didn’t know I did an audition for that game because it was under a different name before. This is me, trying to piece it all up together. I got Blizzard, Overwatch, and I was like, “Wait a minute. Is that the game that my friends talk about?” and it became like, “Wait a minute. This might be something people really like!” Now, people really do love it. That was kinda like the process”.
TC: How much did you put yourself into Lucio when you were voicing this character?
JC: Lucio is a character that I think I put a lot of myself from, probably all or a lot of my altruistic views and beliefs and hopes of being a loving human being to other human being and encouraging. You know, I think that a lot of what I am to a lot of my friends. Is like always helping them to see the possibilities versus the impossibilities. So I took a lot of that area of my life and a lot of my playfulness and I stuck that into Lucio. Those are some of the biggest parts so I think he is close to me in a lot of ways but definitely more altruistic and season in a grand world view kinda way.
TC: Have you ever ad-libbed your own lines or improv the voice lines that made into the game?
JC: Yeah, I did some beat-boxing. I’m so glad they kept it. Just little lines here and there that they can make into the game but I don’t remember the lines.
TC: In Overwatch, you’re a singer who spreads positive vibes and heal characters with your songs. If you can only choose one song to heal everybody here, what song would you pick?
JC: Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror. I choose that song because we all start with ourselves. We hear that and take representations of ourselves. Then, we could see other people out there.
TC: Traveling and meeting fans must take a toll on you. What is your go to method to keep going?
JC: I always stand during my signings because I am invigorated by the people and it gives me presence and I will always stand. I think… yeah! I am invigorated by the fans I think it’s a symbiotic energy and by the end of it I can keep going and then I crash at the end of the night. That’s it man (chuckles), I am very simple.
TC: Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for aspiring voice actors or actors out there?
JC: For any person thinking about doing acting or even voice acting, I would say to do it right. I think most would say just like maybe I can or I wish… nothing ever happens. But the moment you say I am; I’m going to; I’m gonna do this… making that choice leads you on a path and now you open a world of possibilities, you are able to see possibilities. You can see a class that comes up or when friends talk about it and you hear you like “wait, I want to be a voice actor this is in line with what I want to do. I’ll move this way.”
Alright, you are in the class and you are learning something, “Hey, there’s this agency / website that you can submit your stuff to…” “You’re listening, “Wait a minute that is in line with what I want to do, I will do that.” Now you are starting to go down this path because you are listening. But if you don’t make that decision, you don’t actually say “hey, I am going to do this” it’s kind of like when you see it… you’re like “I wish… I can do that or maybe.” But once you say “I am”, that is the next step. So I invite people to make choices to do it. So do it right… and if you find down the way I don’t like this, you can choose something else.
Special thanks to the organizers of Pop Con 2019 for this interview.