Step aside, Wesley Snipes — there’s a new vampire hunter in town.
Harold Perrineau, perhaps best known as Michael on “Lost” and Augustus Hill on the HBO prison drama “Oz,” is the starring voice featured in “Blade,” the new Marvel Anime series debuting on G4 this Friday (January 13) at 11:00 PM EST. The actor took some time to speak with MTV News about his role in the project, how his experiences on “Oz” informed his voice work, and much more. Keep on reading for an exclusive clip, too!
“Blade” tells the familiar story of the daywalker Eric Brooks, who boasts all of a vampire’s strengths and only one of its weaknesses: an insatiable appetite for blood. This series once again sees Blade tracking down his nemesis Deacon Frost in an effort to seek justice for his mother and peace for himself, a journey that takes our hero all over Asia.
For Perrineau, the actor’s first exposure to “Blade” was, like many fans, the Snipes-starring film in 1998. “I was a real fan of the movie at the time,” he told MTV News, adding that he even once asked Snipes if he could have a part in a future sequel.
“That never worked out, clearly,” he laughed. “But now I get to be Blade, which is cool!”
After using the Snipes films as a reference point, Perrineau found Blade’s quest to avenge his mother as a way of connecting with the character. “That’s something that connects with me. Don’t talk about my mom! Whatever you do, don’t mess with my mom,” he laughed. “But Blade has a really tough outer shell. You’ll see him do some things and you go, wow, that’s ruthless. But that’s him doing what he needs to do to get to Deacon Frost. That’s all he’s trying to do. There’s a soft inside, but you never really see it, and he hardly ever talks about [his mom].”
“He’s a big strong dude and he’s got the bald head, tats all over the place. You think about a guy who can suffer through all that kind of pain. On a daily basis, he’s clearly in pain,” said Perrineau. “He has to take all these shots so he’s not going out and acting on his natural vampire instincts. You kind of have to figure out how to have all of that emotion.”
“It was really, really physical in the booth,” he continued of his process. “He’s fighting and moving and jumping and all this stuff, so I tried to have as much physicality when I was on the mic as I could so he didn’t sound static. But when he is static, that’s when I fill it with as much emotion as I could. Hopefully in my voice you hear whatever anguish or angst is happening with the character at the moment.”
Voice acting can be a lonely gig without other performers to react against, but Perrineau has some experience flying solo. As the wheelchair-bound narrator of “Oz,” Perrineau would narrate episodes from inside an isolated translucent booth, often speaking only to the audience, not to any other actors.
“I guess I have a little bit of experience with guys who feel trapped in places, like on a prison show like ’Oz.’ It’s a situation where you have no place to vent. I called on a lot of stuff like that,” he said. “I don’t mind being in the booth by myself, or being alone creating something. Quite often I found myself doing that, when I didn’t have other actors to play off. That’s exactly what we did on ’Oz.’ I’d show up one day and it’d just be me and the crew and we’d have to create all of this stuff, and it would just be me and the camera. In a way, that was a really helpful experience [going into ’Blade’].”
Between roles on “Lost,” “The Matrix” and now “Blade,” Perrineau has become something of a fixture in the geek community. But the actor swears his continued presence in these kinds of projects isn’t intentional.
“To be honest, I don’t know! It’s not like I’m looking for it,” he laughed. “It just seems to come up, and it seems to fit. I just don’t know. I do get to do some really interesting projects and they’re on the geek side.”
Whether he planned it this way or not, Perrineau is just as excited as any fan to see the finished product with “Blade.”
“The animation is just beautiful to watch,” he said. “The artwork is really amazing. They’ve pieced together a really amazing story, too. Blade going off to all these different islands trying to find this one character, and they’ve used the mythology of vampires in that section of the world. So when we go to Vietnam or Indonesia, they all have their own vampire mythologies. It’s cool to see all the new vampires he has to go up against. It’s really interesting. If you love anime, it’s so beautiful, and actually quite touching. I was really moved by the end of the entire story. It’s really engaging.”
“I can’t wait to see the whole thing put together – I haven’t seen it all yet – but just reading the stories, I was fully in it,” he added. “It’s like reading a comic. It’s a comic come to life. It’s really beautiful.”
“Blade” debuts on G4 on January 13 at 11:00 PM EST.