Between the Sheets: Matthew Mercer

– Hello and welcome. On tonight’s episode I sit down for a Dark & Stormy with Matthew Mercer. We discuss everything from how RPGs helped him find his
identity, his cosplay years, how he almost had a career in art, and the legacy he hopes
he’s leaving behind. All that and more tonight
on Between the Sheets. (classical jazz music) Matthew Mercer, thank you for joining me. – Thank you for having me.
– At least we’ve arrived. Cheers, my friend. – Cheers indeed. – What are we drinking today? – This is a Dark ‘N’
Stormy, nothing too fancy. Like me, this is my one good outfit. – Your one good outfit? – My “semi-fancy” appearance. – When we talked about what you wanted to drink for this episode this came up, how come, you really like this drink? – I like it, I’m more of
a rum drinker when I do drink and, I don’t know, I
like things that are sweet. I grew up being called a girly drinker which makes no sense because I know guys who drink sweeter
cocktails more than ladies. – Yeah, I love a good lemon
drop every once in a while. – Damn right. – Yeah. – I like this, it’s
simple, it’s easy to order, not too many bartenders ask
you wait, how’s that made? – Right. – It’s my good go to. – And it has a name that
has mystery and intrigue and you sound cool when
you go up and order one. – Sure, yeah, if you’re
somebody else maybe. (laughter) Can I get a Dark ‘N’ Stormy please? – Could I please have a Dark ‘N’ Stormy? – That’s pretty accurate to my
approach to any bar, really. I guess the name does help too, I’m very much a cloudy, rainy weather person. I love gray skies, I love when it’s a heavy downpour outside, so I guess the name has an allure to me as well. – Do you feel more creative
in that environment? I do. – I do. – Rather than when it’s hot and you wanna be outdoors doing stuff at the beach, I don’t go to the beach. – I don’t go outdoors, I’m not really connecting with humans. It’s a bad start to
this interview already. – I’m just trying to be relatable to all of our beach bum fans out there. – Yeah. Yeah, for some reason
cloudy, rainy weather, the sound of rain outside has always been very inspiring atmosphere to me, to the point where now
I go to sleep almost every night with the sound of rain on my Spotify on repeat just to help me get to that quick and easy rest. – You grew up Matthew Miller. – Yes. – As many people know. There’s probably a billion
Matthew Millers which is part of why you had to
change your name right? – That’s exactly why. When I joined the Screen Actors Guild years ago, there were 17 Matt Millers at the time, and there’s
plenty more now since, and Mercer was my family
name a few generations back, and I figured it was
close enough to where if I heard it out loud my
ear would still pick it up and I’d register as possibly
being referring to me. And it sounded a little
cooler to me than Miller did. – Yeah, it’s cool. – Maybe ’cause I was just
around it my whole life. – Do you know why your family changed the name a few generations back? – I think it was less of a change to the name, more they married into another individual and that
thread just sparked off and went in our direction
and so Miller stuck. – What’s your heritage? – My heritage, from what I’ve been able to glean from previous family members’ research and the wonders of 23 And Me, mostly Irish and Scottish, UK, just right in that UK isle circuit there. I’m primarily Scottish, and a lot of my friends who had gone back looking into their heritage have been excited to find out that they came from this majestic clan or this family that, up on the north shore they have this great castle and all these great things you can look forward to visiting for the family bloodline and have all this mystique about their past. My family just stole horses. They were just a bunch of thieves, and that’s about as cool as it got. (laughs) The furthest back we
could go, it ended there. Which leads me to believe they just lived in mud and they went like let’s steal a horse, and that’s where it all took off, that’s where this began. – But then they probably, you know, what if they became the people that started the Kentucky Derby? (laughter) – Then I’d… – You need a piece. – I feel like I should be,
get a nice hat at least. – I was just gonna say, I was just gonna say, how do I not get any of the hat inheritance
with the Kentucky Derby? – I’m gonna look into this,
I’m gonna go ahead and– – We’ll find out. – Yeah, I’ll go into and see just how many hats there
are waiting for me. – I would love it if you found out you were the heir to something like that, and then you just walked away from all of this ’cause you have like all this money. – Sorry guys, I got that cool hat money. – Everybody goes he’s not in this for the money, he’s in this for the story and the community, all
this stuff, and then the second you win the lottery or you find out that you come from money you’re like I’m out, nobody ever
hears from you again. – To be fair, my lifelong journey to try and find a hat that fits me and doesn’t look ridiculous I think should end somewhere like that. – Hats are tough for you. – Yeah. – We try to put you in hats when we go places so that we can get to TGI Friday’s without getting stopped. – Our one recourse. (laughter) – Beanies look great on you though. ‘Cause you have the little hair come out of the bottom and it just looks cool. – Yeah, embrace that high
school stoner I never was. – Yeah, I always look like I’m gonna knock over a check cashing place
when I wear a beanie. – Yeah, not just the beanie, but more so– – Just in general? – Increases the percentage. (laughter) – So where’d you grow up? – Originally I grew up in
Florida, Central Florida. My parents were both pseudo-creatives, mom was a writer, my dad was a musician. My grandmother worked for years with, ironically Burt Reynolds if you’ve been following Critical Role, like I grew up with a weird, kinda adjacent, Burt Reynolds theme, so she worked with him on a number of films and was the head of his production studio, Burt Reynolds Productions. – Whoa. – And she ran the Burt
Reynolds Dinner Theater in Jupiter, Florida for a number of years in which my father did
audio there, my mom was an apprentice for a while,
then was a producer. That’s where she met Darin De Paul. – That’s right. – That’s where, Darin
De Paul met my parents and my grandmother before I was born. That was a surreal
comeback in recent years. – I remember talking
about that when he came on the show and just how
serendipitous that whole thing was because he
played D&D with your mom. – Yeah, yeah, and he posted a picture on Twitter one day of this is me in the apprenticeship program,
and my mom was in the picture and it was just
like, what is going on? – What a weird, small world. – Yeah. But yeah, so that’s where it started, so I lived in Central Florida, I lived in what was essentially West Palm Beach. The poorer side of West Palm Beach, ’cause there’s two sides to it, there’s the ridiculously affluent. – Where people retire and they
wanna own a condo and, yeah. – And call the police on people that don’t look like themselves. – Like people, yeah. – We lived on the other
side of the tracks, and my parents definitely didn’t have a lot of money, and they worked really hard just to ensure that me and my brother had a really
really good upbringing. I’m very thankful for that, but we just moved from apartment to apartment almost every year, we had a very thematic life, especially in Florida
in those early years. I lived there until I was about eight. – And then you moved to LA. – My mother was hired on as a writer for Burt Reynolds Productions, my grandmother at the time was head of his production company called Burt Reynolds Productions. A very astute title. And then to work on
Evening Shade which was a show that he was doing in the early 90s. That was enough for my family to just uproot and head to the west coast. There wasn’t a whole lot going for us in Florida, we had not a lot of good financial prospects for a long time, and I think my family was looking forward to a new start, so we just did a two, a little over a two week road trip across the US in our van. – Your parents and you and your brother? – Yeah. – Wow. – The little U-Haul truck behind us with what little we took with us, and made our way up to California. – What kind of writing did your mom do, what kind of music did your dad do? – My mom, she did mainly story writing. Scripts, a little bit of
playwriting tinkering, but nothing that really took off, and she wrote a few episodes for Evening Shade and did some other work here and there. Unfortunately a lot of the projects she worked on didn’t quite come to fruition in later years, and there were reasons beyond her control for that. My dad, all kinds of music, he raised me on Beatles and Pink Floyd and Moody Blues, Alan Parsons Project, everything in that realm of music, so that was very much his specialty, but he played plenty of instruments, and growing
up, every Christmas was him giving me some sort of instrument that he could afford, and me messing with it for a week and then going nah and then giving it
to my brother and he would master it, so he
became a musician too. – Wow. – I just, I was that
one who couldn’t quite find the interest of
picking up an instrument. – You appreciate music. – Oh very much so. – But just the act of trying to get in and learn how to play, it just
didn’t catch with you. – Yeah, and it’s kinda
frustrating in hindsight ’cause I would love to
have had that skill, and I appreciate what musicians do, and to this day my dad’s still a busker for a living in Hawaii, so I really have a love for people that create music. But it wasn’t something I think was in the cards for me unfortunately. – What did growing up without a lot those first eight years in
Florida, and switching apartments so much and
everything, what did growing up on the poorer
side of things teach you? – It taught me to appreciate the things that you have, most
definitely, and to earn the few things that you did manage to get. My parents were very
good about making sure that if there was something
we wanted as kids, we had to earn it by keeping things clean, which was a good way of also mitigating what they could afford to get us, they’re like well we
would love to get that, but if you keep your stuff, your room clean for the next six months you’ll get that little talking Roger Rabbit doll. So yeah, that definitely, I’m thankful ’cause it instilled appreciation for things like that and for what you have. And then moving to a lot of schools, in those younger years especially it was different friend circles at almost every year, and I never really put my roots down with too many folk at the time, and then moving from Florida, just lost track of everybody after that, so it’s a completely clean
slate coming out here. – I was gonna ask if any of, you were so young when you moved, there’s really no way to keep in touch with the friends that you did have at that time? – Not really, and those years were awkward too ’cause I
was a heavy stutterer at the time, and that made
it hard to communicate. I had one of my good friends that I made at the time, this was, I segment my childhood by obsessions, like during the Ninja Turtle phase, one of my best friends was deaf, and because both of us had difficulty in communication we found a kinship there, and so me and him were just obsessed with Ninja Turtles and we’d
draw and watch the shows together and play with
action figures and stuff. But yeah, then uprooting everything, coming out here was its own unique adventure and a change of gears. – I can imagine. You mentioned that you
had a stuttering problem growing up, and I’ve heard you talk about this a little bit, but how early did that start for you to where you were like this is kinda a thing versus oh, everybody
doesn’t talk like this? – I wasn’t self-aware
of it, I don’t think, until I started going to school. It was just how I talked, and I would fight through the catches. But it wasn’t until I got to school and began to get teased about it, or began to notice that other kids didn’t have this, even my brother didn’t stutter at all, I didn’t really
realize it until then. My father, who was a heavy stutterer, and both of us still carry a hint of it, him a little more than me, he immediately put me into speech therapy, he’s like I don’t want you to go through what I went through in elementary school, so I went through years with
speech therapy through early elementary school,
helping me realize, and I think what they
realized is the brain was going too fast for
the speech to catch up. – Right. – And so your thoughts
would just be racing, and the mouth would
eventually get caught up, and then you’d have to restart or hold for a second to bring
your thoughts back and encircle in what point
you were trying to make. We managed to increase
my speech, which was great for stuttering,
but it also meant that I talked really fast,
and so there was a time where I got teased for
talking way too quickly. – Oh interesting. – Running my words together, and me and my friend Ian in middle
school, we would almost have our own language, we would both talk so quickly, that my parents were joking they had no idea what we were saying. – But you’re like I’m free now, I have the tools to be able to talk, I’m gonna make up for all this lost time where I wasn’t able to communicate
the way I wanted to. – Yeah, and it was funny
because it was actually through theater later
in life that I learned to have to slow my speech down. So it used to just be this smattering run of consonants and vowels that occasionally I’d have to repeat myself ’cause people couldn’t understand what I was saying. – It was so quick. – And when I get excited, I still get caught up in that speech pattern, but yeah, through theater and things like that later on helped me slow down, be more conscious of my cadence, and be a much better public speaker than I think I ever would’ve been had I been left to continue my path. – Or to try and overcome it on your own. – Yeah, that’s for sure. – Yeah, but you’re grateful that your dad put you in the speech therapy. – Oh very much so, very much so. It taught me a lot of just really good techniques about being
self aware of my speech, of learning how to
verbalize ideas, and not feel bad about impediment as I worked through it for many years. – It’s something that
you can’t control, I mean you weren’t born going I’m gonna talk differently than everybody else, so yeah, you just work through it. – Yeah, essentially,
and being a voice actor was a cool full circle to that experience, though it also means that when those few catches come up here and there in the booth it’s extra embarrassing and I have to ask them to be patient. Certain words back to back will catch me. Remember is a big word. – Remember, right. – Like saying that in
the middle of a sentence I’ll say well-I-remember,
it’ll come up like that. Certain phases I’ll still get caught on and have to push through a little bit. But thankfully they’re fairly minimal and I think I’m fairly understanding. – Your brother Andrew, older or younger? – Younger by two years. – What was your relationship
like with him being that you were the only
two kids in the family? And two boys. – And two boys, yeah. We were very, for most of our life we were very close, and still
very close to this day, I’m really appreciative of having somebody to grow up with so close to my age. Wasn’t always the case
in the younger years. There were definitely times where as the older brother I would terrorize. I had this new little toy that reacted to things I did, this was great, and there’s videos of us, of me just pushing him over once he started walking. (laughs) And he’d get up and be confused as to why gravity is being such an asshole to him, and then you hear my dad behind the camera
go like Matt, Matt no. I’d look back at the camera. Push him over again. I was a little dick for those early years. – Yup, I understand. – But he got me back, there was one time, the parents tell us, where
they heard me yelling. There was screaming and they ran upstairs thinking I hurt myself and they found me face down on the ground,
my brother on my back, holding my hair and
hitting me with a ladle. Apparently that was the moment he snapped, and we were good after that apparently, we were fine, we had even-keeled. – Mutual respect at that point. – Yeah. – You guys understood that okay, there is a give to this take. – Yeah, and from that point forward I think we were very close, we shared a lot of our interests, especially in later years when he was finding himself in high school and we shared
a lot of music together. We always shared rooms for the most part. Yeah, I still love him dearly this year even though he’s four
inches taller than me. – He is? – Yeah, it’s kinda bullshit. – He has somewhat of a resemblance to me, probably a lot more handsome,
but he has some features– – He definitely has the Portland beard. – Interesting, yeah, the Portland beard, yeah ’cause he’s up in
the northwest right? – Yeah, yeah, he’s up in there. It’s kinda unfair that I feel like the prototype and he got the final height release version, but you know, it’s fine. – Despite the teasing and all the things you do to a sibling, and with a sibling, were you the protective older brother throughout stuff in life with him? – I was in the later years, it wasn’t something I felt, we
didn’t feel there was much need for protection
from other kids per se. There were some rougher times where I think there was more of a take him under my wing, and I’m sorry if Andrew’s watching this, but he
was generally, believe it or not, the most sensitive
of the two of us. – Really? – Especially in those early years. There were times, like
in our middle school we were homeless for about, it was about eight months or so we were living out of motels and our van, and he was very, having a hard time with that, so at that time I took him under my wing and reintroduced him to a lot of my interests and just looked after him, and then in high school he definitely went through a number of years where he was just trying to find himself, went through a lot of different phases, and cycling friends groups
to a certain extent, and since he was two years younger than me coming in at the same
high school I was in, I felt protective of
anything that got in his way. So, and then being a
person who was bullied through my own years
as well, was wanting to stand up where I could, not that I was an imposing figure, especially
once he grew taller than I did. – He had his growth spurt, right, right. (laughter) You were like you better
watch out, this guy could just keep going, and then
yeah, he’ll be unstoppable. – Yeah, but to this day we have this super long list of inside jokes from our childhood that we’ll still text or call each other and
just throw at each other just to mess up our day
and have a good time. I love him dearly. – Outside of getting teased for your speech impediment, why
would people bully you? For what reason? – I was a quieter kid when I was younger. When I was around my family, when I was around my parents, I was a ham. But I was bullied because I was quiet, because I had thick glasses for many years and that was a natural thing that people gravitated towards and they were just having power trips
in early school years. Up until about middle school or so I didn’t have a lot of friends. Partially ’cause we were moving– – [Brian] You were transient. – So constantly, so I was playing solo except for a handful of
people that I clung to. And then of course as the body begins to change right around adolescence my hair became really greasy, I had an off and on scalp infection thing through my childhood that I had to go through a lot of medications for my scalp and my hair, and so I’d come back to my binder with stuff like die dandruff dork and shit like that written on my stuff. – Kids are terrible. – They’re terrible. – They’re terrible. – And I was just generally
self-conscious of myself, and had been from a very
young age physically. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized that I have a fair amount of body dysmorphic disorder where– – Talk to me about that. What’s that experience like? – Yeah, I mentioned that a little bit last year on a stream
on mental health day. It’s a mental disorder
where you essentially, no matter the situation for the most part, perceive yourself as a very unsightly, ugly, and just repulsive person. For me it’s physically based, and I was the kid that, one of the scariest phrases I could were pool party or beach party. – Because you’d be exposed and you would feel like everyone’s gonna feel the same way about my body as I feel about my body. – Yeah, and I was always the kid that wore the shirt and never ever went shirtless in any of these events, I didn’t feel comfortable, this was back, I must’ve been 10, 11, even then I just did not feel comfortable, and still largely don’t really feel comfortable with my body most of the time. Finding ways to sit comfortably, it’s a unique, subtle struggle in my life. – What has that process
been like, because with things that are a mental
disorder or something that’s outside of your control, how do you overcome that and push through? It’s not that the sign of overcoming it would be I don’t wear a shirt to the beach anymore because it’s an internal struggle. – Yeah, still do that. – Yeah exactly, that’s not a sign that you are now free of this thing, but how did you manage it and how did you process it and work through it and how do you still do to this day? – I’m still working through
it, it’s still a thing. I will say living in LA
hasn’t made it easier. I’m surrounded by very very
pretty people on a daily basis. – In a very image conscious culture where it’s on the billboards, it’s everywhere. – Everywhere, and so a lot of it is just being aware of it has been helpful. It was very hard in high school. Especially in a social space where people are starting to come into their identity and there is a definite social hierarchy that begins to develop. I can’t say I dealt with it well, meaning while I didn’t externalize it, there was a lot of self-loathing
in those years that I just internalized and
didn’t let anybody else see. It’s not easy, and it’s, even to this day, I either try and rush past a mirror if I’m going to the shower
so I don’t see myself, or if I do I stop and obsess all the perceived imperfections and generally leave very angry with myself. And it’s just something you
work with and you work through. – To hear that it’s still something you work through I’m sure is encouraging for people who maybe are younger and feel that way because it’s like hey, you can still get very
far, and find healthy ways to work through
that stuff if you like. – And it’s, I wanna also specify, the few times I’ve mentioned it people are like oh no no no, you’re great, you look great. – You don’t need that. – I appreciate it, but that doesn’t help either because it’s, I’m not looking for positive reinforcement,
I’m not looking for people to tell me
otherwise ’cause you can’t. It’s something that’s internal that I just have to struggle through. Part of the reason, since I’ve discovered the soft long vest, and
I wear them so often, I like it because it’s
a unique style to me, but also ’cause it obscures my torso. It’s actually, it’s a
personal comfort thing where I feel like it’s
something I could wear where I don’t have to constantly find a way to adjust when I’m seating, or where I have to figure out a way to where I don’t look absolutely grotesque in public. – You can just be comfortable
and then perform comfortably. – Yeah. – We always thought those things activate the dungeon master powers, ’cause it does seem, you can tell though when you have them on you do feel, you do come across like you’re more free and more yourself and whatever else. – I think that’s part of it. – That’s what it does and that’s a tool. – Yeah, it’s finding those little things day to day that help me feel
a little more comfortable. I’ve been trying to find
time to workout more. That does seem to help a little bit, and dietary things just for general energy level, though
I’m never really happy. But yeah, it’s just a
thing I work through. It definitely made a lot of the early bullying in my life sting a lot more, whenever it was an
appearance-based insult. I do have, I have a lot to thank my friend Ian Cho in middle school, I was the token white kid in a group of East Indian, Pakistani,
Korean, Japanese kids who were all just, we found our common thread in video games and anime. My friend Ian Cho was my BFF and my ride or die friend through all middle school and early high school. He was this quiet little
scrawny Korean kid who was secretly built like
Bruce Lee and idolized him. – Oh wow. – I remember there was
one time on the bus, and I think it was
seventh grade, where one kid who had been
terrorizing me for a while sat in the seat behind us and kept muttering shitty things over the side and punching the back of the seat. – At you. – At me, and it got more and more intense, I just got quiet, and my friend Ian started telling him stop it, stop it. The kid looked him in the eyes, did one final heavy punch to the back, and so Ian just popped him right in the face. Kid got really quiet. Next day came to school with
a big ol’ welt in his chin, and then challenged my
friend Ian to a fight. And all his friends were backing him up, typical chest beating– – Meet me behind the flagpole. – Yeah, I’m 12, I’m gonna show
you how much of a man I am. I know Ian well enough, he’d been taking aikido for many years, that this was not gonna go well for the other kid. – How did it go? – Oh Ian destroyed him. Ian destroyed him. – We love you, Ian. – It was amazing, and I’m sad I lost touch with him, but yeah, he definitely came to bat that one time and he didn’t bother us much after that. Yeah, it’s interesting, part of the reason I think voiceover was more my claim than on camera stuff
was because as much as I tried it, and I’ve done
some on camera things, I rarely ever watch my stuff
back, even Critical Role I have a hard time going back and watching episodes we already recorded unless I’m focusing on the players ’cause I don’t like seeing myself on camera. So it’s a very weird
dichotomy of being somebody whose career has put them
on some public stage, and not wanting to be in
some ways on that stage. – It’s an interesting wrestle that you have to do internally. Do you think that some of that bullying, and a lot of that treatment, and some of those experiences, drove you towards living in a fantasy thing and acting out and being able to sorta be yourself or be someone else because
of a lot of that stuff? – Very much so. I owe so much to who I
am today to being able to explore who I wanted
to be in those spaces. – Who did you wanna be in those spaces? – I was figuring it out
and I think I wanted to be someone who was
more sure of themself. I’m still working on that. I wanted to be somebody
that could stand up for people that couldn’t
protect themselves. I want to be a problem
solver and be useful. And these are all things that you didn’t always have the opportunity, especially in those younger years, to experience and really resonate with, and I think, well I loved, and I grew up playing video games and roleplaying games, you can get an aspect of that through all those facets of digital media, but it was tabletop roleplaying games that really allowed me to build a persona and step into those shoes and
try it on for a while. And see what parts I
liked, what parts I didn’t, and then the next time try something else that was maybe radically different, or adjacent to that with a few tweaks, and see if that was closer to who I eventually wanted to be. Not only did those experiences save me a lot of mental anguish in those years, but I think it helped open me up. It helped me become more confident to my speeching, uh
speeching, case in point. – (laughs) Well we’re also drinking. – We’re also drinking, that
too, we talk for a living. – Yeah. Some things come out fucky. (laughter) It just happens. – I know. It helped me really embrace the idea of gifting storytelling to other people. I began to find comfort, and stepping into character was more myself also. I think in some facets there was trying to find out who I wanted
to be, and there’s some facet of knowing that while I was uncomfortable in being in this body, I was far more comfortable
in being in the body, the perceived body of
these other characters. Whether they be PC, NPCs. There was a therapeutic aspect of that there for a long time. – Is there still to this day? – Maybe. – It’s not as big of a struggle– – It’s not as big of a struggle, and I don’t feel it’s, I’m sure in some ways it’s still a subtle tool week to week, and I appreciate all these great friends I get to play with that have been so supportive in my silly storytelling. – Oh wow, yeah. I wonder, how did things change in your relationship to other people at school once you started playing RPGs and you were able to become more comfortable and your mind was being stretched and you were acting out different things, did it change the way that, were you more confident at school, or was it still like I’m still sorta in this weird place, but when I escape to this
other thing I’m able to be this other person, or
was there crossover there? – I was. I think, my freshman year of high school discovering RPGs and
going into dance class actually both helped tremendously. I was the only guy in dance.
– What kind of dance? – All kinds, it was just basic dance. – It was dance, okay. – It was just dance, and it was considered PE credit, and I hated
running, I hated PE, so it was my little fuck you to the school system, I can do what I want. – [Brian] More creative than running. – Very much so. So it was me and just a bunch of really awesome ladies that didn’t tease me about that, and brought me in, and we did anything from lyrical ballet and jazz dancing to break dancing to, we ran the gamut over the last two years, and so that to me was very, it felt good because it was active, and as a person that doesn’t like a lot
of physical activity, it was a way that I could kinda still be active, but not feel like I have no purpose to it, I guess that’s the thing about physical activity that bothered me was I had a hard time pushing myself to run and workout when there was no perceived narrative
end or reason for it. – Right. – It just seemed, it was
empty calories to me, and I’ve gotten better over the
years in dealing with that, but that was a block
for me for many years. – Well and it probably felt
like an invitation for ridicule. – Yeah. – Because you’re there
amongst all these people who are probably “more
comfortable” in their own skin than you were at the time. – Oh yeah, and when
you’re in a locker room of a bunch of boys in
high school and you’re putting on your jazz
shoes and dance pants, you get called all
sorts of terrible names. At first it stung, but
then it didn’t at all because I was having a
good time with good people, and the more people I got to meet, especially through theater,
the more I realized that these insults didn’t mean anything because they were wonderful
people that endure these slings and arrows
and wear it as a banner. – Right. – So yeah, dance was
really important to me, and it was through RPGs
that I got into theater. I had no interest in
being an actor, for being surrounded by entertainment
with my parents and grandmother in the
theater, and growing up around actors to a certain extent, I had no interest, and everyone
told me don’t be an actor. Everyone who was an actor
was like just don’t do this. – Why? – Because it’s such as harsh career. It just crushes so many people. It takes a certain mindset to endure that and still persevere, and so very wise of them to at a young age be like trust me, don’t let this destroy you. – Have a trade, have a
fallback, have a thing if you are gonna pursue it, the things that people always tell you guys. – And so I went into art,
I went into illustration, and my whole upbringing
was filling sketchbooks with comic books characters
and creature designs and making my own little comics in the margins of tests I do at school. I made money in middle
school from drawing kids pictures of characters they wanted to see. And then in eighth grade drawing the nudie pictures for kids
who had no access– – Nice! (laughs) Do you have any of those left? I’ll pay you to do some nudie pictures. – Oh man, it was so bad, because at that age when you’re seven years old you don’t have a good sense of anatomy. – You probably haven’t spent a lot of time around a lot of
too many naked people. – Yeah, if Salvador Dali
did a Playboy piece, that’s kinda what I
did, but at the time the internet hadn’t quite
emerged yet, and so a lot of these kids were just
like can you draw boobies? I think so. Let me just copy this
picture of Rogue from my X-Men comic and just add what I think a nipple looks like on a
lady, sure, here you go. 20 bucks man, it was great. – Left boobs, right boob’s a little weird. – Yeah, it was a little hard. – (mumbles) of getting there, yeah. – But yeah, and I had a few lady friends that wanted me to draw a naked Wolverine, and it was like well this
I know a little better. (laughter) And it helped me find my early days with Magic the Gathering, it
helped me, I made some decent money for a kid
in middle school drawing. – You had a good side hustle going. – Drawing nude characters. – It’s interesting to me that you ended up on stage in theater, dealing with the tornado of stuff that you were dealing with internally, it seems to me like the most terrifying place to be, when you feel that way about your body, you feel that way about your voice, even though you had gone through
years of speech therapy at that point, I know why you ended up on the stage, but what was that like? Was doing theater a
terrifying experience for you at first, and then you
got more comfortable with it because of what
was going on internally? – It was weirdly more freeing. I had never thought to pursue it, and it was after school one day, it was my freshman year, and I was sketching in a sketchbook while I was waiting to be picked up from my parents, and I’d usually wait about an hour and a half for my mom to come get me, and Mr. Kilpatrick who was the theater
teacher at my high school kinda stops and says what are you drawing, and I think I was drawing
some sort of monster, I was heavily into D&D at the time– – Wolverine’s dick! (laughter) – Would you like? – What do you think? – I call it weapon X. (laughter) So I showed him the sketch and we just talked for a while, he just saw this kid sitting there by himself
and asked what’s up. The more we talked, he was like you ever thought about auditioning? I have a theater audition coming up soon, you should check it out, and I was like it’s not really my thing. He was like well come
on, just give it a shot. – Was it disinterest or was it fear? – A little bit of both. I mean disinterest
because it was something I never considered and
most of my life it had been beaten into my head that it’s
something I should never do. And then it was the idea
of getting up in stage in front of a lot of
kids and putting myself out there in a very vulnerable way. But I was like an audition can’t hurt, and it was for The Crucible, and I read for Reverend Hale, and
I ended up getting it. I think it was partially a pity cast after our conservation, he’s like I’ll give this little kid his
first chance at theater. And then throw me into
Arthur Miller’s Crucible. – As a freshman. – It was a little sadistic
on his part I’m sure. But weirdly, the more rehearsals I went, the more I felt comfortable once again stepping into somebody who wasn’t myself, and finding a space
there where I could not, for the time that I was on stage in this costume reciting these
lines and interacting with other performers on stage, I wasn’t looking anywhere, I wasn’t judging myself, I wasn’t focused on my discomfort. That was very unique and thrilling to me. I met a whole new group
of friends through it, and it just kinda expanded from there. – So how long did you do
theater in high school then? – I did it all the way
to the end every year. Did a lot of musicals. – You’re a great singer. You have a great singing voice. – Well thank you. – Even though you’re not, you said you didn’t pick up on the art
of playing instruments or reading music or mastering in that way, you still developed a great singing voice. – It’s the one instrument that I can do is the one that came with me. I thank my dad for that. Because he was a musician,
me and my brother grew up with him singing harmonies on different Beatles songs at a young age and stuff, so I was always around music, and singing was the one thing I could do. Which is why I have
such a love for karaoke. – Right. – It’s like that and driving in the car are the two times that I get to express myself through song and not feel like I’m showing off or
anything dumb like that. – What kind of musicals
did you do in high school? Do you remember any of them? – A lot of Rodgers and
Hammerstein, which was terrible. South Pacific, Carousel,
I got heavy into musicals though through it, an
appreciation and interest. Jekyll and Hyde, Scarlet Pimpernel is still one of my favorite musicals. But yeah, so all those years to me, like theater was an outlet for me, and through it I met a lot of my close friends, some of which I still talk to today through the drama club. But I wasn’t, it still wasn’t something that I wanted to do as
a career by any means. My main focus was art, and so I spent my entire time doing all the art classes, going to studio art and the AP exam, getting my five out of
five on the AP exam, I was going into CalArts for their animation program, wanted to do illustration, 2D, possibly 3D animation. And it was right after I graduated and was prepping to begin there that I began to have serious doubts ’cause I had all these people around me that were amazing artists that were going into this schools, other artists that I was interfacing with that just had these incredible portfolios, and I just didn’t stack up, you know? – You didn’t feel like
you were at that level? – No, and I didn’t know
if I could get there, and the last thing I wanted to do was throw myself into a career that I wasn’t competitive enough to make a living at. – Wow. – And so I met with a few animators at the time who had worked
on old Disney films, and through friends of
my grandma and stuff. They all basically told
me why do you do art, and I’m like ’cause it’s
a form of self-expression, he’s like you understand
that most of this job is drawing somebody else’s
character in somebody else’s design under
somebody else’s supervision exactly how they need
it 12 plus hours a day. And occasionally on your off time you get to draw for yourself, and I was like I don’t know if I can do this. – Did it feel like they would suck the passion and the love out of it for you because it was gonna
become such a daunting… – I felt like it would’ve only because the people I talked to
seemed to emphasize that. – That that’s what was gonna happen. – And I’ve since met many animators and stuff that it’s not the case, it’s definitely work a lot of times, but they still are very proud of what they’ve done, and they can work on great projects and it’s inspiring, but at the time, when I’m at that crux of my life being do I jump into all of this school debt, that my parents definitely cannot afford, to make this big jump, is this
something that I wanna do? So I decided no, and I pulled out, and got a job that summer
doing game testing. – Video game testing. – Video game testing for a company called Sound Source
Interactive at the time, then they became TDK Mediactive. – And this is right after high school? – This is right after high school, or like right, part of
that summer thereafter when I finally just pulled the cord. They were focused on edutainment titles like a lot of teaching kids how to type projects that were licensed, or like The Great Valley, it
was The Land Before Time Great Valley Racing Adventure for the PlayStation, or the Berenstain Bears Extreme Sports for the Game Boy Color. – Right, right. Game Boy Color. – Yeah man, we had the Shrek license and that was big, we had the
first Shrek Xbox game. It was very trying on
my soul, those years. – I bet, yeah, those weren’t, when I think of the games Matt Mercer likes to play, I don’t think Berenstain
Bears fills the bar. – Yeah, I was like one of the only testers in that too, so that
was like half a summer was just me in a dark cubicle with a Game Boy Color, playing the scrolling Game Boy Color screen for hours, and then stopping and going to lunch, and it was like some acid flashback watching patterns shift from seeing the scrolling screen for too long, but because I was such a big fan of games, I still took a lot of pride in it, so I worked up the chain from there, I became a lead tester for a while, then became tier manager, and I worked
on the production side for about seven or so
years, eventually working on God of War 1 and 2 for a little bit. – You were in Infinity Ward for a while. – Yeah, I got headhunted
from Sony Santa Monica Studio to Infinity Ward and got to work on Call of Duty 2 and the
first Modern Warfare. – Such a good game. – And it was great, it was great. I met a lot of great
friends there, and learned so much about the development
process, but there were a couple personalities at the company that I just didn’t mix with, and through those years I delved and dipped my toe into bits of voiceover. – I was gonna say, did
the game testing thing feel like okay, I’m
putting art aside as a, I’m gonna throw myself into this as a career trajectory because of how you ended up feeling about it, then you’re sorta in this, I don’t wanna call it purgatory, but you’re
in this in-between place doing game testing, did it feel like a I’ll do this for now until I figure out what’s next, until something hooks me and I figure out what it is I really wanna put the passion into? – That was where it started as, but then as I began to take a
lot of pride in my work and climb the ranks,
then those old thoughts that every kid has when they’re a gamer and they’re 10 years old going I can make a video game, and so I begin to think of this possibility of down the road being a game designer and I began to develop my own little half-concocted game design docs on my home computer and have these distant dreams of maybe working on that scale, but yeah, it was very much a purgatory that began to become a possible career path. But during that time I had done little bits of voiceover walla projects just through friends of my
dad’s that he worked with. – Walla, for people, a
lot of people don’t know, is actually a place where a lot of people end up starting, it’s the background stuff that you hear in movies, games, TV shows, right, that’s the– – When you have all your main characters running through a story
and all of a sudden one of them rushes down the
street and cell phone guy number three goes hey,
watch where you’re going! That would be something recorded as part of a walla session, or when someone’s at a party, when you hear all the chatter in the background that doesn’t really make words, you don’t really understand what they’re saying, but it makes it feel like a full atmosphere, all that’s actors doing the walla for that project. That’s kinda where I started, and it was just enough of a taste to be like well this is fun, this place, and then my love of theater, I don’t have to be on camera, and I love anime and
video games, and these are places where I’m
starting to dive into. – Did you ever put subliminal messages in there like Satan will
wash over the Earth, like it’s an ice cream social and– – Nah nah nah, I had enough of the satanic panic wash off my love of D&D that I didn’t wanna
rock the boat at all. – You didn’t wanna put any
backwards masking on tape. – But yeah, I just did that
through the years off and on. It wasn’t until I decided to leave game development ’cause I was just not happy with the people I was
working with to an extent, and I had gotten enough
gigs there, I was like you know what, I wanna try this. Let me just give it a
shot, I’m gonna go ahead and quit my job, with what little money I’ve saved up I’m gonna downsize my whole life to this tiny little studio apartment and give this a couple years. That way at least I know I can put my all into it, give it a proper shot, and if it doesn’t work out I can move forward without regrets and be like you know what, I tried
it, didn’t work out, this will be the next
avenue I work towards. – But at least I tried this. – Yeah, I’m a big proponent
of not living with regret. If you feel like you wanna try something, do it, but aware that
it might not work out, but I believe it’s better to try and fail than it is to spend the rest of your life going yeah, and what if. I think that is a little
more toxic on the soul. – It’s hard. Do you have any regrets? – I do in the sense of
personal relationships in the past, my friend Ian
who I mentioned earlier, I wish I had stayed in touch with him as that classic hackneyed style of we’re both thick as thieves, and then I meet a girl in high school, and then all of a sudden our friendship
rips and we grew apart. I still feel kinda bad about that. Yeah, I mean there are
regrets, every person lives with regret to a certain extent. I think that’s why I wanna make
sure that I live with less. – You have a healthy process
to ensure that as years go by you don’t accumulate
a lot of those regrets. – Yeah, and failure is a wonderful thing. I’ve been very aware of the wonderful lessons you learn by failing, and I think it’s better to look
back at all the attempts you made at certain things, and then totally biffed, and laugh about it and learn from those experiences. – Do you have an example of that? – Oh man, well trying to become an artist. As I mentioned before,
that was a huge nope. So many years invested
in that, that didn’t work out, but I still have experiences that I appreciate from that, I know that at least I got to a point with my art where I’m comfortable changing trajectory and don’t regret not pursuing that path. – Right. – And a lot of the skills that I learned through those years have carried over into all other facets of my life. – To what you’re doing now. – Yeah. That’s part of the reason why I have such a huge love for the art community around Critical Role is because I get to see all these people that are doing far better work than I could’ve ever hoped for and live vicariously through their vision and their body of work. – And you know what it goes through to create something like that, so you have such a greater appreciation for it versus someone like me, I can’t draw. If I draw a stick figure
it looks offensive. – It’s pretty offensive when you draw one. – Sorry, I’m trying. – I know. – I’ve asked for lessons
and you’re too expensive. (laughter) Some people know this, but you were big into cosplay for a while too. – Oh yeah. – What time period was that? – That would’ve been around 2002, 2003. – So were you still doing game stuff at that point, or did you
transition to voiceover? – Oh no, that was heavy into
my early QA testing days. – What got you into cosplaying? – Well I had always loved Halloween, Halloween was always an excuse to make a crazy costume, usually of
a video game character. I remember freshman year
of high school I dressed up as Akuma from Street
Fighter, I dressed up as Magus twice in high school
from Chrono Trigger. Then I improved on the costumer later. I dressed as Laguna one year from Final Fantasy VIII, so for me it was just, I already had an instinct of making these pop culture characters
as a costume, but it wasn’t until I started
going to anime conventions back in the late 90s, I was like oh, people do this outside of the year, so I wore my Laguna costume to, technically my first cosplay was like ’98. – And you went to those
conventions as a fan. – Oh yeah. – ‘Cause you weren’t
getting hired to go to– – Oh god no, god, this
is years before that. I went to my first anime expo in ’97, and then ’98 I wore my first costume, and that was the Laguna that I wore in the Halloween before I think. I think that works out right. (mumbles). – We have fact checkers. – Yeah, I’m sure we’ll clarify. – We’ll ADR it and make you say– – Perfect, I love it. Me and my friends used to look at the cool pictures that would come out online, and there were all these amazing costumes that a lot of these ladies were making, but there weren’t a lot of dudes doing really good quality cosplay at the time in the early 2000s, and we were really frustrated, there was like this Cloud Strife cosplayer wearing jeans and I’d be like come on dude, come on! – [Brian] Put some effort in. – Yeah, and so we’d get frustrated by it, and so me and my friend Gavin and my friend Kevin at the time, we decided you know what, we’re gonna go and make new costumes and go to anime expo and show that dudes can also do a decent job, and so we’d all, I did some work in theater doing props and setting pieces and stuff like that, plus the costumes I previously made, and we all just made a couple costumes and went to the convention and met all these friends who were both as weirdly awkward and geeky about the stuff as we were, and so that led into a whole new social circle where I met so many great people, so many great creatives that to this day are still very very good friends of mine. So for years we just began to do, to find ways that we could go to this convention across the US and meet up with these friends, and at the time there wasn’t this huge
competitive cosplay scene. – Right. – It was just a bunch of
nerds wearing costumes that we made, getting
photoshoots together, and then drinking at
rune parties all weekend. – [Brian] It was for fun, not recognition. – Exactly, exactly, ’cause
there was none at time, we were still the bastard
child of the internet. And yeah, we had a
great time, and a lot of my money that I made as a QA tester, then eventually was either towards rent, food, games, gas,
and then a costume. – Right. – And that’s where my spread my cash went for many years there. At that time also, I think around 2002, I was getting in my most
uncomfortable weight, I was around 235, 240 pounds, and my heavy self-loathing and dysmorphia was getting extremely crippling, and I decided if I wanted to go ahead and do these characters justice, I need to start exercising, something that I had been avoiding my whole life. – Yeah. – So I joined 24 Hour Fitness and began to change my diet, and it’s ironic that it took me, it took my
love of Final Fantasy characters to finally
get me to lose weight in a real nerdy statement here that I hope the internet gets to enjoy now. – To be able to get that look just right? – Yeah, I couldn’t push myself past that line to actually start taking care of myself until I was like oh, being able to properly represent Cloud and Sephiroth. This is too important to me to not feel comfortable in that space. – Had to do it justice. – So in six months I dropped 70 pounds. Which is probably not
healthy in hindsight. – Depends on how you did it. – Yeah, that’s true, that’s true. That helped give me a
little more confidence as well, and then
meeting these people that were such good people, and so wanting to do groups together, and we’d hang out and talk afterward, and this is in the days of the burgeoning Livejournal and the internet, AOL Instant Messenger was the way people communicated. – Right. – You’d hear that blip, bloop, badoosh, that sound was in every household. – Oh yeah. – And yeah, that became my social clutch, my social circle that I
held onto for those years. So I begin to do conventions
to cosplay guest. That’s my first kinda of, any sort of step into the avenue of being a guest at these events and speaking at panels and stuff, it was purely for making armor and styling wigs and sewing techniques and all kinds of weird stuff like that. – It’s interesting, I hear you talk about when you met the theater kids and having grown up with not only
the internal monologue that you did, but the external stuff, getting bullied and teased about either the way you talked or the way you looked or your scalp, whatever
it was, and then you find these like-minded
people who go fuck all that stuff, and then leapfrog there to the cosplay community, another
group of “outcasts” or they’re not the popular kids at school, maybe in some cases, but it’s interesting how we magnetize towards
those other people who go like I don’t give a fuck. – Yeah. – Like oh, you’ve got this thing going on, well I’ve got this thing going on inside, so we’re like-minded in that way. – Yeah, it was wonderful, it was great to find a space of people that, a sense of community, of people that were not judgmental at the time, cosplay’s gotten pretty different in years, recently it’s become an industry for some people, and contradictory is a big thing, it’s
competitive, but back then we were just happy to be
hanging out and being nerds. – Celebrating the things
that made you happy. – Yeah. – Like the Final Fantasy. – Yeah exactly, and
that went for many years until I decided to try this career as a voice actor and left my
old job, in which case I had to let my finances
become very very minute. – Not a lot of money for armor. – Yeah, and so I put my cosplay interest to the side and focused on trying this weird lifestyle as
a professional actor. – You’ve talked for hours and hours on end about your awesome voiceover career. I’m not gonna touch on that too much just because there’s so many– – There’s plenty of that on the internet. – There’s so many of that, so
much of that on the internet. What I am interested in is
the web series stuff that you got into making, web
content, early early on. Now there’s, everybody’s
doing it, we’re doing it. – Yeah. – How did you get into
working on the web series stuff, was it tied in
through some of those people you met through doing
cosplay or voiceover? – Partially, yeah. Taliesin I met through cosplay originally. – Right. – It was barely through voiceover, we were both part of a Gephoria, it was G4 back when that existed, it
was an awards ceremony, and they had a bunch of cosplayers there and I was dressed as
Kingdom Hearts Sephiroth and he was dressed as
Mad Hatter from Batman, and so we met there for the first time and became close friends as he had been doing voiceover for a bit and I was dabbling in the same space a little bit. So I knew him for a while, and then as production stuff started to really hit YouTube and people
began to find affordable equipment for hobbyist filmmakers, I decided, a few friends of mine, we had some ideas for some sketches, we had some ideas for some
shorts we wanted to do, and at the time I had a job, and I was the only one of us that had one, so it’s like all right, I’m gonna buy the camera, buy a boom mic, I’m gonna have just the base amount to get this done, I’ll teach myself how to do Premiere Pro and how to do After Effects, and so I became also an editor and a post guy. We began to do our own little internet shorts and fun things on the side. Then pulled Taliesin to a few things, and it got a point
where one of my friends, Zack, came to me with an
idea, it’s right around the time that Smash
Bros Melee had been out for a while and Brawl
was going to be released. We started talking about
how Sonic the Hedgehog was gonna come into the
game, and Kirby, when he would eat Sonic, with everyone else he’d wear their hats, their helmet. But when he at Sonic and pushed him out he was wearing his scalp. That was predominantly really fucked up. – A little strange. – And so we started to riff on that and talk about how Kirby’s
kinda cannibalistic, catered to wearing other
characters skin and flesh, and we began to build
this weird, dystopian dark world of Nintendo, and shortly after that we had the idea for a web series. – There Will Be Brawl. – Yeah, we had the camera, we just brought our friends in, cast a few people to play the major parts that
required a talented actor, either comedically or
otherwise, and that’s where I met Matt Key,
that’s where I met a lot of other good friends of mine that I still know to this day, and we just shot the series for fun, the
first three episodes. It was all out of pocket, no one got paid, and we were all amateur,
I didn’t know what I was doing, I never took any classes in filmmaking, it was basically just trying to copy what I saw as far as angles and lighting and fake my way through it. But the first three
episodes got some traction, and suddenly we got
picked up by The Escapist with a small budget,
still enough to fund it, but not enough to actually pay anybody. – Right, right. – ‘Cause it was the early days of the web. We were really excited
about what we were doing. It was one of the few
projects I’ve ever been on where we’re all working so hard, no one’s making any money, we’re
doing 12 plus hour shoots at night from dusk ’till
dawn, and I’m editing for hours on end, but because we’re all good friends and because we’re all excited about the content we’re making in a space where there wasn’t really
anything to market yet, we were all just passionate
and happy to put it together. – You felt like you were
on the cusp of something. – Yeah, and it was so much fun, and it nearly killed me to get the series done, I think the whole thing together is like three and a half hour long, we did it over the period of a year for fun on the side
whenever we had free time. It was hard, but it was a good thing, and a lot of my good
friends came through that. Taliesin you can see
sporadically throughout the series in the background doing, he was a homeless vet at one
point near Solid Snake who was living in a
box, ’cause that’s what happens, it’s a whole
series, you need to watch. – No, I’ve seen it. – But yeah, so that began this idea of doing web series stuff,
and from that we did a series called School of Thrones, kinda a John Hughes high school
parody of Game of Thrones we did three episodes of, I directed that. We did some other shorts
and bits, we did Fear News for the Fearnet, and that
was around for a while. It was fun, but I also realized the time as a director, it was hard for me to continue this process when there wasn’t really any way to monetarily support myself doing it ’cause the money was so shallow in those years of YouTube. – Right. – And I once again had
to focus on this career as a voice actor I was
trying to facilitate. And I pulled away from it, I got a little burned out on directing web series, but I met so many great
people through that process. – One of them your now wife. – Yeah actually. – Tell me about that. – So– – She told me about it, but I
want you to tell me about it. – So in that web series
There Will Be Brawl, a friend of mine that I had met through the cosplay scene, her name was Becky, Becky Young, I cast her as Samus Aran who was the stripper with a heart of gold in this Noir-ish world who is a protagonist towards Luigi
who Matt Key played. And so we became friends, even stronger friends through that, and she wanted to do a sketch series that was game and geek centric, and she was put into our writer’s room, and so so brought me and Matt, and our friend Paul played Mario in the series, and she brought us together for a meeting, and part of the other side of the writer’s room were her friends that she met through improv, one of which was Marisha. So Marisha came into the room with her boyfriend at the time, I was in a relationship at the time, and it was one of those immediate crushes that just hit me, and I was like who is this? And we were laughing, we were
telling jokes, and I just assumed she did not give a shit who I was, and plus we were not
in a position at all– – Right, to start flirting. – And I don’t really know how to flirt. (laughs) I’ve been an indoor
weird kid my whole life. I’m still learning the
social graces of that realm even seven years
into our relationship. But we kept in contact,
we’d see each other at social events over the next
year and a half, two years. And it was always one of those little heart flutter moments
whenever I’d see her, but it was very much
a I’m a respectful guy and I would never ever
encroach anything like that. – Right. – And I had my girlfriend at the time. And it wasn’t until I had broken up with my previous girlfriend and spent some time on my own, and we
connected over a project, they asked me if I knew anybody who could, if there was a female actor who could do a lot of physical movement. Marisha had some martial arts training and had been a dancer for a long time, so I was like I’ll give
her a referral there, and so she texted me saying thank you so much for the referral,
I owe you a drink, and I’m like yeah sure, we never actually had any one on one time. Let’s do that, I’ll take
you up on that drink. So we went to Mexicality not too far from here and we spent four
or five hours talking, and it was just this
electric, immediate bond that I wasn’t expecting,
and I was enthralled. But it was also one of
those scary things where I was like this was a
really great evening, fuck. Well have a good night, I wish you well. One of those passing in
the night type scenarios. – (mumbles) right? – Yeah, but she, as I found, was on the outs with her boyfriend at the time for a long time, and about a week later or so she called me and said
hey, so I just broke up with my boyfriend, do you
wanna get another drink? I was like yeah, yeah I do. So that was our first
date, and it was magical. I never, as a person who deals with a lot of self-loathing issues and perceived… Disconnect with what people hope or expect to see as an interesting or pretty person, I’m always surprised when anybody ever shows interest, even in the time that I was single and friends were pushing me into this whole dating thing, I was constantly taken aback
by anyone’s interests, and then usually backed away very quickly because either things moved too quickly, or I discovered there was not a healthy match in personalities. – What was it about Marisha? – I think it was– – It’s not past tense, it would still be and it is obviously. – But at the time. – Because she’s the same
person, but what was it for you? Because I remember
meeting you guys shortly after you started dating and just going well that’s a
solid setup right there. You guys complement
each other ’cause you’re so different, but you
complement each other in a way that helps both of you feel really safe, I feel like. – Very much so. She’s confident in ways that I wish I was, and self-assured in a lot
of ways that I wish I was. She’s definitely a fighter. I’ve said it before, she’s the fighter, I’m the diplomat, legitimately that’s it. I’ve always been a very passive and diplomatic person to try and make sure that hey, we’re all friends, let’s work this out, let’s talk, and that’s great most times, but sometimes that doesn’t work, that isn’t what’s needed. – Sometimes you have to walk away. – Yeah, or sometimes you have to step up to their face and be like what are you gonna do about it. And she was very much that strong person that I couldn’t see myself being at the time, and that was very comforting and wonderful, but she was funny, and she was very observant, and was a great listener, and she had her own convoluted history, and we both swapped our life stories and found differences and moments of synchronicity. I didn’t feel any judgment, I didn’t feel any of the things that I found more often than not in the city, and she was just so creative, she just had this brimming creative drive that at the time she was lamenting that she had an outlet for it because nobody in this town would give a comparatively fresh off the bus from Kentucky kid the time of day to show what we could do, and in this time I saw there was so much that she could do and it was inspiring to see her be like I don’t care, I wanna keep pushing, I’m gonna make this happen, I’m gonna meet people, I’m gonna
do what it takes, I need to tell these stories, I
need to be this person. It was just so inspiring to me. She had a good sense of humor, we both gave each other shit immediately and could sling it and take it, and… Yeah, for all the things
that we had in common that were magical, there were perfect differences that helped fill in the gaps. – It’s really a perfect
partnership in that way. – I think a big lesson I learned in my last relationship, and I remember I was talking about, at that first date that we really had, was Shel
Silverstein’s Missing Piece. Which is such an incredible
book that essentially talks about the idea that
a relationship shouldn’t be based in finding someone
that fills your void. Not believing that you are an incomplete person, you need to find somebody to complete you. That isn’t always a healthy dynamic. The story goes through this shape that feels like it’s trying to fit other people who are missing pieces together, and while they might fit, they can’t go anywhere, or maybe there are some people that are missing too many pieces. Then eventually they find somebody who’s just round and rolling on their own, like well how are you doing that? It’s like well I just push myself to keep going, I wasn’t gonna wait for somebody to fill me, I was just gonna go ahead and keep pushing on my own path, and eventually I kept going. So the piece forces itself to flip, and then roll and roll until it begins to round the corners and the last shot is the two of them rolling side by side. And I realized based on
previous relationships I needed somebody that
wasn’t this kind of, what’s the term I’m looking for, a co-dependent relationship, I needed somebody who both of us could be whole individuals side by side. – [Brian] Right. – We can both have our path that goes together and our paths that go parallel but separate, and be supportive and appreciative of that arrangement. We both agreed so heavily on that, both through hindsight of our previous relationships and who we wanted to be. – That was the foundation that you wanted to build together was on that. Since I’ve known you, and I remember even hearing about you before we met, and just about how hard both of
you worked, and not, we talked in the last episode at length about the steps that Marisha took to get where she is today, and we’re talking to you about the steps you, nobody handed either of you anything. You’ve had to work your asses off since you both got to this town to get to where you are, and nobody, you didn’t have money, you didn’t have close friends in the business just throwing roles at you, you both fought together and believed in each other and had a partnership that, in a way, ultimately landed you where you are today because you wouldn’t
give up and you wouldn’t, it seems like you wouldn’t let each other give up, and I’m sure
supporting each other at different times of discouragement, things are going well for me, or things are going well for me, and there’s all the competition and stuff
in being both actors, but there’s a resilience there that I think has really gotten you two through. – I agree. Watching her grow especially, my path is my path, but where she was when we first met and first began to embark on this life together, and seeing how she’s flourished, and the challenges that have come before
her that she surmounted, she’s filled with her own sense of self-loathing and we’ve had our own things we’ve helped each
other through and are still helping each other
through, and that’s what makes a relationship
like this so important. We’ve both been very open and very… Willing to allow the other
person to be who they are. – That’s huge. – Not trying to fix each other. – That’s huge. – We’re just, we’re there to support, and help guide where we feel we can, but sometimes, as a guy especially, but just my nature, I tend to be a fixer. If there’s a problem, I
wanna be a problem solver. Is there a problem? How can I fix it? You’re having an issue? How
can I help make it better? You’re feeling bad? How can I make you feel happy? That’s not always a good path to take. Sometimes people just need
to feel how they’re feeling. – And you can burn yourself out trying to fix so much stuff at once. – A big lesson in my life is that you can’t please everybody, I’ve spent so much of my life trying to make everybody else around me happy that it’s exhausting and it’s unhealthy because you can’t, and the people you really can’t make happy
when you’re trying, it cuts you so deep, you
feel like such a failure. – Disappointment. – Oh yeah, and that builds on all the rest of the insecurities and it’s just a downward spiral that is not a great place, I’ve been there many times and I don’t wanna go back. – I understand. And she’s somebody that could come in and say you don’t have
to fight that battle. You don’t have to worry about that. – Or more like stop. – Just stop, yeah, I know, I’m doing the nice version of Marisha, but yeah, so blunt and just, but
that’s why it works. – It’s great, and I need that. – Because if you’re coddled, you can talk your way out of something, or you can feel your way out of something, if someone comes to you just
blankly and says you know the way you’re feeling is because of this. Just knock it off. – And it’s been so helpful
to me to understand the unhealthy behaviors that I’ve learned over the years that I’ve been trying to curb and be better
with, and it’s helped me being able to deal with people that sometimes just wanna be held or just wanna be led to feel how they are. We built our phrase
that we use, which is an Avatar reference, which
is that’s rough, buddy. Those who watch the show would know. It’s a Sokka line, but the idea is when a person tells you how shitty things are and how tough they’re
feeling, sometimes you just gotta say yeah man, that sucks. – That sucks. – I feel you. And not try and fix it, not try and offer an alternative, not try and pick them up if they’re not open to that idea. And that’s been a huge lesson. There’s many lessons that she’s taught me, and I’m so thankful, not to get cheesy here, but I’m so thankful that… That she’s been as patient
with me as she has been. ‘Cause I’m sure in many cases I’m not an easy person to be around. – None of us are. I am, I mean just, I meant (mumbles). She didn’t get the job
as creative director at Geek & Sundry or at this company for being the dungeon master’s girlfriend, she got it because, as you can tell by the quality of stuff that she’s touched, that she stands on her own two feet in that way, and how cool has it been to see her just blossom
and take over, and for people to recognize this is all her. We’re taking orders from her. – I’m so proud, I’m so proud of everything she’s accomplished and
is going to accomplish. For anybody who has come from a small town as she did, with as little as she had, to just come out swinging and build, kicking and screaming whatever she could against a perpetual wave of interference. I mean when you’re a woman, working in the internet especially,
it’s a harsh space, and she has endured a lot and continues to endure a lot, even with everything with Critical Role, but she’s done it with grace, or she’s
done it by hitting back. (laughs) And she has proven herself time and time again to show that none of that makes any sense, none of that negativity has any grounds to hold because the work is plain to see what she’s done. – Yeah, it’s the evidence itself of who she is and how hard she works. – Yeah, and she’s the hardest
working person I know. – I agree. I agree. – I’m real proud of her. – Me too. I can’t wait to see what happens next. – Me too. – With great names like Hamburger Helper. (laughter) – Thank you for that, by the way. If you brought anything to this family that will be your lasting
legacy, Brian Foster. – If there’s any question
of whether or not we should be wondering
if Marisha’s good at her job, she did let that slip through. (laughs) You’ve met Marisha, you’re doing voice acting, you’re doing web stuff, you’ve carved out a bit of a space for yourself in this
industry, you’ve talked before about the first time you dungeon mastered was in
high school, correct? I think we have a good sense of that connection for you and what that meant and how important
storytelling was for you. At some point in this weird swirl of LA and the people we
know and the voice actors you’ve worked with and
all the stuff, you have a couple of different
game iterations in LA with people, one with Taliesin, and with Marisha and some other friends, and then you get a request from Liam or whoever that they wanna do this one off game as a sorta birthday present that was birthed on this podcast that Sam and Liam were doing, tell me a
little bit about that. – Yeah, so I, it’s funny, I had not really known Liam or Laura or Travis or Sam before this game, I passed Laura I think in the Street Fighter IV launch party, and said hi ’cause we worked on a couple games together and she was like hi, and then just walked away, and I was like oh god, did I make it weird, I don’t know. I was this new kid– – I think that too, interaction. (laughter) I know that feeling, yeah. – But I still feel like I don’t belong in a lot of ways, and
so that time especially, all these interactions,
I kept thinking I’m wearing it on my face, everyone knows this kid’s a fraud, why is he here? And so I never really found a way to connect with a lot of these people in the industry that I looked
up to and saw their work. And Liam O’Brien I didn’t meet until I began working on Resident Evil 6, and even the first phone call we ever had was me going to the session and him telling me all right, so the client didn’t really want you for this part, but we had you for this part, and here’s what you’re gonna have to do, you gotta do it right and do it this way, and I was like of course Mr. O’Brien, like I’m super scared shitless. – What a great setup too, we’re
setting you up for success. No pressure. – Yeah, no worries. I was this new kid and that was one of my first real breakout projects was Resident Evil 6, and so getting to work with Liam who was so frustrated by the Japanese client, and he
was enduring his own. He was very tense, I didn’t know if he liked me or not for a while. We were talking one day between, like on our break I mentioned that I was playing D&D the night before for a session I was running, he’s like you
play Dungeons and Dragons? And so we got in this conversation where all of a sudden he opened up about his love of Dragonlance as a kid and how he wanted to play again but it’s been so long, and that was like our first real friendship connection back when he was just my director, but at that moment we became friends– – That’s something you could connect on. – And so we kept talking about D&D over and over again at our break time during this game, and his birthday was coming up and I was like dude, I’ll be happy to run a game for you sometime. Like for your birthday, I’ll run you a one shot, how about that? He’s like I don’t know if I can do that, things busy, I got kids, the whole thing, but thank you, I appreciate that. All right, fine. So it wasn’t until a while later that he and Sam did their podcast, I didn’t know anything about, he didn’t tell me this was the reason they were doing it. He just called me up and was like hey, you know a while back you said you’d do a one shot for my birthday? Let’s do it. So it was later in the year and I was like all right great, invite a handful of people and we’ll do this. I got a couple of shoe-ins, Marisha, my girlfriend at the time, be wary it’s our tiny little apartment, but she’ll help out with the rules a little bit, Taliesin will be there to play. – As a seasoned player. – Yeah, everyone else is up to you. He invited a lot of people. (laughter) But it was a
one shot, it was fine, and so for me, and one of my favorite experiences in roleplaying games is taking people who have never played before and guiding them
into the experience and giving them the opportunity to really understand why it’s so magical. And that one crystalline moment where you can see on their face, they go oh my god. This is, I can do anything, I can try anything, this is incredible. That to me is like, I will,
that is my sustenance. And so– – That’s an opiate right there. – Yeah, watching each one of them who were new to this game have that moment. Having Taliesin swoop in at one point and do something and they’ll go I didn’t know you could do that, and just watching their minds blown repeatedly, I was like this is joy to me, like pure, undistilled joy. And so it was over and it was done. Liam sends out an e-mail like hey guys, you wanna, that was fun,
you wanna play again? And I didn’t wanna presume so I didn’t answer, I was waiting
to see if people stuck, I didn’t know if they had a good time. I hoped they did. – Yeah. – Nobody answered for a while and I was like ah shit, well I had my other game I’d been playing, our Fourth Edition, out of spite, make it work campaign. – Were you hoping it would continue? Were you hoping everyone would write back? – It was my first time actually interacting with a lot of these people. – Yeah. – I was hoping I’d get the
opportunity to play with them. – Get to know them better. – Yeah, and it’s like I
hoped it went through, and then they finally responded, and then yeah, let’s play again, like okay. Okay, this is now the
second campaign I’m running. So we did another session, then Ashley came in, I had never met
Ashley before either. I was a fan of her work
on Last of Us and was like oh yeah, sure, okay, I’ll
make you a character. Oh god, don’t make a fool
of yourself now, you know? – Right. – And it just went from there, and we just kept playing, we kept scheduling the next session, kept
scheduling the next session, we kept expanding the world, and it was exciting to consider that these people that I looked up to, that were so fresh to this experience,
wanted to keep playing, these adults, these professional adults that had careers and had
children and families. Like Sam especially, I thought Sam wanted out after the first game and I was like why is he coming back? He’s such an enigma if you didn’t know him at the time, and I just, I couldn’t get a bead on him, he’s such a hard person to really lock down, and so I was surprised every time he kept coming back. Over time I just fell
in love each of them. They went from being these strangers that I hoped to provide a good time for to becoming my family, like we became so close, and I’m so thankful for all the time that we got to build up in this and have our mimosa Sundays playing at Travis’s house, or rushing over to our tiny apartment again to play. Just watching all the pretenses of industry and business fall away, and in this space we were just a bunch of doofy people making things up, rolling dice, and just enjoying a good six to eight hour weekend
day together before going back to the rest
of our responsibilities. It was wonderful, and the previous game which unfortunately went away because people moved and some of our players ended up going across country, my co-DM at the time Zack Hanks who’s another talented voice actor, he ended up moving away, so that campaign went away, so this became my baby. – The one. We’ve talked about
before the satanic panic, and I was not allowed,
I remember picking up a Dungeons and Dragons book at Waldenbooks, do you remember those? I was with my dad and
someone from our church and they were like oh no no, don’t let him touch that, and I remembered
that very specifically, I never understood Dungeons and Dragons. Ashley tells me she’s gonna do this, ’cause we were already together by the time the home game
started, and I never got what D&D was until the night she came home at, I don’t know, 3 in the morning, the night that Pike died in the home game. She was so affected by this thing, and as she explained to me how it went down, I didn’t know fuck all about the rules or how it works, and she
would come home like, I always describe it, so it’s like someone explaining a dream to you. You’re like cool, so you were riding an elephant with your
ex-landlord, that’s awesome. – Right?
– That’s how it felt, right? – That’s a good analogy. – Yeah yeah yeah, and
then the profound effect that it had on her, and the way that she described you playing out that situation, was really for me the moment that I got, from an outsider’s perspective,
what D&D could become. And there’s been a
moment with every single person in that game that was like that for them where even Liam had played as a kid, or Taliesin
or whoever, where they went this is something special, this is something different,
and this is long before the idea of streaming
the game even came about. – Well that happens in most
home campaigns regardless. Once you’ve forged those
friendships, and once people begin to grow
invested in that story, everyone has that moment
where they go wow, this is not just something
I enjoy, but this moment is having a profound effect on me. – On me, right. – And I’m gonna carry this moment with me probably for the rest of my life. – As a storyteller, what could be a more fulfilling result for you than that moment of connection not just to the game but to the story
you’re telling, right? It’s gotta be fulfilling. – It really is, and that’s
why I love being the DM. For me it’s a gift, it’s in my small way that I can say thank you for putting your time into this, thank
you for your interest in whatever I’m capable
of doing, and being respectful of this thing
that we’re doing together. Let me try and provide something that’s long lasting and important to you. And that to me is a very deeply soulfully fulfilling experience, and I don’t get that in many other mediums. Voiceover I do to an extent, I enjoy games and I enjoy people who get to play through these stories and these narratives and can tell you thank you for this character, thank you for this bit, I really identify with this individual that you brought to life, that’s really great to me, and I really really appreciate the idea that I’ve in some small way made someone’s
day a little better. But in roleplaying games that is such a visceral, primal experience of being able to gift to somebody this
story and letting them take it and run with it
and see where it goes. – It originates from you. You don’t grab a script and then do your interpretation of it, which can still obviously, as you’re saying, impact people and create moments and stuff like that, but this really originates from you, so the connection, when someone connects with
it, it’s on a deeper level. – Yeah, because while it
may originate with me, they’re the ones that ultimately take that and run with it, it’s this wonderful creative baton pass, and it’s one thing as an artist to create art and set it down and go that is art I made, but where the real magic happens is where people perceive the art and then pull from that their interpretation. Pull from it how it affects them, how it emotionally
draws them to the piece. That little interaction
between the creation and the perceiver of that art, that is the real magic, and in roleplaying games it’s that moment of me going this is a thing that I’ve built for you guys. Take it and do what you will. It’s wonderful. I’m so thankful that
I’ve had the opportunity to play with so many great people through the years, and now with
this incredible group and then seeing so many other people now discovering the game through us and other streams and other roleplaying games out there and telling their own stories and then hearing about how that’s changed their lives and how it’s brought them the closest friends they ever thought they’d have and inspire them to pursue passions that previously they didn’t have any drive to go after, it’s this wonderful little weird catalyst that I always knew it could be on a subconscious level, and it has been to me. – It was that for you, I was gonna say, as a teenager it was that for you. – So I’m so ecstatic to see it become that for so many other people. – You guys were approached
by out beloved Felicia and talked about the idea
of streaming the game. You’ve talked about this before, we’ve talked about this before. What I’m interested in
is what were you the most afraid of at the idea
of streaming the game? Putting cameras on it and everything, what were you most afraid of? – I was– – Most trepidatious. – I was most afraid of… Two things. The biggest thing I was afraid
of was it changing our game. Because what we had in this weird little box of perfectly contained private creator friendship was so
important to all of us. If that was going to be soured by this transition, I was not
about to let that happen. Can say it wasn’t about the
money, there was no money. – There was no money. – It was literally just throw it online, see what happens, see if it sticks in the wall, and we’re like uh, this seems like an opportunity to fuck up something that’s really important
to us for no reason. – Plus a lot of people don’t realize that the idea at the time of playing, of having to lock off every single Thursday night every week, for a lot
of people with families and different things,
that was not really okay, that was kinda, I don’t know
if I could commit to that. – It was a long conversation to see if we even wanted to do this for Liam and Sam who had families,
and of course I loved the prospect of playing it more often. – Of course. – ‘Cause to me then I’m spending more time with my friends, we’re all so busy that we didn’t get to see each other really outside of these games, for me at least. So yeah, there was a lot of conversations about do we wanna do this, and if we can, how sustainable is it? I know both Sam and Liam
had to very graciously request from their significant others some understanding on letting
them see where this goes. Because it is, it’s taking away a weekly Thursday night from the family. – With no promise of success. – Yeah. – Or any return, I can’t promise you that I’m gonna go do this every Thursday night and we’re gonna get something out of it. – Yeah, I mean essentially it’s like you know that poker game I go to with all my guy friends, that classic thing you hear about, now we’re doing it weekly. Is that cool? That was essentially what it sounded like to people who weren’t in that game. So I’m so thankful to
both Amy and (mumbles) for being appreciative and– – Understanding. – Understanding of the scenario. – Give this a shot. – But I was also scared of I didn’t wanna be another, I didn’t
wanna be another torch on the bonfire of misunderstanding about Dungeons and Dragons
and roleplaying games. – What do you mean? – It’s something that
was so important to me that on a larger social
scale had been lambasted. It had been ridiculed and misunderstood and on a higher cultural level– – Marginalized. – Marginalized and thought of as something that was super nerdy, nobody should do, poke fingers and laugh at
people that play this game. And that’s been something
that we’ve all been fighting as roleplaying
game nerds our entire life. The last thing I wanted to be was another piece of dry wood to the
bonfire, I didn’t want to come out of the gate
and then be another example of people going
oh you see this shit? Man, this is why we don’t play D&D. – Right. – ‘Cause I don’t know
what people are gonna think about that, I
didn’t have a platform. The only people I knew who had any opinion on my games were the people I played with through the years, and I didn’t know how it would stack up to anybody else there, I watched, right around that time Acquisitions Inc was doing their live shows with these huge audiences and all
these actors and people that were well known and
I was like that is great. We can’t do that by any
means, and so it was waiting for the internet to
basically burn us down. That was my other big fear. And we talked about it continuously. I mulled over it
perpetually, I mean we had all these meetings, the
production team would wanna try and find ways to make it more YouTube or more internet
friendly, and every single time it would
erode the core of what made this such a special thing to me, and so we just said no, no, no, and there were a number of times where we were like okay, this isn’t happening, we’ll just keep playing our game as it is. It wasn’t until Twitch
as a format allowed us, as close as we could, to
just throw some cameras up and then keep playing our games unhindered as we could in that space. – What was the moment for
you, post once it went online and started
streaming, that you went we have something really special here? ‘Cause you had something really special between all of you, but
was there a moment for you where you went whoa,
this is having an impact? I’m not talking about viewers, I’m not talking about subscription numbers or any of that stuff that is fleeting and that doesn’t make sense, it’s not the reason why anybody here is
doing what they’re doing, but what was that moment for you where you went dang, this is something? – There was a moment a
few weeks in, I think, where we got an e-mail
that was sent to the Geek & Sundry office
that was forwarded to me from there, the person who
is handling your e-mail. Somebody saying thank you for the show, I was thinking of taking
my life, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I had planned out this whole process in which I was going to end it, and then I stumbled upon your show, and I decided you know what, I wanna see
what happens next week. And so I waited a week
before I do it again and then I set up the next week to do it. Then I watched the episode and finished and I went no, let me see what happens, I’m gonna wait ’till next week. And eventually they stop setting up. This is maybe two months into our stream, and that message was
just a soulful gut punch. – I can imagine. – To think that through
our silly online bullshit had somehow helped somebody
from the brink was… It was a lot. And that was the first of
many, and it’s still a lot. – It’s still a lot. – And it’s… It’s wonderful, and it’s a responsibility, but it’s one that I’m willing to hold. – And with care. – I try. We’re trying, all of us are. You never know the impact your
passions will have on people. Getting to even see a
glimpse at how this strange lightning in a bottle phenomenon has affected people positively is incredible. – How much of yourself and the struggles you had, and sometimes
still have, when you see that in critters
and in fans of the show, and you see them identify with the show and talk about it as a
way to help them process, or knowing how open you
guys are with stuff, that’s gotta be rewarding
know there’s kids that were and are like you were out there, that the show has been
that thing for them, that playing RPGs and
doing theater and things like that was able to do for you. – It’s– – It’s a reward right? – It is, it very much is. As things in my life and career go well, I struggle with feeling
like I don’t deserve it. There’s a very heavy element
of imposture syndrome in general on a lot of
the things that I do. When something goes in
a very good direction I’m in the back of my head
thinking I don’t deserve this. Somebody else should be enjoying this moment, or the success from this. So a lot of what I’m
learning and trying to teach myself is to be open to
that type of feedback. But it’s incredible to think that’s it’s had an effect out
there, and I remember what it was like being like that. And there are many many people out there that have much harder
lives and upbringings and personal conflicts and challenges than anything I ever faced, and if we can somehow be a beacon to that, even in some small way, that’s incredible to me. – Right. – I’ve watched friends of mine grow up and struggle with identity and struggle with sexuality and struggle with religion and political and personal interests and where they fit in the world. In a time where it was not an open, welcoming space to explore those things, where the support was minimal and you had to find it in the shadows of the fringes of whatever society and high school and beyond
that you could find. We’re still not out of
the woods by any means, but we are in a different place now. – Better place, yeah. – A much better place in some ways where that is a much more open conversation, a much more welcoming conversation. It excites me to see
that we’ve moved so far as to where when I was young and saw so many people struggle and fight through those same difficulties. It’s really incredible to think that our little game has made some impact. But I also struggle with the idea of not wanting to mess that up. – And to preserve it and– – Yeah, I’m super
protective of it, and I’m a flawed person, and I make
mistakes, and I am… I am a product of my
environment and my age and my experiences, and I myself am also learning and hoping to be better. I just hope people can be forgiving when they do stumble, and I… I’m excited at the prospect of what this community has become. If I had had this community when I was younger, I can’t tell you… How much happier my
childhood would’ve been. I’m just somehow so excited and so proud of this community, and it’s the community. – It is. – Our game is our game, and we’re friends, and we play this, and we
fostered aspects of it and try and preserve
aspects of it, and I’m glad that this game and this channel and everyone who’s worked so hard here to put this together, has been a beacon for many people and has been a core element of it, but it’s the community around it, it’s all the critters and all the people that have come together to support each other, to
be there for each other, to share in their mutual passions, to show excitement and support
for all their successes and then be there to guide them and help them up in their failures. The community of hundreds
and thousands, and god, even consider millions of people that have expanded beyond this
little game, is incredible. And I can’t take credit for that. That’s you guys, that’s all of you. I just wanna do right by
what they all created. – When you implement things
into the game, representation. Identity stuff, sexuality
stuff, in my opinion you find a way to weave that stuff into the game in a way that
it fits the narrative, it doesn’t take away from anything, it adds more diversity to the NPCs, to the storyline, whatever it is. I see people, very few, but I do see people complain about that online and keep the politics out of the game, keep whatever out of the
game, blah blah blah. Number one, it’s your game, you can do whatever you want, but number two, I see you sewing those seeds in there as a way of telling
people you’re not alone. And I see people, oh Jesus Christ, and I see people respond to that. I know you’re not doing it
to get some agenda across. You’re doing it because
you’re trying to reach out to that kid that was
like you in high school. That’s gotta be… One of the big things that you’ll probably take away from this. When it’s all said and
done, it’s all over, you helped someone not
feel as alone as they were. – I hope so. And I’ll fuck it up. – Yeah, you do a lot. (laughter) – I can only speak from
my own experiences, and from the people I’ve talked to. I reach out to a lot of people to get different perspectives and to try and tell the stories that I haven’t personally lived or are comfortable
sharing necessarily. I want to bring something to that, to the world that I’m creating
because in some ways the world I’m creating
is a world that I wanna be in, a world that I would wanna live in, and represents the
world that I grew up in. I was lucky enough to be surrounded with parents and people that,
my immediate family. My distant family in the south I have a number of conflicts with in some ways. – I got a few of those. – But I, I mean god, I remember when I was very very young my friend Keith and me, there was this hidden book on top of a bookshelf that we were like that looks secret, that looks like something important that we shouldn’t
see, so we grabbed it and ran off to his house and opened it up and it was a book of sex. – Oh. – You were like oh man– – Written by Taliesin? – Yeah, practically. And we were like oh crazy, so we’re going through the book and we’re just like oh there’s a lot of guys in here. And we’re going through
the book and we’re reading, wow, there’s a lot of naked guys in here. Then we realized it was a
book of sex for gay men. – Oh okay, yeah. – And we were like oh okay, so we just keep reading through, his mom comes in and is like what are
you doing, and sees it and gets super infuriated and marches us back to my parents house and is like did you see what your son and my son were looking at, my parents
just started laughing. – Your parents are hippies,
they’re just like cool. – It was the present for my
uncle Ted for his wedding. – Oh okay. – And that was my first
introduction to beyond the classic cultural binary standards that the American life has imposed upon us from since the puritanical days. – Right. From there I just learned so much more about how wonderfully
diverse and beautiful and universally incredible people can be. I feel very privileged that I’ve been in that space from that
moment on my entire life. And I wanna reflect it as
best I can on the world, but I’m also, in some
cases, compared to a lot of these people out there
I’m an old man who is still shaking off the
dregs of my generation, and I’m excited to see so many of these younger folks that are spearheading what will be a much better, much more healthy cultural future for us worldwide. – Accepting. – And it doesn’t mean that
the struggles aren’t there, the fights are and will always be there to a certain extent, and they’re certainly getting fierce in some ways. And even from a political standpoint, like you mentioned earlier, there are people I disagree with
definitely, and there are some things that I’m
very passionately against in the political sphere,
but I’ve been that with every single person
in power, but I don’t judge people who are on the opposite side of the political spectrum. I wanna have a conversation
about it, I want them to explain to me the things that they feel passionate about and why to help me better understand their
standpoint, and I just want them to be able to listen to mine as well. I think there’s danger of extremes on both sides, and I keep as well read and informed as I can, but I want this to be a safe space for people to be who they are and to be respectful of listening to the diversity of people around them and not judge based on that. That’s a fight that I can’t spearhead ’cause that’s our cultural divide on a global scale, but if we can help facilitate some of that and give someone a little bit of pause, to look inward in this very harsh time, then I’m happy to have helped in some way. – You’re doing something. You hope you’re doing something. – I’m one person who
plays D&D on the internet, there’s only so much impact I can have, and my perspective isn’t necessarily the right one either,
it’s just my perspective. – Yeah, I understand. – But here we are. (laughs) – Here we are. It’s Thursday night,
the game’s gone great, you’re in the car on the way home, what goes through your mind? On the good nights, on the nights where you feel like yeah, that was it. – The first thing I do is turn to Marisha and say did you have fun? Every time. That’s my
first priority, I wanna make sure the players had a good time. And we’ll text afterward and make sure everyone had a good time. Then it’s asking about what moments that you enjoy, was there anything that you didn’t like about the game, what are some of your ideas of theories of what’s going on, I like to hear how the players are either picking up on threads or misconstruing things,
going the wrong direction. And then me and Marisha will go home and we’ll be up for a few more hours ’cause the energy and the adrenaline in the game, streaming or not, when your game is done, you go home and you’re wired thinking about
everything that happened. So we’ll just sit there and talk about it and she’ll exclaim
moments that she remembers and we’ll go on Twitter and look at fan art and fan reactions
and stuff like that. Eventually we’ll just curl
up in bed and go to sleep. That’s the usual process for us. – That’s the routine? – Yeah. Occasionally
stopping by Taco Bell on the way home if we haven’t had time to eat. – A little Taco Bell therapy? – Yeah, you know. (laughs) – On the nights where maybe things don’t go the way you wanted them to, or you feel like one of the players didn’t enjoy it or had a bad experience,
how different are those nights for you, what’s
going through your mind? Do you feel like you’ve let
them down, do you feel like… – I feel like if those moments happen, and they have happened
in the past, it’s about talking about it, it could be like hey, what’s on your mind, what has you worried about this, or what bothers
you about this scenario. – You’re my friend first. – Exactly, yeah. – Before a player, you’re my friend, I care about your experience. – Exactly, and so I
would ask them directly what bothers you about this circumstance, this interaction, this resolution. If it’s something that they only have some of the information of, and there’s a purpose to these things and it got construed a certain way, then I might be reassuring them like well if you trust in me know that the
direction this is going will end up being ultimately something you’ll really appreciate,
if it’s something that they’re really like I didn’t like that at all, I’ll be
like I’m really sorry, I didn’t understand that, I now know that boundary or that scenario that you’re unhappy with, and I will consider that in how I adjust the
narrative going forward. Because ultimately I’m still wanting this to be fun for my friends. The more you get to learn your players, the more you get to learn the table that you’re playing at, the less you have to make those adjustments, but in the early days, especially if it’s a new game with new players, that’s part of the process is feeling each other out and finding out that what
works and what really excites and inspires the
players at the table. So it’s just checking in. It was recently with Travis, checking in with him afterward and– – It’s been so Travis heavy lately. – I know, with Grog, it had such a minimal backstory necessarily and a blip of narrative elements in the last campaign, he wrote
this rich backstory this time, and the direction and the paths they chose led right to it, I’m like all right man, here’s
center stage for this arc. – We’re in this now. – Yeah, and I don’t think
he was used to that, and so that combined with
playing a character now that requires a little more cleverness and ingenuity for their skill
set. Get the fuck out of here. – Get the fuck out of here. – It’s brought its own challenges for him too, and it’s easy for a player to get frustrated when they feel like they’re not playing optimally, or they’re making mistakes, but
that’s what people do. – I’m sure it’s the same for you on the other side of the screen. – Oh yeah, I make mistakes all the time! But part of being dungeon master is to not show that, it’s obfuscating
the mistakes you make. Unless they’re really big in which case you own up to it and
try and course correct. But yeah, engaging with him is a good example of me checking with the players, and if I feel something’s off being what’s going on, why, explain this to me. – Right. – Try and assure them that maybe they misunderstood the scenario, or if it just was not something
they’re comfortable with, then assuring them that you will find a way to correct it in the future. – Right. I wanna go back and touch on something that you mentioned earlier ’cause it’s something that you’ve talked about before and it’s something I know a lot of people struggle with and that’s
imposter syndrome. One of my favorite writers, someone that you admire as well, David
Milch, has said that something that he has
struggled with throughout his career, and the way that he deals with it is he channels that imposterhood into storytelling as a way of him to go this may be the day they find out that I don’t know what
I’m doing, so instead I’m just going to write good stories, I’m just going to tell good stories ’cause I know that that’s something that I can be confident in and stand behind. How do you combat that
sense of imposter syndrome? – Oh man. I am still working on it. – Right, it’s a process. – It’s a process. I’ve lived life with its
challenges, but there are so many people out there
that from my perspective have endured far harsher
realities, have far more skill and talent
than I have, and deserve what I have accomplished
far more than I do. That’s just my perspective. And it’s hard to consolidate
the idea of why should I be here when so many good people suffer. And is that fair? And that’s not my choice to make. And it’s not easy. But here I am amongst my peers,
all very talented people, all good people, and I’m just perpetually having to work towards getting past the internal idea that are
they all lying to me, do all these game companies
that hire me as an actor, are they waiting for me
to fuck up so they can… – Replace you. – Replace me, or show me how I’ve not belonged this entire time. I see comments on the internet about the work that I do, and the show, and that just, in a weird, fucked up, pushing a bruise kind
of way, sometimes I’ll seek out to reinforce
that voice in the back of my head that says see,
you aren’t worth anything. See, you aren’t creating
or producing anything of value and this person sees it. Thankfully I’ve learned through the years to minimize that and acknowledge that that is just, for the
most part, part of that psychological problem that I
work through, but it’s there. – And the comments
that, often the comments you see that end up hurting aren’t the ones that you don’t
believe about yourself. It’s the ones that you are
already insecure about, and then someone points that thing out, that hurts so much worse
than if someone said you know Matt’s hair isn’t very glorious. You could see one of those comments, and there’s 50,000 that say it is, but the second that someone says I don’t like this thing, or he messed this up or whatever, and if you’re already feeling insecure about that, it
hits homes even harder. – Yeah, and it resonates louder than 100 positive comments,
and it sucks and it’s not fair to the people
that are so gracious– – And loving. – Yeah, and putting all
this forward, but issues with mental health aren’t fair. It’s not an even… – It’s a lottery. – Yeah, it really is, and that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the positivity in the comments that I get, that helps me get through the harder days definitely. But by nature of me not feeling like I deserve the things that I’ve accomplished, that I don’t belong amongst all of these great people, that I don’t believe that I’m deserving of the attention and the platform that I’ve been put upon… That is just my journey to figure out and reconcile and acknowledge that that is very much an
incorrect and unfortunate voice that lives within me, and I just have to learn to tune it
out and prove it wrong. That may be a journey
I go on my whole life, but I’m here for it,
I’m willing to saddle up and sing the good of
this community, and all these people around me, all these very talented people even in this room making all these productions of passion possible. That helps me think that all those voices of dissent are inconsequential. But it’s not easy. – I understand. – Being on a stage and having people that I once was in line, in
costume, asking questions, I look at that and I see
where I came from and see that I’m still that
person and never changed. And they ask me for guidance and for inspiration, and I help them however I can with the experience, the knowledge I have, but in the back of my head I’m like do I have a right to give you any information when I’m still you and I’m in many ways still figuring my shit out? – Yeah. – It’s a weird… It’s a weird thing to have a voice with every accomplishment you make creep in and whisper perpetually in your ear that everyone’s gonna find out that you have no idea what you’re doing, and that you faked your way here, and as soon as they do, security’s gonna show up and haul you away and they’ll never talk about you again. And you have to be okay with that. That happened my first session on the ThunderCats reboot back in 2001. Not 2001, 2011. – 2011, yeah. – I’ve had one and a half of these. – (laughs) I understand. – It was my first major western animation project that I ever booked. Growing up with ThunderCats at a very young age, I was super excited to be a part of it, and I walk into that studio, my first time in the lot at Warner Bros, and it’s Will Friedle who became such a close friend, but at the time I was like I grew up watching you on Boy Meets World. It was Kevin Michael
Richardson who had been a voice of so many characters
I love and adore. It was Dee Bradley Baker, and it was all these people that I admired, and then directing it behind the
glass was Andrea Romano who was the director of my entire life. – Legend, yes. I met her at your wedding, and I’m sorry, but that was the
highlight of your wedding. – No, to be fair, there’s
no blame whatsoever on that. – (laughs) Okay, I’m happy. – But yeah, but I remember being so blown away that this was happening, and in the moment I became self aware that I was in the middle of all this. I immediately became extremely scared that I don’t belong here, and they’re gonna figure that out real soon, and I’m waiting for security to come and be like we’re so sorry, we’re gonna need to escort him off the premises. – We need a professional to come in. – And my nerves came through on that. I talked about this
with Dan Norton who was the art director on the project afterward, but about four episodes into that project they were
considering recasting me. Because my performance was a little shaky. Because I was so– – You were rattled by your fears. – Yeah, I was so caught
in myself, and so caught with the nerves and the worry that I don’t know what I’m
doing, how did I stumble into this, I’m gonna let everyone down, that that affected my performance. I remember it was, Andrea took me aside and have a conversation and was like hey, stay after this session, we’re gonna go over some of the lines in the previous sessions together, and I don’t want you to have anybody else in the room, and calm down, and she was so sweet and so wonderful and
guided me through that. It was a combination of
her being so positive and Will, Will Friedle,
I met him at lunch, and he was so supportive, and to have somebody that had grown up with such a career and that was doing such incredible work, to take me under his arm and be like hey man, you belong here with the rest of us, that it helped me pull out of that spiral and we managed to pick up from there and make it all work out for what they were looking for. But that was a very
strong point in my life where I realized that
voice almost sabotaged a very important part
of my life, my career. So I’ve had to keep that at bay at times. – Right, I mean you have to or you will seize up and not be able to do it ’cause that’s what fear does, and anxiety. – Yeah. – What’s the truth you tell yourself in those moments of doubt so you keep going? Or do you rely on people outside to give you that encouragement
to try and keep going? – For me it’s more
relying on other people. Because when the crux of imposter syndrome is a sense of not feeling worthy of where you are and what you’ve done, it takes being able to look around at the people that support you, the structure of friends and family that are
around you, and tell you otherwise to remind you
that it is just a voice. That it isn’t the truth. It doesn’t make it go away by any means, but to me that’s been a solace I’ve been able to take, and looking towards Marisha, looking towards my friends, looking towards my family, looking towards my community, and that’s
pulled me out of those moments of self doubt and
unintentional sabotage. ‘Cause that happens. – It’s real. It’s real, you can talk
your way into and out of and think your way into
and out of a lot of stuff. – Yeah. – If you’re not careful. – Oh man, and that’s,
especially in a creative space. It’s one thing to have a body of work that is tangible by numbers, and you know an actual physical representation of the amount of effort you put into a career. When it comes to creative pursuits everything is so
subjective, and everything lives in this amorphous
space, that it’s harder to look at it and convince yourself that you’ve done it, that you’ve achieved something, that you’ve done good work. Because once again, you can look through a thousand positive comments and then find one negative one and then just obsess and focus on that one, and it’s not healthy, but you can’t help it. It’s just part of the horrible mental wrestling that that type
of insecurity breeds. And people will tell you
don’t look at the comments, don’t look at the comments,
don’t look at the chat, don’t look at the chat, but here we are. I’ve taken steps to help avoid it. We’ve gotten hate mail, I’ve gotten mail in the past from people that say terrible terrible things to me, so I’ve taken steps to put filters into our mail to make sure that anything that includes certain keywords or e-mails or things will just go
straight to my trash and stuff like that,
and that’s helped a lot. But yeah, I’m still a quivering insecure creative here in a very unsure space, and just hoping to do right. – Oftentimes those kind of personalities and those kind of mental processes end up creating some of our best storytellers because you pour yourself into that thing, it’s
like that Milch quote, “I do this so I don’t focus on that.” Because it gets to be a busy day if you start just thinking about all that stuff and letting it pour over
in your mind constantly and it starts to affect the work because you’re shaping your
story, or you’re shaping the way you tell your story, based on… That little thing. – It’s true. I would say, as much as I may complain every now and then about being so busy these days, I’m thankful that it allows me the opportunity to be focused on the things I’m creating and not focused on the voices inside
that are diminishing it. – What’s a question that you keep finding yourself asking yourself? – How? – How did this happen? – How did all of this happen? How did… How did I stumble through a… A weird childhood and a
series of strange careers into what is a very
competitive and very… Difficult to succeed in career, to make enough of a living to pay my bills and pay my taxes, and to eventually be making a Dungeons and Dragons show. How? – It’s bizarre. – It is bizarre, and as much as I try and look over it and understand how, a lot of it’s lightning in a bottle, a lot of it’s perfect
timing, perfect combination of content and a cultural need of that type of storytelling. But even still, why me? There are so many great people out there that are doing this, there are so many wonderful people I’ve met in this industry who are doing their
own streams and they’re doing their own games and they’re doing their own books and their own stories and their own forms of expression for other people in a community to consume and be a part of, and I’m just blown away that somehow I stumbled into this life. I’m very thankful, and
because of that awareness, I am going to do everything I can to… To make people proud, to make it the best I can while I have this moment, and then fully aware and fully expecting that tomorrow it’s all gonna go away. That’s been a perpetual perspective on my career as an actor, on whatever this weird phenomenon Critical Role is, I enjoy what we’re doing right now ’cause tomorrow it could all just go away. – It could just go away. – It’s weird, but it’s how it is. – If it did. If it did all go away, are
you proud of how it’s gone? – Very. Very, I could step away
from this right now and spend the rest of my life thankful that I’ve had this opportunity with me and my friends and all these great people I’ve had the chance to
work with, to create a space that in some way, shape, or form helped a few people
through some dark times. Yeah, I’m super proud
of all this, and I would have no shame and no
sadness about it going away. The longer it goes, the more I’m just blown away that it
continues, ’cause yeah– – It’s a gift.
– I’m pretty happy and proud. – It’s a gift, yeah. – I think so. – We’ve been friends for a while. Obviously working a lot closer the last couple years since I started
working with you guys, but a lot of people ask me about you. You are so open and you’re someone who is an empath if I’ve ever seen the definition of the term fleshed out, in a good way. When I hear you talk about someone else deserves this and they’re more qualified, or I want them to have
their moment in the thing, to me that’s coming
from a place of empathy. It’s part of the imposter syndrome thing, but I also see a deep empathy in you, and I struggle with how to describe you to people, but I typically will describe you as a lighthouse, and say regardless of the weather you always need one. It’s something that draws people and says here is where the safe place is. When we talk about legacy, what
does that term mean to you? When all this is said and
done, not Critical Role, but your career path, your trajectory. It’s not so much about how
you wanna be remembered, but what kind of legacy
do you wanna leave? What at the pillars of the
legacy you wanna leave behind? – That’s a really interesting question. I hope that any of those kids that grew up unhappy with themselves,
unsure of themselves, trying to find some
reason to stick around… If my stories, my work can somehow help them through those dark patches, that’s more than I could have ever hoped. On a broad legacy. A standpoint, I would like to provide safe spaces and safe stories
for people to create. I don’t wanna create
something to be consumed. I wanna create something
that invites and inspires people to carry that chain of creation. The release of the Tal’Dorei guide was something I never
anticipated, but something that was so special to me to put out there because it was something that I created, but created as a shell,
created as an invitation to be like here’s something that I made, but I hopefully built enough pockets for you to take it and make it something even more special and personal to you. So if I can continue
to do that in whatever paths in my career might
be from here on out. – It’s fulfilling. – Yeah, damn fulfilling. On a personal level, I wanna
be able to support my parents. Continue to support my
parents, they didn’t, they weren’t the classic
parents that saved a lot of money and bought a house, and when I grow up they’ll have
something to leave me. My parents, every dime they made went to providing experiences
to us as a family, providing a childhood
for me and my brother to making sure that we can live in zones where we couldn’t afford to, just so me and my brother could have a good experience and
a good school district. In the later years,
thankfully due to the success of Critical Role I’m able to support them. – Yeah. – And even looking back
on, if things hadn’t worked out how they
had with Critical Role, god, I don’t know where they’d be. So I’m very thankful. And I hope to continue
to give back to them ’till the end of their days for all that they gave me and Andrew. – I’ve often nourished a suspicion that… And I think about this a lot when I think about you and I talk to you, they say if you can make a living doing what you love, then that’s the ideal situation. When I think about you, I think the only thing that could be greater than making a living doing what you love is making a difference doing it. I just wanna say I hope you feel that way. – Goddammit.
– I’m starting to. (laughs) – You know what I mean? – Yeah, I think so. – Yeah, there’s negativity out there, sure there’s criticism, sure there’s gonna be people that say you’re playing the game wrong or you’re
doing this and that wrong or you’re doing whatever else, but we just came back from a weekend in New York where we met hundreds of people that, nobody
comes up and says that. All they do is come up
and tell you how it’s impacted their life and
how it’s made a difference. As a storyteller, what
more could you ask for? – Not much else really. – A couple hours from now you’re
gonna go sit at the table. – Yeah. – Another Thursday, another game. – Gonna sober up. – Gonna sober up. – Not yet. – Not yet, don’t get ahead of yourself. You’re gonna sit at the table, Sam’s gonna open the show with some ungodly… Maybe a wig, maybe who knows. – Who knows with that one. – Yeah, it’s always a toss up. Every week when you sit down and they count you in and it’s about time, you’ve got a million thoughts going through your head, you’ve
got imposter syndrome, you’ve got story beats,
you’ve got elements, you want everyone to have fun, you want everyone to have that experience. Is it still as fun for
you as it was when you were a teenager and had
that connection with it? Is it still as exhilarating? It’s a business now, there’s all these other things, there’s all this stuff. You fight hard to not lose track of that core thing that keeps it going. – Yeah. – Yeah. – It’s a worry, definitely
a perpetual worry, as things continue to expand, whether
or not we’re ready for it. Everything has been so reactionary. And we’re just trying to keep up with it and keep it contained and protected. I worry about that. But the moment I sit at
that table, and I get to look across from all
these wonderful people and make eye contact and engage in their banter and their laughter, and the general excitement everyone has of stepping back into the shoes of their character and asking how their day has been as we count down to the beginning of the show, all that kinda washes away. And that’s really hardening. And I think as long as we can hold onto that, I think we’ll be okay. – Cheers. – Cheers to that. – What’s the longest
your hair’s ever been? – Oh down to here. – For real? How old? – That would’ve been high
school, at high school. – That must’ve taken a
long time to really… – Oh yeah, I just ponytailed it. I looked like a Miami drug dealer. – Really? – Yeah, it was not positive. – You did wear a lot of tropical clothing when you were younger,
there was a lot of– – Yeah man, I was Florida, and
trying to shrug off Florida. – Yeah, ’cause I think
was it Liam’s one shot where he had you in that, the sorta– – I was a looker through the ages, man. I looked like a series of Martin Short characters the rest of my childhood. (laughs) It was something. – Have you ever shaved you head? – Oh god no. – Really? – I lose my power. – What’s the short, oh
wow, that’s a good point. – Yeah, it’s the Samson thing, man. – What if all of a sudden
you shave your head, you get behind that DM screen, and you can’t remember any of the rules? – That would not surprise me at all. – That is the connection to the– – Not surprise me at all. – What’s the shortest it’s ever been? – The shortest it’s ever been I think has, I’ve had it on the show, I think it was a few years, I had somebody
cut it super short. – I remember that, so that
was the shortest it’s been. – Yeah, I’ve hobbled
through life, and I remember even as a kid it was at least bushy. I’m sure the shortest
it’s ever been was shortly after birth, but I don’t
remember those years too much. – Yeah, probably not. I hope not. – Not really. Oh man, that’d be a little weird. – It would be. Taliesin always tells me he remembers every moment of the
nine months in the womb. – Well he would. – He would. – Well to be fair they had just invented childbirth at the time, so that’s important to hold onto those details. – Yup, plus the blood sacrifice that went into conceiving him in the first place. (laughter) I love you dude, thank you. – Love you too, buddy. – Cheers again. – Cheers again. – Should we finish these? – I shouldn’t, but sure. – Okay. Don’t be too scared off by the name. This drink is simple, not
too strong, a little tart, and incredibly easy to
make for any season. This is how we like a Dark & Stormy. First grab a collins or a
tall glass, fill it with ice. Next you’re gonna add
two ounces of dark rum. Then half an ounce of lime juice. After that, fill it up
with your ginger beer. About three to five ounces
usually depending on the glass, and stir with
your cocktail stirrer. Garnish with a lime wedge. You’re ready to drink
like a dungeon master. (classical jazz music)


  1. I dont ever want to hear people say the world is horrid the world has changed….you know what maybe it has BUT WE ARE A COMMUNITY A FAMILY AND IM GLAD WERE ALL HERE SHARING THIS TODAY NEVER FORGET THIS

  2. The comments really aren't lying holy shit I'm just openly sobbing now by the end of this video. Incredible interview, painfully but beautifully real.

  3. Matt mercer, the voice of jotaro kujo, raised on pink floyd (josukes stand crazy diamond) the Beatles (ghiacchios stand white album) and moody blues (abbachios stand moody blues). Some things just work out dont they.

  4. I love Matt even more now. i was born with a speech disorder. Did speech therapy up to HS and then started doing public speaking. It really is a full circle thing. And its amazing.

  5. I looked for "The Missing Piece" by Shel Silverstein, the book Matt mentioned. Very simple & profound; I wish I had read this book as a child.

  6. They are so popular and so famous that I truly don’t know if I’ll ever have the time enough to say to them. Me too.

    I have so much to say and yet I also have some imposter syndrome, so each time I type a comment, I delete it before posting, because who am I to talk about my issues when other people have so many of the same or worse?

    Did I have to go have a panic attack after meeting Matt Key? Yes. Did I nearly have one while meeting Taliesin Jaffe? Oh yeah. And all the other people I met and basically made a fool of myself while meeting, it kills me to look back because all I want is for them to know how much this whole channel (GnS and Critical Role) has helped me embrace who I am as a person and to do all kinds of things I never thought I’d do before. (And still working up the courage to do more.)

  7. I have body dysmorphia too and i understood where he was coming from. This show also helped me be able to set up game with my friends and for that I will forever be grateful. Thank y'all.

  8. Mathew if you read this there is no words that can explain how you helped me with life i may not have been at the brink but that was the direction I had been heading. so i thank you Matt along with all of you at critical role. my day to day life which used to be full of constant sadness and seeing only the bad things in life but your guy's show has given me a new look now i see both good and bad I can realize the horrible monsters some people are but i can also see the people in the world that are the real heroes that are even better than any superhero and i thank all of you at critical role for giving me this new out look on life.

  9. I have rewatched this too many times and still love how genuine and raw it is with emotion and honesty. The love I have for Matt… no amount of words can say thanks enough for all you have done and continue to do. Brian, every time I am at the market looking at cabbage, I remember that you don't have that scent and deserve all the best things. I keep rambling, please keep kicking ass

  10. It's hard to put into words what this interview means to me. To know a man I admire so much experiences similar struggles to me makes it feel possible to achieve what I want in life. He's so quick and smart and funny and captivating and there's zero reason for him to have such negative feelings about himself – and yet he does. It makes me feel like maybe those feelings I have about myself are similarly unfounded. Thank you, Matt.

  11. I'm putting this here because even if its only 1/100th of a negative comment, its worth it. You are a fucking golden god Matt. A light in the world.

    To quote a beautiful Dota 2 meme,

    "you're a flower. you're also a rainbow and a river. you are the manifestation of all perfection and i want to i don't fucking know. i want this to not sound gay, but you are fucking perfect, Matt."

  12. He was a bullied kid and now he is a successful attractive man with a beautiful wife who shares his interests you know he's earned it good for him

  13. Hey Matt, go and draw me wolverine naked… a friend of mine would like it…
    20 bucks, right? 😂 I'm joking of course.
    (Sends Matt a tweet about a naked wolverine)

  14. My favorite part of rewatching this is just seeing and knowing how real Matt is of a person. For all the faults he may have, he's done amazing things in a world and a country that seems to crush the very souls of people like him.

    As much as imposter syndrome is a very real personal battle, I think growing up in such a harsh world of dog eat dog, be the best or you're nobody, backstab and lie and cheat your way to the top if you weren't already born there has a lot to do with that, because he's struggled enough to become successful, without sacrificing his morals and his kind heart. Basically, "how am I successful if I'm not an ass?" I just wish I could find the right phrase or whatever to permanently dispel the illusion his brain constantly tries to fool him with, because someone this pure doesn't deserve to suffer like that.

    We love you, buddy.

  15. I know this will probably get lost in the feed, but thank you so much for sharing from your life. I’ve moved 27 times and whenever I tell people they always assume my parents were in the military or missionaries. It’s always hard to just admit you were poor. Hearing you say it made me feel less ashamed.

  16. Anybody you sends this lovable duck hate mail should go be with the laughing hand. He is the sweetest thing in the world. Bad people like that shouldn't have any power, but they do. Such a shame. Keep going on your amazing way. You've built a world so many people live in. Thank you

  17. Mr. Mercer, thank you for sharing your thoughts in such an honest way. I just find CR in the Internet a few days ago after searching more informations about the great Voice Actor behind Eder, my favourite character in the CRPG Pillars of Eternity. One thing leads to another and now i am watching the first episodes of Vox Machina and i am totally hooked.
    So thank you for your great work, Mr. Mercer, and keep going on! Greetings from Germany.

  18. Sometimes Bryan will go ahead and say some stuff and his guests respond, and it isn’t a question per say, he’ll just say a statement but it’s understood as a question by everyone, I don’t know how he’s able to articulate these things that are impossible to articulate but that’s really what sets him apart as an interviewer from so many others

  19. 8 years in the Army, a father of 2. Well physiqued man. I look up this video and I still can’t believe Matthew Mercer has the resistant mental issues he has. He’s so amazing at what he does. He’s a respectable man that deserves whatever it is he needs/wants in life for either personal interest or mental interest.

    You sir, with a salute. Have saved my life multiple times. Getting out of the Army having no place to go and having two children I have to look after and love. You’ve given them a father and you’ve gained a fan starting back in January 2018. I found you with the start of the 2nd campaign.

    Since then I’ve became the DM for my group. And they come every session and they leave happy and they have a good time.

    God bless you Matthew Mercer. God bless you all on the Critical Role cast.

    Brian, you kick ass too bromigo. Your the spearhead that helps push through the phalanx and keep side shows interesting and highly anticipated.

  20. Ok, paused just after 0:24 to check the comments but it seems no one else first thought someone was uncorking a glass dildo… Just me… I feel so filthy…
    Anyway, onward to the feels…

  21. This interview crushed me in so many ways. Also, I stopped laughing at Sam's jokes that involve putting Matt's enlarged face on his shirt and flask.

  22. To think I started watching campaign 1 weeks ago, giving me a bit of light in some dark times I’m having, to find out my favorite person in the show deals with such similar issues I have and more. A real lovely human and inspiration

  23. Just gonna chip in my 2 cents here: Matt, in some ways, we could have been the same kid in school. I think that the empathic streak that men like us have are forged in the fires of shitty comments from shitty kids. We grow up knowing what that sort of treatment feels like, and we don't want others to gp through that. Thanks for talking so candidly about your life and experiences; it takes real courage to talk about them to people. It takes greater courage to cry about them. Brian, thanks for asking wonderfully insightful questions; I haven't really followed your path much, and only really known you as that lucky devil that caught Ashley Johnson's eye (we can't blame her though, let's be honest). But this interview is literally the best interview I've ever seen. It is humble and polite and kind and everything an interview should normally be.

    Thank you both, for this amazing content, not ashamed to say that I cried more than once. Matt, I started this video respecting you as an amazing DM, I'm finishing it genuinely loving and respecting you as an exceptionally special person. There aren't enough like you in the world, but with patience, and tolerance, and empathy, maybe we can change that. Love you dude.

  24. I really hope the kickstarter helped show Matt that we all believe in him and we know how talented and amazing he is. This episode was so emotional to watch, I love these people so much!

  25. This was the first time I hear about 'Imposter disorder'.
    I went through university, finished my masters and after three years into my career as an architect, there's always this voice in the back of my mind that keeps telling me "they'll find out I'm not as good as they think I am", "why me? I don't deserve this success / opportunities" "there are way more people that are better than me, I don't belong here".

    I can't explain how, but this voice is sometimes more convincing to me than what people on the outside may ever tell me. Fighting this sometimes is extremely hard, especially when inside my heart I know I am different from other people, there's always this fear that one day, the people the closest to me will reveal the truth: that the voice was right all along.
    I know it's not fair for myself nor for the people who have been by my side for years and years to think like this, but sometimes that voice convinces me of this no matter how hard I fight it (or stay positive I guess…? Cause honestly I'm not sure what it was).

    Hearing that Matthew Mercer is also in a constant battle with that voice shocks me, but at the same time it inspires me to keep fighting, that there's hope in persevering.

    Thank you Matt, thank you Critical Role, Stay awesome.

  26. I swear Matthew Mercer was literally reading a biography of my life in those early years. Thank you for giving me someone I can look up to who has felt the same. I am going to try some of those things that worked for you and hope it works, but if it doesn't you have given me hope to keep looking. Thank you so much.

  27. Brian telling Matt he saw him as a lighthouse is incredible, and so true, I feel like it made Matt feel something and maybe understand a bit more how great what he's doing is, he doesn't owe us anything but by just being here he's giving us a a safe place, and lighting the way.

  28. "…when he would eat Sonic – cause with everyone else he would wear their hats, their helmet. But when he ate sonic and pushed him out, he would be wearing his scalp:
    ah, you and your friends humor was before its time man

  29. i was doing fine, i had teared uo a few times about ehrn he was talking about Marisha and his early life…
    but at when he teared to the camera with watery eyes and said " its all of you ! " i broke, i love this man and this community of nerds
    critter group hug pls

  30. Matt, thank you for talking about body dysmorphia! Mental illness awareness needs more coverage and you are helping a lot of people by voicing it!

  31. This, friends, is what masculinity should be represented as. An openness, a strength to share, the resolve in vulnerability and the nobility and honor in compassion. As a blade to a forge we are tempered in adversity, stronger from the process, able to protect the ideals we hold and those we love. Matt and Brian, thank you for sharing and being such positive male role models for a world that so greatly needs men like you.

  32. At about 1:35:00 that really got to me. It may sound silly but Gilmore meant a lot to me as a character. Gilmore was my way of discovering myself as a gay man and I thank you so much Matt. I'm not sure what would have happened if CR didn't exist


    For real though, this has to be my favorite video this channel has uploaded. I know I'm late to the party, but hearing about Matt's struggles and insecurities was so heartbreaking. I never would've guessed that he struggled with such horrible, since he's always been perfect in my eyes. I also never would've guessed how much I could relate to him.

    Like when he said it's OK to just feel sad & upset and not want anyone to try and fix it. In my case when other people try to "fix it" by being logical or giving me compliments it really can make me feel worse. As if it's my fault their efforts of cheering me up didn't work. I would give my left lung for someone to hug me and say "that's rough, buddy" and acknowledge and accept that life just fucking such sometimes.

    Once again I'm overwhelmed by the love, inspiration and wisdom that this man gives me. He actually makes me believe that things will turn out ok in the end.

    I've never been more happy or proud to call myself a critter <3

  34. Matt reminds me Nick Slaughter from The Sweating Bullets tv series. He is unique and very talented. DM we all want to play with. Preordered his D&D book also as a thanks for all he did for us and D&D. For me he is the face and voice of D&D. I wouldnt be suprised if Matt produces RPG video game in the future

  35. This series completely changed the way I watch Critical Role. Now all the characters in the show so obviously reflect little pieces of the voice actors' personality, be it traits of what they are or what they want to be. It adds a depth and subtlety to the show that I can now appreciate, having not had the insight to notice it before.
    The difference between what I expected Matt to be like and what his interview shows is staggering, though. Before this interview, I saw him as an extremely humble god among men, an outrageously talented, knowledgeable, and handsome character who couldn't make a single mistake in my eyes.
    This hasn't changed, but the only difference is that he doesn't see it the same way which is mind-blowing to me. I don't know how one gets over this permanently, but I'd give a lot to help the process go faster. I'm pretty sure this interview helped me identify a small portion of this in myself which is an exercise in self-awareness I didn't know I'd experience today. I'm a much better and happier person to have watched these interviews.
    It's crazy how the mind works.

  36. "The only thing that can be greater than making a living off of what you love is making a difference doing it", What an amazing description of an amazing individual, thank you Brian.

  37. On episode 7 of campaign 1 trying to catch up.. a undertaking that'll keep me busy for a while. Thank you!
    wanted to know the cast more and my god,
    matthew you've gained so much respect in my eyes speaking so openly about these matters, this hits home on so many levels.
    Even if you don't think you deserve any of this, you see the opportunity to pay it forward, and use what you have been given (worked hard for ;)) to make a positive impact to those around you and even complete strangers, you're a good man.

    When it comes to feeling like you don't belong, recognize it as modesty, another great quality to have. Just a lil too far in the red on the good old scale of "Mercer did good?"
    It's those who think themselves worthy that are usually in the wrong, just look around history or movies, anyone grandiose is usually wrong.
    Most people in the professional world have a understanding of what they do, but feel incompetent and insecure but try and rise to the occassion non the less by educating themselves, experimenting or taking a risk hoping it'll work out and when it doesn't..that noone will notice before they can fix it 😝

    I remember looking up to adults and thinking… man adults are so put together and know so much.. 30 now..a brother thats 40..a dad thats 50.. and we all have one thing in common..
    We're all still learning every day and don't have all the answers.. and i have a funny feeling as all of us hit 80 we'll come to realise you never really truely know what we're doing, and most of it is just either a routine coming out of a lot of practise.. or fumbeling around till you figure it out.

    It's okay to fumble, we all do it, even those legends who seem or claim they don't..
    noone who's reasonable will fault you for it,
    what matters is how you get back on your feet, regain your composure and give it all you got again.

    Listening to the stories in this interview, I think you got the giving it all you got part nailed down.
    You really reminded me of a lot of the issues i faced growing up and also still work through mentally, I hope you're proud of at least some aspects of yourself, cause you seem like such a genuine nice guy and the work you put in these stories really make them amazing to watching.

    I'm glad i have hours and hours of story to look forward to during days where my body hurts too much to do much else.
    I've found myself grab my tablet and get comfy to watch more when the pain starts coming up and thinking "at least i get to live this story now" in a cheerful thought, instead of the usual ugh here's the pain again mood

  38. I’m sincerely happy for the success that Matt has had in the last few years and with the new book he is publishing with WotC. I had heard of how much of a genuinely good person he is from interviews with others who have worked with and around him in the past, but I had no idea how much he has dealt with over personal struggles that he opened up about in this video. I can actually believe that he has a sincere lack of ego even with all of his accomplishments. This entire interview I think he hasn’t gone over a single topic without giving praise and credit to everyone else involved. I truly wish him and his family all the best of luck in all their future endeavors. Good on you, Matt.

  39. You know, well, you dont, but I have hesitated to watch this episode for a very long time for some reason. I watched it today. It turns out that I saw so much "me" in Matt. Flaws and personalities. I almost kill myself 2 weeks ago. It was a long 5-6 years for me. Plagued by suicidal thoughts and a sense of worthlessness, I have a job, a good gf, a great family, great friends. And yet, I have never felt that I belong there, that I deserve all of that. His cracked voice matches mine while I watching this. Thank you so much, CR, Matt, Marisha, Laura, Ashley, Sam, Liam, Brian, Travis and so many of you that set up a place for me to submerge my imagination into.

  40. Somebody find Ian and reconnect him with Matthew! If we can find Laura's God card in her folder, SURELY we can find Ian!!!

  41. It's not puritanical. It's called not being in favor of degeneracy. Exposing a child to sodomite behavior is no joke. wth

  42. Being a new critter, I admired Matt for his incredible skill and/or talent for story-telling/DMing. As someone who thought I had lost my spark for art and visual story narratives, discovering DnD/Critical role really kickstarted that love and drive for it again.
    But after watching this, getting to know more about the person that inspires me, it's terrifyingly similar to how I feel about almost everything about myself and my life. From body dysmorphia, self-loathing, to the various hobbies, love for animation/art, the doubt about pursuing animation as a career, almost everything he talks about (besides the cosplaying, never tried that.) is like… Looking in a mirror. I know a lot of people say that, but everything Matt has dealt with, I either have or am going through at this moment.
    It's comforting in a way… That reassurance that despite everything, it'll all work out.

  43. I only got into D+D by accident, around a year ago. Started in 4e, which I heard, even before we started, was one of the more confusing systems… And the party needed a spellcaster which I found terrifying. Then I started watching Critical Role. It was so good to see just another bunch of people playing a game and somehow feeling like it was for me, as much as for them. Moving forward a year, I'm a player in a campaign, now in 5e (thank the gods for D+D Beyond!) and we're around 16 sessions deep now. The biggest difference for me is I'm now writing my own campaign and I hav Matt to thank for making me feel like I could do it. I hope him and the guys kno how much of a gift they hav been over the last few years and I hope they keep going too. Big luv to you Matt, whether you believe it or not 🙂

  44. Having seen both Matt and Marisha talk about MTG, I know have a deep desire to have them both play Commander with me. Please Matt, if you see this comment, let's play MTG together! I have plenty of decks, we would just need to set a time, date an place. I will come to you! Let's film it, air it on G&S, talk about your MTG experiences!

  45. I think I understand why, but I find it strange that Orion and that whole thing hasn't been even mentioned. But, like, I get it, its an awkward (possibly dangerous) topic.

  46. This is an AMAZING interview. Brian's thoughtful questions and real empathy. Matt's willingness to be open and emotional and real. I'm delighted by everything that Matt has created and his ability to get other people to really flourish in something that he loves. Thank you!

  47. If my life turned out differently and I did not go to the military I would be on or try to be on Matt's path. Your great man I want to voice act now. Going to look when I'm out. You inspired me.

  48. With the whole bullying thing it like
    And then he grew up to be strong! or particularly handsome!
    That too but this man grew up to be an excellent person who is an absolute genius in both the dnd and voice-acting communities, who you bullying now?

  49. Of everyone on critical role, Matt was, and still is, the one I couldn't figure out.
    You know when you meet a new group of people, like when you get a new job, and you're meeting everyone and kind of getting a read on their temperaments and general personality?
    For some reason Matt was the one I couldn't get a grasp on.
    "He's got really expressive eyes" was the thing that stuck to me. And the thing is, I always felt a strange sense of fragility in his expressions, but honestly, it was just a gut feeling.
    After this video I can understand a bit better who he is, but his dichotomy will constantly inspire me.
    Brian's definition is so spot on, at least to me Matt's journey is indeed a lighthouse. But bright lights also cast shadows and while it pains me to hear about his struggles, I also understand everyone's got their battles and I can only wish him strength to fight his own demons.
    I don't if it makes a difference, but just by talking and sharing bits of his life made me realize things about myself I wasn't aware of or purposefully not paying attention to, so thank you Matt and everyone else involved on Critical Role to make things like this video happen.

  50. I know it's been 2 yrs., but I'm just seeing this and I hope Matt may be able to read this. I'm 50, I feel a kinship to you. It's in the heart. I raised my 3 children on my own and worked very hard. I am now disabled and living with my grown son's. It's been hard on all of us. When I came to live with them they introduced me to Critical Role. I can't tell you how much I love watching all of you and how much CR has bridged a gap for my family. We started our own D&D game and my brother is our DM! He started playing for like 37yrs. ago! All of you make me feel like if I met you today you would "see me". It's not just kid's that you make feel like they belong it's big kid's too! Every week we are enthralled with your character's and animation, you are magic, your inner light is a bright beacon. I feel such a kinship in your story, I relate to you so much, but the thing that has touched me the most is how much I have admired you and your genius this past year and the richness of your quality as a person, I hesitate to say, but I feel validated. I'm so glad that my family can be part of the world you have all created and have fun! How great is it that I am finally cool enough to play D&D with some of my favorite people!!!

  51. I applaud Matt for much of what he has accomplished and spoke about… BUT, he needs to not preach lies about claiming that "gender binaries" are purely an "american puritan-based" ideology. The scientific FACTS surrounding male/female courting/intercourse/cultural beliefs have been part of human history since the dawn of time, regardless of any man-made territories.

    Those facts will always remain true no matter if he or any other misinformed person wants to believe it or not. It's perfectly fine to have kinks and other sexual preferences, but don't try to force your kinks on other people by trying to infer that your kinks make you a "better" person than people without those same kinks.

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