‘Spider-Man’ Voice Actor Yuri Lowenthal on How to Break Into Video Games

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Photo Source: Courtesy Yuri Lowenthal/Insomniac Games

In the Envelope: The Actor’s Podcast features in-depth conversations with noteworthy actors and creators. Join host and senior editor Vinnie Mancuso for this guide to living the creative life from those who do it every day.

Even if you don’t know Yuri Lowenthal’s name, if you’ve picked up a video-game controller in the last two decades, you’ve almost definitely heard his voice. With more than 400 voiceover credits to his name, the actor has one of the most recognizable timbres in the industry.

And that was before he landed the lead role of Peter Parker in “Spider-Man,” the hit action-adventure game from Insomniac Games and Sony Interactive that debuted on PlayStation 4 in 2018. With “Spider-Man 2” swinging its way onto PS5 next month, Lowenthal is looking back on the road that led him to the role of a lifetime. 

“I still can’t believe that I get to do this,” the actor said during a wide-ranging chat ahead of the sequel’s Oct. 20 debut. “When I was off between games, I missed being Spider-Man. I mean, who wouldn’t miss being Spider-Man?” 

On this episode of In the Envelope: The Actor’s Podcast, Lowenthal gives us an in-depth look at his winding journey through the VO industry and explains how he found the voice of one of Marvel’s most beloved superheroes. 

Lowenthal has felt the pressure of playing Peter Parker since day one. 

“I’m a nerdy kid from way back, [so] it was hard for me not to think about it too much [while auditioning]. I’m like, This is Spider-Man. You have to think about it. I was nervous in that respect. Then when I got [the role], I actually got more nervous, because I felt the weight of the mantle of this iconic character that I and so many people love so much. 

I spent the first portion of working on the game just terribly nervous that I was going to ruin ‘Spider-Man’ for the next generation of gamers. What finally got me out of that headspace was [that] everybody at Insomniac loved the game so much, and everybody was such a fan of ‘Spider-Man.’ I had to trust there was a reason they picked me, and I had to trust that they weren’t going to let me fail. That helped me get out of my head a little bit. But it was still hard. And honestly, with the second [game] coming up, I’m nervous all over again.”

Marvel's Spider-Man

“Marvel's Spider-Man” Courtesy Insomniac Games

Even after booking a major Marvel role, he still has to hustle to make it in the VO industry. 

“People ask [me], ‘You don’t have to audition anymore, do you?’ And I’m like, ‘I audition every day, multiple times a day!’—because there are plenty of other people who could do my job who have just gotten in and have that ‘I just got started’ energy. I gotta summon even more energy than I used to. 

It’s true, I’ve built up a career…. There are certain jobs these days…when I’m cast and I do the job; and afterward, the producer is like, ‘Hey, by the way, I really liked “Spider-Man.” ’ I’m like, Oh, that’s why I got this job. That happens occasionally, and I get it. 

But I still audition all the time and still only book 2% of the jobs I audition for, which is great. As an actor, if you’re auditioning six times a day, that 100-audition [mark] comes up pretty quick. So I’m still nervous and terrified and suffer from impostor syndrome. If anybody’s wondering if that goes away, you’re going to have to ask somebody else.”

Lowenthal advises aspiring actors of any kind to get started right away. 

“If you think it’s something you want to do, seek out acting in any way you can, whether that’s auditioning for local theater or doing improv classes—or, if you’re in school, finding a drama class. Just do as much as you can to see if it’s something you really love…even if it’s not voice acting. Do any type of acting. Make stupid movies with your friends. Do a once-a-week thing where you get together and shoot sketches or make short films or feature films. You can do that nowadays.

Make stuff, because you’re not always going to get hired to play exactly the role you want to play, [so] you might as well tell the stories you want to tell on your own. You don’t even have to show them to anybody if you [don’t want] to. But I’d recommend that: Make things and finish them. It gives you a certain amount of ownership and power that we normally don’t have as actors. Don’t worry if it’s good or if you’re going to be the next YouTube star or whatever.”

If you want to get into voiceover, specifically, there’s one easy thing you should work into your daily practice. 

“It seems overly simple, but it’s great training for what we do on a regular basis: Read aloud every day—just a little bit, just five minutes. You can read anything. You can read a comic book. You can read a medical text. You can read a pamphlet that you find at the store. 

So much of what we do is getting that script, seeing it for the first time, having to make decisions really quickly, and pulling words off the page to make them sound natural and like we’ve been practicing them. So read aloud; it doesn’t have to be ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ but I certainly recommend it.” 

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