Alleges Union Affiliation Cost Him the Role
An interview published by The Gaming Liberty with former Sonic voice artist Ryan Drummond has received a lot of attention from Sonic fans this weekend, and no wonder: Drummond alleges in the interview he nearly returned to the role in time for Sonic Generations.
The sixteen year veteran of video game VAs was questioned about returning to the Sonic role. It turns out Drummond all but won the job when, in his words, a re-casting was underway to replace Jason Griffith and company during development of Sonic Generations. (Officially, the change-over to Roger Craig Smith et al. occurred in 2010, before Sonic Colors was released.) However, Drummond alleged Sega reneged on the deal when he wouldn’t leave his talent union. We’ve emboldened the most striking remarks below:
There was a glimmer of hope a while back when Generations was being cast. Sega asked me to come to LA and “re-audition” for the role of Sonic because they were doing the same thing to Jason and that cast that they did to us years before. So I went and they were very pleased to have me back and they actually said they were going to have me back and it was going to be this great reunion. Then when the actual offer came to my agent, it was a complete joke. They asked me to leave my union (which is how I make a living), do all kinds of work for no compensation, etc. It was a real slap in the face. I really don’t see it ever happening. Sega is a huge corporation with zillions of dollars and they don’t see any need to change the way they do things. There’s a lot more detail I can’t go into because of legal reasons, but let’s just say that I wish I’d been voicing Sonic all this time, I would return in a heartbeat, but if Sega ever decides to hire me again the devil’s making sno-cones.
That perspective can be corroborated by a member of the community. Scener XD375, who foretold of the casting change two years ago, cites in a post on the SSMB a Sega insider who claimed the American staff were happy to bring Drummond back, only to get caught up in corporate bemoaning about Drummond’s union status, with the mothership in Japan getting involved. Again, the most important information has been emboldened:
Everything Ryan says is true, and SEGA’s douchery and heartlessness extend way beyond even what he said in the interview. Ryan rocked the auditions – he won the role over even Roger.
SEGA told Ryan they were glad to have him back and that he got the job. Then he was kicked off the role again later on because he wouldn’t quit his union. Ryan’s first new games would have been Sonic Colors and Sonic Free Riders, but even All-Stars Racing was still in development when all of this went down.
SEGA is paying Roger practically nothing (“coffee and donuts money”) to voice Sonic.
SEGA had meetings about Ryan’s union status. They spent enough money to cover at least sixteen games of Ryan Drummond acting just on airfare, hotels, and food for the executives from Japan to take part in these meetings.
Given Sega’s current financial state, it’s not surprising the company would want to save a buck wherever possible. But the return of Drummond, considered by plenty in the community to be the best and most beloved of all the Sonic VAs to date, could have been a better business decision, and encouraged fans who picked up on Sonic during the Adventure era but were scared away during the Shadow and Sonic 2006 era to give the series a second look. Speaking of sound business decisions, there will now always be the question of whether Sega would have better spent its money actually bringing Drummond’s back versus debating his return, in light of these new details being released.
We’ll ask whether you think Drummond should have returned in a future @Issue poll. In the meantime, afford your thoughts below in the comments.