Full Disclosure: To fit into Sam’s schedule this interview was conducted by e-mail.
For 34 years Sam Riegel has been living his passion as an actor and lends his voice to countless television shows and video games.
Humble Beginnings Start With Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
At the age of six, Riegel made his first stage appearance as an Oompa Loompa in a production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory directed by his mother.
“I enjoyed the stage and the stage enjoyed me, and well, that was that. I’ve been acting for 34 years now. Acting isn’t even a “thing I do” anymore- it’s just me. It’s been what I do forever,” says Riegel.
Using Improv as a Way to Grow & Learn
Riegel credits his improv training with helping him become who he is today. “I studied improv with Upright Citizens Brigade in New York and Los Angeles and they taught me that basics of improv are the basics of social interaction.”
The following chart explains what he learned in more detail.
Listen to your fellow humans
2) Say “Yes”
Start with the premise that what they say is valid and valuable.
Try to take what they say and push it further ahead.
“Those ideas can really make your whole life better. It’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten,” says Riegel.
Many Challenges Arise as an Actor
Throughout his career, Riegel faced challenges that were too many to count. However, he does share a few. “I’ve been through voice changes, body changes, agent changes career shifts, and moving from New York to Los Angeles,” begins Riegel.
“I think the one consistent challenge that every actor has to cope with is being content with who you are as a performer and with your career in general. That’s really hard for an actor. You always want a bigger role or a cooler project, and you constantly watch other actors doing things that you wish you could do. So just stopping and saying to yourself, ‘Hey, I’m in pretty good shape. I like the work I’m doing and that’s enough for me.’- that’s an important milestone for any performer. And one that is very, very hard to achieve.”
102 Minutes That Changed America
On a more serious note, Riegel’s life was forever changed on 9/11. He appeared in the documentary 102 Minutes That Changed America. “I lived across the street from the World Trade Center on 9/11/01 and lost my entire apartment when the towers fell down. It was a day that completely changed my life and I will obviously never forget it,” says Riegel.
9/11 taught him something valuable about the human spirit. “For a while, it was difficult to talk about, but now whenever September rolls around it actually gives me some comfort. It’s like a mile marker in my life, and it’s nice to look back on that day once a year and remember how rough it was, and how far we’ve all come since then. So many people helped me start over after that tragic day, and I owe each one of them a debt of gratitude for helping me get back on my feet and recover.”
Eternal Sonata: Balancing Out Acting, Directing, & Script Adaptation
“Directing yourself is tricky – because there’s no impartial critic pushing you to try new things with your performance or improve upon an idea,” says Riegel.
“So on those games, I relied heavily on the engineer and producer to guide me through playing Allegretto. In the end, it worked out very well. But it took a lot of listening to myself over and over and over. I got sick of my voice!”
Thoughts on The Tales Of Series
“All the ‘Tales’ games are treated with such care and creativity. It’s been a blast being part of so many of them. As for the characters in those games, Jude was super fun. Dorky and naive- he really brings out the best in me. Flynn was a challenge because he’s complicated and irritable- sides of me that I don’t really like to bring to the surface much,” says Riegel.
A Special Message to His Fans
THANK YOU for following me for all these years. I try to work on things that entertain me. And it’s nice to know that my shows have had the same effect on so many viewers over the years. To think, people have grown up listening to my voice in cartoons and games- it’s amazing. It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of. So, from the bottom of my soul, thank you.