Berk's Grapevine

Snotlout Snotlout, Oi, Oi, Oi: Talking with Zack Pearlman

The last season of Race to the Edge brought fun new moments and character development for each of the riders, but perhaps none as many as for Snotlout. To get an insider glimpse into the mind of Snotlout (a.k.a., the Snotmind), we talked with Zack Pearlman, Snotlout's voice actor in Race to the Edge, and shared with him some of your questions:

This season, and across the show, there have been a lot of hilarious moments for Snotlout. What is your personal favorite Snotlout moment, either this season or across the show?

When Fishlegs turns into Thor Bonecrusher. That, to me, is the best, because you get to watch Snotlout be a fanboy. It's such a flip for Snotlout to be impressed by someone and not have to fake it. For me, those are the best moments. You get to see a part of Snotlout where he's like a little kid who's so impressed by another person.

How about you? What's your favorite?

I love the Thor Bonecrusher moments, and I think in this season Snotlout has a lot of fun moments with Dagur. What was that like? How did the relationship with Dagur show us a different side of Snotlout?

Snotlout is usually the toughest and meanest, so any time he's put in his place or scared, that's the best. You get to see this other side of Snotlout. Any time he fumbles and someone picks it up, he immediately feels like an idiot. You get to see the bully be bullied, and that's always fun, and I love that.

A lot of characters from day one on the Edge have changed a lot. In some ways, Snotlout hasn't. But in other ways, he has. In what ways do you think Snotlout has changed the most?

I would say, especially in this season, he gets bullied. That's new for him. He's starting to become the butt of jokes. And he doesn't know how to deal with it, really. I love to see that change in Snotlout where he doesn't have an answer for everything immediately. I love to see his sympathetic side and his more empathetic side.

As these characters are growing up, they start to understand that life isn't the fun game that is was, and there are real consequences for your actions. Snotlout is a guy who holds himself at such a high rank. Any time he gets knocked down, you get to peel back a layer and see a more real human rather than the kind of god he portrays himself to be.

Do you think that, as the show progresses, we deal with more tricky situations and challenging problems that start to push at the riders? How is Snotlout most pushed by these challenges?

Snotlout has to understand that he can't just do stuff alone. He really needs to rely on the other riders to succeed. I also think there's a lot of trust-breaking in this season. Relationships change really quickly, especially in this season. So it's a moment of understanding that humans can lie, and humans can be deceitful. Snotlout, as much as he's kind of a mean guy, he usually wants what's best — he wants the credit for it — but he wants what's best for the group. And so, for him to start to face things that aren't necessarily best for the group, or things he can't handle on his own, you start to see a more real side of this person.

Are there parts of Snotlout that you see in yourself? And what parts do you not?

I am not a bully, I don't have any bullying bones in my body. I do see a little bit of the Snotlout in me that victimizes himself when he doesn't need to. I see the part of Snotlout that is a little bit louder than he needs to be. And I also see the empathetic side of him, when he recognizes he doesn't need to be the loudest or the most in-front or present. You also get to see that side a lot in that season.

When you're trying to bring a character to life as a voice actor, what is the most challenging part — either in general or specifically to Snotlout?

I will say this. It's been so long that I've gotten to be with Snotlout that it takes just one line for me to jump back in. Which is scary, to say the least!

There's a famous story about Mel Blanc. He was Bugs Bunny, and pretty much all of those Warner Brothers characters. He went into a coma and they didn't know how to get him out. So his son and a doctor acted like they were in a recording session, and were like, "Is Bugs Bunny there?" And while he was in the coma, he would just start speaking as Bugs Bunny, and eventually, he woke up!

I feel like if I were ever in a coma, all someone would need to do is go, "Snoutlout!" and I would start talking like him!

Snotlout, Snotlout, oi, oi, oi!

Exactly! A little bit of Snotlout could save my life!

What is the strangest or most fun moment you had recording Snotlout?

I think this was maybe two seasons ago. When Snotlout had to be drunk, and woozy, and completely out of character. That, to me, was one of the most fun times. There was also an episode where his tongue gets puffed up.

…anb he gepts to talbk lik thibs all the timbe…

That was also a great time. Any time where he does a full 180 in terms of characters is, for me, the best. Because we get to explore a side of him that I don't necessarily get to jump into. It's like the writers and I are meeting this part of Snotlout for the first time, so a lot of it ends up being organic or improvised.

Did you have a chance to have a record with other actors?

It's so rare to be able to record with other people because everyone's bouncing around. But I've gotten to record with TJ Miller (Tuffnut) and Andree Vermeulen (Ruffnut) and both are incredible improvisers and so fun to bounce off of. Tuffnut and Ruffnut especially, when I get to watch them record together, it's pretty insane.

You've voiced Snotlout for a long time and seen these characters grow up between Riders and Defenders and Race to the Edge. Is there a difference in how you think of Snotlout in these two different parts of the series?

I think with Snotlout, he can't be the biggest guy anymore. He can't be the toughest and meanest because everyone else is growing up too. And everyone is coming into their own and has their own abilities and special skills, especially that we've been riding dragons for so long, that he can be still boisterous, but he gets put in his place and recognizes that he can't just be the bully kid that he used to be able to.

Also, everyone knows about him and his dad, and his brothers, and how he's the lowest on that totem pole, which explains all the bullying this season. It's been cool to be part of the character growth where I can't just be a freewheeling kid anymore. He has responsibilities now, and you definitely get to play into that.

What do you think of the relationship between Snotlout and Gustav?

Gustav! What's funny is it started as a mentorship, then quickly became Gustav might have been better than Snotlout. And then you get to see almost a rivalry and get to see Snotlout realize how he was when he was a kid, and how mean he was. So it's self-reflective, if anything. He gets to look at a mirror five years in the past.

Going back to voice acting, there are a lot of people here interested in animation or the voice acting side of the TV series. Do you have advice for people interested in voice acting on a show like this?

You need to start to actively put it out there that it's what you want to do. The only way to work toward anything is to be proactive in your own life. Whether that means constantly posting on — what's that site called, DeviantArt? I don't know what that site is. Or just finding people in your community.

For voice acting, the biggest thing you can do is watch as many cartoons as you can. I'm a kid who grew up on cartoons. I was watching Ren & Stimpy when I was way too young to watch Ren & Stimpy. And Rocko's! And I would imitate those voices. When I got a chance to audition, I realized pretty quickly that this opportunity had less to do with me, and more to do with the character.

I would say maybe that's my advice. Recognize that any opportunity you get, you're trying to be a character. You're trying to project yourself as that character. And if someone doesn't want it, that doesn't mean you did a bad job or you failed, it just means that wasn't what they were looking for.

So keep working! And keep trying! Because this business is hard and weird. And there are no promises. For me, this was my first voice audition.

Wow, really?

Yeah! Which has been an incredible journey. Since my first voice audition, I've gotten to be the same guy for six years! Which is pretty nuts! You know, this is the anomaly. This is a crazy thing that doesn't happen to everyone. So recognize the process, and as long as you keep working — even if you're doing voices and sending them out to YouTube animators who need help — be involved in the community you want, as you can.

Here's something we're all curious about: What exactly did Snotlout say to Astrid this season in "Snotlout's Angels"?

Oh boy, my guess would be something about Hiccup's leg. I would say it had less to do with her, and more to do with who she likes. I think she can take any amount of BS from Snotlout, but I think he really knows how to push her buttons — and that's with Hiccup!

Thanks a lot for talking with us! We're huge fans of the show, and of Snotlout! And we can't wait to see what will happen in the next season!

Yeah, it's going to be crazy! Thanks for watching, and…

Snotlout, Snotlout, oi, oi, oi!

Thanks again to Zack Pearlman for talking about about his experiences on the show, showing us the mind behind the dragon rider, and giving Berk's Grapevine the honor of receiving an oi, oi, oi!


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