Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I moved to Canada from Greece when I was about 3 years old. I grew up primarily in the Canadian Rockies, the East Kootenays, and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. My father still lives in Greece and I would visit him in the summers growing up, so I always felt like kind of a kid caught between two worlds. I moved to Vancouver to pursue a professional career in acting at nineteen and have made a career in theatre, musical theatre, classical, film, television, voice-over in animation and commercial advertising, as well as video games. So, I guess I kind of like acting.
At nine years old, you started performing with the Rocky Mountain Shakespeare Company. Is it safe to say an acting career was always in your sights?
ALWAYS! I fell in love with acting at seven! I just loved the ability to use my body entertain and give people something. I love making people laugh or cry. Something about being able to relate to people through stories and characters and touch their lives and hopefully teach or influence them toward insight and human awareness is always a joy for me. I’ve grown a lot over the years, and the one thing that has always stayed true is ‘the joy of giving something for others to enjoy.’
You performed in many stage productions such as West Side Story and Sweeney Todd. What did you learn from those roles and how did that translate into your film and television career?
I have always learned something from every role and every production I’ve worked on. West Side Story taught me the real lesson of “Break a leg”. I actually dislocated my knee at my audition…so I guess I took the saying a little too seriously! I love musicals; they have always a deep place in my heart. Singing is a joy, and finding a moment in life when you can’t help but erupt into song is the whole reason a musical exists to me. They made me a rich actor and musical theatre actors are a breed of their own…I love them.
How did you get your start doing video game motion capture and voice work?
I booked my first audition for EA about 15 years ago for Lord of The Rings: The Third Age. I guess I was one of the few actors who came in and was able to play a dwarf convincingly! It was my first motion-capture audition, and that job became the beginning of a new career path I’d never imagined getting into. I’ve been fortunate that I was good at physical and vocal manipulation and people continued to hire me for more jobs. Voice work was another lucky moment, I booked my very first voice audition for a cartoon called “Trollz”, I had never even been in front of a microphone before, so I had a lot to learn very fast! After many years of working on my voice, it has become a much more full-time profession and passion of mine. I love all the sounds that your body can make and I’m always fascinated and learning more.
Talk to us about your character Alexios in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
Alexios is a badass Mercenary/Misthios with a heart of gold. He is not the smartest guy out there, due to being banished from his Spartan lands at the age of six and brought up amongst thugs and thieves, but he is very street smart and witty. He’s been one of my favourite character’s I’ve ever had the privilege to play. He’s a little rough around the edges and slightly brash and arrogant, but once you get to know him you can’t help but want him as your best friend.
Do you play a lot of the games you do voice work and motion capture for?
Sadly no. I would love too, but I have a kid now and I’m working at being a present dad when I am home so I haven’t had the time to play games like I used to. I just watch others play me and enjoy the YouTube clips! Maybe this game I’ll finally get some time to sit down and play a few hours of the 100+ hours needed!
What are some of the similarities and differences between doing video game work versus television and movie productions?
It is more physical. You have to know how to use your body, you can’t just rely on your face and looks and stand in front of a camera. You have to use your whole instrument. It’s like puppetry of the body, and you have to get comfortable spending all day in a super tight fitting body suit with reflective balls all over it! Apart from that, the acting is the same. Build a character, help tell a story as truthfully as possible and connect with your scene partners. It’s just in the way you craft your scenes that involve a bit more physicality and blocking.
What’s your favourite project that you’ve worked on so far?
This one. Before this was probably an adaptation of Herman Hesse’s classic novel Siddhartha. I was the co-director and also an actor in a beautiful production done at the Sun Yat Sen Gardens in Vancouver BC. It involved so many amazing artists and performers, yogis and musicians. It was a real art piece and one done for the right reasons. It was almost three hours long and involved moving an audience across fifteen different stages. It was a beast. But one no one who saw it would ever forget.
You run an acting group called The Actor’s Chop Shop. Tell us a little bit about that.
One of my pride and joys! Six years ago a few friends of mine got together at a former UVIC professor’s (Scott Malcolm) garage, which was converted into a little studio. He had an old video mixing board and some old video cameras, and we started doing scenes from movies while two of us acted as camera operators and another worked on the switcher as a live editor. When the actors were done we’d watch the edited scene and then give each other notes and do it again. We did this weekly and slowly added more actors to the group. After a couple years of this, we joined forces with an acting school I had taught at, Shoreline Studio’s in Vancouver, and we opened classes to teach this method of training. It is amazing, and something I am so proud of. It has turned some good actors into great actors for film and television.
What’s next for your career?
Man…wouldn’t I like to know! Seriously though, I am always writing or working on something. I am writing producing some small films at the moment and working towards making some features. I would like to make some ancient Greek Epics very similar to something like this game. So if there are any bold film studios or Producers out there wanting to do something never done before let me know, cause I have some stories for you.
What advice would you give to aspiring entertainers?
You are you. Get over it and get into it (meaning your body, your mind, your soul) You are special, you are unique and you are more powerful than you’ll probably ever know. So if you have a dream, a vision or an idea towards something, grab it, hold onto it, believe it and run towards it with the absolute knowledge that it will come. Give your heart in life, it is okay to be vulnerable, it will make you strong. There is one thing I can promise you, you are going to die (at least physically), so you might as well die having lived.
What’s a day in your life like outside the entertainment industry?
Spending time with my wife and child. If I’m lucky, climbing a mountain, sitting on a beach, walking through the woods, and having great chats with my friends. I’m an outdoors kind of guy. If I’m camping, I’m happy.
Let the readers know where to find you online
Instagram – @michaelantonakos