FanExpo 2016: Why We Love David Hayter

Kept you waiting, huh?

It’s not just a line from the legendary Solid Snake, but also the sentiment of gamers at this years’ FanExpo as, at long last, the con secured the characters equally-legendary voice actor David Hayter as a guest.

We’ve been lucky enough to catch up with him before when he in town for the Toronto After Dark Film Festival with his film Wolves. Since then, he’s kept himself busy with film and TV projects. A man who loves to work, he boasts writing and directing credits in addition to his voice work. Non-gamers may know him from penning the first 2 X-Men films and the controversial Watchmen adaptation.

Having arrived at the convention from a film shoot and apparently working on two and a half hours of sleep, his Q&A panel was decidedly and hilariously unfiltered.

He began by talking about how his playing Snake began and ended.

“At the time I had a terrible manager, he borrowed money from me for cocaine. I was bothering him about never getting me auditions so he sent me to one for a game…” no points, of course, for guessing which one. It was a week later that friend, Metal Gear co-star and in his words, “probably the best voice actor ever” Jennifer Hale called him saying, “Guess whose gonna make some money?”

The end of David’s portrayal of Snake in various iterations came with recasting in Metal Gear Solid V, which he didn’t let himself get torn up over: “Kojima just went Hollywood,” he explained. Not that he’s completely above shade, though, since he gladly boasts to having “played and loved every Metal Gear Solid game that I’m part of.”

The separation from the MGS series did, at least, give him the chance to work on his own projects, mentioning a movie with Danny Glover, a “really cool film coming in 2018 I’m not allowed to mention”, and a television series with John Carpenter. (Whom, incidentally,  is very aware of Solid Snake’s similarities to Kurt Russell’s Plissken).

So, who is he outside of Snake? No one, he claims. A writer who has to deal with executives. “Y’know when you see a comic book movie and there’s changes that piss you off? Those are the people I deal with.” Which may be how he landed his screenwriting job on X-Men: “I was friends with Bryan Singer and he had me re-write so much that I ended up with a sole writing credit.”

For Marvel fans out there pining for a Black Widow movie, David reminisced on the script he prepared for Marvel in the mid-2000s. The project was, in fact, why his newborn daughter was named Natasha. However, because of the influx of female solo-led action movies flopping (Aeon Flux, Halle Barrie’s Catwoman) the idea was killed in pre-production. Hopefully we can re-light those #WeWantWidow fires soon, huh Dave?

Amongst his more infamous adaptations is Watchmen, for which he wrote a script that Alan Moore didn’t hate: “I didn’t want to change things. But I did. I changed the end, I know. Alan Moore is challenging. A film just has less time than a book and you figure out what to hold onto, what’s essential.”

His advice on getting into acting and writing?
“Don’t,  I’m competitive.”

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