Interview: Lucie PohlMarch 15, 2018
Lucie Pohl admittedly loves what she does, whether it’s acting, writing and performing her own solo comedy shows or doing voice work as Mercy on the hugely popular video game Overwatch. Recently we had a chance to talk with Lucie before her appearance in Toronto from March 16th-18th at Toronto Comic Con about her career, including the wonderful surprise that Overwatch turned out to be.
You come from a family with a long tradition of being entertainers or artists. Was it natural for you to follow in the family footsteps so to speak or did you initially want to do something else?
Lucie: It was natural to the point that I never had that thought that oh, this isn’t a plausible life, how can you live as an artist? I grew up around artists so I had that experience but I did get to a certain point where I realized that no matter how much groundwork my parents had done and no matter how much I wanted to follow in their footsteps, I still had to kind of make my own path. I had to face my own obstacles and failures and figure out my own way to get to where I want to be and do what I want to do. I think that took a while because it did come so naturally to me, the world I grew up in, it took a while to realize that I would have to carve out my own path no matter what, so yes and no.
So was it hard then, getting a start in this entertainment business?
Lucie: I think anything you do where you’re taking risks, you’re kind of pushing boundaries is always difficult so yeah, it was challenging. I started out when I was about fourteen doing short films, theater stuff and I always knew I wanted to be an actor and performer. I started studying acting in Germany after graduating high school in New York, I started working in TV and film and that kind of came very easily in the beginning, the TV and film work in Germany and getting into acting school, but then it kind of hit a point where I was only getting offered really stereotypical misogynistic parts and I wasn’t happy with that. I also didn’t want to be in Germany anymore so when I moved back to New York it became really difficult to find my footing in the industry. I waited tables for about seven years and I really felt I was banging my head against a brick wall, going out on random auditions, not really knowing if anything was going to pan out and I remember very distinctly having this moment where I thought wow, how am I ever going to get out of waiting tables and make a living out of what I really want to do? Then I actually started writing and performing my own material, my comedy shows, and that kind of changed my whole life and career and also gave me the sense of perspective that I can be in control of what I do. The opportunities that arose out of doing that changed everything but my attitude and outlook changed even more so yeah, it was a big turning point in my life.
Where did your love of comedy come from?
Lucie: That’s something I’ve always had since I was a little kid and honestly, I tried to fight it. When I was a little kid I hated it when someone laughed at me or things that I did, I would freak out, cry and scream which would make people laugh even more. I’ve always been a clown, it’s just the way I see things, I find humor in almost everything and anything, I find everyday situations hilarious, the awkwardness between people hilarious. When I moved to New York I couldn’t speak any English and back in Germany my parents wouldn’t let us watch a lot of TV but when we moved to New York my dad said watch TV so you can learn the language, so my sister and I would always watch Faulty Towers and that’s sort of how I learned English. Yeah, the humor is something that’s just in my blood, I can’t really explain where it comes from or when it started, it’s always been there.
How did the voice acting work come about and can you tell me how you landed the role of Mercy on Overwatch?
Lucie: Yeah, the voice acting came about pretty organically, it started with me just looking for a job. I did some voice work in Germany while I was studying, I was always good at doing voices of characters, so I did a few animation projects there, I dubbed Khloe Kardashian for a while in Keep up with the Kardashians, which was hilarious. When I moved back to New York I was just looking for a job and I started doing German language programs, where you sit in a booth and say vocabulary words with no information for eight hours, and then I just continued doing that and then found an agent for foreign language voice over work and it kind of just grew from there. The audition for Mercy came and I didn’t know what it was and I just got under my blanket in my bed, which was my sound booth at that point in time and I recorded the audition. It just said medical doctor, strong but empathetic, some in combat lines, some softer lines so I just kind of played around with it and then I got a call and went to the call back Andrea Toyias was patched in and we worked a bit on the character and I sort of left thinking well, you never know. I didn’t know what it was or how big it would be but I got the part and I remember Andrea saying in the first session, you realize this is going to be really big and of course I didn’t, as an actor you hear that a lot but obviously, in this case, it was true, the game has become so huge. It’s great to be a part of something where you can meet fans, especially the ones who talk about how Overwatch has helped them get through depression and social anxiety and so many obstacles in their lives, it’s pretty cool.
You’ve done acting, comedy tours, voice work. Do you have a favorite or do they all have their own individual charms?
Lucie: Yeah, they all have their own individual charms. I always say once you write your own material and then go in and do acting work, it sort of feels like a vacation. The greatest thing is if you have lots of different kinds of work, then everything kind of stays fresh and exciting. I’m getting more and more into the animation world with voice work, I’m continuing to write my own shows and perform them, I just had three shows here in L.A. and acting work is still going strong so yeah, it’s exciting and I love all of it.
In regards to stand-up comedy, what keeps you coming back because that is not an easy thing to do?
Lucie: The big thing is you get an instant reaction to your work. You get a thought, you write it down and the same night or the next night you can go up and try it out, see what the reaction is and if it works. You basically have to workshop your material in front of a live audience, which is very scary but also very thrilling and gratifying at the same time, if it works. There is definitely a thrill aspect to it and a little bit masochism.
Now you’re coming to Toronto this weekend for Toronto Comic Con. What is it about these conventions that you enjoy?
Lucie: Well that’s easy to answer, it’s meeting and talking to the fans. Obviously, the cosplayers are always amazing, what they do is mind-blowing, how much time they spend on their outfits, the detail, it’s amazing. Meeting the fans, hearing their individual stories is so special and exciting, that is definitely my favorite part of being at conventions. It’s kind of like being on another planet, people coming together to celebrate essentially stories made up by other people, I love how so many people get so enthusiastic about escaping into made-up worlds, I think that’s really awesome.
What projects do you have coming up next?
Lucie: I just got a pilot, I can’t say exactly what it is but it’s a comedy and that’s going to be exciting. I recorded some stuff but I can’t talk about that either, it’s annoying I have all these things and I can’t talk about them yet. In terms of live performances I have some shows coming up in New York, I’m attending conventions in Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. and some overseas so yeah, lots coming up.
I want to thank Lucie for taking the time to talk with us.