Home Interview: Frieren’s Mallorie Rodak Embraces All Your Funny Nicknames & ‘Special’ Experience As MC

Interview: Frieren’s Mallorie Rodak Embraces All Your Funny Nicknames & ‘Special’ Experience As MC

Voice actor Mallorie Rodak was dubbed many things as she charmed audiences in the English version of Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End: “Talented,” “Amazing,” but also “Mother” — a lot of “Mother.” She embraces them all, taking Anime Corner on a journey that in elf years may not seem long, but for humans, was years in the making.

From her earliest beginnings to voicing the lead character in one of the decade’s standout titles, Rodak talks about her preparation for the role, the special experience as Frieren, and connecting with fans worldwide — through both the anime and her first overseas convention at MCM Comic Con London this May.

Q: Can you walk us through your voice acting journey, and how you ended up working on anime dub projects?

Rodak: Yes! If we’re really going back to the beginning, it actually started way back when I was a toddler. My family tells me these stories about when I was little, and while other toddlers were sort of babbling incoherent nonsense, I would speak very precisely and with crisp diction. I’ve seen it in our family videos, it’s so funny to see and imagine the career I have now.

Fast forward to the fourth grade, I remember reading aloud to my class, and afterward, my teacher Mrs. Donahue told my parents, “Mallorie should read books on tape!” (That’s “audiobooks” for all you Gen Zers.)
At that time I started training my voice through singing: I sang in choirs, musical theater, and opera all the way up to university graduation. That, coupled with college theater training with an ex-Broadway Tony nominee, set the foundation for an acting career.

I actually started in commercial voiceover, which I love and still do regularly. (Chances are you’ve heard my Frieren voice in a commercial at some point.) I tried to get in at Funimation (Crunchyroll’s predecessor) with a cold email, but it wasn’t until four years later that I finally got my first anime audition. And hundreds of roles later, the role of Frieren in Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End.

Q: Were you familiar with the Frieren series before you got the role as the titular character?

Rodak: I didn’t know about Frieren before I got the role, but I immediately started watching YouTube videos and Googling information about the manga to find out more. I got the sense that it would be huge, but I never could have predicted just how much the series would impact people.

Also read:
“The Future of Fantasy”: Frieren Gets Endorsed by One of India’s Biggest Newspapers

Q: What kind of preparations did you make to be able to play her more “accurately”? Did you watch the original Japanese dub? Is that something you do when it comes to your roles?

Rodak: Yes, I definitely watched the Japanese performances, and I’m absolutely in awe of Atsumi Tanezaki and her incredible performance. I also started reading the manga. Frieren Fridays become so special to me because I could watch the episode, go online and see fans’ reactions, and then go in to record the next week. That’s when the series started becoming more than just a show. It really became a community of people who connected with the characters and the story. And the memes, of course.

Q: Are there any standout moments you had when you voiced Frieren? (Ie. Perhaps a moment you truly related to the character herself, a cool line that you liked that they said, etc.) If so, what were they and why did they stand out for you?

Rodak: The internet’s reaction to the “Aura, k*ll yourself” line was so unexpected and wonderful. It was a one-take line, guest directed that day by the English voice actor for Fern, Jill Harris, so that was really special. There are so many fans that will come up to me and say, “I saw that clip online and I loved it so much, I started watching the show.” And people will ask for me to sign the line on prints, which makes me laugh.

Q: Would you say that you and Frieren have something in common? Did you use this to your advantage while coming up with her voice and how?

Rodak: I think what’s so wonderful about the character of Frieren is how relatable she is, even though she’s an elf who’s a thousand years old. I relate to Frieren most when she’s sleepy because I am also very sleepy. I love to sleep for eleven, even twelve hours, and it’s hard to get me up in the mornings, so it was so fun recording all those scenes.

I also relate to Frieren and her penchant for collecting trinkets and spells. She’s just like me for real!

Disclaimer: Anime Corner takes no responsibility for this meme. This was all Rodak. Apologies to all triggered dogs.

Q: It’s worth noting that many anime fans are praising your performance as Frieren. What were your initial reactions to this, and additionally being seen as “Mother?

Rodak: I am so honored that my performance resonates with fans. With a series like this where the fandom got so big, I was nervous to hear the fans’ reactions each Frieren Friday. It’s important for me to do right by the fans, and I was so happy to see all the positive reactions.
As for the nicknames, Mother, Mommy, Granny Elf, I’m here for all of it.

Q: If there is another character that you would like to voice in the series aside from Frieren, who would it be and why?

Rodak: I would like to voice Denken, because he’s one of my favorite characters. I’ll start working on my Denken voice, but I’ll already tell you that I can’t beat Ben Phillips’s stellar performance.

Q: Frieren was chosen as the Best New Anime by Anime Corner fans in 2023. What do you think makes it so popular?

Rodak: I think Frieren is a different kind of anime and it surprised a lot of people. The story is set after the big boss fight, and it deals with topics like discovering your humanity, love and grief, and the passage of time. People can really relate to the characters. Plus, the production is fantastic, from Madhouse’s animation to Evan Call’s score.

Also read:
Interview: Evan Call on His Beginnings, Composing Anime Music and Influences

Q: Is Frieren something you would enjoy or do you usually opt for other genres?

Rodak: I genuinely love the series, and I’m pinching myself that I get to voice the titular role of one of my favorite anime series of all time. I’m so grateful that Frieren came into my life, at a time when I was dealing with my own grief from death and loss.

I’m a big fantasy fan, so the story really appealed to me. I saw an article that described Frieren as if “Ghibli adapted Tolkien,” and as a Lord of the Rings and Miyazaki fan, I like this description.

Q: You’re headed to MCM Comic Con this year. What was it about the event that attracted you?

Rodak: MCM Comic Con London is my first public appearance outside of the US! I am so excited to meet UK fans and talk about Frieren. And the guest list is stacked: it’s an honor to be among them.

Q: What can we expect from you over the three days?

Rodak: Jordan Dash Cruz (English voice of Stark) and I have a Frieren panel on Saturday at 4:15 PM on the live stage and I’m excited to share more about our experience recording the show. I’ll also be at my booth all three days, selling prints, stickers, and more.

Q: Is there anything in London or the U.K. that you’re excited to see?

Rodak: We have to go to the Blue Orchid in Romford for some “Tuesday night Choynese” simply because of this Big John video. The food looks so delicious and maybe I’ll run into Big John while we’re there. Here’s what we’re ordering. 

I’m excited to check out some museums and hopefully see a show or two while we’re here, as well.

Q: Do you have any tips for those who are interested in getting into voice acting for anime, movies, etc.?

Rodak: The biggest lesson I’ve learned is patience. It took four years from first contact with Funimation to booking my first anime role, and then it took another ten years for me to book a role like Frieren that has exposed my voice and career to a broader audience.

In an age where social media makes everything feel instantaneous, keep hustling and refining your craft, and most importantly, believing in yourself. And remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination. As Frieren said, “The greatest joy of magic lies in searching for it.”

Also read:
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Final Episode – Until We Meet Again

We’d like to thank Mallorie Rodak for sharing her time with us and her amazing answers (plus all the memes she dotted throughout). Readers can follow her journey Beyond Journey’s End on X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram. We’re looking forward to her next title!

Questions prepared by: Teddy Cambosa, Tamara Lazic, Grant Wolfgramm, Chike Nwaenie, Carla Carreon
© Yamada Kanehito, Abe Tsukasa / Shogakukan / “Sousou no Frieren” Production Committee

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