To quote Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid, released on the PlayStation in 1998, “the reality is no match for the legend”. As it would happen, such philosophy applies to the man who uttered the line – almost. Although he provided the gravelly laryx of the iconic, All-American badass, fans might be surprised to discover a kindlier, more amiable soul behind their favourite gruff super-soldier/spy. (Which might have something to do with his Canadian/American dual citizenship). Although luckily for us, Mr. Hayter is much more welcoming of his fans when compared to his character. During FANEXPO Canada in Toronto, we had the chance to pick David’s brain about life after Metal Gear:
TYF: Being a Canadian talent at a Canadian convention; how do you feel when compared to attending American events?
David: It’s always nice to come home to the Canadians. We are a very nice people. I think for me, the big benefit is that I get to go to some of my favourite restaurants, I get to see my family and friends, so it’s always nice to come back to Toronto.
When working abroad, do you feel representative of Canada?
Absolutely. It’s hard, because the Americans don’t realize you’re Canadian. They just think you’re strange because you’re so polite. But I think it’s important to bring Canadian values to America, I think they could use it, particularly now. And I try to represent our country with dignity and honour. I had two uncles that were fighter pilots for the Canadian Air Forces. This country has given us a lot, so I like to represent.
You have a secondary Twitter for political discussion – what was your thought process for starting that up?
I am fairly passionate about politics – particularly American politics because they effect the world, and they’re really annoying. When I was a kid, Ronald Reagan was president and people said, “he’s great!”, and I thought he seemed crazy. So, I wanted to understand why people in America thought that way. Ever since then, I’ve been outraged. If you’re lucky enough to have a voice that people will listen to, then you have a responsibility to say what you think is right and what you think is wrong. That said, my main Twitter is for fans, it’s for people who enjoy my work as an entertainer and I don’t like to combine the two.
The Metal Gear fandom and gaming culture in general tend to be pretty macho – do you think that some of your fans might be surprised at what you have to say?
Yeah, some of them are. Some of them are pretty right-wing and supportive of the military. People ask me, “How can you be Snake in Metal Gear and be anti-war?” – and I mean, the games are anti-war. Snake never has a good time, they’re always lying to him, and the war is never for any good reason. But, people take from the games what they want to take from them – so some people are surprised, but I think it’s true to the character. I’m not trying to dog anybody in a political sense, I really just want to present ideas that are hopefully positive and helpful for the world, and if that gets any brushback then so be it.
What are you working on right now?
I recorded the first chapter of The Long Dark, which is very cool. I have a couple of video games that I’m talking to producers about, and a couple of TV projects that I’m developing as a writer, but it’s all secret.
Would you want to make a return to comic book films?
Yeah, I love them. I’ve been lucky enough to work on some of the great ones. I would want it to be something interesting, and something cool. Comic books got me where I am today, so I love that area.
Do you have a dream project?
It’s kinda hard to say it, because when you say it, it becomes a “thing”. But, I always wanted to adapt Sandman. I’ve talked to Neil Gaiman about it – he didn’t seem to want me to do it, but I do love that series and hope it gets made.
Any updates on the voice actors strike?
There’s only about 6 or 7 companies that haven’t signed the current agreement. Hopefully they’ll get it resolved fairly soon, they’ve asked actors to come back to the table so I take it as a good sign.
What’s your favourite version of Snake to play?
I think I’m the closest to Solid Snake because he was the first. But then, in Snake Eater it was fun to play Big Boss at the beginning of his career. He was young, and still believed in things.
How did Snake’s Ford Focus commercial happen?
My agent got a call from Ford – I don’t do commercials, because I don’t like selling people’s stuff. But it turned out the guys directing the commercial were fans and they really wanted to work with me. I went in and did it, and then they said, “Hey, if we did one as Snake, would you do it?” I’m like, “I’ll do it, but I don’t know if Konami will let you.” They called Konami, who said okay. So then, I was kinda stuck. Paul Eiding came in as well and we had a blast. It might be stupid or selling out, but it has a certain nostalgia value and it was fun to do.
The Ford Focus commercial from spring of 2016, featuring the most recent (and possibly final) Snake performance done by Hayter in a professional capacity. (Still better than the Snake Eater Pachinko Machine Remake, if we’re being honest.)