Life takes you in all directions – in Kieran Regan’s case, he started acting in the middle of his studies. Now he’s the voice of a beloved detective in Genshin Impact, Shikanoin Heizou. But he needed a little push before diving deep into the industry.
The boost that launched his career
Image via Kieran Regan
That boost that ignited Regan’s career came from her teacher, David Ruis. Originally, Regan was going to be a graphic designer and photographer, and it was his bachelor’s degree, but Ruis encouraged Regan to audition because he was good at public speaking. Regan proceeded and during the first audition he admitted that he did not remember what happened during this one.
“I’ve never auditioned for anything in my life before,” Regan said. “I didn’t know it was possible to audition because I thought you had to have a degree in acting.”
Regan began to fall in love with the medium. “From there it was kind of a whirlwind of trying to do as much acting as I could, before I left school or graduated,” he said, explaining that he he only had a year and a half of college left. In fact, he was so dedicated that he made the puppets that were used in the show, thanks to his knowledge of graphic design.
Although Regan didn’t major in drama, he made an impact as he was cast in a play called The Christians which featured only five actors. About 70 people auditioned for the roles. In addition, he had to perform several ten-minute monologues, which made his part very difficult to complete.
COVID changed Regan’s trajectory
Screenshot via Critical Role YouTube channel
But then COVID hit. As he began his work on As you like it, the theater has closed. He needed a new way to show his love of acting.
“It was really stressful because I just found this thing,” he said. “Why do I have to give up now?” He didn’t give up, however. Instead, he found a new avenue in his career, voice acting, through the popular J&D series Critical role.
Voice actors like Matthew Mercer (Personas 5) and Laura Bailey (Fire Emblem: Awakening) participate in the popular streaming show, and Regan knew the industry from their series of interviews Between the sheets.
Ready and inspired, Regan built a recording booth out of his coat closet and placed his monitors, computer and, most importantly, his microphone there. “My joke was that I always had to stay skinny or I wouldn’t go,” the voice actor said. In fact, he was able to buy a really good microphone with his pandemic stimulus check, which turned out to be a great investment.
When he started his voice acting career, the cops were called to his apartment due to his believable performance. “Someone thought I was dying,” Regan said.
He was soon fired from his day job at a print shop after the Black Lives Matter movement faltered, then realized that voice acting could be his main job, not just a dream. He auditioned for two roles and won them both – one was for an audiobook, which paid that month’s rent, and a role in a game which required him to have a New Zealand accent. That’s when the ball started rolling.
He kept getting audiobook storytelling gigs to make ends meet, and then he got a call from his agent. “Hey, when are you moving to LA?” Bigger studio roles were available in that Californian city, so he left Kansas and moved to Los Angeles.
A perfect role in Genshin Impact
Screenshot via Genshin Impact YouTube channel
At this point, the Genshin Impact role came. He received an audition opportunity in his inbox, and when he first took a look at the art, he knew the game he was hopefully about to work on.
Regan found all the Genshin Impact voice lines on a YouTube channel and started analyzing it. He heard the pacing, game sound, mood, and personality delivered through every contextual line under the character profiles. Regan also received the Chinese actor’s lines for Heizou, and he was surprised at how “suspiciously close” it was to his voice.
“In my audition, I very specifically used breaths at certain points in the line to convey thought and rhythm,” Regan said. “And then I tripped every once in a while just in case something like, caught, you know, Heizou off guard.” The audition was cleverly designed by the voice actor, and Regan was eventually given the role of Heizou.
As Regan plays this role, he considers the sound people make when they think. “Your voice should almost go inward,” he explains.
“Because Heizou is a detective, he often thinks of clues, and he doesn’t talk to anyone else; he talks to himself as he figures it all out in his head,” Regan said. “And then once he gets it he’s like ‘AH, I got it’, you know what I mean?”
Heizou is not particularly a social butterfly. Instead, Regan sees him as someone dedicated to his intuition. His intuition, according to the voice actor, “could lead them down a path that no one else has thought of.” However, it can also bite him socially, as Regan says “he abandons all his detective brothers and [sends] a bad reputation with the general public.” Heizou apparently cannot be controlled by the Chief Detective, similar to how Sherlock Holmes compulsively searches for clues, despite the social repercussions.
When asked how Regan relates to Heizou, he says they are both curious about the world around them. He explains that when Heizou sees something different or weird, he has a hunch to investigate it. Meanwhile, Regan draws her curiosity from her graphic design and photography. “When I was doing that, you had to be curious,” he said. “You have to be able to see things in a different way.”
He later said, “I mean, I wouldn’t be voiceover if I wasn’t curious.”
Thousands of fans all of a sudden and being an LGBTQ+ actor
Screenshot via Genshin Impact YouTube channel
This curiosity has dramatically accelerated his career in recent months. For example, his Twitter page has grown from around 800 followers to nearly 17,000 since he was announced as the voice of Heizou. It has been positive and negative for Regan.
“It’s very stressful. I mean, someone, like, found my phone number,” Regan said. Not knowing how popular he would become on Twitter, he posted his photograph online with a phone number attached. A Genshin Impact fan found him and started texting him. Others are happy that there is LGBTQ+ representation in the cast of Genshin Impact, and it didn’t strike Regan’s mind.
However, being an LGBTQ+ actor has its pros and cons. On the positive side, it gives Regan roles that others don’t have access to because casting directors don’t want straight people auditioning for gay people, he says. “But it also takes me away from certain roles, you know what I mean?” said Regan. “It’s like, oh, he’s gay, he didn’t have that experience.”
“If you pitch me on a project, I’m going to bring my lived experience as a gay person into the role,” Regan explained. “If I give any advice for loving new voice actors, it’s to live as much as possible because it’s […] how you find new emotions.” He says if you feel authentic, you’ll tell a better story.
For example, Regan says he was able to use his experience climbing through the mountains of rural Idaho and imagine the world of Genshin Impact through this lens. He uses it to boost his performance.
Despite the strange text encounter with a fan, Regan says he appreciates the Genshin Impact the community a lot. “The fanbase has been so kind and generous to me,” Regan said. He even said they were “almost protective” of him, especially after a fan found his phone number.
“It’s been nothing but praise and support and love and at a time when I needed it,” Regan said. “I’m so grateful.”
If you get Heizou under the Wish system, you’ll want to level him up to make this hero stronger. To do this, you will need to find Runic Fangs and Onikabuto as resources. We’ve covered their exact locations on GGRecon.