Jacob Hopkins chats about his varied acting career, across Film, TV, animation and anime! You may recognise Jacob from ABC’s The Goldbergs, where he recurs as Chad Kremp. Or, his many anime projects such as To Your Eternity or The Prince of Tennis, to name a few.
At only 20 years old, Jacob Hopkins has already worked on a wide variety of projects. Fans of ABC’s The Goldbergs may recognise Jacob as ‘Chad Kremp’, best friend to focal character Adam (Sean Giambrone). Jacob’s other TV appearances include hit series such as True Blood and How I Met Your Mother. Feature film roles include 2011’s Priest, opposite Paul Bettany.
However, Jacob is also a prolific voice actor, particularly in anime. From 2014-2017, he voiced the title character on the hit Cartoon Network series The Amazing World of Gumball. Jacob has also lent his voice to various anime series, such as Treble Nine, The Prince of Tennis and To Your Eternity.
Read on for Jacob’s interview with Courageous Nerd. You can also watch the video version on our channel linked below.
You’ve done quite a lot at a young age. For example, working on a wide variety of projects such as The Goldbergs, True Blood and The Amazing World Of Gumball, to name a few. What first started your interest in acting?
Jacob Hopkins: Well, there really wasn’t a deep interest. I started when I was 4 or 5 years old. My Dad was an actor, so that’s how I kind of fell into it. One day, we were running errands and he stopped by his agency. They took an interest in me.
I had no idea what it was. They asked if I wanted to act, and I was like, “Yeah, what’s acting?” I was signed on and I’ve been doing it for 15 years now. [I’m] 20 now, so it’s been a while. The interest has definitely grown now, where I’m like, “This is what I want to do.”
You voiced the title character on the Amazing World of Gumball. Overall, how was the experience of stepping into the lead role?
Jacob Hopkins: Funnily enough, I was a huge fan of the show before I stepped into it. I think I started watching when I was 9 years old; I was 11 when I first started voice acting. I hadn’t done any voice acting prior, it was purely theatrical on-camera work.
Around age 11, I signed on with a voiceover agent. My very first audition and role that I booked was Gumball. Pretty crazy to say out loud. It was a very interesting process, very hard.
They took an interest in me when I sent my audition. Like, “alright, this kid might be the one. We’re not sure if he’s quite ready for it though. We’ll put him through a series of tests.”
For 2-3 months, I went into the studio to record snippets of episodes, whole episodes, episodes that hadn’t been released yet. So, they were just scripts that hadn’t been animated or recorded. A couple were very early episodes that I would one day record.
I also had to train myself. I’d been acting for 6 years at that point, so I already had that under my belt. I had to learn voiceover, a completely different ballpark. You’re not on camera, there’s no camera to pick up your body language or facial expressions.
I had to learn the technical aspects of voiceover and train my voice to sustain long recording sessions. Gumball was super hyperactive; he yells a lot and talks really fast. He’s got a ton of energy and I had to build up that stamina.
I learned everything I needed to know about voice acting from that show. It was sort of like a cram session, where I had to learn everything. 4 years of doing it really smoothed out my skills. I view it as an amazing opportunity.
Tae-Kwon-Do is another passion of yours, being a three-time black belt. How big of a role have martial arts played in your life?
Jacob Hopkins: Unfortunately, I haven’t had the ability to use my martial arts in anything live-action. I want to, though. Cross my fingers for something.
It has taught me a lot of important values, just in everyday life. I could use it in my career too and I do. It’s really taught me to humble myself. I can’t tell you how many times over the years, where I’ve gotten my butt handed to me.
There have been times where I’ve definitely won, but a lot of times where I’ve been absolutely mopped. It’s really humbling to think, “I’m not the best, there’s always going to be someone better.” That’s okay, it gives me the opportunity to work on myself better and reach that level.
Once I get to that level, there’s going to be someone else better than that. It’s a continuous part of growth. That can be viewed in any career. I feel that’s a really important lesson to learn. I’ve definitely been incorporating that in my everyday life.
Having accumulated a long list of credits across many genres, what do you enjoy about moving on from one project to the next?
Jacob Hopkins: I hear a lot of people in the industry get severe burnout. They’re glad to move on, but that it totally not me. I get really attached to the characters.
When I was 14, I remember when Gumball was coming to an end for me. I didn’t ever really think it was going to end, for some reason. It totally was, because I’m growing up. At the time, it was really hard, after 4 years.
I was like, “It’s bittersweet that it’s coming to an end. I get to move on to other characters and explore them.” You know, I would’ve loved to stay Gumball and not do anything else. Looking back, that’s really not the most healthy thing for an actor.
What I crave is exploration. I really like to explore different characters and different layers. Shortly after Gumball, I moved onto Dragons: Rescue Riders. After that, I finally got into anime. To Your Eternity, Tribe Nine… I’ve just announced that I’m voicing Code in Boruto and Makoto Katai in Komi Can’t Communicate.
I’m glad I’ve been looking up, that’s what I’ve been looking for. It’s a really fun experience.
In your first film Priest – you worked with cast members including Paul Bettany, Stephen Moyer, Karl Urban and Lily Collins. To what extent has that experience been a foundation for your later career?
Jacob Hopkins: I was 7 or 8, no idea who Paul Bettany was. Didn’t even know what I was walking into, completely unaware. Funny enough, I actually worked with Stephen Moyer, 3 years later on True Blood. We didn’t have any scenes together in Priest, but we knew we both worked on that movie. That was fun, working with him for the first time.
Some of your other films include Dreamworks’ Dragons: Rescue Riders and its sequel, spin-offs of How To Train Your Dragon. You also featured in Middle School: Worst Years Of My Life, alongside Griffin Gluck and Lauren Graham. As you were older, how was working on these projects?
Jacob Hopkins: With Middle School, I hadn’t read the books when I was cast. I started to while I was working on the movie. I played Miller the Killer, the bully, essentially. A horrible, irredeemable person in the books. He’s much better in the movie.
Rescue Riders was totally a dream come true. I grew up reading all the How To Train Your Dragon books. Still love them to this day, huge fan. Being in that world is super cool. That was a really fun character to play, too.
Chad Kremp, your character on The Goldbergs was inspired by a real-life person. Does that affect how you play the role?
Jacob Hopkins: It definitely does. It’s weird to copy the real person to a tee, you kind of have to put your own spin on it. I’ve actually met the real Chad Kremp many, many times. He plays my Dad [on The Goldbergs], so I hope I stay true to him. Basically, he’s just like… Chad’s going to listen to this and hate me.
Chad is your classic boy-next-door, super kind and charming. He’s very sweet, just a stand-up guy, he’s like the ‘straight man’. You know, Adam is just the dork, the lovable goof. Always getting into all kinds of trouble. Chad has to be the one like, “Alright, listen, maybe this isn’t such a good idea.” Then, he kind of gets caught up in it anyway, because it’s fun.
So, that was basically their childhood and we get to play that. One of my favourite things though is that whenever they have a ‘Chadam’ episode (Chad and Adam), they do a tag at the end. It shows a side-by-side comparison of the movies they made on a camcorder in the 80s. We act them out, so, those are really fun.
In recent years, you have also made the leap to anime and manga. Some projects include Tribe Nine and The Prince Of Tennis. Do any projects stand out in particular for you?
Jacob Hopkins: I think The Prince Of Tennis will definitely stand out to me, for years to come. I did know this while auditioning, the anime’s actually older than me. It is the longest-running sports show in anime. That’s definitely something that’s going to stay with me. We’re not even a quarter done, with the original series. Now, we’re doing a new series, it’s the U-17 World Cup. So, that’s really fun.
I feel like To Your Eternity will always resonate with me, I voiced Fushi in that. That was the first anime that I actually booked. I remember last year, 2021, that’s when I started auditioning for anime. It took 6 months of just auditioning but after that, I got Fushi. For those who haven’t watched that show, it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. That’s a tragedy, it won Best Drama at the Crunchyroll Awards. It’s heart-wrenching and so sad, but it’s got so many good moments in it, too.
The show really reminds you that we’re not going to live forever. You never know how much time you have, with the people you love. That really resonates with me in my personal life. I’ve gone through some stuff, we all have. Specifically, that message is so beautiful for me, personally, to play. I’m really fortunate and grateful that I have.
We’re coming back for a second season this Fall. It is Fall! We’re going into September, so it should be soon. I don’t know exactly when, but it’s this Fall, this year, for sure. Fushi’s such a great character, he’s always going to be my favourite.
You also have a strong social media following, with 45,000 Instagram followers and 11,000 Twitter followers. How does having such a large online platform tie into your acting career?
Jacob Hopkins: It’s definitely a way to create a more deeply knitted fan base. Before Social Media, there was definitely huge fanbases for A-List actors, voice actors, cartoons and stuff. Social Media gives people the chance to interact with them. Keep up on their daily career. What their working on, what their next project is.
I feel like that helped grow my career in the voiceover world. Actually, I booked a couple because of a demo I put out on Twitter. It helps branch out, networking. Also, just creating that fanbase. They’re going to be with you for a long, long time. You get to interact with them and that’s really cool. It’s really cool that people care that much. Yeah, it’s awesome, I love it.
Aside from acting, you also serve as a Celebrity Ambassador for the Jonathan Foundation. Could you explain what this entails, to anyone who may be unfamiliar?
Jacob Hopkins: The Jonathan Foundation is an incredible organisation. It’s led by Raja Marhaba, the founder. What she and her team do, essentially is get the proper IEPs (Individual Education Plans) for people with learning disabilities or neurological disorders. Anything that would hinder their education.
I remember hearing a story, told by the Foundation, that there was a guy who had a sweat gland disorder. It affected his education, essentially. He couldn’t really stay in class to learn. They helped him get the proper assessments to develop an education plan that worked best for him. That’s what they do for all these children and young adults.
In a wider sense, what can people expect from Jacob Hopkins coming up in the near future? Are there any recent projects you’d like to highlight?
Jacob Hopkins: As I mentioned, we have a new instalment of The Prince of Tennis. It’s on Crunchyroll, the U-17 World Cup. I also mentioned that To Your Eternity Season 2 is coming out this Fall, very soon.
I was recently (yesterday) finally able to announce my involvement in Boruto; I voice Code, the next main antagonist. I’m really, really excited about that. He’s so evil, I’m looking forward to what we see him do. I believe you can get that on Amazon, as well as the boxset, number 13.
Literally, just today, I announced that I would be voicing Makoto Katai in Komi Can’t Communicate. I love the character. He’s basically a super tall, jacked guy that looks like a thug.
In reality, he just wants to look tough so no one makes fun of him. He wants to make friends, a total sweetheart. That’s really fun to play, it’s on Netflix. I believe the first episode came out today.
Thanks for taking the time, Jacob. Take care and stay safe!
Jacob Hopkins: Awesome, you as well. Thank you for having me.