Alumni Advice: Sam Witwer (Class of 1996)

Voice actor for the Star Wars franchise


Sith Lord Sam: Posing for the camera, South alumnus Sam Witwer stands next to a figurine of Darth Maul from the Star Wars movie franchise. Witwer voices this character in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Photo courtesy of Sam Witwer

Anne Ribordy, Managing Editor

Despite having learned the Shakespeare monologue the morning of his audition at The Juilliard School, South alumnus Sam Witwer was one of the most relaxed people there. He had long hair, ripped jeans and no expectations.

Before Witwer was accepted into Juilliard, Beth Barber, former South Drama Teacher, took notice of his talent.

“[Barber] made sure to tell me that she felt I could do this professionally,” Witwer said. “I didn’t know what that meant. I had no idea. I really was skeptical of her opinion, but she made sure to sit me down and tell me that quite a few times.”

Witwer explained that he was heavily involved in the Fine Arts Department during his time at South, having been in V-Show, Comedy Troupe, Paradox, plays and musicals.

“Teachers like Barber, Gael Routenberg, [former English teacher], and Jim Shellard, [former student activities coordinator], took an interest in me and understood that maybe I was a little bit different,” Witwer said. “I had very specific interests and they didn’t belittle me because of it, they just rolled with it. They tried to figure out ways to get me engaged in terms of school stuff.”

After Witwer’s time at South and Juilliard, he sought film and TV training before moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting. After moving to LA, Witwer said one of his friends, who was working at LucasArts–the video game development group that makes the Star Wars games–told him that the concept art for a Star Wars character looked just like him. When Witwer heard this, he auditioned for the role of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, Starkiller, in the game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, and ended up getting it because of his Star Wars knowledge.

“[During the audition,] I was very tense in my meditation, and at some point the director said ‘This is a scene about meditation, why are you so tense?’ And I said, ‘Because he is Sith training, he doesn’t know how to meditate, this is his idea of meditation.’ I was told later that that was the moment I had the role.”

Witwer stated that one Star Wars role led to another and now he has voice credits in a variety of Star Wars video games, TV episodes and movies. He voices an assortment of characters in the Star Wars franchise, but one of his most popular roles is Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. He also has acting credits in shows like Riverdale and Supergirl.

Witwer’s advice would be to make everything you do unique, distinct and something other people can recognize.

“Your best asset, your greatest strength is you,” Witwer said. “Don’t lose what makes you, you because that’s ultimately your best chance for success.”