Fire Emblem Three Houses – Joe Zieja on Claude: ‘I didn’t really expect him to be an icon in the LGBT+ community’

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The voice behind Fire Emblem: Three Houses’ Claude, Joe Zieja answered our questions ranging from the game, his character, and the Fire Emblem community.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is still going strong even after being released a month ago. It has been the most successful launch in the United States and best digital launch in the franchise’s history! For Fire Emblem fanatics, casuals, and newcomers, this game is the definitive experience of what the series has to offer. To celebrate the one month anniversary of the game’s release, we are honored to have the one and only Joe Zieja, the voice of Claude for an interview.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

App Trigger (AT): First off, congratulations on getting the role of Claude!

Joe Zieja (JZ): Thanks!

AT: How would you describe the experience of voice acting for Claude, ranging from the audition process to now?

JZ: The audition process for Claude was actually pretty standard. I had worked with the studio previously on a couple of other small projects, and they called me in for the audition. I read for a lot of characters, not just Claude. I read for Dimitri, I read for Dedue, and I think I read for Ferdinand as well, if not more than that.

It was pretty simple; you walk in, you do your thing, and then they say, “Okay, thanks!” and then you leave. And then a couple of weeks later, they said, “Hey, you booked something for this game!” And I said, “Okay, great! Do you know which one it was?”

They’re like, “You picked Claude!” And I was like, “Okay, cool!” I knew that Claude was a main character; I just didn’t really quite know how big the game was. I’m not even sure if it was Fire Emblem right off the bat!

We started recording maybe a few weeks after that. I spent probably 40 hours in the booth total for the game. It was a lot of lines in the game. It was just a period of about 8 to 10 months, I think is how long I recorded. We’ve finished our last sessions sometime in the spring before the game came out.

AT: Before you became Claude, you have voiced two other characters in the mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes. What was it like to voice Canas from FE7 and Jamke from FE4?

JZ: I game a lot, but I don’t mobile game a whole lot. So I had no real context of what Fire Emblem Heroes was or what its fanbase is like or what the gameplay was even like before I went in to record it. The sessions for those, from what I remember, were pretty short. There’s only a small set of lines for each character so you’re kind of like in and out and it very quickly got filed away.

My brain was like, “Okay, that’s another video game session I did!” Because it was so short and they’re all basically tap-on-the-character lines. I don’t have too much of an interesting answer other than that I still haven’t played Heroes. I’ve had a lot of people be like, “Wait, you were Canas, and you were Jamke? That’s so cool!” I didn’t even know that people noticed prior to that!

AT: Since you used to be in the Air Force and went through military academy, how much of it does it remind you when voicing Claude and getting to learn about the game’s premise?

JZ: I’d say the experiences of Garreg Mach versus the United States Air Force Academy are wildly different. Garreg Mach feels a lot more like Hogwarts than it does the Air Force Academy!

It’s almost funny to me experiencing Garreg Mach and thinking of it as a military academy. It actually reminds me a lot of the Trails of Cold Steel academy where it just doesn’t seem quite serious enough to be an actual warfighting body. It’s a video game, and the personalities are different, and it’s a fantasy universe.

Those were probably my favorite support conversations just because of the way Claude and Lysithea’s relationship matured and got different over the course of the game.

AT: When it comes to support conversations, can you recall which one was fun to do with Claude?

JZ: I always liked the conversations I had with Lysithea. Those were probably my favorite support conversations just because of the way Claude and Lysithea’s relationship matured and got different over the course of the game.

From him sort of like ribbing her and making fun of her for being a little kid and stuff like that. These are two real people in a real situation, and I really enjoyed the support conversation between Claude and Lysithea a lot. My answer may change by the time I finish the game.

AT: What is your all-time favorite line from Claude?

JZ: I get asked this a lot for different games and for different characters, and almost always, my answer is, “I don’t remember them.” By the time people are talking to me about the game, it’s sometimes been one, maybe two years since I finished recording. Luckily with the whole streaming and everybody on Twitter, people are sending me what their favorite lines are.

A lot of people are sending me the line, and now I can’t remember who I say it to, but it’s the line where I slip into falsetto, and it’s like, “Well, if you were about to tell me my ancestors were cursed, so I’m cursed!” Everyone loves that line, and I’ve grown to like it a lot too.

The other one that everybody comes back at me with is the one with Lysithea where I’m like, “the ghooosts. Any line where I got to have a little bit of fun was pretty memorable.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses Claude
Nintendo /

AT: Claude is an influential character to a lot of people, even in the LGBT+ community. Even though he is, unfortunately, not a same-sex option, how does it feel to have people in the community to look up to him?

JZ: It’s great having people look up to Claude for a variety of different reasons, not just sexual orientation or gender identity, but also racial identity. A lot of the themes of Claude’s arc deal with a lot of really sensitive subjects that are very close to home for a lot of people in the gaming community.

It’s really great not only to be able to represent a character like that but to represent a character who is written very well by the Nintendo team. I can deliver a performance, but I can only deliver a good performance on a good script. Nintendo did a great job being sensitive and aware. It’s great to be a character that a lot of people look up to for whatever reason.

When it comes to characters and storytelling in general, people are going to look up to you for things that you don’t expect. So for Claude, I didn’t really expect him to be an icon in the LGBT+ community. Certain characters resonate with certain people, so you never know how a piece of art is going to resonate with a certain community or a certain person.

So for Claude, I didn’t really expect him to be an icon in the LGBT+ community.

Art is what you make of it, in all instances. Art is what it tells you, not what necessarily my performance or the writing was intended to do. It doesn’t really matter; it’s what you’re interpreting from it.

AT: How does it feel to have such an incredible and dedicated following ever since you announced your role?

JZ: I hope to find the person at Nintendo who decided to put Claude upside down on the box art! I owe that person a beer or beverage of their choice. It has been so fun to play out on that joke! I made announcements for big characters before like playing Fox McCloud and being in Fate/Apocrypha.

I expected something. It’s usually like little waves that come and go. I was not expecting at all the Fire Emblem community’s reaction to me playing Claude. Claude was a trending topic on Twitter two weeks ago before I made the announcement. I certainly expected something, but I don’t know that I expected what I got.

The community’s welcome has been incredibly warm and gracious and really just kind of wholesome. Everyone’s having fun! I really wasn’t sure to expect. This is kind of a breakthrough role for me, so I never had 30,000 people on Twitter tweeting me different things in all hours of the day and all the fan art that’s come out!

It’s been really great to get to interact with the community on a daily basis and just be who we are. It’s been really, really amazing, and the Fire Emblem community is fantastic.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses Claude
Nintendo /

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AT: Since you and fellow Fire Emblem fans have referred the Golden Deer as the house of memes, do you have a favorite one?

JZ: One of the things I plan on doing very soon is a meme review video where I just sit down and look through all the memes, and I’ll talk about it. Allegra Clark, who plays Shamir and Dorothea, is going to copilot with me. I don’t know if I have a favorite yet, but I’ve been certainly looking at them.

Some of them are horrifying! A lot of people have been putting Lorenz’s haircut on my actual picture. It was just miserable! It breaks the internet! But there’s a lot of fun stuff out there; we’ve been flipping through and collecting stuff to eventually put together for a meme review, hopefully in the next couple weeks.

AT: Would you like to continue your voice acting with Fire Emblem? Or focus more on other video games and anime?

JZ: As a voice actor, it is always important to stay diverse as that’s how I built my career. I do anime, games, commercials, promos, everything. If I was approached to be in a role for another Fire Emblem game, I would definitely do it! I actually would love to work as part of the cast in the next Persona game just because I’m in love with those. I’d love to be a part of the Persona 6 cast.

I’m here having a great time doing the voice acting thing, and I hope to continue for many years!

dark. Next. Three Houses: 10 best Black Eagles support conversations

Please be sure to follow Joe with Twitter handle @JoeZieja and even watch him play Three Houses on Twitch at! You can watch his other content as well as stream playbacks of Three Houses on YouTube at Also check out his own website, where he has demos, published books he’s written, and more.