The following is the transcription of the BlizzCon 2009 StarCraft II lore panel:
Welcome to the Lore Panel. This year we want to try something different. We have our scripts ready, and cast the game. So we figured we’d bring the cast of StarCraft 2 out to BlizzCon so you guys can see who they are and hear what they brought to the role. We’ll have a Q&A at the end.
The first character we want to bring out, the one honest man in the universe, the hard-hitting, hard-living, old-school Jim Raynor, Robert Clotworthy:
For our next character, we’d like to introduce, this is a wild one, the gentleman who played this character is no longer with us, but we have found another character who has the same gravitas, power, Zeratul, Fred Tatashur:
Guys for the third character, one of my personal favorites, a new character who has quickly taken over and just rocks, and the sound of his voice just lights us up. You’ll recognize this character from the intro of the game, Tychus Findlay, Mr. Neil Kaplan.
For the fourth person we’re introducing, this person is not actually playing a character, but this lady has become one of my favorite people on Earth, one of the best voice casters in Hollywood, Andrea Romano:
Our next character is a new character that we’ve woven into our existing lore, Gabriel Tosh, Mr. Dave Finnoy:
This is another old school character, you kind of love to hate, Arcturus Mengsk, Mr. James Harper:
And our last character, you might notice someone is conspicuously missing from the panel, Kerrigan, we’ve hooked up with an actress which is so amazing and brought out nuances we could only hope for, you might recognize her from Battlestar Galactica, Ms. Trisha Halper.
Metzen: What’s it been like to play Jim Raynor?
Clotworthy: I am thrilled to see so many people here? As a voice over person we usually stay in the background so I am just thrilled to be back. I am telling you, this game rocks.
Metzen: it’s funny, though by anecdote, in the midst of races clashing for supremacy, you’ve got this one honest man. THe theme is that one man can make a difference amidst this clash of titans. There was just this thing about Robert’s voice – he just owned it and we’re so happy to have him back. Andrea, let me ask you. You kind of had a chance to direct/meet Raynor how do you feel about his role?
Andrea: You can never anticipate what voice is going to come out of an actor. You can look at how he looks and assume how he is going to sound like, but you can never predict what he will sound like. Me and Robert worked together many times. One of the joys of voice acting is to hear new things come out of voice actors that you’ve never seen before.
Clotworthy: he is the reluctant hero. he is a great role model, lots of us wish we were him. there is great responsiblity in playing this role. And Andrea, though you may have six emmys, I have a n00b.
Metzen: We were in the need of a new Zeratul. Jack Ritschel was a really cool guy who passed away, played Duke and Zeratul. We found Fred, the man of a thousand voices. And Fred also does Rory Swann, just a terrific character. So Fred what was your opinion of doing Zeratul?
Fred: He captured the spirit of this 1000 year old knight Templar. So I was trying to voice print of what he brought, without giving in too much.
Metzen: One of the funniest things with Fred, was we were talking about lyp-syncing with Zeratul where he was like “what the hell are you talking about”. So we talked alot about Tychus, and how he was meant to be. Once that voice came out of your body, as in how are you making that sound, we found the perfect foil for Raynor.
Neil: I guess I should say the line people are most familiar with “Hell, it’s about damn time”. This is the coolest character I have ever played, plain and simple. I’ve played characters made famous by other voice actors, and it was lots of fun, but this was my chance to do my own thing. The greatest thing about being Tychus is that you can drink up scotch till 5 in the morning and not worry about how you sound. We actually did one session where we had really bad food poisoning. I spent half an hour in my car trying to get in, but the voice worked perfectly!
Metzen: Dave i was going to ask you about Tosh, sometimes the artists will just conjure a character and the visual design is so engaging that we writers have to go with that. I can’t tell you, but there is really good stuff with Tosh guys. Tosh actually started as a mercenary, we sought out the voice actors and we’ve tried out a number of actors. What was your impression of this guy?
Dave: Tosh fits in with the game so well because he is a product of the environment he fits in. Somewhere deep deep inside, he has something good in him, but he knows if he has to survive than he has to be #1.
Metzen: The thing about Tosh, when we included, he counters a character named Matt Horner, who was out of town & couldn’t be with us. We wanted to have characters that kind of contrasted. In alot of ways the Matt Horner character represents Jim Raynor’s idealism, but Tosh is the “do as thou will” and the product of a very hard universe. As he graduated from his army experience, he is a very nihilistic man. We wove Tosh in such a way that he is tied in to Nova. Nova will make a little cameo in the game (it’s very cool). So Arcturus, what was it like when you were trying to overthrow the government.
Arcturus: It was roough. It was really really rough. How did we come upon this voice anyway? I absolutely do not remember. I haven’t had as much fun doing something in probably 20-30 years. This has been a phenomenal experience. This took 3.5 hours in a couple of days to do this. I don’t remember a whole bunch about the 12 years ago. I remember I had drove down to Irvine, I had an unopened, unplayed SC which was for windows. IMDB.com can be wrong much of the time, and IMDB has me as Zeratul. So all these years I’ve been thinking “I did Zeratul”. So an agency is looking for a character named Zeratul. They’re not even calling me to see if I’m available? I thought he was really good? My agent told me to recreate my character of Arcturus Mengsk. I’m really happy to be back doing this again, because it’s so much fun.
Metzen: So Trisha, you’ve been very patient by the way. I have to wonder, do we have any Galactica fans in the room? You know, it’s funny, the character of Kerrigan is so principal, she is the heart of all that is StarCraft. So how was it, stepping into this role? What do you make of this character?
Trisha: First off, I have to say it’s intimidating to come in to a game and do a job you don’t have a histroy of. I’m going to admit that I’m a video game virgin. Frogger was the last game I’ve ever played. Personally I’m not very technologically savvy. But it was kind of intimidating and not knowing the backstory and history and everything. It’s an honor to be up here with you guys. WHile I do go up to do my thing I don’t have multiple voices. I think the first time I came in all I had to go on was a picture of Kerrigan and the Queen of Blades. For the Queen of Blades, they stem from the same person. You don’t get to work with each other with the other actors. Thank god for these guys to be in the room and tell me what is happening. At the time I didn’t know what Zerg or everything was. It’s fun to try & find the small differences. How do you bring in Sarah Kerrigan into Queen of Blades without changing it? Queen of Blades is just fun to play. I’m a pretty good person but I do think I do a good job of bringing out the evil. It’s very therapeutic. In the first installment I’m pretty light, but cut to next year here and I’ll have alot more to tell you about the character.
Metzen: In wings of liberty, obviously Kerrigan is the Queen of Blades, but there are certain sequences where we flash back to SC1. I think it was Mr. Harper’s clip where you see how Kerrigan gets left behind. It’s one of Raynor’s great nightmares. Andrea, what have your impressions been of the arc of this thing? What has your experience been coralling all of these characters?
Andrea: I came into this game about a year ago. I had to learn alot about the history of what happened in the past and where we were going in the future. I asked Chris if he knew where the arc was going to end when he started on it. It’s important to know what we need to foreshadow. I’m lucky I have Chris sitting next to me, he is very articulate, he understands what he needs very well and I can communicate that to the actors in specific acting terms. I like to record in what’s called ensemble records. I like to rehearse them together. It gives us the opportunity to act, and react which is very important. It’s key we remember what the character before did, so that we can have continuity. We have a very long production period. We have the chance to record it once, play it back, and go “you know what, we can improve that”. We can have that make more sense by playing it back for the actor. There’s alot of tweaks we can do, and it’s a luxury to be able to go back & fix things afterwards. Early in my career, i started doing video games but I stopped because they ended up being slugfests. But these games created by Blizzard are so stimulating it is like directing a movie. They are stunning! We brought our A-game. What we have here is a really interesting beginnign. We have years to go before we’re done. I hope you guys enjoy playing it, watching it, as we do making it. The recording sessions are intense and extremely fun.
For Andrea, you guys have an amazing cast for SC2. Quick question is are you also doing stuff for D3? And for people who want to get into voice acting, what do you reccomend? What do you look for in these characters?
The key #1 most important thing to do is take acting classes if you’re not an instinctual actor from birth. If you only have one voice you should just know how to do it better than anyone else. To actually get employed you should send large expensive gifts to my office (kidding). If you persevere and follow your dream there is room for you in this industry.
Do you have your own version of the character?
Tychus: I kind of put myself in that place. Every little piece of information such as posters & pictures helps.
Trish: I have to visualize the character more so than in front of the camera. It’s easier to become the character when you’re acting as the character. When you’re sitting in front of a mic you can’t do much or make any kind of sound.
At the end of Brood War, during the Dark Origins mission. Will that have any impact on Wings of Liberty?
It heralds everything. We see Zeratul creeping around, trying to get to the bottom of this matter. If the heart of StarCraft 2 is the Jim Raynor/Kerrigan story, then the hybrids mythology is the spine.
Is the core cast signed for all three chapters?
We’ll try to make sure that continuity is contained.
Metzen: I’m the battlecruiser commander, the terran marine, the terran ghost. In WoW, I am Thrall, Logash. All sorts of stuff i.e. Ragnaros. I hesistate to use the word actor.
Do voice actors do any kind of visualisation? And does the magistrate still exist? Or will he be pushed aside?
As an actor, you are always talking to someone. We use substitution, or at least I do. I use somebody from my real life to talk to so that my acting is honest & real instead of talking to an imaginary character. As far as the Magistrate goes, he is the contrivant to help tell the story, he is not intended to be a character, but it does feel that way. It does pose an interesting question. Is the character still out there? Perhaps.