My Favourite Game

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Ac­tor Nolan North on his pas­sion for his­tory, and Call Of Duty II

The voice of Nathan Drake on be­ing a his­tory buff, pulling all-nighters, and pre­tend­ing to be Lionel Messi

Nolan North is an award-win­ning screen and voice ac­tor with a vast list of videogames on his CV, in­clud­ing, fa­mously, the Un­charted se­ries. That role landed him a part in Star Trek Into Dark­ness, di­rected by JJ Abrams, a fan of Naughty Dog’s work. North’s most re­cent role, how­ever, is that of a pro­ducer for Con Man, the iOS game based on Alan Tudyk’s com­edy se­ries. Do you re­mem­ber the first time you heard a hu­man voice in a game? It’s funny be­cause peo­ple usu­ally ask me, “Did you al­ways want to do voices for videogames?” And I say, “Of course I didn’t, be­cause there never were voices in videogames.” I don’t re­mem­ber the first hu­man voice I heard in games. But I do re­mem­ber one of the early games I did was Call Of Duty 2. I’m a his­tory buff, and I love read­ing about WWII, and in COD I played Sergeant Ran­dal. He’s no­body spe­cial. You meet him when you land on Omaha Beach in Nor­mandy – y’know: “Fol­low me this way!”, “Get to the hedgerow!” That kind of thing. Do you man­age to play all of the games that fea­ture your voice work? It’s not a pre­req­ui­site in my life; it’s not a high pri­or­ity. I usu­ally get them and let my kids re­view them first. Of course I checked out Un­charted, but I just want to play the game – I’m not re­ally cri­tiquing my per­for­mance or any­thing, be­cause, hell, it’s too late by then! I re­mem­ber the first time I came to London, a po­lice con­sta­ble from up north who was in his 40s came to see me. He said, “I took the train four hours to meet you. Ev­ery day I get up, take my tea, go to work and noth­ing ever hap­pens, but at night I get to go and travel the world as Nathan Drake.” He said, “I’ll never go any­where, I’ll never see places, but you’ve pro­vided this ex­pe­ri­ence for me and I wanted to thank you.” I was dumb­founded, but I went back and talked to Richard Le­marc­hand, be­cause they’re ge­niuses with what they can do. They mapped my face for Un­charted 4. Ev­ery wrin­kle is mine, just over his bone struc­ture. That’s my face, for god’s sakes. It’s amaz­ing what can be done. So while I’m not a gamer as such, I am a big lover of the game in­dus­try, and I just think it’s re­ally interesting how they make them, and I’ve al­ways been that way. Is that why you agreed to help pro­duce Con Man? That’s one of the rea­sons. It’s been so ex­cit­ing to have in­put on stuff like char­ac­ter sketches, to meet the devs, sit in a board­room and act like an ac­tual adult – I mean, most of my life I spend just play­ing, which is what I’m best at! It’s been re­ward­ing, and ex­haust­ing, but we’re very proud of what we did. Are you ex­cited about the prospect of per­form­ing in VR? I got to try PSVR re­cently. I played London Heist, and that was prob­a­bly a per­for­mance-cap­tured gig, and the tech­nol­ogy is al­ways go­ing to get bet­ter. I think it’s as­tound­ing. The only draw­back I see is that you look like a com­plete id­iot wear­ing it [laughs]. Was Star Trek the first time that a game role landed you a film part? Star Trek was a huge deal – JJ Abrams is a big fan and he just thought it would be cool to have me in the film. Un­for­tu­nately my role got whit­tled down through pro­duc­tion to one line [laughs]. But it was just so much fun to put on that uni­form and be part of that world. I mean, they

built a space­ship. But I think his en­dorse­ment is a sign that gaming is a big deal to a lot of peo­ple now. How do your kids re­act to their dad fea­tur­ing in so many games? Ah, I’m just Dad – they don’t give a shit [laughs]. One of the best com­pli­ments my son ever gave me, he said, “It’s a re­ally good game. I kinda for­get it’s you.”

They were into FIFA for a while – I was telling them I did the voice of Messi. And then they play it and point out that he doesn’t say any­thing, so I’m like, “Oh, no, I did all the run­ning.” This was when they were younger. Now they know I’m full of shit.

“They mapped my face. Ev­ery wrin­kle is mine, just over his bone struc­ture. That’s my face, for god’s sakes”

What’s your favourite game? It would be COD2. My wife walked in while I was play­ing, looked at me and said, “What the hell are you do­ing?” And I go, “What?” She says, “It’s 3:30 in the morn­ing.” I’d played for nine hours. My eyes were dry. But I was there. I’d seen those scenes in movies, but now I was run­ning through it. It was the first time I ever re­ally got lost in a game.

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