Interview: Steve West Talks about THE ORDER: 1886
We recently had the chance to talk with voice actor Steve West about his recent project, The Order:1886. I love the look and feel of this game. Then again, anything steampunkish looks awesome to me. Keep reading to learn what Steve had to say about scoring the game.
What was the hardest part about working on The Order: 1886?
I guess the hardest part was the initial immersion into the world of performance capture and the unique
environment that is. When you’re working in TV and film or on stage you have sets and environments
to relate to, to attach to and work with – like you would in your own home say where there’s the table
you bought at a flea market or the picture your parents gave you. As an actor you build all of those
attachments mentally to the set and you also have costumes that your character would wear etc.
Motion capture takes all that away from you so effectively you just have a large sound-stage with
poles, blocks of wood and tape marks mapping out specific areas and it’s up to you to project the world
onto that blank canvass. The suits you wear – which resemble wet suits in appearance with a mini
camera attached to your head and reflective balls velcroed onto everything – are another obstacle. I
will say it didn’t take too long to get to grips with all this but it was probably the oddest element to
overcome at first. Conversely though I think it’s been brilliant for my imagination skills, as an actor
you’re always being asked to imagine the craziest set ups so you could probably put me anywhere now,
tell me it’s the far side of a never before seen or discovered planet, I’m an alien species and I’d just fly
How does it feel when a project you worked on for so long hits number 1 in the UK, like The Order: 1886 did?
I feel remarkably proud of that. I’m from London and although I’ve been in the States about 6 years
now there’s of course a special attachment to the UK. It’s ultimately my native home, I was brought up
there and all my family and lifelong friends are there. Also the work I do over here doesn’t necessarily
get seen there either unless perhaps like when I was on Mad Men as it’s a global show. So when I saw
those headlines I was very pleased, I guess an element of ‘boy done good’, leaving home and moving to
the crazy entertainment capital that is LA, working on something for so long and then having it be a big
success back home. It’s a great feeling.
What was your favorite part about bringing the character of Sir Galahad to life?
I have to admit unleashing Galahad’s darker side was probably a highlight. I won’t spoil it for people who
are yet to play the game but he goes on a very intense journey in the game which unlocks a side to him
that is very different to the stoic, collected knight we often see in the game. I think that was one of my
favorite parts. For those who have played the game they should recognize, ‘where is she!’ and ‘the
rantings of a fanatic!’. Those are the kind of scenes I’m talking about.
Any similarities between you and Sir Galahad?
I think our biggest similarities are that we are both pretty calm, methodical people. We tend to sum
things up as we go, take in the information and work it out from there. We’re not just dive in, wreak
havoc and see what happens type people. I know that side of me is part of what attracted Ru, the
director, to have me play Galahad. However on the flip side of that we both very much say what we
think. Personally I know I’ve surprised people in the past when I’ve spoken my mind and been very
direct about what I think and feel. They see a relaxed, polite British man but that certainly doesn’t
make me a pushover! Ru also said that when I would get angry as Galahad I would get darker. My voice
instead of going up which is maybe a more normal reaction to frustration or anger would go down and
get deeper which has a different intensity to it and something he wanted for Galahad. I suppose that can
go for me too, lets say we share a hidden intensity under the calm exterior – although I certainly don’t do
what Galahad does in the game in real life though! Don’t get me wrong! LOL.
What do you personally enjoy most about the game? (setting, character, scene)
Two things really stick out. The relationships between these characters and the history that extends way
back between them. As they can use Blackwater to heal themselves they can effectively stay alive for
hundreds of years (although they are not immortal), so there’s a rich tapestry to draw from within that
which I think the script did a great job of conveying. I also think the setting and how it turned out in the
final game is just out of this world. The attention to detail the folks at Ready at Dawn took in making the
sets is unbelievable. It emotes so much just visually.
I heard you worked over 2 years on this game, is that true?
Yes, over two years actually from our first shoot to the last voice over session. It’s been a long process!
Part of that was that these games are so involved they need that length of time to get all the pieces
in place (and of course before we started shooting there was pre-production and the writing of the
script so we’re talking even longer than two years). Nowadays these games are like huge budget movies
with an entire animated world and massive special effects to create and with games you also have all
the game play to work on and I don’t even know half of what goes on technically but it’s an incredible
machine of very talented people. So to create something of the caliber of The Order 1886, it’s a long
process on all fronts.
If there was to be a follow up game to The Order: 1886, what other setting would you like to see Sir
I’ll have to defer that question. At the end I believe it’s hinted at or told where we would be heading to
and I think that’s the perfect place to go so I won’t spoil it by putting it in print.
You starred in the cult classic ‘Seed of Chucky’. What was your most memorable experience from that
Good old Chucky! I actually found a Polaroid from the set of that the other day of me, Jennifer Tilly and
Chucky and I tweeted it to Don Mancini who created the Chucky franchise and wrote and directed ‘Seed’
with us. He wrote back, ‘don’t forget my socks’, which was reference to a scene in the movie where
Chucky shuts me up by shoving a pair of socks in my mouth. The socks were actually Don’s socks
(washed of course… actually I don’t want to know! LOL) and they were pretty much in there for the
whole day or being tied to the bed with Jennifer Tilly whilst Tiffany and Chucky argued across us. That’s
a moment you don’t forget as Don reminded me.
On ‘Seed of Chucky’ were the dolls CG or was there actual dolls that really moved?
They were actually live puppets. We had a brilliant team of people from the US and the UK who’d
worked on so many films and shows involving puppets and they would be under the floorboards
working the dolls whilst another puppeteer worked the hands and mouths electronically. It was
fascinating to see and slightly creepy since you actually were face to face with Chucky in the (wooden)
flesh. I think it made for a better film that CGI would have at the time.
You were recently nominated for an Audie Award for your narration to the book ‘The Accidental
Highwayman’. How much different is the process of narrating a book than voicing a character in a video
They don’t really compare. Video games can be very intense and there’s often a-lot of fighting or
dying or vocally demanding elements to deal with. You have to be immersed in it but also maintain
your technical control or you can completely kill your voice. With The Order 1886 we also had the
performance capture as well (which not all games do) so that added a whole different element which
required a-lot of physical acting skill on the sound stage. My best way to sum up audiobooks is that they
are like a one man stage show in a sound booth. You have to perform every character voice in the book
which can be 20, 30 or even 40 characters and anything from an 85 year old German grandmother to a
30ft tall African tribal statue brought to life. On top of that you have to relay the story via the narration.
You really are the one stop shop for everything and it’s up to you to bring it all to life to somebody’s ears.I love them both for different reasons and both have taught me a lot and improved me as an all around actor. It is nice to be recognized at the Audies this year as well because it’s really not easy to do these books, although you do feel a wonderful sense of achievement once you’ve made the journey