The lights are on
Nathan Fillion is best known for his work on beloved TV
shows such as Castle and Firefly, but he's also voiced some memorable
characters in gaming, such as Halo's Buck and Destiny's Cayde-6. Fillion is an
avid fan of video games, especially the FPS genre. We recently chatted with him
about how he got into games, if he'd ever want to play Nathan Drake, and his
favorite games of all time.
[Editor's Note: This is an extended version of an interview that ran in issue #283]
What's your history with video games?
I didn't have a game console when I was a kid. Kevin next
door had ColecoVision and an Intellivision. He also had a Vectrex – this
was a little mini stand-up video game [system], which was quite amazing. I
would trade him stacks of comics to borrow his Vectrex. I only had a Telestar,
which was a little [system] that would connect to your TV and you could play
Pong on it.
So when I was growing up and PlayStation came out, that was
so advanced that I couldn't even imagine what was going on with games at that
point. Then the Xbox came out, and when I went out and got it, the following
day I had a hernia surgery, so I was down for a couple of weeks. I remember
there were a few games that I really wanted that I sought after. I was like,
"Give me that one, that one, and that one, and why don't you throw in this Halo
one?" I didn't even know what it was. I just saw a guy with armor and a chief
with a gun on the back and thought, "That looks alright." It changed
everything. That game was the be-all and end-all of gaming for me.
I was public about loving that game so much, so when they
came out with the second installation Bungie gave me a ring and asked me if I
wanted to do a couple of lines in the game. I think we called my character
Sergeant Reyn olds. I had a few lines and people went squirrely and had a great
time with it. [Bungie] called me up later and said they wanted to do something
bigger and invented the Sergeant Buck character. Now Sergeant Buck has become a
Spartan. I love that [series]. To be a part of it – amazing, so much fun.
You voiced Cayde-6 in Destiny, which became a popular
character in The Taken King. Can you talk about injecting humor into the
franchise and how the recording style was different for The Taken King?
I think [Bungie] had a great game, but they were looking at
it in a way that – and this is just my opinion – as, "We're off to a
great start, it can get a lot better from here." So with that colossal update
they did, they were able to say, "Here's a great place where this story can
Gamers now are far pickier about their entertainment. You
have to be entertained. You have to know why you're infiltrating this enemy
spaceship to get something back, why it's important, and how it plays into the
drama of this war. Watching the story unfold becomes so much a part of playing
the game, and it allows you to invest. I enjoy investing in the stories of the
game, and I think Bungie's done a wonderful job on the story in Destiny...and of
course I enjoy swooping in at the last minute, recording the voice work, and
then taking all the credit.
Cayde-6 had such a warm reception. Would you like him to be a part of Destiny moving forward?
Heck yeah! I mean he’s a great character. He’s a lot of fun to have around. When I’m playing the game, he kind of has my attitude. Not me as the guy who voices him, but me as the gamer. He’s not a patient guy. He wants to move forward. He’s not into politics; he’s into action. He will do something secretly, steal his ships and steal another thing, cloak it, and send a guy on a secret mission that’s not been sanctioned by their group. That’s the kind of guy he is, and he says, “Look! It turned out great!” It’s only a bad idea if it doesn’t work.
Would you like to continue and do more voice acting in video games? How’s it been different for you than working on a TV show or movie?
Doing voice stuff is super duper easy. You don’t have to memorize your lines. You don’t have to get pretty. No one is looking at you. You don’t even have to wear pants. You just go in there, sit down at the microphone, record your stuff – give it two or three takes, and go on to the next one. When you have a fantastic group, and I’ve been very fortunate with the work I’ve done through Warner Bros. and some of the superhero stuff I’ve done with Disney and Pixar – they’ve been so wonderful to me. They have such amazing staff doing this work, the recording staff, the directors, the voice casting, and these video games I’ve been doing are no different. They’re really good at their job, and they care about the game. They care about the story and they want it to be great. I love going into a job where everybody wants it to be great, and they’re invested and they love it. It’s a great feeling and it makes really easy because everyone is just doing their damndest to do the best job they can.
You’ve worked on popular series, such as Firefly and Castle. Which do you think would make the best video game?
Firefly, obviously. You got space ships, horses, guns, an evil government, smuggling, crimes that you can commit. You’ve got people you can help and you got the Reavers – the baddest of them all. That TV Show is screaming for a video game.
Has it been cool to see the resurgence of Firefly on the board game circle?
I am so pleased that Firefly doesn’t die. I’m so pleased that every year I meet more fans. People keep finding it, going on 14 years now! New fans are coming all the time and they run the same gamut of emotions that we all did when we first watched Firefly. “It’s great! Where’s it going? That’s the only season!? Why did it get canceled?” Everybody has that same journey. I think that’s what brings fans together. We’ve all experienced that same roller coaster ride that people want it to continue to live by resurrecting it through board games or on TV shirts or by collecting cards or posters, what have you, and people won’t let it die, and thank god. I’ve never experienced anything like it.
[Up next: Fillion shares his top-five games and his Jade Empire regrets...]
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