How Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare Hooked Game Of Thrones' Kit Harington As Villain
To find out how one of the biggest names from Game of Thrones got involved with Infinity Ward’s upcoming Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, we spoke with narrative director Taylor Kurosaki.
GI: So who does Kit Harington play in Infinite Warfare?
TK: I’m pleased to announce that Kit plays Admiral Salen Kotch. He’s the leader of the Settlement Defense Front’s fleet, at the helm of their biggest ship, the Olympus Mons. It’s a classic war story in a different setting, naval warfare with two captains dueling it out in the reaches of space. Kotch is the most skilled “sailor” of the SDF, so you (as Reyes) are up against a guy with a ton of experience who has a vendetta against your entire way of life. You’ve also just been thrust into the role of leadership, and the enemy is ostensibly a massive threat – better skilled, and has a larger fleet. They also have a massive, dangerous ship (the Olympus Mons) hunting you throughout the story.
Can you go over the procedure for acquiring star talent for Call of Duty?
We wanted someone – a skilled actor obviously – who had a notable presence. One of our storytelling tenants is that we don’t want to break perspective; we don’t want to shift away with anything like “meanwhile on the Olympus Mons” or anything like that.
We needed an actor who had the presence in the select times that we see him, so that you would feel him out there when you weren’t next to him. He appears with his ship, attacks your forces, hails you and tells you you’re going to die. If you happen to escape, you know he’s out there and the noose is getting tighter. Being able to feel that presence when he wasn’t actually there was critical.
Can you tell me about the process? How was Kit selected?
We identify actors that we think would fit into our narrative. In the end, it was about winning him over with the material. I assume Kit gets a lot of offers. He saw it as an opportunity to be part of this compelling narrative, which is what excited him, and the chance to play a villain. We reached out and sent him a comprehensive bio of his character, some of it is on the screen and some of it is implied. Our process at Infinity Ward helps each actor bring a believable representation, but only if there’s a believable backstory, which we meticulously develop.
Kit really liked the character we were developing for him; he liked the text on the page, and the vision for his character in the Infinite Warfare story. Once that foundation was established, it simply came down to where and how could we do it, and does the entire PCAP process work for everyone’s schedule?
He took time with us to meet, discuss the role, what the character represents and ensure it was right for him. It’s important to note that we are inventing an enemy in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. That said, inventing an enemy is an incredibly difficult process. To what lengths should the actor go in playing this role, but also in communicating to the player who this enemy is? Creating an enemy from scratch is a very difficult thing to do, there are no gimmes. The player only knows what they know about this enemy force from the presentation of the game.
So the IW team traveled to London to shoot with Kit, because he’s currently in a theater production there for the rest of the summer. We were able to finish everything for the role over the course of about a week, and the team is really excited with his performance, and how he’s looking in-game.
Do you see big differences when you use a big name on titles like this? Is there any sense of trying to compete with or one-up some of the other recent stars that have played in Call of Duty?
As it relates to Call of Duty, I think Kevin Spacey delivered a performance in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare that only he was capable of delivering. At the end of the day, it’s about that experience and the actor’s overall performance. That said, it certainly brings some interest when you bring star power on board. At Infinity Ward, we love working with great actors that fit the role, regardless of reputation. When you’re looking for talented actors to tackle a role, you’re going to run into good talent. I personally would only cast a star if the star was the right person for the role. That’s my job as a narrative director, and that is what I believe makes for the best overall experience.
Does Kit play Call of Duty?
He shared with us that his brother is a HUGE Call of Duty fan, so he’s been exposed to Call of Duty plenty. It’s present in his family, so aside from the content of the narrative and script, that was a real draw to him.
Our exclusive coverage on Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare will continue all throughout June, so keep checking the hub for deep dives into the weapons, characters, and interviews as we journey to the stars with Infinity Ward's new take on the longstanding series.