Laura Bailey is one of the world’s best-known voice actors.
You’ll have heard her as Nadine in the Uncharted series, Spartan Vale in Halo 5: Guardians, and even as Catwoman in Telltale’s Batman series. We caught up for a quick chat prior to her appearances at Supanova’s Brisbane and Adelaide events.
How did you get into voice acting in the first place?
“I got into voice acting through theatre, actually. I was doing a play in Dallas, Texas, and one of my castmates who voiced for Dragon Ball Z – which was pretty popular at the time – asked if I wanted to come in and audition because they had a few roles coming up. I freaked out and said yes, of course I would love to, and ended up booking the part of Kid Trunks on that show. I just kept going from there. I would never have guessed at that time that this would now be my career. I’m so lucky.”
You’ve done a fair bit of work with both Marvel and DC properties – do you have a preference between the two?
“I don’t really have a favourite, no. I’ve been blown away by playing Catwoman in the new Telltale Batman series. It’s so amazing, really – on all the Telltale games the writing is so amazing, but their take on Catwoman has been really cool. I like where it’s going this season and this episode, it’s been really fun. Playing Black Widow for Marvel all these years has been amazing, too. I get to record with my best friends every week, not to mention with my husband [Travis Willingham] who plays Thor. Marvel and Disney have been so wonderful to us through the entire process.”
You’ve also done a fair bit of work on video games – do you consider yourself much of a gamer?
“Oh yeah, I’m definitely a gamer. I grew up gaming. I used to play all those Sierra games growing up – I was obsessed.”
That would translate pretty well into your performance then?
“Yeah, it really does help. Even with little things like recording in-game dialogue that might have different branches of conversations, it helps having played video games for so long and being able to understand why you might need to say ‘I can’t afford that!’ 100 different ways. It definitely helps to be a fan of the industry I’m working in.”
What’s it been like working with Blizzard for so long as Jaina?
“It’s been wonderful. Blizzard is like a family. They are so invested in their stories and their worlds, and that’s honestly pretty rare to come across. When I go in to record for Jaina, they’ll spend the first 15-20 minutes of the session just catching me up on where the world is, and letting me know the things that Jaina has been through recently to refresh my memory on everything. They’re amazing, and there should be some pretty cool stuff coming up at Blizzcon which I’m pretty excited about.”
Talk us through how you got the part as Nadine in Uncharted all those years ago, and how the motion capture process works.
“Oh gosh, it’s been such a long time since I auditioned for Nadine! Sometimes when you audition for a project, you’ll have a big description, or you might just have a character image of what they have in mind or something like that. When I went in for Nadine I just had a short description of who she was as a person, and that she was South African. So I really got to go into the role with a lot of my own personality, and my own take on the character, and that’s one of the things that [developer] Naughty Dog really encourages during the audition process; for everyone to interpret the characters differently. They see a wide range of people for each of their roles, which is probably one of the reasons they have such amazing casting on all of their projects.
So I auditioned for it, and freaked out and got cast, and was blown away because I was such a huge fan of that developer, and Neil Druckmann I’m also a huge fan of. So when I found out I got to work with them, I was very nervous. I went in and started recording and filming it, and got to work with Nolan [North] and Troy Baker, who are both so fabulous. We wear these amazing spandex suits that have little reflective markers on them. Actually, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was the first project that I got to do real facial capture on. We were wearing helmets that have a camera attached to the front of them – kinda like an antler attached to the front of your face, shining a bright light and a camera in front of you the whole time you’re filming. It’s just so cinematic.
They created the environments out of mesh wires and boxes and you just use your imagination to really understand where you are. So much of it is dependant on the actors that are in the scene with you, and the director, and they just manage to create this unbelievable product at the end. We’ve been filming in these suits on a grey stage, you don’t get to see your environment very much, but when you see the scenes fully-rendered, it’s this amazing experience. It’s so cool.”
You also got to voice Spartan Vale in Halo 5 – can you tell us anything about the next one?
“I can’t say anything about the future, but I can say that when I found out I was going to be a Spartan I was jumping up and down in my living room. That was one of those franchises that my husband and I used to play non-stop with each other. It was pretty awesome. 343 [Industries] actually just sent me my very own Spartan Vale figurine!
Finally, what can you tell us about that you’re working on at the moment?
“I can say that I’m working on the new Spider-Man series as Gwen Stacey with Disney XD, which is pretty awesome. They’ve been doing such a good job with the writing on that show, so it’s been really funny and fun to work on. There’s also Shadow of War, which has just come out – we’re working on the DLC for that at the moment. My character, Eltariel, has the main role in the DLC, so you’ll get to find out more of her story, which is exciting.”
You can catch Laura Bailey at Supanova Brisbane and Adelaide – tickets are available on the website.