Exclusive Interview: William Watterson Talks Lost Planet 3, His Character Jim Peyton and Much More
WILLIAM WATTERSON: Peyton is my kind of guy. He was first described to me as ‘a reluctant hero.’ I’m a reluctant everything! He’s a blue-collar guy who always tries to do the right thing. Check! He’s a Midwestern family man who loves baseball--right in my wheelhouse. There was a monologue Spark had us read back in 2010 that already incorporated all of those key elements of Jim (well, not the baseball, that came later)—it was all in the writing. And I sensed a bit of cowboy swagger that led to a minor puffing of the chest and a folksy twang. I self-taped that monologue and eventually got the call to make the demo, which ultimately led to getting to do the game.
AMANDA: You provide both the voice and motion capture acting for Peyton throughout the game. What were some of the most challenging moments of the motion capture sessions for a game that is sure to be action-packed throughout and how did you prepare for the role?
WILLIAM: Lots of stretching and hydrating! Those suits can be physically demanding over long hours, especially when you get to the more physical aspects of the game—running, falling, fighting, writhing. One day we were running out of time, there was a lot of tension and nerves on set, going overtime wasn’t an option. I had two or three lengthy monologues—multi-page messages to the wife back home—and we had maybe half an hour to land them all. And this was at the end of a long day of dialogue, blocking and performing. We only had time for one, maybe two takes of each one, and we got there. You could hear the entire crew gasp a sigh of relief. It always feels good to come through under pressure, to justify their trust in you.
AMANDA: Lost Planet 3 will be the third game in the series but will actually take players back to the first colonization of E.D.N. III. What were some of the major differences you've noticed between the new game and its predecessors?
WILLIAM: Story. Story. Story. These are fleshed out, relatable characters with distinct voices who behave like real, fallible human beings. There is humor and heartbreak, violence and love, relationships and conflicts, that will stay with you well beyond the running time of the game. There is a fundamental logic that lays a solid foundation for the entire franchise, and the storyline is positively epic in its scope. Plus I’m in it, so it’s totally way more awesome for that.
AMANDA: Lost Planet is a game series known for its science fiction settings, massive mechs and even larger boss encounters. What sorts of tools or simulations were used to depict some of the wilder aspects of the game to the actors, or did you and the other actors have to work off of pure imagination?
WILLIAM: Mostly, it was pure imagination (cue the song from Willy Wonka). But there were a few key props, like the mech cockpit chairs, that really helped us out. They rigged huge office chairs on platforms with inner tubes under them, and crew members hopped up and down on them so they bounced around like crazy during ice storms and battles. Any time you see my trying to catch my balance in the rig, that wasn’t acting!
AMANDA: Growing up in Cleveland, you've likely already survived some extreme conditions like are depicted in the game. Were there any scenes in the game where you could draw on real life experiences with freezing temperatures to incorporate into your acting?
WILLIAM: The wind blowing off Lake Erie in February will steal your breath and not give it back until June. I live in LA for a reason, and it’s not just the Dodgers’ new ownership.
AMANDA: This isn't the first time you've been involved with a popular video game with some of your prior work being included in the title L.A. Noire. Since that game is so well known for its facial capture technology, were there any main differences between acting to provide a voice for the motion capture in L.A. Noire and your work in Lost Planet 3?
WILLIAM: Yeah, loads. LA Noire recorded the faces separately, so the on-set audio was just a scratch track for reference. You could flub a line and keep going, as long as you didn’t show it in your body. I also played a dozen different characters a day on LA Noire, so I was constantly jumping into a different physicality, a different mind set, experimenting much more with my body and voice. LP3 was all Jim all the time, and we recorded everything live—the subtleties of our facial expressions, every bit of dialogue, it was all from the live take. Every actor had to get everything down before we could move on.
WILLIAM: The top, sister! I’m kidding of course, but I do love this character. He’s such a good man, he is so loyal, so strong, but it’s a strength that comes from within, an integrity, that I really respect. Man, those boys at Spark put this poor guy through the ringer!
To learn more, visit the official Lost Planet 3 and William Watterson websites.
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