Welcome to another exclusive interview with the faces of the gaming industry fellow Rebels. This one is a big one, from my own personal favorite franchise, Dead Space. Rebel Gaming has been able to hold an interview with none other than… Isaac Clarke… I mean, Gunner Wright!
Gunner is now well known for his part in the Dead Space series as the face and voice of troubled space engineer Isaac Clarke. However he is no stranger to show business. With over 19 appearances on the small and big screen, including a parts in J.Edgar & G.I Joe: Rise of the Cobra he is no doubt one of the big players.
But of course, we are most interested in his time spent on the Dead Space series. It is my genuine pleasure to introduce, Gunner Wright to the walls of Rebel Gaming.
Welcome to Rebel Gaming Gunner, thank you so much for agreeing to meet with us today.
Now, let me quickly get something out of the way… *Drops to knees and chants* I’M NOT WORTHY, I’M NOT WORTHY’
As regular visitors to Rebgaming will be fully aware, the Dead Space series are my 100% go to games. Did you have any idea what you were in for when you first arrived to work on Dead Space 2?
I auditioned for the role of Isaac Clarke not knowing anything about the franchise or the success of the first game. I had to do a lot of research and EA / VISCERAL gave us great material to get us up to speed.
Isaac Clarke wasn’t much of a talker in the first game, just plenty of shouting and screaming. What did you want to bring to the part in Dead Space 2?
When I won the role and the opportunity to be a part of Dead space 2, EA / VISCERAL were clear that they wanted Isaac to feel, to voice his emotions, and to give the audience a closer connection. Then we worked on incorporating my likeness into the character’s physical features and movement which was really cool. Dead space 2 was my first chance at acting in a motion capture environment.
It was pretty clear to me that it was Visceral Games’ main objective to scare the holy crap out of anyone that played. Was anything done on set to keep this mood during the making of the game?
Working on set is very technical. It’s a testament to all of the talent that makes a game feel like a cinematic experience. During production there are hundreds of cameras, lights, computer equipment, cables and dots being applied, and the pressures to get the scenes shot in a limited amount of time are felt. Working in a motion capture environment is very expensive and the one thing you realize quickly is that everyone has to stay on their “A” game the entire shoot. I realized that part of the job is the creative side but another part is more athletic and endurance oriented. Because you will work one to two weeks at a time and then not shoot for a few months you have to stay focused on the character, the scenes that have already been shot, any changes that were made, and the upcoming scenes that will be shot next. I also needed to stay in physical shape for the action scenes and the stunts.
What pulled gamers into Dead Space (apart from the fantastic looks and game play) was the truly awesome and original story. Did you have any part in the writing of the story? Were you surprised to see so much work go into the story of a video game?
I’m baffled at how good the complete story of Dead Space is. From the books, to the animated films. The world that was created is just as rich as any Hollywood blockbuster sci-fi film.
So, Necromorphs. They are some messed up aliens right? Did you ever think, what am I getting myself into?
Naw..it was more like, I can’t believe I am getting paid to do this! I loved every aspect of the process.
But either love them or hate them, Necromorphs are pretty unique. Not quite aliens, not quite zombies.
Very unique, very creative, and not something you want to meet down a dark alley without a plasma cutter in hand.
How soon after Dead Space 1 hit the shelves did you get the call about a sequel?
Dead Space 1 was a hit and the stakes were raised dramatically for Dead space 2. It was my first time as an actor to be hired to play a character with an existing franchise. I felt the pressure as much if not more than the producers and developers to deliver an Isaac Clarke that the fans could relate to and yet rally behind and want to see him survive. After all, Isaac was not a “action hero” but an ordinary engineer trusted into some very extreme circumstances.
Was it awesome or weird to see your likeness as a video game character?
The process of digitizing my likeness and incorporating that into Dead Space was epic! I couldn’t believe how similar the features were. They actually had to age me a bit in game to give me a more weathered space weary look. Especially for Dead Space 3 time has passed and Isaac has been through a lot.
I assume due to Isaac Clarke finally having a voice in Dead Space 2 that production was a little more time consuming?
For sure not just with dialog but the budget was increased and so were the stakes.
Was it all simply voice work, or is it your body as well as your face we can see on the screen?
Both my voice and movement.
During the game, Isaac buys it in some pretty disturbing ways (the ‘eye’ machine is my favourite). Did you have to act out these scenes at all?
Yeh I did, which was always fun. The director would say something like “your out of ammo and necromorphs are impaling you.” Hahahaha
What kind of prep work did you put yourself through for your part in Dead Space 2, considering by this point that guy was pretty fucked up?
EA / VISCERAL were great to give production rehearsal time before we shot. This enabled the actors and directors to block out the scenes, go over the dialog, and really take our time with what the objectives were. Again on the “day” it’s so costly that you can’t afford to waste time on “so where do I stand”?
In both the first and second games, Isaac is pretty much alone the whole time. It gave gamers a true sense of isolation, was any system in place during the making to give you the right mind set?
I would go off into a corner and get into that headspace before cameras rolled more than a few times. But again, shooting on a mo-cap soundstage is a different beast all together. It really is about hitting your mark take after take no matter how emotional the scene is.
Tanya Clark plays Isaac Clarke’s girlfriend (albeit Dead girlfriend) in the sequel, did you have much interaction with her during the making? Or were you kept separate to give a better sense of being apart for sometime?
Tanya was excellent to work with. She had a difficult job handling the eeriness of her character and then turning it into heart felt. It was a ghostly performance. I enjoyed it very much.
Tanya Clarke is pretty hot huh?
And she’s cute.
But of course, not as hot as our Sonita Henry who plays the replacement girlfriend Ellie Langford. Am I right?
Sonita rocked. An all around cool chick. A woman you could have a nice cup of tea with or try to help save Earth from extinction.
It was pretty obvious by the end of the 2nd game that Isaac was going to trade up to Ellie. You had to be happy with that right?
That’s not fair to Nicole. However Ellie does know her way around a space ship.
Then it was time for Dead Space 3, again were you surprised to see another sequel to the franchise?
A lot of gamers were not 100% happy with the new direction Dead Space was going in with DS3. Cooperative play in a Dead Space game?!? What were your initial thoughts when you had the script?
I liked the new direction. It was a progression to the story. As the catastrophes were becoming ever greater it gave EA / VISCERAL more freedom to expand the visual environment as well as the help needed to combat the crisis.
Dead Space 3 was bigger than both previous games put together, was it any different on set?
The amount of shoot days increased and so did the pressure to up the ante from the previous two games.
We previously were able to interview Sonita about her time as Ellie Langford. At the time we asked why she treated Isaac like crap after all he did for her, but she blamed Isaac for being a little bit of a freak. What are your thoughts on this?
Dementia is a bitch.
What is your most memorable moment from making the games of Dead Space?
I had so many moments that were great. Production shoot days with the cast and crew, Comic-Con panels and interaction with fans, ADR sessions in the sound booth, and seeing the Isaac Clarke action figures hit the market!
Do you have a personal favorite Dead Space game?
I love Dead Space 2 because it was my first, but I actually finished Dead Space 3 with a buddy of mine recently. We played co-op and I let him be Isaac and I played Carver! Hahahaha
Is there a game in the series you really didn’t have that much fun making? Or a particular level?
No they were both fun. I smiled every day going to work!
How did your friends and family feel when they played the games, must be a little odd seeing you get all… Dead.
Let’s just say my folks have not played the games yet.
That advert, that ‘Advert’ (Phil Collins) blew my mind. Did you have a blast making it?
The Dead Space franchise has so far spawned two animated movies, neither include you. Do you think there is a chance you will be taking Isaac to the big screen?
That is the goal.
Did you play through the Dead Space games yourself? What did you think of them?
Dead space 2 I never played all the way through but I watched it online being played so I could follow the story and view it as a film. DS3 I played all the way through.
Dead Space 4…. Tell us everything you know!
As the police approaches, the suspect turns and says, “I know nothin.”
Was Dead Space one of your first ‘big breaks’? What were your other big breaks?
Dead Space definitely added a few more friends to my facebook.
You also worked on box office smash J. Edgar, so c’mon. Start name droppin! Who did you meet and were they awesome?
Working with Clint Eastwood, a consummate gentleman, professional, and an all around great guy.
So what’s next for you Gunner?
I’m gonna jump on my motorcycle and head towards the sunset.
Finally, can the whole Rebel crew come round your place for tea?
Instead how about we meet at the Ace Cafe for bangers and mash.
Thank you so much for joining us today Gunner, we wish you all the very best.