Cissy Jones on Character Development, Oculus Rift Games, and “Mocapwork”March 23, 2016
Cissy Jones has a long list of voice acting credits behind her name, including The Walking Dead: The Game, Batman Arkham Knight, and the wildly popular subculture hit Life is Strange. This year she plays the voice of walkie-talkie lifeline, Delilah, in Firewatch and claims the lead role of Commander Alex Oshima in Adr1ft, an immersive first-person experience game from Three One Zero, which launches with the world-wide debut of Occulus Rift this upcoming Monday, March 28th. Jones took a minute to talk with us about her current, and widely varied, work this year.
How was working on Adr1ft different from other games you’ve worked on? What made this format challenging?
In terms of the actual recording sessions, not much was different. Although, I’ve never worked on another game that had so much of me just breathing, so we had to make that as realistic as an astronaut would sound. What was different was the passion and laser-focus that Adam Orth had throughout the process. This is very much his baby, and it’s been absolutely incredible to be a part of. Also, as the imagery has been released, it’s very clear that this game has been designed to take your breath away – pun intended!
You’ve played a lot of different characters in one game at a time—like with The Walking Dead. How do you decide to differentiate for each character when they’re all in the same game?
The great thing about so many games right now is that the characters are fully fleshed out. They have backstories that the player may or may not know about, and anything that’s not already filled in I get to decide upon. So for each character, it comes down to knowing who they are: what motivates them? What frustrates them? What are their biggest fears? Dreams? Demons? These inform the “voice” long before I have spoken a single word.
What’s your favorite part about voice acting?
That I can be 7 or 8 (or more!) different characters in a single franchise! It’s very different in on-camera, unless you’re Tatiana Mislay [Orphan Black]. But also, [I love] that I get to play different age ranges, creatures, amorphous beings, etc. I don’t get immediately categorized by what I look like, but instead by what I bring to a character. I love that!
How did you get into Motion Capture Work (mocapwork) and what would you say is the most exciting part about it?
I came into Mocap by auditioning for it, same as any other job. It is so different than what I’ve traditionally done, and it’s a little terrifying!! Instead of just having to worry about delivering my line, I also need to worry about stage direction and memorizing lines (whaaaat??!!!). It’s incredibly fun and challenging and really forces me to grow beyond my comfort zone. It’s also really great to be on set with the cast and crew during filming, rather than tucked away in my little booth all by myself.
How would you say doing two very different sides of character creation (Mocap being very physical in one way, and voice work in another) affects you artistically?
That’s a great question. It takes my earlier comment about character development and ratchets it up to 11. Not only do I need to know what these characters hope/dream/fear/etc., but now also how they physically respond to certain things, how they generally carry themselves. It’s definitely made me much more observant of the people around me. I probably look like a total creeper, just watching how people go about their business, but it’s the best research available!!
Lots of young, up-and-coming actors and artists want to get into voice acting and voiceover work. Do you have any advice?
Two pieces. Number one, of course, take classes on acting and improv. Study, observe, and understand what you see. Voice acting is the ability to convey something interestingly and believably. That’s it. That’s the secret sauce, guys. Number two, and just as important, know what it means to run your own business. If you become an actor, you are a company. You are your own accounting, marketing, and sales departments. In the glorious words of Cypress Hill, “It’s a fun job, but it’s still a job.” Really take the time to know what that entails. Trust me.
Cissy Jones is on Twitter @cissyspeaks and would love to hear your thoughts on Adr1ft and Firewatch. All the contagious energy and fun asides in these answers are Jones’ but otherwise this interview was edited for clarity.