On working with a different kind of crystal.
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV's star-studded cast is a major part of its charm. Led by Breaking Bad and The Path star Aaron Paul, the film's retinue of vocal talents includes Game of Thrones' Lena Headey and the prolific Sean Bean. Under the direction of Takeshi Nozue--who also worked on Square Enix's 2005 CGI film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children--and the supervision of Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata, Kingsglaive does an impressive amount of world and character-building, setting the stage for the November 29 release of the Final Fantasy XV.
After a brief chat with star Aaron Paul--who plays Kingsglaive soldier Nyx Ulric in the film--it's clear how infectious the excitement surrounding the movie has been. This isn't Paul's first role with voice acting; he has a major role in the ongoing BoJack Horseman Netflix series. But he speaks of his time on Kingsglaive as an eye-opening experience, a trip to a fantastical world unlike any other. And while he admits he hasn't played a Final Fantasy game (yet), his time with the franchise already seems to be near and dear to him.
Read below for more on playing Nyx Ulric and what it's like to join the Final Fantasy universe.
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GameSpot: Have you played a Final Fantasy game before?
I actually have never played one.
Oh gosh, are you going to now?
How can I not? I'm just afraid that I'm gonna be sucked into the world. I'd get sucked in just like so many millions of other people who are obsessed with this franchise. But I see how easily it is to get sucked in by these worlds they've created, it's really so well thought-out and it's very story-driven and character-driven. I love it.
How did you get this role?
It was just a random offer that came in! I got it in my inbox, the offer sheet saying that they would like me to play Nyx in the new Final Fantasy film, and if I was interested then they would send me a protected link to read the script. And I said, well yeah, definitely, it's very intriguing. So I read the script--it was close to 200 pages--and I thought you know, I'll read the first 15-20 pages just to see what the world is all about. Then the next thing I knew I was done with the script and I was taken on such a rollercoaster ride... It was really thought out. I don't know what I was really expecting. I guess I wasn't expecting anything less than that because it's such a hugely successful franchise, so of course it's going to be good. But I didn't really expect it to be THAT good.
I said I loved it and they sent me a password-protected teaser trailer of the actual film, because they were almost done animating it by the time I signed on. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, it really looked like one of those huge summer blockbuster franchise films. It's incredible.
The Final Fantasy universe, and XV in particular, has a lot of proper nouns, a lot of places and people and things like capital M "Magitek" that you have to memorize and know about. How did you work around all of that fantasy jargon, did it trip you up? How did you get into it?
It did trip me up a little bit but it's, you know--I kinda winged it to be honest. I read the script a handful of times, I really felt like I knew who this character was. I created a little backstory for him. And then I just went for it.
I was only in the booth for about a week and a day and a half of that week was specifically dedicated for action noises, grunts, and like swinging the sword and jumping and landing. It was ridiculous. I probably shouldn't have had as much fun as I did doing that, but it was incredible.
This isn't the first time you've done voice work, we've heard you on BoJack Horseman, and you haven't done anything like XV before. How did you prepare?
This honestly was just nothing but fun for me. I read the script, I knew the story, and then I went in there and did my thing. I really took this on like I do any other project, it's all about really knowing who this guy is and what [Nyx's] motivation is. His motivation is to do anything for his kingdom. He's a born and bred soldier, and he's a little cocky at times, a little arrogant but kind of a smartass in a charming way. And so I think it's impossible not to root for him, because he really wants to protect his kingdom. I looked at him as I look at all the veterans around this country, and around the world, fighting for their countries. And Nyx happens to be in the mix of all those people.
The Final Fantasy fandom, I compare it to Star Wars in that when you become a character, when you voice someone, you become a character in the universe and the fans now own you forever. You will be Nyx Ulric forever. How does that feel?
I love that. I think Nyx is an incredible character to be attached to. And I love the fact that the actor who motion captured him was just incredibly good-looking. Very much in-shape, in way better shape than I am, so he just makes me look like a badass. And so I hope I did him justice.
Have you seen any of the other media surrounding Final Fantasy XV?
I have not, I haven't even seen the movie yet. I'm actually going to see it at the New York premiere.
If anyone's a big fan of Final Fantasy, they of course are going to run to watch this film, because they're already attracted to this sort of medium. But what's so great, is that I've talked to so many people, especially in the press, who were so unaware of this world. They've heard of Final Fantasy but they never really dove in. And they went to a screening or they got a link and they watched it and they said, "You know I gotta be honest I wasn't really expecting much, I'll just watch this movie--and I can't believe how blown away I was." And it's unanimous, everyone I've talked to about this film, everyone has been so excited about it, so positive. And that's not always the case, I mean I can tell when someone is bullshitting me. They're just saying the words to say them. But these people are really, truly passionate about this film, which is exciting. It was there on the page, they've spent a lot of time on this film. I'm very proud to be a part of it.
And you've met Hajime Tabata and Takeshi Nozue the director, yes?
Yes, I have, and everyone is so great. I love the whole story behind Final Fantasy, I'm sure you know the story, how it came to be: this company's last game, they were closing the doors, it was their last ditch effort to create something that would be a hit. And they decided to put everything into this one game and call it Final Fantasy, that had nothing to do with the game, they just said, "You know what it's our Final Fantasy, let's end it with a bang and call it that." And now it's one of the most successful franchises out there, which is just so great.
So I take it you will try and play a Final Fantasy game soon?
Absolutely yeah, I have to! I gotta try it.
Do you know which one you'll start with?
I would like to start with the first one. That's probably more of my skill set, you know. I think, I can only assume. Video games now are just so intimidating, there's just so much. So we'll see!