Destiny, Uncharted Actor Nolan North Voicing Guild Wars 2 Expansion

Q&A: We talk with North about his upcoming appearance in Heart of Thorns as the main bad guy.

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Guild Wars 2 is changing. The base game recently became free, and the PC MMO's first expansion, Heart of Thorns--which introduces raids, more zones, and a lot more--launches in October. Developer ArenaNet has now announced more details about Heart of Thorns, specifically, the expansion's star-studded voice talent.

Leading the group is Nolan North, the prolific and veteran actor who you may know as Nathan Drake in Uncharted or more recently as the Ghost in Bungie's shooter Destiny. His next role, however, is that of Mordremoth, the main villain--a dragon--in Heart of Thorns. What's especially interesting about Mordremoth is that the only player race who can hear him are the Sylvari characters. The game's other races only hear dragon-like noises. It's a nice touch that fans will no doubt recognize and appreciate.

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Also appearing in Heart of Thorns are other high-profile voice actors, including Troy Baker (Logan Thackeray) and Jennifer Hale (Queen Jennah). Baker played Joel in The Last of Us and Booker DeWitt in BioShock Infinite, while Hale is best known for her work on the Mass Effect series. For more on North's involvement in Guild Wars 2 as its evil dragon, check out our Q&A with the actor below.

Looking for more information about Heart of Thorns? You'll want to tune into the first-ever TwitchCon this weekend, as ArenaNet will show more behind-the-scenes footage from the Heart of Thorns voice acting process and even tease "a few surprise reveals."

What's more, fans can look forward to a Guild Wars 2-themed cooking show with Hale during TwitchCon. It sounds like a lot of fun. You can watch everything live on Twitch through the Guild Wars 2 channel.

Nolan North on Playing Mordremoth:

What about the role of Mordremoth was appealing to you? Have you ever played a dragon before?

I have not played a dragon. I have played Stoick in How to Train Your Dragon the cartoon series for Dreamworks, so I have a little experience with dragons to that end. But it's always fun to play a larger-than-life-size character. What I liked about Mordremoth was he wasn't a loud, boisterous character; his power was in the depth of his voice. The power came from this confidence that only something like a dragon could embrace. It was appealing to me because it goes against what you think you're gonna get. Instead of this loud, monstrous dragon it was something more of a power; he almost had like an intensity to him. He got into the players/into the other characters' heads. He had a confidence that was terrifying and I thought that would be really interesting.

How did you prepare for this role specifically? And how does that compare to your other jobs, like Nathan Drake in Uncharted and Ghost in Destiny?

I just like to have a good think about it, I don't really have a method or any type of preparation I do for any role. I tap into the movies I saw, or television shows, or books that I've read. Like in this case, for a dragon, the movie Dragonslayer, I think it was Peter Macnicol in Dragonslayer. I remember that movie was on HBO when cable first came to my town that I grew up in; there wasn't a lot of content at that time, so you'd watch Dragonslayer 75 times. You just sort of remember how they moved. Most of the stuff, if I had to say I do any preparation for any role it's just really tapping into my imagination and really kind of visualizing that character speaking.

"At the end of the day, there's nothing quite like a good, devious, bad guy" -- Nolan North

You know, in my head, everything is a visual; everything in my head is an on-camera job. It's thinking about what that scene would look like, but it's not something that I'm actively doing; it's the same thing that an 8-year-old kid might be doing when he's playing army with his friends. He's not getting all caught up in his head about 'where is the tank supposed to be?' No, it's 'the tank’s there, and we're here, and we gotta get to the mission!' You just throw yourself into that spirit of play, and that's pretty much what I've done with anything whether it's on camera or whether it's in a booth, or whether it's on a motion capture stage. Just find that spirit of play and let it flow.

Do you think you learn something, either about the voice acting process, yourself, or anything else, from every new role you take on? And if so, what did you learn with this role in Guild Wars 2?

"That's a tough question, I've done it for so long. I don't know if this is a very popular answer, but I don't really take away too much, like in terms of life lessons, and what I learn about the process. I've always been very fortunate to find a modicum of success by not overthinking things. What I've learned from any session is that working with new people or people I've worked with before, I really believe it's the relationships in any business is what greases the wheel.

You learn about how the directors work, you may learn what certain takes that the producers like, what they want to hear from this, and that may in some way translate into your next job. It's interpersonal skills that I think are so valuable. We're doing something that is a technical thing, a game, that somebody's watching. It's the personal human relationships between the actor and directors and producers and then those producers going back to the developers and programmers and the designers and the artists; it's that collaborative spirit, that human interaction, those relationships that ultimately create the product that people play. And I think that every new experience is a chance to learn more about the people that you're fortunate enough to work with.

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Do you prefer playing good guys or bad guys? You've done a lot of both…

Oh, that's hard to say. You know playing the good guy usually means sequel, and that means more work, but if I had to choose, the bad guys certainly are really fun to play with. Because, like I said before with Mordremoth, you could make them very subtle, they can be very broad; they can have quirks about them. In the Arkham series with Batman I do the Penguin and he has a bottle jammed into his eye for a monocle. Whereas, the hero is usually the player character and he has to stay within a certain guideline, with a bad guy you can fly all over the place.

And that's not to say, certainly like with Nathan Drake that I'm pretty well known for, you know he has his flaws, and I think that's what makes him such a good, relatable hero. He has flaws, and he's thrust into situations that he probably wouldn't choose to put himself into. But still, at the end of the day, there's nothing quite like a good, devious, bad guy because there's so many different levels to play and they can be so many different things whether it's a human or an artificial intelligence or a monster of some kind. They can usually be just a bit more fun, but I'm open to playing either.

xxx

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