Q&A: C&C3's Kane speaks!

Rehired "Kane" actor discusses what it was like to return to the set of a game franchise he helped make famous.

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Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
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EA Games' Los Angeles studio is putting the finishing touches on its highly anticipated real-time strategy game, Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars. The game will return to the series' roots by attempting to tell an epic story involving the two primary pillars of C&C lore--the "good guy" Global Defense Initiative faction and the "bad guy" Brotherhood of Nod faction. Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars is scheduled for release on the PC on March 26 and on the Xbox 360 later this year.

The game will also make a return to the series' original storytelling techniques of using filmed live-action sequences to further the plot, using various Hollywood talent and an old series mainstay, Joe Kucan. Kucan was originally the director for the series' cutscene sequences and also played the on-camera role of the charismatic and fanatical Nod leader, Kane.

Kucan has returned to again play Kane in the new game and shares his thoughts on his return with GameSpot.

GameSpot: How does it feel to be back in the saddle as Kane?

Deal or no deal!?!?
Deal or no deal!?!?

Joe Kucan: It feels very familiar. It's a lot like being reunited with an old friend, if that old friend held you down, pinned your arms to your sides, and shaved your head with an electric razor. But then, that old friend helps you up, and the two of you have dinner at a Thai restaurant and reminisce about that one time the two of you shot Seth in the head in a tight close up. And then you get really, really drunk. And wake up in a Mexican jail. It's a lot like that.

GS: Oh yeah, been there, done that. Though it's good to see the original Kane return to reprise his role, it also begs the question of how it came about. Previously, it seemed like your work with EA had come to an unceremonious halt. How did you come to work with the company again? Was rekindling the relationship awkward? Were terms difficult to negotiate?

JK: I was flattered with the C&C team's insistence on my participation. It was clear from the start that the team's respect for the history of the series and the character of Kane were really the main focuses of this new production. As far as the negotiation, it was really just a small matter of coming to an agreement about compensation and time: We had to agree upon the exact size of the pickup truck they would use to dump the money on my front lawn, as well as how much time I would get to roll around naked in it before it was bundled up and sent off to orphans in Paraguay.

Rekindling the work relationship wasn't all that awkward. After all, I was really being introduced to a whole new group of designers and production personnel. But I will admit that stepping onto set exclusively as an actor was odd. I was so used to helming the entire production process. In previous C&C games, I could shoot a take, review it, and go back to reshoot it if I found even the tiniest little thing I didn't like. I was not used to being in the position where I was acting through someone else's vision and under someone else direction--as Kane.

GS: And now that you're back working with EA on Command & Conquer 3, do you think we'll be seeing more of you in future game products?

JK: Oh sure--I play a 1969 Pontiac GTO in "Need for Speed 3." It's a tough role because that car had four-on-the-floor and as everybody knows, I'm a five-speed.

In "Lord of the Rings," I play Plinky, Gandalf the Grey's monkey sidekick. I took a lot of flack from the simian-rights community who thought that role should go to an actual monkey, but once I showed them my family tree, they relented.

And of course, I'll be reprising my role as "Frat Boy #3" in the soon-to-be released "Celebrity Cheerleader Tickle Fight 4000," a personal project I've been working on for quite some time.

GS: Why do you think EA brought you back to appear in the new game? What do you think you bring to the role of Kane that a look-alike or sound-alike might not be able to capture?

JK: The real reason they brought me back was because I'm cheap and easily persuaded to help move heavy pieces of scenery in between shots. In all seriousness, Mike Verdu, the game's executive producer, has made his enthusiasm for the original C&C series and the methodology behind his vision for the game very obvious from the start. He had an early love of the game even before he started working at EA, and when he flew out to my house to pitch the project, I could tell right away that he was a big C&C fan because he had my face tattooed on his chest. I thought that was sweet.

I honestly think that I might be the only one in the world who understands the humor in Kane--the wry sense of absurdity behind a lot of the megalomaniacal snarkiness. It's a fine line to tread between that sort of humor and the over-the-top, hyperdramatic, almost-Shakespearean villainy. It's a really tough distinction that I've worked very hard to create, right from the beginning of the C&C franchise.

GS: Did you have a chance to work closely with any of the other Hollywood talent that EA brought in for the game? Do you have any interesting stories from working on the set with them?

JK: I was in charge of Tricia Helfer's hair and makeup. And I polished her boots between takes. I was not, however, flown to Hawaii to assist on Josh Holloway's shoot. Apparently, they let just anyone polish his boots. Grace Park has a glass eye (not a lot of people know that), and it was my job to make sure it was pointing in the right direction when she spoke directly into the camera. There's nothing more disconcerting to an experienced gamer than to get a briefing from an actor with a wonky eye!

In all seriousness, Tricia was a lot of fun to work with, and she is a real talent. She certainly deserves all of the attention she's been receiving lately. We had a good rapport on the set; I think that whole restraining order thing was just her idea of a joke. If you're reading this Tricia: Good one!

Any interesting stories...well, there was this one time when the bald cap on my head slipped off and my long, flowing blonde hair fell out, and it looked like a mullet. And then someone on the set yelled, "Hey look! Kane's got a mullet!" And we all laughed and laughed. And then I had that person fired.

GS: From what we've seen of you in C&C 3, you don't seem to have aged a day since your appearances in the original games. What's your secret? Facial massages? Pilates?

JK: Just like Dorian Gray, there is a painting of me in my attic that just gets older and older. Oh, and I also do Bikram Yoga. Just like Dorian Gray.

GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about your role as Kane, Command & Conquer 3, or anything else in general?

JK: I would like to sincerely thank all of the loyal C&C fans out there. I'm constantly surprised by their sheer number and their loyalty. The honest truth is: I chose to reprise my role as Kane because of the huge outpouring of support and interest I saw online. I lurked in every newsgroup, surfed every fan site, and saw how energetically they argued that the game wouldn't be the same without my participation. It was very, very flattering, and I was deeply touched. Not to mention surprised. So, thanks to the fans.

GS: And thanks to you.

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