I’d like to start off by introducing myself as the newest reporter here on WormholeRiders. I’m so excited! Thank you to everyone here at WormholeRiders for giving me a chance. And now, without further adieu, my very first report!
The Game Show (on thestream.tv) interviewed Claudia Black on Friday, October 16th, 2009 about her character of Chloe Frazer in the new Playstation 3 game, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The Game Show is an interactive internet television show that covers video game and gaming industry news. It airs live on the internet television network The Stream of Consciousness. This week, there were two hosts (Gweedz and Nikole) and two guests (Claudia Black and Josh Crane). Here’s what Claudia had to say about Uncharted 2.
Gweedz: Big news, BIG news! To compliment our Uncharted feature, we are so, so very privileged to have in the house Claudia Black. Thanks for coming on!
Claudia: Thank you so much for having me. I’m very excited to be here.
Gweedz: It’s a big week when something like this drops and everyone can’t stop loving it.
Claudia: Yeah, I know. Well we, we kind of had a feeling that if we just managed to get to the finish line with this game it was going to be something special and I’m just really excited for everyone at Naughty Dog (the company who made the game) because the reviews are amazing and now we get to just sit back and watch everyone enjoy the experience.
Gweedz: That is awesome!
There was a segment on different games and things and they were talking about a guy who built his son a Warthog (one of the vehicles you drive in Halo) and then they asked Claudia if she would ever buy one for her kids.
Claudia: (Squints her eyes and half smiles) … Well… Ugh, it’s SO cool, I’m sitting there looking at it thinking, “Man, if I had been able to be on one of those when I was a kid!” But, uh, yeah. I was a really tragic tomboy. I, um, the cool thing about what I do a lot of the time is my kids get to come on set and play with a lot of the really cool props that we have. So, maybe we can save that for set and not have to bring them home. (Smiles)
Gweedz: That is a great point. There are so many fun guns and weapons and all that stuff. Oh, man I would’ve loved to play with that as an eight year old!
Then they started taking questions from the chat room.
Gweedz: ValaBlack in the room is saying, “I have a question for Claudia”, this is a good one. You ready? First question of the night, starts us off, sets the tone. “If you were shot through a wormhole to the other side of the universe, besides friends and family, what would you miss most about Earth?”
Claudia: (Thinks about it looking a little confused)
Gweedz & Nikole: That is not about Uncharted!
Claudia: (Laughs) Oh, man, all I can think of is the fact that I tried to shoot a, um, a movie for my friends who were getting married. So I asked the producers of Stargate, this is (Snaps her fingers) the first thing that came through my mind. Um, I asked them if I could sort of grab a little footage here and there where they’d lit up the Stargate room and the Gate was going in the scene and I got my baby to come to set and my husband and we had shot this (suppresses a laugh), this, I thought, very funny movie about me on the show trying to get home for the wedding in time and trying to use the Stargate. And that I’m actually a bit crazy and I have a terrible accent as I try to run through the Gate and splat on the floor. Umm… (Giggles)
Gweedz: So every conflict in your life can be solved by the Stargate, it’s just that you don’t have access to it. (Laughing)
Claudia: (Laughing) Exactly! I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get through the Stargate to get to my friend’s wedding in time because the producers wouldn’t release me in time for the holiday. Um… What would I miss most about Earth? Uh, well that depends on where I’d be once I was through the wormhole and what I’d be getting there, really. I think.
Gweedz: That’s a good answer!
Then they showed a trailer for Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
Gweedz: It’s funny, I don’t know if our mics were up, but we were just talking about Lazarevic (La-zar-a-vich). Lazarevic is a funny name to say. Claudia, did you guys have trouble with that in the booth in the recording session?
Claudia: Yeah, say that three times! Um…
Gweedz: He’s the big bad guy.
Claudia: Yes. Played beautifully by Graham MacTavish. So, um… Yeah, he, I think, I think he’s, um, he’s a fantastic baddie. He’s got a tough name to say so we always (laughs while talking) tried to find ways around it, saying his name. And I thing it was the first scene I had to do on my first day of filming, I had to say Lazarevic and it took me about four takes to get it out. Sort of like a trial by fire for everyone starting the show.
Gweedz: Now you say filming. Were they not just doing voice recordings? Were they actually filming you during the sessions? Or was there rehersals?
Claudia: Well, it was sort of, it was the first job I’ve done that’s sort of combined the skill sets of theatre, film, and television. So we came and rehearsed. They were very open minded about the actual script, so if anything didn’t work in rehearsals, or if anyone had input from the cast side; that was all welcome. Then we would go work it on the floor and there were sort of three to four MoCap (Motion Capture) cameras on the rig in this sound stage. The first game, the first Uncharted, they were out in a sort of open shed, so the sound wasn’t great and one of their key objectives with this game was to protect the original sound that we were recording so we wouldn’t have to go in to ADR (Additional Dialogue Recording) because they wanted to keep the performances as fresh as possible. And it was, you know, a good objective, I think it paid off really well. So MoCap cameras and also digital cameras capturing our faces, but all the animation on our faces was done by hand, very old school, after the fact.
Gweedz: That is awesome. I just want to check in with everybody in the rooms… Colastic is saying, “Is it a console seller? The PS3 hasn’t really had a definitive console seller yet.” What do you think, is this going to move PS3s?
Claudia: What are the determining factors? You know, when you are trying to move a console, what are people looking at to really try and sort of determine whether or not they are going to purchase. What do you guys look at when you are thinking about that?
Gweedz: Personally, I work with PS3s at work, some of you guys already know this, but I JUST got a PS3 slim a month ago and the first thing I did was pick up Metal Gear Solid and Uncharted 1. And I’m so happy I made myself finish Uncharted before I started Uncharted 2 this week because I was really tempted not to because I would’ve never went back. I mean, it was completely worth going through the first game, but I would’ve never went back and I kind of knew that and I made myself push through even when the new one was sitting there at home. Nikole, what do you think?
Nikole: Luckily I already had a PS3, so it was an easy choice for me, but I do know people who are buying a PS3 because they are so excited about this game. It has the hype of Game of the Year already and I think it could. I think it is!
Josh: I’ve been waiting for that photo realistic rendering since I got into this industry. They’ve been talking about how that’s the future, that’s the future. I think they’ve come a long way, you know? I think that shadows are beautiful and there’s lots of great things that are graphically – you know, Uncharted 2 is a great example where the shadows were spot on and the physics seemed right and the weight of the character running seemed right. But then you get this random shot of some troopers walking toward you and eyeballs are just floating in their head and you just like, “UGH! Dude! When are they going to get eyes right?”
Gweedz: The expressionless face when it just catches it. I see Claudia nodding, like she knows. What do you think? I mean, in Uncharted, the eyes are very twinkley. They are very, very sparkly there.
Nikole: They’re like gems.
Claudia: They’ve done SO much work. You know, they would talk about it everyday. I was in such a privileged position just to be able to sit at the lunch table and hear the conversations about what they were striving to do with the graphics and how they wanted to, you know, how cutting edge and the bar they had set for themselves. One of the things they (Laughs) still haven’t been able to work out is how to make two characters kiss effectively on screen. And Nolan North and I get on incredibly well and have a great chemistry which I think really showed in the game, but they would say to us, Josh came up to me, the lead animator, and said, “Um… We’re going to do the animation later at the end of this scene you guys are going to kiss, but we’ll do the animation later, so don’t worry about it, you don’t actually have to kiss.” And I was like (Makes a funny face), “Okay great! No problem for me!” Because it was sort of like kissing my brother, he’s like, I feel like we’re related, Nolan and I. So, yeah, it’s kind of weird when you see two animated characters being intimate, I suppose, we’ve got as close as people have got on Uncharted 2, exploring that. The team did such a fantastic job. I love all the little details like in the Nepalese village. You walk through the village and talk to the people, and the people are talking in the native language, there’s a little boy with a soccer ball that you talk to. It’s really cool.
Gweedz: I’ve got a lot of people talking in my ear, folks. I’ve got a lot of questions, so while I sort this out, I want to roll the Japanese preview of Uncharted 2. So check this out. (Shows the preview).
Gweedz: I think the next question is, “Have you ever considered doing a MoCap game?”
Claudia: (Looks really confused) I… I did a MoCap game. Uncharted 2 was done through motion capture. The suits were a bit funny at first, but then you get used to them and go walk to your car, or walk your friend’s dog and then realize you still have it on… Yeah, that’s embarrassing.
Gweedz: I know there was improv that was done, but how much was improv and how much was script?
Claudia: There was all sorts of improv going on, which is completely different from most games. (something I didn’t catch that segued to Rango) I recently did a film directed by Gore Verbinski. A beautiful animated movie and they are trying to give Pixar a run for their money! (which segued back to Uncharted somehow. I can’t remember what she said. Sorry!) But I think you get real added value from having the performers in the room interacting with one another. You know, people say acting is reacting, so I guess that is really coming through in the games as well.
Gweedz: I know I have a lot of love for it tonight, but this is some of the best, if not the best acting I’ve ever seen in a game. It’s just incredible. It’s never annoying and it’s never up its own ass. It’s just that simple. These are characters that mutter and get pissed off and grumble and like they’re not that impressed, but when they are impressed, they make sense. It’s cool! I mean, it’s grounded.
Nikole: It is such great acting in it and someone just asked in the chat room, “If there was an Uncharted 2 movie, would you want to be in it?” Or, who would you see as playing Nathan? Or you, Chloe?!
Gweedz: That’s weird.
Claudia: Oh, it’s so hard to even think about it! I mean, I… The idea of anyone playing Drake other than Nolan (North, the voice of Nathan Drake) just feels like sacrilege to me. Though there have been talks about Hugh Jackman playing the role. And I think even Nolan would be happy with that. But I think we are all planning as, you know, as Hollywood goes, to take a back seat, but I’ll be very interested to see who they cast as Chloe, if she is in fact in the first film. We have to see. I think based on the success of (Makes air quotation marks) U2 hopefully she’ll be included in the film.
Gweedz: “How do you feel about your likeness?” Crunchman2600 is asking. I guess, do you like it, I’m sure you do, but how do you feel about it in general?
Claudia: Likeness?! I think she’s WAY hotter than I am! And I remember on the first day when I cam there I said, “Listen, I don’t care how my character looks, just make sure she’s got really great boobs.” And Josh said to me (in a voice resembling Vala’s impression of Daniel in the Shell Game audio book) , “Oh, we’ve got a slider. We can make them go up; we can make them go down.” And I was like (closes her eyes), “Oh my God, of course you do…”
Gweedz: Nerd tools.
Claudia: (Laughs) I know!
Gweedz: I think behind the scenes videos; that would have been a video I would’ve wanted to see, just sort of you guys doing that and just like messing around. Because that is the fun of production! You break all the toys out of the toy box.
Claudia: Exactly. Well, there was one particular thing that they did and I don’t know if they are going to include it anywhere, ever. But there’s a seduction scene where my character comes in and seduces Drake in a motel room and they, uh, swapped out the character signatures. So they actually, they did a version of Lazarevic seducing Drake and its hilarious!
Gweedz: Nikole, do we have anymore questions?
Gweedz: They’re a little young, right?
Claudia: (Puts her hand on her hip and leans forward) My kids would think I was cool if they knew I was in video games! But, unfortunately, I just kind of, I’m smelly, I’m old, and I’m covered in their vomit, so for the time being, until they’re old enough to play the games, I guess I’m just stinky old mum.
Gweedz: I gotta take it back for a second, when we were talking about the movie and who would be Nathan, the chat room was throwing around Nathan Fillion. There was talk, even in the first one that Nate has a Nathan Fillion feel, the banter there, I mean, he’s called Nate. Did the Naughty Dog guys, did they address this? Has this been ever talked about?
Claudia: I think we were talking about it the other day and I think, he’s very liked, he’s very respected, he’s a real actor’s actor, so I think they’d be thrilled. For us, really, I mean, Gordon Hunt our director was always saying that we were making a movie and there’s ninety minutes of stuff that we made. So we feel like we’ve already made our film, but I think Nathan would be a great pick.
Gweedz: I was just wondering if they had some take there because to me, it always did feel, especially with the first one, it always did feel almost like when you’re Snake in Metal Gear Solid, it is kind of like you’re being Snake in Escape from the Ark and that kind of thing. So it felt like there was a bit of homage there, but it could be like completely coincidental.
Josh: Doesn’t an Uncharted movie scare you a little bit like a World of Warcraft movie scares me?
Gweedz: Why dilute it at this point?
Josh: It’s such a great story that I expect a movie to kind of raise the bar on that story, yet again. I don’t know. I think it could be a huge failure. I hate to say it because it was such a great game, but it’s just got to be done right.
Gweedz: I have a quick question from Church4252 and then we gotta move on. It’s for Claudia, but it’s not about Uncharted 2, I guess we have to get one Scaper question in here… “Do you miss your role in Farscape and how did you feel when you first learned that the show was cancelled?”
Claudia: My first thought when the show was cancelled was that I was wrong and I was wrong every single year. So the first year I thought, “We’re getting cancelled for sure.” And I said that for the next four years until Sci-Fi (Now Syfy) bought us for two seasons and then suddenly, at the last minute they cancelled us. So, thank god I hadn’t bought a house with a mortgage and hadn’t put money on betting. It was a really weird feeling. I mean, we kind of, I felt really, really sad for the fans because we knew how we were going to end the last episode of that season and it didn’t end well for our characters. So it was a pretty dark way to go. Were it not for, it was unprecedented that the fans were able to get enough money up and enough interest up to necessitate the making of the miniseries afterwards.
Gweedz: Well it frees you up to get exciting roles like in Uncharted 2 and that’s awesome. I want to show another trailer for that and then we are going to get into talking about the game just a little bit more, some of our hands on reactions.
Gweedz: Wow! Were the mics up for that one? Was that heard? The girls were just talking about how hot he is! Is he really that hot?!
Nikole: Yes! And I finally understand. All those years I wondered why the ninja guides (?) in the Dead or Alive’s all had these girls with like amazingly big boobs that jiggled even if they weren’t moving? I wondered if guys really liked that and with Nathan, I get it.
Josh: I think they did a really good job rendering the female characters asses.
Claudia: (Laughing) I agree! I thought they gave me the best ass, I think, in gaming history! And that’s why we ended up with one of the lines in the game. I won’t spoil, but it was sort of improvised really.
Gweedz: It’s great! It’s true. You stare at a character’s ass for the entire time you are playing the game. And Uncharted 2 does move the camera around a lot, but you do, you stare at the characters ass for a large amount of time.
Josh: Yeah, you stare at a guys ass the whole time, but every once in a while a female character will go walking by.
Gweedz: That’s why if I get the option, I always play as the girl. How did it play? What did we think of the actual game itself? We’ve gushed over the story and the presentation and rightly so, but how does it play?
Josh: I really liked it. And I’m not great at games where you have to balance on a beam. In Prince of Persia, I’m the guy who falls off a lot, you know? So I thought this one was a little more intuitive. It was not too easy, but easy enough to figure out where you needed to go next or where you needed to jump to or scale to. And I thought they did a really, really great job with splitting up the tension in the game with the cut scenes to almost sort of hold the tension of the game.
Gweedz: Have you played the game? Did you do a lot of hands on with it? Or do you just let other people demo it for you generally?
Claudia: I played it a little, especially at E3, in easy mode.
Gweedz: Which is fine! They call that tortoise mode, but I think it’s great! If you can experience the game, you don’t have to be the best. I don’t expect everyone to know how to take cover and shoot because we do this a lot more than you, probably.
Claudia: Yeah, and it’s just a different experience for me personally. When Emily Rose (Elena Fisher in the game) was trying to teach me how to play (Laughs) she, um…
Gweedz: That’s great that she’s teaching you.
Claudia: Yeah, it was so cool. So we were sitting there at E3 and she was sort of trying to show me and she was finding the chase scene in front of the jeep a little difficult and we were trying to work out how to do it and someone gave us a tip and, ugh! The idea, I mean, my brain just doesn’t sink into that gamer way of, “Oh, of course you would climb up a wall twenty steps and then traverse and then hang on a sign and then swing down.” And in my brain it took me awhile to sort of rethink things and think that way. I’m definitely inspired to give it a go. But I did a promo for Xbox when it first came out in Australia and all I had to do for five minutes was play with a ten year old kid a tennis game and make it look like they won and I got a free Xbox and a ton of games and I worked on Uncharted for over a year and I just want to know, Sony, where my PS3 went to…?
Claudia: It just… It must have gone missing in the UPS truck or something.
Gweedz: Hook her up! She needs a BluRay player in every room of the house, Sony.
Claudia: I want to play, do you guys have sort of like, dirty gamer confessions? I really want to play DJ Hero! (Imitates a DJ spinning)
Josh: Yeah, that is going to give you a whole new kind of cramp in your hand. You know, when you first start playing Guitar Hero and you had to re-teach your hands how to play a game because it started cramping up.
Gweedz: Again, Claudia, it is such a pleasure to have you here, especially on the week of release. We’ve all been hearing your voice all week. People are just so excited to have you here. What else can you tell us about the production? How early did they bring you on here since there was so much involvement? I know you’ve worked on other games; you are going to be in some of the upcoming Bioware stuff, um, how early did they get you in there?
Claudia: I think by the time we were on board, we were at least one or two years into the process of Uncharted 2.
Gweedz: That’s standard.
Claudia: Yeah, but it took a long time. This is the longest it’s taken me, you know, in my mind, my longest involvement in a game, ever. It is my first MoCap one however. I have to say, the success of this game could not come to a more deserving group. They worked, I’ve never seen people put in these hours. I’m hoping, and that’s my only concern, is that if they do do an Uncharted 3, I’m hoping that they find a way to have the same quality or better, but with fewer hours because these people really didn’t sleep. They were SO devoted.
Gweedz: Really cool, Ethan23 he wants the inside dirt. He wants to know if there is any Easter Eggs, anything to look out for. I know you were talking about some of those funny voice recordings that you’re not sure if they made it in, but do you know if there are any Easter Eggs in the game? Can we tease?
Claudia: I don’t know what I’m allowed to say!
Nikole: So is that a maybe?
Gweedz: It’s out now!
Josh: Yeah, it’s out. No holds barred. They’ve shown you some stuff.
Claudia: Well, we did SO much stuff in that booth and Amy would say to me, Amy Hennig (the director), “You’d be surprised what we keep in.” So I don’t know… There could be all kinds of things in there that I’d (Laughs) be ashamed of, so I better get my hands on a copy!
Gweedz: That’s what happens to me when I come here and start drinking. You never know what is going to come out when you get in the hot booth.
Then there was a segment called Top Seven and they talked about different games.
Gweedz: I got a question coming in from BoRyan He wants to know, Claudia, “What did you like about working on Uncharted 2 compared to Farcry since they are similar games?” What did you like about it compared to, I mean, you’ve worked on a lot of games. Is there, without naming any names, a way not to do it? Is there a way where it’s just kind of like a ‘gig’?
Claudia: I’m yet to work on something that is just a paycheck.
Gweedz: That’s AWESOME! I love to hear that.
Claudia: Thank you! And it’s not a lie, but I have to say of all the things I’ve done, when I started doing video games and I came here and started having babies and it was sort of easier for me to continue working with the belly without being actually directly on camera, I was really enjoying doing it. And some people in the acting community seemed to be turning their noses down at the fact that I was moving into video games. It’s huge business. Games do better than movies and I have to say out of everything I’ve ever done, Uncharted is up there with one of the best experiences of my career to date.
Gweedz: Now a really good friend of mine who is a huge Farscape fan, he actually started the Farscape 1 and Farscape wiki, had a question for you. It was, “Besides being a huge Farscape fan, I am also a fan of Australian football. This is partially due to Farscape since it was mostly an Australian cast, but I was wondering, what team do you support? I am a Blues fan. And I am not afraid to admit it.”
Claudia: (Smiles really big) Go Swans! That’s a different code I’m thinking. Look, let’s face it girls, as long as they’re wearing those short shorts and those tight tops with those lovely arms, who cares what team they’re playing for! (Laughs)
Claudia: (Shrugs her shoulders confused) ….. Pretty awesome? (Gives a thumbs up).
Gweedz: Do you ever feel that fandom sometimes gets to a point where they really have nothing to say, but they just have to say something, so it’s like, ‘Hey! Do you remember that thing where you said this and did that… Because I do… Yeah, could you talk about that for awhile?!’
Claudia: Well, at the latest Comic-Con in Atlanta (It was actually Dragon*Con, but oh well, we still love her anyway.) we asked who was new to Farscape and I’d say almost 99% of the room raised their hands. And I was always taught that there are no stupid questions.
Nikole: Only stupid people!
Claudia: (Laughs) Right.
Gweedz: We hear you can sing… Are you going to be doing an album anytime soon?
Claudia: Yes. I start recording in the shower next week. Good acoustics. (Laughs)
Gweedz: What was it like working with puppets?
Claudia: Logistically? It can be bloody difficult! With all the people that are needed to control the puppet. Henson made them look so real, the eyes moved and the eyebrows and there was a person for each part. So you had to step around all those people without looking at them.
Gweedz: What extras can we look forward to on the box set of Farscape?
Claudia: We told everyone back at the San Diego Comic-Con that there are features that have never been on there before. Farscape Undressed is going to be on there which a lot of people missed because it only aired once. And they are really trying to get the webisodes up and running.
Claudia: Yeah! What the F?!
Gweedz: (Laughs) There is a lot of swearing in the game. Sometimes it swears before I can! Like if I fall off a cliff, Drake says damn it before I can! What other things are on there? What’s you favorite curse?
Claudia: They cut out a lot. Our editor was up at 3 am trying to edit some of it out. My favorite? It’s really bad… Are you sure you want me to say it?
Then Claudia said something so completely inappropriate and unexpected that I nearly fell off my chair I was laughing so hard! But for the sake of the young readers, I’m going to leave it out of this report. Suffice it to say “The Comment” was hilariously filthy and a shock to hear come out of Claudia’s mouth! LOL!!!
Then she did a shout out for them. You know, “Hi, this is Claudia Black from Uncharted 2 and you are watching thestream.tv”
Gweedz: Thank you so much and please come back!
Claudia: Not a chance. (Smiles)
It was a lovely interview. I can’t wait for the Farscape/Stargate convention in LA this year so that I can see Claudia again in person!