From Halo to World of Warcraft: An Interview With Voice Artist Laura Bailey

John Keefer | 26 Aug 2015 16:00
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You may not know her name, but you will know her voice. She has been Jaina Proudmoore in World of Warcraft, and done voice work for Diablo 3, Dragon Age, Dragon Ball Z and Halo. She has more than 200 games, anime shows and films to her credit, and Laura Bailey just keeps on going.

We got a chance to talk to her about her 15+-year career and what it's like to put a voice to some of the most interesting characters in games.

The Escapist: You have an incredible portfolio of games and anime that you have done voices for. I think you got started with Dragon Ball Z in 1999. Did you specifically set out to do voicework and how was the initial experience?

Laura Bailey: I didn't actually. I knew I wanted to be an actor but the decision for voice acting specifically didn't come until years later. I started at Funimation directly after high school, so the time I spent there was sort of like my college experience. I would show up in my pajamas and record for 8 hours at a time. Everyone at the studio was like family.

Escapist: Your first game was BloodRayne in 2002, where you played the main character. Was the preparation any different from doing anime? What type of research did you do?

LB: The whole process is different. Video games feel kind of like western animation in that there is far more freedom in the performance. With anime you're confined to the perimeters set by the original recording, but in most video games you get to build it from the ground up. So once the details have been decided, there's more room to play.

Escapist: You have a huge library of voice work in games. What has been your favorite role and why?

LB: Honestly, that answer changes daily for me. Every character I've voiced lives on forever just kind of bumping into everything else inside my brain. So depending on my mood, I feel more connected to certain ones. Today... Today I'll say Fetch from Infamous Second Son. It's pretty rare to get the opportunity to get to portray someone as bold and passionate as she is. Plus the entire shooting process was a dream. I got to work with my husband and my best friend everyday on set. Kind of ridiculous really.

laura bailey - photo credit, isaac sterling (10)

Escapist: On the other side, what has been your most challenging role?

LB: It's funny, because often my favorite roles ARE the most challenging. One of the aspects I love most about acting is the escape. The ability to forget yourself and experience things in a way that you never would normally. (Coincidentally, that's one of the reasons I love RPGs so much as well) So Fetch was also one of the most challenging... She had some really dark moments, especially those during First Light, that were painful to explore.

Escapist: You do the voice of Jaina Proudmoore in World of Warcraft, a pretty important character in Blizzard's universe. Were you familiar with the game when you did the voice work, and was there any added pressure given the popularity of the franchise?

LB: I was familiar with her and WoW, but I didn't realize when I was cast just how key she was. So as I learned more, I got more intimidated. :) I think the real pressure came during these last couple expansions when Jaina really started to change because of the world events. I knew a lot of fans might be resistant to the new vengeful Jaina, but I enjoyed getting to see that other side of her after all these years.

Escapist: One of your most recent voices was the lead character Fiona for Telltale's Tales from the Borderlands. Tell us about that character.

LB: Fiona is such a freakin badass. It's hard because out of her and Rhys, she's a much harder character to get to know. While Rhys is more open to relationships, Fiona has one person in the world that she'll let in. Her sister. After the betrayals she's been exposed to, everyone else is intentionally kept beyond her walls. So it's a beautiful and often hilarious thing to see her stumble upon intimate emotions again. The writing in that game is some of the most fun I've ever seen.

Escapist: You also will be voicing Spartan Olympia Vale in Halo 5: Guardians. The franchise is another one that is very popular. You voiced Dr. Rivera in Halo 4, but were you familiar with what a Spartan was when you took the job? How would you describe your portrayal of Vale?

LB: Oh yeah, I mean I spent countless hours playing Halo games in the past, so I was very familiar with it. Vale is interesting because she's a bit different than other Spartans. She hasn't had the tragic background that brought most of them to the war. She's more drawn to finding out what makes the other side tick. She's also fluent in Sangheili, which makes for some cool moments throughout the game.

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