If you're a video game fan and you've played some of the biggest titles to come out in recent years, there's a huge chance you've heard the voice of Courtenay Taylor come out of your television screen at some point or another. Not just a talented actress when it comes to being on camera, Courtenay is a woman who absolutely loves doing voiceover work, and she's now taken on the role of the main female protagonist in the new Fallout 4 game.
We got the chance to put some questions to Courtenay about her career path so far, the new game and much more - read on to find out what she had to say.
I'm fascinated by this world of voice acting and voiceover artists - how do you find yourself going into a career path such as this one?
How did I find myself going into voiceover? I think as a kid I liked to talk, I liked to read out loud and I liked to perform. Later on that led to me taking acting classes, studying at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, and after a not-so-successful audition for a Masters program in New York, where I was told I actually did not have a good voice, and that was the main reason that they would not look at my audition and my application, until I went to a doctor and got checked for vocal cord nodes, that my voice was gonna be such a problem, they wouldn't accept my application.
I was directed to a voiceover class from my voice and speech teacher at ACT, and the minute I got behind the mic I just loved it. I knew I'd found my thing.
Then I ended up relocating to Los Angeles, and making the commitment that I would take any kind of acting that came my way but that I was really there to do voiceover. Slowly but surely that started to transpire. I took classes and continue to take class to this day here and there, and just try and be the best actor I can be and keep the jobs coming.
What tips or advice do you have for people who might want to go into a similar vein of work?
My advice for people who wanna get into voiceover is to treat it like on-camera acting. Take class, study, protect your instrument, be as versatile as you can be physically with your voice, and focus on what it is that you do best and throw it out there. In the mean time take great care of your voice and continue to take classes like improv and how to break down a scene, and how to build a character, all of those things. Feed voiceover just as strongly as they do on-camera work or on-stage work.
You've been involved in some huge games and have voiced the female protagonist in Fallout 4 out now - what can you tell us about your character in that title?
I can't tell you much about Fallout 4's main character, but I do play the voice of the main female protagonist, so if you choose to create your character as a woman, I will be the voice of your character. I am married to my husband and if you so choose to create a male character, Brian T Delaney will be voicing my husband, your male character. We have a child and we have established a life before the bombs drop at which point, everything changes.
There was such huge anticipation surrounding Fallout 4's release - do you ever feel a pressure because of all the expectation?
I didn't really feel any pressure about the release of Fallout 4 until I went to the Bethesda press conference during E3 of 2015. When I saw so many people lined up for that press conference I started to understand moreso. Because the game hadn't been announced at that point, there wasn't a lot of chatter on Twitter, I wasn't seeing a lot of articles, anything like that, so we were kind of in a cocoon at that point. The cocoon was totally broken open once they officially announced that Fallout 4 was announced, and then I started to understand the magnitude of what we had taken on by being the voices of these characters.
I had done Fallout New Vegas, but I don't think I grasped the scope of how much people love this franchise and people who make this game. The devs and designers that are involved with this are rock stars, and it all became very apparent to me that week.
How long a process is recording dialogue for a game, and especially Fallout 4 with it including over 110,000 lines of dialogue in total?
We recorded dialogue for Fallout 4 for two years almost exactly. That is on the long side for a game. I know that in 2014 Fallout New Vegas held the record for a single player game, as far as the amount of dialogue, it was something like 65,000 lines, and now it's almost double in this game. It's actually somewhere around 118,000, is what I've been told most recently.
In my experience I have always sort of come in towards the end of a game and done the voice work at that time, from a much shorter period of time, but this was my first gig as a player voice and now I'm probably spoiled because we had so much time to explore these characters and do this work, and I don't know if it'll ever be like that again.
How collaborative an experience is it when bringing your take to a character conceived by a creator?
Collaboration varies. It depends on the company that's doing the game, what the title is, what my role is. I've had people play for me in this session so I can follow along with the build of the game, and I've come in and just banged out characters with not a lot of information, it varies from job to job.
It's always interesting, whether I'm coming in and they're saying, 'just do exactly what you did in the audition', or if they're working with me to make changes and grow and shape a character beyond, or differently than I had originally imagined it. Obviously I love more collaboration, but some days I come in and it's less about the character and more about the technical aspects of distance or particular death sounds or fighting sounds.
Really each job, each character is different and I love that aspect of the job. And sometimes I just come in and scream commands at other people, and that can be really cathartic in its own way too! (laughs) And then I get in the booth! Haha, just kidding.
When we did Fallout 4, someone from Bethesda was on the line listening in for almost every session we did, so although they weren't in the room, they were definitely present. They did however allow us to play a lot in the booth and to have our director Kal-El Bogdanove take the reins and get us to where we needed to go.
You'll also be voicing the female Captain in the Firefly Online game currently in development - what can you tell us about that project?
I am very excited to be voicing the female Captain in the Firefly Online game. I can tell you that Wil Wheaton is the male Captain and that the on-camera cast will be joining in on that game. I just spent some time with Sean Maher and we were talking about the game and what a great experience it was to work with Andrea Romano, the director.
There is a healthy amount of Mandarin phrasing in there, so the fans that love that part of the verse will not be disappointed. It was very difficult to do, we had a translator helping us in the booth. But between the translator and the audio engineer who was of Chinese descent, I think they whipped Wil and I into shape pretty well. I was pretty happy with the lines that I heard as the translator told me I had a pretty good accent, even though I didn't know what I was saying! (laughs)
The game itself incorporates a lot of what you love from the series, the mixture of genres, I think the supporting cast is pretty fantastic and will help make the Firefly universe consistent with what fans have expected in the past. Spark Plug Games know they have this rich vein of material to mine and they're taking their time and doing it right. They know how passionate the fanbase is for this game and they're willing to take the time to come up with something that fans are gonna be really excited about.
Can you tell us about any other projects you have lined up for the coming months going into 2016?
As far as what's coming up for me in 2016, there are always great new episodes of Regular Show, I play Starla, Muscle Man's girlfriend as well as other female characters and, the good folks over at Cartoon Network will be dropping some funny on you.
My NDAs are pretty ironclad, so I can't give out too much information, but I'm looking forward to a big game coming out at the beginning of 2016, and if you wanna follow along on the Internet, I post all updates and announcements on my Facebook news page, which is just Courtenay Taylor News, you can sign up for my news page on Facebook, you can follow me on Twitter, I'm on all the time, love talking to folks on Twitter @CourtenayTaylor. You can also see goofy pictures on Instagram @CourtenayTaylorLA, I do try to mix it up a little bit so you'll get different things on each platform.
I will be going to a few conventions. I'll be at Magic City Con in Miami in January and also a couple more conventions, all that's listed on the aforementioned pages as well as courtenaytaylor.com