When it comes to the sci-fi first-person shooter Destiny, a lot of attention was given to Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage’s performance as players’ “Ghost” companion. He was, after all, your little buddy. But Dinklage is being replaced, making room for the game’s other stars to rise to the forefront in the September expansion, “The Taken King.”
Other stars like Commander Zavala, voiced by none other than actor Lance Reddick, who you know from such TV shows as Lost, Oz, The Wire, and Fringe; from such films as John Wick and White House Down; and maybe even from the game 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand.
Though if talking to Reddick about his role in “The Taken King,” is any indication, players may soon recognize him best as “that guy from Destiny.”
Playboy: Before you signed on to do the voice of Commander Zavala, how familiar were you with Bungie and the Halo games?
Lance Reddick: I can’t say I was very familiar with Bungie. I had heard of them, and of Activision, but I’m not so big a gamer that I know all the companies.
As for Halo, I played it obsessively on PC when my son introduced me to it maybe fifteen years ago, though I’d never played it on Xbox.
So what made you want to do the voice of Commander Zavala in Destiny?
I hate to sound all Hollywood, but it was hearing that Paul McCartney and Peter Dinklage were involved.
Well, sort of. It was more about the whole pitch, but if I’m being honest….
When it came time to record Commander Zavala’s voice, how much of the game did they show you?
Quite frankly, it was at least a year between when I said I would do it and when I did the first voice session. So I actually forgot about it. But they showed me some of the game when I went in for the first session, though they didn’t show me much of it. And I actually didn’t get to play the game until I went to the big unveiling in Seattle.
You’ve worked on a lot of great movies and TV shows. When you met the Bungie guys, did you get a sense that their interest in you was because of your kick ass voice, or because you were in The Wire or Fringe or something else?
It’s so funny, I don’t think I have a kick ass voice. People like Jeffrey Wright [Quantum of Solace, The Hunger Games] and Titus Welliver [Lost, Sons of Anarchy], those guys have kick ass voices. But to answer your question, I think it was both. I think it was partially my voice, but also because of some of the roles I’ve played. I played a commander in The Wire. Command Zavala is not just in the main game of Destiny, he’s also in the upcoming expansion, “The Taken King.” When you first signed on to do Destiny, were expansions like “King” part of the deal, or did that come up later?
What’s funny is that when I signed on, I didn’t realize there was a ten year plan for this game. I just thought I’d do a couple voice sessions and that was it. And because the sessions happened so sporadically, I wouldn’t really think about it because I was busy with other things.
But I have to say, doing the sessions for this new expansion has been really interesting for me because there’s a compelling narrative there that’s really fascinating.
When you went in to record your lines for “The Taken King,” did you find yourself saying anything like, “Actually, I think he’d say it more like this?”
No. I would question certain things, but because so much of the job is saying one or two lines in isolation, I had to rely on the director and the producers to give me the context of the line. But the writing was also really good, and consistent.
So it seems like you’re a bit of a gamer…
Well, a little. I play Destiny. And for a while I was obsessed with Injustice: Gods Among Us. But I wasn’t a huge gamer until Destiny. A couple of times I’ve actually considered getting rid of it because I’ve been playing too much. It’s addictive.
It’s funny, my wife was away this weekend, so I played with a bunch of the guys from Bungie and we did a couple of raids. It was supposed to be an hour and a half but it turned into three hours…We got all the way through “Vault of Glass,” and we started “Crota’s End,” but then my wife got home and that was the end of that. But we’re going to do it again.
Paul Semel has been writing about games (as well as music, movies, books, and other fun stuff) for over twenty years. You can find him online on his own site, paulsemel.com, or follow him on Twitter at @paulsemel.
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