When it was initially revealed last June,left some gamers feeling apprehensive. One of the reasons? The voice actors. Some were wary the game would be similar to 2020’s , which featured characters that looked and sounded different than their counterparts.
Fast-forward to the game’s release and people have fallen in love with it. Why? In part, the voice actors.
“It’s such a strong story, with great characters, and we were just so happy to be a part of that and to thankfully and gratefully do these characters justice for the fans,” said Jon McLaren, the voice of Star-Lord in the game. “It was almost impossible for it to not shine through.”
McLaren played the lead role in the Eidos developed Guardians of the Galaxy game and received a British Academy Games Award nomination. His co-stars Alex Weiner (Rocket) and Jason Cavalier (Drax) also were nominated for their support performances. The recognition for their performances, along with , exemplifies the stark contrast to the initial negative reaction from gamers.
The group of voice actors worked together over four years before the game’s release last October. While they bonded over the course of the project, there was pressure. All the actors involved essentially had to reinvent well-established (and well-loved) characters that already existed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“There was a bit of tension, obviously, because it is a little scary to open that door and to play a character like that,” Weiner said.
One thing that helped the voice actors to, well, find their voice was guidance from the game’s senior narrative director, Mary DeMarle. She urged them to be free with the characters, have fun and ignore what was done in the MCU and with other versions of the cosmic superhero team.
The game also features an emotionally rich story, McLaren said, a dream for any actor.
“One of my favorite things about the game is the broad spectrum of emotion that it shows. Themes of family and grief, loss are all there, and they’re very kind of basic, fundamental human qualities that we all share,” McLaren said. “I think that’s why the game connects with so many people … all over the world is because they’re all things that we share in common.”
McLaren and Weiner shared some of the most emotionally charged moments in the game because Star-Lord and Rocket routinely argue, in part to cover up their own emotional scars. Outside of those tense moments, the two had fun, including one particular cut scene where their characters begin barking after being influenced by telepathic space dog Cosmo.
“I remember shooting that,” McLaren said, pointing at Weiner, “and you immediately just, without even any planning, took on this high-pitched, like, Chihuahua bark. I took on the role of almost, like, an alpha dog, because StarLord likes to think he’s an alpha dog. And we were crying laughing.”
Weiner also reminisced about a line of dialogue where he, as Rocket, translates one of Groot’s “I am Groot,” lines for the rest of the characters, and how it took him 10 minutes to say the line because of how much he was laughing.
“Rocket’s line was, ‘Groot says all the cucumbers he’s ever met are terrified on the inside’ — because we were talking about salads or something — and I just couldn’t stop laughing because I’m, like, That’s so true,” Weiner said. Can you imagine Groot “walking into a grocery store, and he’s hearing the cries of the aisles of cucumbers and tomatoes?”
Square Enix and Eidos Montreal have yet to confirm whether a sequel is in the works. If there is, McLaren and Weiner couldn’t say so anyway. During the four years of the current game’s production, they had to keep their roles under wraps.
“You know, whenever I would pass a raccoon on the streets of Toronto, I would go up to them and I would tell them the secret,” Weiner said. “They would swear they wouldn’t tell anybody, and obviously they kept their word.”