Synopsis - Talken, had to be contacted for her work in Starcraft entertained me for many hours. I know her as Sarah Kerrigan, you may recognise her as Julie Winters, The Rogue or Glynnis Talken the author! She was delighted to answer my questions and a pleasure to interview.
Question -What inspired you the most to take on vocal roles?
Talken - No one wanted to pay me for my mime work. No, seriously, I studied music at college, singing opera by day and rock 'n' roll by night. When I moved to L.A., I joined an all-girl rock band, The Pinups, and we got a deal with CBS Records. But I quickly learned the rock world is pretty seedy, and my heart just wasn't in it. It was natural for me to move into voiceovers, since I already knew recording studios and mike technique. Also, the idea of playing a wide range of characters was really appealing to me.
Question - Did you start out as by doing impressions?
Talken - I've never done straight impressions. What I've done is "the female version of Clint Eastwood" or "Rosie O'Donnell as a dinosaur" or "Marilyn Monroe when she was a little girl." They're mostly just mind tricks I use on myself. I think it takes a very special talent and a lot of guts to do accurate impressions.
Question - What was your first production?
Talken - I did my very first voiceover when I was about 10 years old. I had a small reel-to-reel deck, and I roped my little brother into doing an audio skit with me. It was a play I'd written about Amenhotep the Egyptian pharoah, and we recorded it complete with satirical commercials. Little did I know what it would lead to...
Question – Voice overs you may be well known for, but according to your profile you were nominated for “RITA best book award” please tell us more about you as the awarded author? womengamers.com
Talken - I've been fascinated with the written word from the time I won a limerick contest at the age of 11. And I've had a lifelong love of towering castles, trusty swords, and knights in shining armor. These passions came together when I started writing historical romance a few years ago. So far I've had four medieval books published by Berkley/Jove. My premier novel, "My Champion," was nominated for a RITA, which is the romance industry's equivalent of an OSCAR, for "Best First Book."
Question – The computer game Star Craft is one of my favorites. You did the voice for mainly Sarah Kerrigan. How long did it take to do the recordings? Were there many retakes?
Talken - Recording Kerrigan's voice for Starcraft took about three hours or so, including a lot of grunting, screaming, heavy breathing... Hmm, I'm not sure that heavy breathing ended up in the game -- maybe the sound guy took it home. <sly grin> There weren't a lot of retakes because of mistakes. I'm a pretty good reader, and the chunks of dialogue were fairly small. But you always do each line at least a couple of times to give the director choices.
Question - An article is up at womengamers.com , are you aware they have voted the voice of Kerrigan 10 out of 10!! How do you feel to be classified as "a veteran voice-over artist"? "Often I find myself replaying the game not for the game play, but to hear what is, on its own terms, a great audio melodrama" !? Sounds like another guy who gets off on the female video game characters, you get a lot of attraction from this?
Talken - I'm delighted by the review. I really enjoy what I do, and it's always gratifying when someone responds to my work by truly understanding it. Attraction? Not really. Voiceover actors are understandably transparent. It's the characters that are usually memorable, not the voices behind them. I think most guys would prefer a two-dimensional female they can control with a joystick anyway!
Question - Do you feel that now you are online at glynnis.net you get a lot of attention?
Talken - Well, more attention than I got NOT having a website. When you're a voiceover actor, nobody points at you on the street and says, hey, aren't you Sarah Kerrigan? Since I've had the website, I've gotten some great e-mail from fans, some jobs, and some cool interviews like this.
Question - On the all of the projects you have participated in, which did you most enjoy and who do you feel really appreciated your work?
Talken - I don't know -- that's kind of like trying to pick your favorite movie. I liked different projects for different reasons. I love doing ensemble cast productions where I get to bounce off the other actors. And just about everyone seems to appreciate my work. Probably the person who got the most excited watching his writing come to life was Sam Kieth, the creator of "The Maxx" comic. It was a kick for me seeing him light up like a little kid with a new toy when we recorded his scripts for MTV.
Question - Have you ever considered trying to voice for Japanese Anime? I can guarantee you would get more sexual attention that way from your characters. I mean seriously if you have ever seen any anime flick, its a mininum requirement for the girls to have massive bouncy objects of desire and the guys to have an 8 pac!
Talken - I'd love to do voices for Japanese anime. I recently watched "Animatrix" and found it really intriguing. As far as more sexual attention, I'm afraid I've got all I can handle <coy wink>.
Question – Kerigian sounds quite different when she becomes infected by the Zerg, what other strategy did you use to make her sound a little different from normal? Sarah Kerrigan.mp3
Talken - Probably my favorite thing about voiceover is completely immersing myself into a character to the extent that people don't know it's the same person. I've done voices for old men, little girls, rubber duckies, tavern wenches, pteradactyls, even Yoda's sister. For infested Kerrigan, I altered my attitude rather than the voice, changing her from a "good guy" to a "bad guy." Also I changed into a really tight leather bustier and fishnets. Okay, kidding. The cool vocal effects came from the sound board. For the music techies out there, the voice was doubled with a harmonizer.
Question – Due to reading out all of the dialogue for Kerrigan, in Starcraft and its sequel Broodwar, what did you think of the storyline, do you feel as an author it had substance?
Talken - Generally, recording sessions are done one character at a time, so you only get to see your lines, which makes the story seem kind of fragmented. Fortunately, the guys at Blizzard filled me in on the basic plot, the missions, the other characters. And, of course, after I saw the first game completed, it became a lot clearer. It's classic "hero's journey" storytelling with characters based on mythic figures, good versus evil, dark versus light, the kind of legends that have existed since the first cave dwellers told them around a fire.
Question – Have you been in contact with Blizzard? Will there be another Starcraft?
Talken - Another Starcraft? I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. No, I'm not privy to the secret workings at Blizzard. The guys contact me when they're ready to record another game, and since the audio is done near the end of the project, after all the programming and CGI, I usually don't know about it till then.
Question - How different are you from the character "Kerrigan" (Star Craft) or (Kashya)
Talken - Well, there may be some who consider me the "Queen Bitch of the Universe," but only if I don't get my morning coffee. Actually, I'm a very quirky person with a Geminian personality, a 4.0 student with black leather in the closet. I've always admired warrior women -- one of my novels features a lady knight, and I take a sword to all my booksignings. But USING a blade is another matter. I'm more of a "pen is mighter than the sword" person. Do I LOOK like Sarah? Hmm, I'll let you decide. Visit my website.
Question - Were you originally casted to play these roles?
Talken - As far as I know, I was the first choice. For "Diablo," the first game I did for Blizzard, they were looking for someone who sounded sort of like the Julie Winters character on MTV's animated series, "The Maxx." Since that was me, I guess I delivered the goods.
Question – If the games were ever made into animated movies, would you like to take on your characters that you once portrayed? Do you think there is enough plot development to make it into a movie?
Talken - Absolutely on both counts! I've never done a feature film, and I'd love to reprise the characters. There are already Starcraft books, so there's definitely enough plot to warrant a movie or two. Besides, they've made, what, half a dozen films based on Pokemon battles?
Question – Over the top, if a Starcraft movie was created, and you were given the task of writing a script, would you allow Kerrigan and Raynor to become romantically involved? I mean they had some chemistry but of the course the game took the story on an action based level.
Talken - As a romance writer, it would definitely be tempting, but I think you have to be true to the genre. People go to action movies because they want to see action. I'm a big fan of both action movies and romance, but there's nothing more irritating and unrealistic to me than a bomb going off in 10 seconds and the couple taking time out for a gratuitous kiss. In an action movie, I think the romance should be based on mutual admiration, self-sacrifice, and the hero and heroine saving each other's butts.
Question – All of your books appear to be romance novels, have you considered making books based on other genres? What about becoming a script writer for some movies?
Talken - I've considered writing in other genres -- mainstream, horror, fantasy, sci fi -- but my romances are pretty action-packed and fulfilling, so I'm enjoying the ride for now. Script writing is its own particular art, and while I'd never rule it out, I've never tried it. I usually think cinematically when I'm writing my novels. But a lot of the fun for me is in writing the description and thoughts, not just the dialogue.
Question - In your entire career which characters' required the least effort and which needed the most to portray correctly?
Talken - The most challenging voice I ever tried to do was a 15-year-old boy. It was an audition, and I didn't get the part. They ended up getting -- what else? -- a 15-year-old boy. Most voices come fairly easily to me. One of the most comfortable voices I've done is Julie Winters for "The Maxx." The sound was very laid-back, strong but vulnerable, and I sort of took a guy-like attitude for her voice.
Question - Did you ever turn down a role?
Talken - No, although someone once suggested I do phone sex. I don't think so. I'd either start giggling or try to analyze the caller's problems: "I see...but don't you think you might be hiding behind an emotional curtain by using the telephone, that you're sublimating your fear of sexual confrontation by... Hello? Hello?"Question - You must have worked with a variety of different people, which ones did you like and dislike?
Talken - I dislike very few people. Consequently, I've been treated well by just about everybody. The guys at Blizzard were great -- a cool mix of CGI nerds and heavy metal bikers. I especially loved working with the crews for "The Maxx" and "Star Wars" audio adventures, because the actors recorded together in the studio, which rarely happens, and I was hugely entertained by all the wit and talent in the room.
Question – Source IMDB contains questionable information, but I have to ask did you work along side Michael Dorn (Worf from Startrek) whilst making Starcraft? He was listed at IMDB for taking on the role as the Goliath pilot in the Starcraft game.
Talken - This is news to me. No, actually I didn't meet any of the other actors, except for the Blizzard guys who doubled as miscellaneous grunts and monsters. At most recording sessions, everyone has their own time slot. I would have liked to have met Michael Dorn. I love his voice, and I have a pug named Worf!
Question - What is the next project? Have you been contacted for an upcoming game in 2004?
Talken - Sneaky you, trying to worm industry secrets out of me again. All right, but just one. I can tell you I was recently contacted by S2 to be the voice of Ophelia for their upcoming game, "Savage," but the session is yet to be scheduled. As for games coming out in 2004, they probably won't be recorded until later in the year. Meanwhile, I've got audiobooks and commercials to keep me busy.
Question – Are you working on another book? Your previous book "My Champion" was given five stars and is selling hot at Amazon!
Talken - Isn't that cool? I'm always working on another book. "My Champion," "My Warrior," and "My Hero" did so well that I'm writing another medieval trilogy. The novels are tentatively titled, "The Exile," "The Archer," and "The Executioner." The greatest thing for me is that, though romance is usually considered "women's fiction," since my books are full of fast-paced adventure, they're selling to men as well.
Question - What are your other interests and hobbies away from voice overs and book writing?
Talken - I've always liked to dance, skate, bicycle, hike, sing, and play the piano. I love going to the movies, visiting museums, trying new foods. I adore travel, whether it's driving to the beach or flying to a foreign country, and I play National Geographic wilderness explorer or upper crust tourist with equal elan. I hunt for treasures in thrift shops and can spend hours in a good used book store. I'm always up for parties, but I like quiet nights at home just as well. And I'm a listaholic. I make lists for the day's activities, shopping lists, lists of DVDs to rent, lists of lists I need to make. One hobby that never caught on for me? Playing Starcraft. I'm lousy at video games, and there's something disconcerting about killing myself off every two minutes.
Question - Is there anything you would like to add?Talken - Thanks so much, Rob, for the interview! Voiceover actors are usually sort of lost in the shuffle, so it's truly flattering when someone like you takes an interest. And a big hug to all of you gamers out there who have listened to my death scream over and over and over... Oh, and I love company -- come sign my guestbook at glynnis.net
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