Steve West: Actor
Having appeared in Mamma Mia! in the West End and in the critically acclaimed American TV drama Mad Men, Steve West took on an altogether different acting challenge – starring in a video game. He played the lead role of Sir Galahad in The Order: 1886, which reached number one in the UK gaming charts in March
How did your part in the game come about?
It came through my voice-over agent. I had to go and meet the people at Sony and have an audition on the sound stage – pretty much a cross between a film and a stage audition, because its in the round and there’s way more movement. They seek people [in LA] who have a stage background – it’s a little bit larger than TV and film acting.
What was the acting process like?
The difference with the motion capture is that you’re obviously in those suits, so there’s no costume. There’s also no stage to speak of, it’s just a huge open sound stage, with different types of cameras. There’s also two or three people following you around with cameras. And the stage itself is blocked out, but there may be poles to represent a wall, or a box represents your table. You go back to being a child really, pretending you’re in your 18th-century carriage, and it’s a wooden sort of box with two guys rocking it. And you also get a camera, a really small one, attached to your head, which captures all your face, which is covered in green dots. But that’s why they also want people with TV and film experience, because they are capturing all of your facial movements and transferring that over. It’s not just a voice job like it used to be. It’s also kind of filmic in terms of the microphone, so your voice doesn’t need to be big, you can have all those subtle nuances.
How does it feel watching the final scenes and gameplay?
It’s interesting, because it is you and it isn’t you. Different characters look more like the people that they’re moulded on than others – mine doesn’t look that much like me. I’m not nearly mid-40s, it’s a slightly different look. It’s interesting as an actor, because there’s that distance in one way, and yet I see myself in it, I can hear myself in it. Maybe it feels less narcissistic as an actor.
Given the chance, would you star in another game?
I definitely would. From doing it, I absolutely loved it. The melding of the different art forms to make it – I think it’s important as an actor to do things like this or do different things, because the industry is changing. It’s not what is was. It’s always gone through different cycles, through the golden age of cinema; we started on stage with music halls and all of that stuff and now we’re on to the internet with Netflix and all of this, and video games are becoming this huge other entity, as big as movies if not bigger. So I think as an actor I’d be stupid not to want to be a part of that side of the industry.
Finally, you won a Stage Scholarship when you were 17, didn’t you?
I won your scholarship for a foundation course to the Academy in Whitechapel, so you guys were actually what gave me my start, training-wise. Prior to that, I’d just done theatre classes outside school. It’s been 15, 20 years since I did that, and now I’m over here in crazy LA doing this.