EXCLUSIVE: LoTR: War in the North Voice Talent Interview
Warner Brothers and Snowblind Studios are gearing up to unleash Lord of the Rings: War in the North on the gaming masses later this year. However, one area of the title that we’ve been in the dark about is the game’s voice talent. That is until today. Warner Bros. and Snowblind have announced that Nolan North (Uncharted’s Nathan Drake), Tom Kane (Yoda in Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and Yuri Lowenthal (Call of Duty: Black Ops) will play three of the main characters in War in the North. Nolan North will be playing the game’s “human” character, while Tom Kane and Yuri Lowenthal will be attempting to fill some big shoes as Gandalf and Frodo, respectively.
To usher in this announcement, we got a chance to sit down and chat with these three gentlemen about the roles they are taking on in Lord of the Rings: War in the North, and what they plan to bring to the table to expand the franchise’s lore.
CraveOnline: Alright, Nolan, I guess we’ll start with you. Having worked on such classic, contemporary gaming franchises as Uncharted and Assassin's Creed, what was it about the Lord of the Rings franchise that made you want to be a part of this project?
Nolan North: I've always been a fan of Tolkien's work. I loved the movies and jumped at the chance to play one of the Dunedain. It's a storied franchise that has impacted generations of people. I love the fact that it can be experienced in print, on the big screen and now on a game console.
CraveOnline: Can you tell us a little about your character and how you went about playing him?
Nolan North: Eradan is a faithful follower of his king, Aragorn. He is brave, heroic and humble. I simply played the role for the game the same way I would have in the feature film. Except no costume. That would have been weird.
But I also get to play another character in the game named Nordri (pictured above). His name is derived from Norse mythology meaning "North", which is my last name. He was fun to voice because he sounds VERY different from me. Those roles are always a bit challenging, but a lot of fun.
CraveOnline: Cool, sounds awesome. OK, switching gears to Tom Kane, you have the difficult task of playing a role that most people already attribute to another actor; I'm of course speaking of Ian McKellen as Gandalf. How are you approaching the lofty expectations placed on you for this role?
Tom Kane: Anytime you voice a character that is so firmly established in everybody's mind, it's completely different than when it comes to developing a character for an animation role, or a video game role. Normally when you're coming up with a character they want to hear something new and fresh, or a new twist on an old voice or something that makes it different. That's definitely not the case when you're doing something as iconic as Gandalf or Yoda, which is another one of my characters. Your job in that case is to try to sound as much like the original character as possible. It may not necessarily be an exact voice match, but you still have to get the attitude, the inflection and the overall feel of the original voice. Otherwise it just won't sound right.
CraveOnline: So, was the goal to mimic what Ian McKellen did before you, or are you going for your own unique take on the character?
Tom Kane: I'm definitely striving for something close to Ian McKellen's portrayal. Again, I'm really working so hard to make a dead on copy of him. But I'm trying to come as close as I can in virtually every way. To, again, make the player or listener instantly accept the voice they're hearing as that of Gandalf. If it's too different, people will get distracted by that, and that takes away from the game.
CraveOnline: Finally we come to Yuri Lowenthal, who is stepping into the pint-sized shoes of Frodo Baggins. Much like Tom with Gandalf, your job is not to come up with something fresh from a vocal standpoint, but is instead to sound as close as possible to Elijah Wood, who played Frodo in the feature films. How are you approaching the role to make sure you like up to fan expectations?
Yuri Lowenthal: Well, if I approach it with that in mind I'd never be able to perform at all. I'm a huge nerd for The Lord of the Rings series and so I already had a fair amount of lofty expectations just coming from me. But I knew that the game designers were looking for the essence of what Elijah brought to the role, as were (I imagine) the fans.
I'm a huge fan of his performance in The Lord of the Rings so I tried to take what he did and then, honoring the material, go from there. It's impossible not to put some of my own spin on it.