31 JanRaphael Sbarge: Jennifer Hale Q&A Part 1
Hi. This is Raphael Sbarge, and I’m so excited today, because based on the success and the response of all the audioblogs that have sort of gone before this, and people have written such wonderful notes of appreciation. I wanna sort of bring to you, for the first time in actual present time, my friend Jennifer Hale and I actually speaking live together.
We’ve spent hours and hours and hours speaking together in Mass Effect, and have never actually done so in real time – of course, because we recorded on separate days. So I wanted to, with no further ado, bring and introduce you to Jennifer Hale. Hold on one second.
Raphael: Jennifer, are you there?
Raphael: Hey, we’re on.
Raphael: How are you?
Jennifer: I’m well, how are you?
Raphael: I’m good. I just was saying that this is sort of for the first time in actual, sort of present time, that we’re actually sort of speaking live together, as opposed to being on separate days.
Jennifer: We’re actually really talking to each other.
Raphael: We’re really talking. I just went online and watched a scene, sort of the, I guess the final, romantic farewell between Kaidan and femShep [Editor's note: It was a video on YouTube. NOT a spoiler.]
Jennifer: Oh … how was it?
Raphael: It’s pretty uh … it’s pretty uh … It’s a hot scene!
Jennifer: Awesome! Awesome! I remember that, I remember recording that scene. OK, now it’s weird talking to you.
Raphael: I know! It’s sort of: Hello!
Jennifer: Yeah, that was fun. That was fun. You know, there’s such a certain safety in what we do, because you know, there’s that iron curtain of actually no one else is in the room.
Raphael: Right [laugh]. It’s sort of you alone, in a room with a microphone; you can kind of go anywhere.
Raphael: So, amazingly, and I didn’t know this until just recently, I guess you now have the distinction of being in the Guiness Book of World Records as the person who has recorded more videogames than anyone else. Is that right?
Jennifer: I guess so! That’s what someone told me. I had no idea. It’s a trip.
Raphael: Incredible; so if you’re not in a videogame, either it’s not been released, or they haven’t even thought about it yet.
Jennifer: Hey, I like that. I like that. There’s room for all of us. We all need a break.
Raphael: That’s great. That’s great. Well, you started, obviously back with Mass Effect 1. When you came onto it, did you just audition for it, like the rest of the world? How did they find you?
Jennifer: Yep. Just auditioned along with everybody else. Yeah.
Raphael: And what did you make of this whole idea that essentially, that you would be the female version – someone would effectively be sharing the part with you?
Jennifer: You know what’s funny, is I only realized like, probably a few days ago that I never even thought about that. You know, to me, I get so focused on whatever it is that I’m doing, I don’t – the big picture is important to me in terms of context, and what the writer wants. And then I just don’t think about the rest.
Raphael: Yeah, yeah.
Jennifer: I kind of threw into the femShep 1,000% because that’s what’s required, and I don’t even think about manShep unless it comes into the moment of recording and I need to. Or broShep, I suppose we’re calling him. Yeah.
Raphael: Is he referenced in the game?
R: As an alter-ego? Or is it just…
Jennifer: Nope. Never. You either are female, or you are male. One or the other.
Raphael: Right. Right. Right. Has femShep, in a certain sense – from a character development point of view – has she changed from 1, 2 to 3?
Jennifer: Yep. She has totally evolved.
Jennifer: She’s become … you see her humanity more in 3. You know, I can’t, I don’t want to give anything away, but you definitely see her humanity a little bit more in 3. And things have just gotten harder in 3. There’s so much more going on, and it’s so much more intense. And it just keeps coming. And she’s tired. And she’s maybe not always 1,000% confident. She has to proceed as if she is, but for the first time doubt is really rearing its ugly head.
Raphael: Hmmm. You know it is the thing that I’ve found so – and you really are the expert in this because you’ve been in so many games, but I’m curious, from your point of view … I mean, from the games that I’ve done, which is far less: There are characters that they’ve written, that they’ve sort of crafted, in Mass Effect anyway … they seem more like real people, as opposed to just superheroes, in a way.
Jennifer: Yes. You know, I think that’s part of the evolution of the whole business. I think that graphics are coming along, and the animation’s coming along so much that you’re seeing more and more nuance, visually. Which allows us as actors to back off, and just be. We don’t have to dress it up that extra little bit to carry over maybe what the animation’s missing, because technology’s just not there yet. Technology’s there. The nuance is getting more and more refined. And we’re allowed to do less and less, and therefore be more and more human, and more real. Which I think is elevating the whole thing.
Raphael: That’s really cool. That’s really cool. I’ve never heard anyone say that, but that makes a lot of sense.