For some reason, and I have no idea why, I always seem to be in right place at the right time. Via a rather complicated ten year tale of Hollywood producers and Transformer movies, I now have a lot of chums in the movie business including Justin Zimmerman, owner of Brickerdown productions and creator of the rather fantastic Killing Jar graphic novel.
I can’t remember the exact circumstances, I think I may have posted something on Facebook about Grand Theft Auto V, but Justin popped up on Facebook chat saying that he knew Steven Ogg, AKA the brilliant Trevor from the game. You can guess the rest, so without further ado we present a TSA exclusive interview with the man who became possibly the biggest character in gaming during 2013.
TSA: Trevor stole the show and became an instant fan favourite, were you surprised at how popular the character was immediately after the game launched?
Steven Ogg: I was flattered and happy that the fans enjoyed Trevor. There is so much to the game and so many things to enjoy that to be “singled out” was pretty damn special. To me Trevor represents the “id” of the game and is definitely the crazy one. If I played games, he is certainly the character I would want to play.
TSA: You are getting a lot of love at conventions, but have fans been stopping you in the street for autographs?
Steven: Every time I answer no to that or tell someone I never get stopped in the streets, I inevitably get stopped in the street. It does definitely happen, but not on a daily basis. It really seems to depend on what I happen to be wearing. It’s very flattering when people do – they are always very kind. These fans have been very, very cool I have to say.
TSA: I assume the dialogue was recorded before any animation was completed, so you had to channel the entire performance through just your voice. How does that change the way you prepare for it compared to a more traditional role?
Despite my best and repeated efforts there is still that complete misconception out there about I was “just the voice.” The performances were all fully motion captured.
It was just like shooting a movie or TV show aside from the fact we were adorned with mo-cap suits. Take any performance you see on the screen and animate it – that’s what everyone did. The dialogue was recorded at the same time as the performance – the face, the body, the voice were all captured together. The only time we actually just recorded dialogue was for the car scenes – when people are driving around and chatting. Everything else was a fully realized performance.
The only difference between doing theatre, TV, film and video games? Just technical. A performance is a performance.
TSA: There is a lot of incidental dialogue in the game, was any of it ad-libbed?
Steven: Some choose to ad-lib a little more than others, but everything was on the page. It’s our job as actors to say what is written and at times we all embellished or asked about changing something here or there, but overall it was all there for us to feast on.
TSA: Did you have a favourite line of dialogue, perhaps something that summed up the character?
Steven: I’m a big fan of Trevor saying “I have to meditate. Or masturbate. Or both.” I thought that pretty damn funny and seemed to sum up Trevor quite well. Of course there were many, many more.
TSA: Trevor is morally dubious, to say the least, is there anything you did not like about the character?
Steven: I mean I can’t say he is the best guy in the world or a leader by any means, but as an actor I would focus on what I did like about Trevor.
TSA: If you were writing the game and could have Trevor doing anything, what would it be?
Steven: I think it would be nice if Trevor took his RV on the road for a cross country road trip. Go see the sights, bring his gal and have a good ol’ time. Something normal would be a nice contrast and great to see!
TSA: The Quantic Dream game, Beyond: Two Souls, has been pitched like a movie with Ellen Page and William Dafoe pushed as the “stars”. Do you think we’re getting to the point where video games are recognised as an equal to film and television, where big names on the poster can almost guarantee big sales?
Steven: I think those “star” names legitimize the video games in a way more than guaranteed big sales – you know?
GTA V had no “big names” and it certainly did alright. Bringing in marquee names like Mr. Dafoe and Ms. Page to video games and have them talking about them as just another medium for which an actor can work in – that just really helps drive home the point that if it’s being motion-captured then a video game characters’ performance is just like any other actor’s performance – the only difference is that it is animated.
TSA: Do you play games in general, if so what do you play?
Steven: I play mind games only. As in I like to ‘F’ with peoples heads. Ha, ha.
No, I don’t play games. The last time I was actually really into a game was probably Pac Man or that driving game in the arcade. I really got to give these games a shot though, because they do look so damn cool!
TSA: So have you had a chance to play on GTA V at all?
Steven: I have not played with myself yet. No, wait that didn’t sound right did it? I have played with myself. No, wait… that’s not what I meant either. I’ve actually not played the game and have only watched clips on YouTube.
TSA: Is there a particular role or character you would like to play in a game or movie?
Steven: Honestly, I just love to work. I love a variety and if I could just wave a magic wand it would be a character like Johnny “Rooster” Byron in Jez Butterworth’s play “Jerusalem.” Or I’d love to go and shoot a film in northern Canada where I get to grow a beard and have man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. himself – something like the sequel to “The Grey.”
I am definitely attracted to the fringe characters and someone with lots of colorful layers.
TSA: What is next for you? You have a huge fanbase now!
Steven: Just wrapped shooting a wonderful film written and directed by the amazingly talented Jason Krawczyk: He Never Died. Henry Rollins stars in it and it was one of the best experiences ever – everyone was incredible and such a delight. That should be coming out summer/fall of 2014. I also have some short films lined up for the new year, but aside from that it’s back to trying to get in those doors and audition for projects.
Many thanks to Steven for taking time out of his busy schedule for this interview, and also to Justin for setting this up.