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ComingSoon.net Interview: Ellen Page on Beyond: Two Souls
by Spencer Perry, published on October 8, 2013
Quantic Dream's Beyond: Two Souls, one of the most highly-anticipated video games of the year, hit stores today, and ComingSoon.net got a chance to speak with actress Ellen Page, who plays the lead character Jodie, about her experience working on the game. You can read the full interview followed by the launch trailer below!
ComingSoon.net: To start, how did you end up getting involved with "Beyond: Two Souls"? Ellen Page: Well, it first was sent to me and I did not know what it meant. I had no kind of idea what it meant to be in a video game, but then I looked at the material and was moved by the story and so excited that this female protagonist was going to exist. I played "Heavy Rain" and then I met David and was so intrigued by his intention with this and his intention with creating games that are a little more emotionally complex in regards to story telling. There was just no hesitation, I was like "Yeah I want to do this, even though I have no clue what I'm getting myself into." It was kind of an immediate yes to be honest with you.
CS: So when they sent it to you was it the entire 1,000 page script or a brief synopsis? Page: Yeah, at first it was more sort of a general idea and outline. Also I'm sure for their sake they just wanted to keep things for themselves, they don't want to give too much of it away. Then the main opportunity to first talk about it was when [director] David [Cage] came to LA and we sat down and we sort of went through it all. Then I said I was totally in and then I was sent the two thousand page script and I'm like, "What the hell have I gotten myself into?"
CS: I'm going to assume that based on those answers that being in a video game is something you'd never thought of? Page: No, the thought would have never even occurred to me, and not out of anything other than I just didn't realize that people were making games like this or that it was changing in this way. Now it totally makes sense and it's like "d'oh," but no the thought would have never occurred to me.
CS: As you got further along into the process of making the game, did you ever just think of it as "This is a new format to work in as an actress" or was it just totally different? Page: No, I mean it is very different. It's so different from shooting a film, just motion capture in general is different. Of course, the actual core of what you're doing is getting to act and in a way in the most purest form, because everything is stripPed away. You don't have anything. You're not playing to one camera, you have 70 cameras around you, you're not wearing wardrobe, you're not having make-up touch ups. It's like so much just your imagination. So yeah, it's just a different way to do the work that I love to do, and in many ways one of the most fulfilling experiences I've had as an actor. Even though I was excited about taking on this project and doing something totally different I don't think I expected it to be that. I don't think I expected it to be as insanely challenging as it was and also as unbelievably fulfilling as it was and it was both things.
CS: Between cut scenes in the game and the actual motion capture of in-game actions, how many hours of content would you say you filmed? Page: Okay, so first of all there should be massive shout outs to the other actress that did all of the incredible action and stunts and major fights and all that. The service I could provide was being an actor and the way that I am, but that's not to say I didn't do anything physical, I did some physical things of course, but there were some people who put in much more time and an incredible amount of work. So I worked about four weeks and then I probably would do 10 to 12 hours a day, but I mean you work non-stop. It's not like on a film where the camera is turning around and there's lighting, so... I don't know, one would have to do the math I suppose.
CS: I'm not sure what kind of process you have when it comes to acting, but what did you do to prepare yourself for this role? Page: For this one it was interesting, because basically I was in LA and I was looking at stacks and stacks and stacks of scripts on my coffee table. Then I had that moment where I thought, how does one even begin to prepare for this? It was very very overwhelming at first. It was sort of one of those situations where you familiarize yourself with what you're doing, of course, and then at the end all you can really do is jump in. Just dive completely into the deep end and just go, go, go. You don't really have choice. So what's really interesting about it is that you don't really have the time to over-intellectualize things or get stuck in your head. In that way, the experience is really incredible and freeing in this way because all you can really do is do it. Does that make sense?
CS: It does! You touched on it a little bit, but what are a couple of other differences you would say there are between this and film roles? Page: The main difference would be not playing to one camera, being surrounded by 70 cameras and having the freedom to move. The immediacy of having to work with an actor is much more intense because you're not going in for coverage on that person, you're just creating the scene there between you and your partner. Then you know, no sets, no wardrobe, and then because it's a video game, you are shooting all these variations. So instead of having a cohesive linear scene you are giving a response, taking a beat, giving another response, taking a beat. That sort of emotional pivoting, because some of these scenes where there are these variations are incredibly emotionally intense. So on top of acting and memorizing 30 to 40 pages of dialogue a day, you're having to do all these sort of variations right in the moment and that was tough in moments.
CS: How was your experience working with David Cage? Page: David was awesome. David was really no different than a film director and he was always so present and available, and an incredible guide. He understood the character Jodie so well. He was fantastic.