Reinventing a Legend Interview With Cory Barlog and the Cast of God

first_img If you’re a gamer, then you know the title everyone’s currently talking about is God of War. Like I said in my review, this is easily one of the best releases of 2018. It comes as no surprise God of War would get spotlighted during this year’s Tribeca Games Festival, where the game’s director and cast spoke about its development and shared behind-the-scenes stories in front of a live audience.After the panel, I interviewed director Cory Barlog, and actors Christopher Judge (Kratos), Danielle Bisutti (Freya), and Jeremy Davies (Balder). Given the spirit of the event (a celebration of story-driven media), I focused on how the actors brought their respective characters to life and how wearing motion-capture equipment impacted their performances. I also asked the director about how this entry honors the legacy of the series and if he believes they were successful on that end.What was it about Christopher Judge that made him an ideal actor to play Kratos? Was it due to his natural speaking voice?Cory Barlog: The power he had as a performer was the thing that really drew it. I mean, I also was a gigantic Stargate fan, so I entertained the idea early on but because of a lack of confidence, didn’t know if we should approach him. It took a little while but then it came back around and everything kind of fused together.First and foremost we were looking for the physicality in the voice, but that was such a small part of it. There was so much of the performance that had to come through on the set with all the actors because I needed to do it all in one take. Everybody had to hit their sort of emotional range all the time. He was, without a doubt, just so incredibly powerful, even in the first audition. It’s wonderful.Jeremy Davies: I want to credit Chris as well. I have met a number of individuals who were just born with this gift. They can roll out of bed and sound like god. I’ve seen folks rely on that. But what you get when you’re this close to him is that you really sense this powerful presence. He isn’t relying on his god-given voice. He’s got a lot to back it up. He is a dangerously gifted guy.What was the motion capture process like? Was it difficult to act while having all of that motion-capture equipment on you? Without a traditional set, how much of your imagination did you need to use?Judge: Stargate kind of came out right at the beginning of CGI. So, very often, our reactions to stuff didn’t match what was there. I learned that when someone says “it’s immense, it’s the world” it’s believable. Every time Cory would say “so, this is going to [be huge],” I took him at his word. Thank god that I did because all of the set pieces were just mind-blowing. I was watching my son play, and I remember thinking to myself: “My reaction, it almost wasn’t big enough.”Davies: I found it interesting. The whole apparatus, the camera, these massive hard drives right over your heart. But the phenomenon with having a camera right in your face, I found really surprisingly helpful. When you’re shooting film, the cameras use these long lenses; you kind of feel this tendency, if it’s wide especially, to push it. With the camera so close, it can be reassuring to know that when they see it, they’re not going to miss anything. You don’t have to redo it. I found that really, really helpful. It helped me get over the fact you got these suits on.Judge: You really articulated something that I felt but I never thought about. When you do film or television, you generally do a lot of takes. You always get a break, you’re off camera. But sometimes when you do something that is surprising and it’s in the wide, then you have to re-create it.Judge: Every time we did discover something [during this shoot], it was documented.Davies: That’s right. From every conceivable angle.Bisutti: A lot of times in the theater, you’re in a black box. It’s black box theater. There’s no set. You create these imaginary sets and circumstances and you can see it. So, as we were there, we had the privilege of sometimes watching the rehearsals or sometimes seeing the scenes and the animation that was happening so we can kind of get a sense of the world. Of course, then actually watching it when it all came together was like, oh my god, that is a big scope, the world we’re living in.Davies: Because you’re surrounded by all these computers, computer power from every single angle, you could imagine a director just having an attitude of a robot like we talked about [during the panel]. An attitude of “we will fix your performance.” But it was like, as I said, equal to the best experience I’ve had. It’s a human being working with human beings.Chris, was it intimidating to know you were portraying such a beloved character that people have high expectations for?Judge: I… sometimes got a little performance anxiety [laughs]. Especially in the beginning, when we were discussing what he should sound like. I worked with a voice coach but we quickly moved away from that from the first day.Barlog: That was the fantastic sort of miscommunication on that one. We had talked to the voice coach but somehow there was a misinterpretation. I said we need to look at the previous Kratos’ performance since there is a sense of the speech pattern that can act as the foundation. The interpretation was more “this is the time period” so you [Chris] had more of an English accent at some point. That was was totally my fault. So we went through the whole thing. You trained with all that stuff. You came on the set with a little bit of this English accent and we’re like “what the fuck?”Judge: Cory walked up to me and he was like: “Was that a British accent?” I thought you wanted just a hint of that [laughs].Thank you for getting rid of that. That’s just weird. Kratos with an English accent? No way.Bisutti: Especially in Norse mythology. You see those films in Roman times and they speak with a British accent. That’s not quite right [laughs].Danielle and Jeremy, did you discuss your characters off-set? Your relationship with one another was very natural. How were you able to make that authentic?Bisutti: Well, I just fell in love with him the second I met him. I was already a fan of his work. I mean, Lost was for me one of the best shows ever created. But of course, I’d known him prior. I just have this approach of just opening my heart as an actor, opening my heart to these imaginary circumstances and believing them as real. We actually didn’t discuss very much, did we? A little bit. But we kind of just brought it in the moment and riffed off each other.Davies: It was instantaneous. The first day you got on set, everybody kind of warmly welcomed each other. It felt like the momentum, this sort of kinetic energy, was instant. We were going from zero to one hundred right away. I just felt like we were all family from a long time ago. It never felt like we had to work on it or force any of it. That was just incredibly lucky. I was thankful every single day that it just came naturally.Judge: You said something very interesting. Acting is supposed to be the recreation of the natural. But what you’re asked to do is something very unnatural. To walk into spaces where you don’t know people with an open heart and an open mind, which is very unnatural and can be very, very painful. We keep saying over and over again about the safe space that it was. That’s why it always happened. The ground was watered and fertilized and lovingly cultivated so that it was a space for these relationships to grow at a very unnatural speed.Cory, in a lot of ways, this is a soft reboot of the franchise. You’re introducing a lot of new mechanics, storylines, locales and so on. At the same time, you still have this giant legacy behind it. Was it a challenge to balance everything people know about God of War with all of the new elements you wanted to incorporate?Yeah, it was something that I was conscious of at all times. To not just respect the work that we had done, but to honor it. To know that we made every choice that we made to create this world very specifically. The continuation of this growth, the evolution needed to be built on that foundation. While you can blur your eyes and see something differently, the clarity shows you very clearly, that the DNA, that the molecular level of what we were doing, was so incredibly inspired by what we started with. It’s easy, very easy, to lose sight of that.We’re blessed to have such good, smart people like Richard Gaubert and Matt Sophos, our writers, being on set every day. They were the honesty that I needed. That gut-check, that mirror that I needed to look at. To say “Alright where are we going with this?” Because, I would just throw things in on the day of like “Hey, something came to me last night. Let’s try this.” And they were the sounding-board to go “I don’t know about that,” and I had to defend it. If I couldn’t defend it, it was something I realized, okay that’s not what we need to do.It was constant discussion, constant evaluation of “is this Kratos?” He can evolve and change, but does he go in a direction that is antithetical to where he began? There were a lot of times where we had to course-correct to ensure the evolution felt correct. I think the response that people are having says that we did hit a few of those notes right to resonate, to connect in the right way. Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on targetcenter_img ‘God of War’ Documentary ‘Raising Kratos’ Explores 2018’s Top Video GamePS4 Hits Turn Tabletop With ‘God of War,’ ‘Bloodborne&… last_img