Troy Baker has all the time been a real believer. Most individuals know him for his work as a prolific voice actor, and his career-defining position as Joel from the PlayStation video games The Final of Us and The Final of Us Half 2. However the video games’ fan group may depend him as certainly one of its most outstanding members — from day one, there have been few greater Final of Us stans than he.
Baker, like many who love the story kicked off by Naughty Canine’s 2013 online game, absolutely believes that The Final of Us is “one of many biggest tales ever informed,” each for the plight of its human characters and for the way in which that it introduced a uniquely immersive and cinematic texture to big-budget video video games, successfully altering them ceaselessly.
When The Final of Us made the leap to HBO, Baker was trying ahead to creating the transition to 100% fan, watching from “the stands,” as he put it. However then he received the decision to as soon as once more be a a part of Joel and Ellie’s story — this time as James, the right-hand man of a preacher with darkish secrets and techniques.
In a Zoom interview from Los Angeles, Baker talked to Polygon about handing the reins over, his conflicted new character, and make your one and solely demise scene depend.
Polygon: So, earlier than the present, how did you describe The Final of Us to folks?
Troy Baker: Type of the identical means that I’d after the present got here out. I feel that The Final of Us is likely one of the biggest tales ever informed. And the explanation why is as a result of it’s not about you recognize, contaminated. It’s not about post-apocalypse, it’s not about survival horror, it’s a narrative about love, and what love appears to be like like on this world, and the way terrifying that’s. So to me, it’s been one of many biggest video games ever, as a result of all the things in regards to the sport was impressed by the story.
What’s the expertise been like watching the position of Joel be recast and translated to a brand new medium? Is it bizarre for you?
I wouldn’t essentially name it recasting; I feel that they solid the sport, and now you solid the present. So it’s not like — there was nothing misplaced, to me. The one factor that might have been a loss is that if Pedro [Pascal] stepped into this position — or actually anyone — and determined to imitate one thing that had already been accomplished.
It’s like, effectively, that’s a misplaced alternative. We now have all these new instruments at our disposal during which to inform the story; let’s exploit these instruments. We don’t have a controller, we don’t have gameplay. So let’s lean into the instruments that we do have and let’s inform a unique model of the story that means. And Pedro brings to it a unique inherent sensibility.
Yeah, it’s like how one of many biggest compliments you may give to an actor is “I like your selections.”
I like the alternatives, man. There’s sometimes one or two each episode that Pedro does and it’s like, Oooooh, that’s good. , actually, Neil [Druckmann] had the identical factor with Craig [Mazin]. The selection to make Sam deaf — Craig was like, “I received this concept. I feel I need to make Sam deaf.” And Neil was like, “An incredible alternative!”
That wouldn’t have labored as effectively within the sport. However right here on this model of our story, it provides a complete different layer to that relationship, it brings a sure intimacy to all of their interactions, and it adjustments the dynamic of the connection between Henry and Sam in an attractive means.
How did you get entangled with the present? Do you know they had been making an attempt to make room for the sport’s voice solid?
Oh, it was by no means a given, it was by no means an assumption. It was all the time, Look, our watch has ended. And it was an exquisite alternative for us to expertise this story another way. I get to be within the stands, not on the sector.
When Craig and Neil had been like, “Hey, now we have a job for you,” I used to be anticipating form of like a walk-on. Slightly cameo, a bit wink to the viewers. Like [with a] clicker, you recognize, possibly carrying a flannel shirt or one thing that Joel most likely would have been carrying.
James is a a lot greater position than that!
James is such a mirrored image of what this present is all about, which is: Let’s construct upon, let’s not change, and this character is a kind of characters that you just form of glossed over within the sport. However on this present, now we have a possibility to go, Who’s he? The place does he match into this story? All people that we’ve seen up to now within the present someway serves as a counterpoint to Joel or Ellie. And, to me, there’s a component of James that does each.
There’s a distinction between he and Joel; there’s a similarity between he and Joel. And there’s an unlimited distinction between he and Ellie. And that’s what David sees in James, which is that he’s a pragmatist and somebody that’s succesful [and] has this place, however isn’t violent. And Ellie is [violent], and David is a violent particular person. He has, as he says, a “violent coronary heart.”
And that’s what he’s lacking in a peer and an equal. And that’s one thing that James can by no means be for him, and James picks up on that. And that’s why he desires Ellie as distant from him as potential.
You mentioned James is just not a violent man — do you assume he’s additionally not a believer in the way in which David is, or pretends to be?
By no means, and I don’t assume David is both. That is my interpretation — that is what I like about being on the opposite aspect of this, the dialog. We now have seen, systematically, folks in historical past who search to oppress and management. One of many best instruments at their disposal is, on its face, religion or perception. However on the fact of it, it’s hope, they weaponize hope in opposition to the determined.
And that’s what these individuals are. They’re not dangerous folks. They’re determined folks. They’re individuals who have gone via a very, actually, actually exhausting winter. And as James says, “They haven’t misplaced religion. They’re simply scared.” And if you couple concern and desperation, within the face of despair — if you strip them of all their assets — these folks don’t have meals, a lot much less anything tangible. So when all the tangible assets of consolation are gone, then you definitely grasp in the direction of the intangible, and hope is the first commodity.
David has weaponized that. So when James appears to be like at him and he says, “Effectively, possibly it’s God’s will” — that is an mental debate that we’re seeing. And he’s utilizing that in opposition to David, to go, Get this lady away from right here. It’s an mental debate to say that, in addition to, “She’s simply one other mouth to feed.” So now he’s even chipping away at [David’s] skill to guide. And that’s why David stops. And what does he do? He turns to everyone else, and he quotes a verse — truly not even a verse, however we discover out that’s [a quote from] someone else who is understood for oppressing folks with religion.
So if you came upon you had been going to play James, did you’ve got any hopes for the position? Possibly a cool demise scene?
Actually, after I first came upon that I used to be gonna play James, I used to be like, “Dude, thanks a lot. It’s very, very gracious — who’s James?”
As a result of he wasn’t an enormous character. However then I noticed, I used to be like, Oh, yeah, he’s gonna die horrifically. I like demise scenes. They’re nice. One of many benefits of doing a sport is that should you’re the participant character, you get to do a number of demise scenes.
However you solely get to die as soon as within the present! How do you make it depend?
Dude: Promote out each time since you by no means know which one is gonna be your close-up. [laughs] Full sale, each take!