Comic-Con 2014: Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor with Troy Baker

Comic-Con-LogoI was lucky enough to talk to the cast and creators of Monlith’s upcoming action adventure RPG Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego. Myself and other members of media gathered in inside the Hilton San Diego Bayfront to pepper Michael de Plater (Director of Design), Christian Cantamessa (Lead Writer), and Troy Baker (voice of Talion), about the upcoming title which is set to launch on September 30th. Baker, who gamers might recognize from starring roles in The Last of Us and Bioshock: Infinite, had some interesting things to say about the voicing the game’s protagonist Talion and just how important Tolkien’s work is to nerds everywhere. Here is a small taste of what Baker had to say.


Are you enjoying you Comic-Con?

Troy Baker: Dude, it’s so crazy because It’s been a rough past few weeks with work and stuff. I keep telling my wife that I’m going to be stumbling toward the finish line, but then you get [to Comic-Con] and [you realize] this is STUPID what we get to do.

Are you a Lord of the Rings Fan?

Troy Baker: “I am yeah! I was just saying that when I was a kid that I remember [being maybe] nine or ten and I would go have sleepovers at my grandparents house where I slept was my dad’s old room. There was this bookcase [in the room] that had original first edition Hardy Boys, Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I remember asking my dad ‘What is that?’, because I had never heard those words before and he said ‘It is time.’ [So my father] pulled down the Hobbit and said ‘start with this one.’ And that was my first introduction. It’s so crazy that almost 30 years later [I never realized] that this is where I was going to be. What I love is that on that bookshelf in a little small space between where the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings sat would be where [Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor] would [fit in the universe]. And for us to actually add to that lore is a big honor.” 


Baker and Annie Wersching doing motion capture in The Last of Us

Do you do any motion capture for this role?  

Troy Baker: “Full performance capture. As a matter of fact we were even on the same stages as Avatar. It was full face, body, voice, [everything]. It’s like the perfect marriage between stage and film because you get that ‘theatre in the round feel’ [due to the fact that] all of your cameras are in 360 space. [It ends up creating] really small, grounded performances. It’s something I like as an actor [because] the normal tools that you have go away and it really is what you quintessentially bring to that character. That’s where that performance is driven from and you have to strip away a lot of the crutches that you [lean on]. A good friend of mine Ashley Johnson (Ellie in Last of Us) says that for her it’s always the shoes; the shoes really help inform the character. [For instance] If it’s high heels, you’re going to walk a certain way. So what do you do if you’re in Nikes and you’re trying to be a Ranger for Gondor?”

From Talion’s perspective, what does he think of Gollum? 

Troy Baker: “What does he think of Gollum? Dude! Play the game. I don’t want to spoil stuff for you. What would anybody think of a creature like that? Pity. I will say this. As we’ve seen in Middle Earth lore there is a huge prevailing element of racism. Because of this huge cataclysmic event that happened, humans, dwarves, and elves just don’t mix. Anytime you have [a character] that is outside of ‘your people’, something as empathic as pity might not be [Talion’s] first reaction. – 

At this point in your career you’ve voiced so many iconic characters, what is it about Talion that really stands out to you?

Troy Baker: “It’s cool, we’ve really started honing in on what [we haven’t done]. First of all other gamers [might be saying] ‘oh, he’s doing that again’ and I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ at all. Even as an actor I don’t want to be that guy. You start looking for really cool opportunities [and asking yourself] what about this role is different? One of the questions that I ask myself is ‘is this something we’ve done before?’ or if it is how can we put a new twist on this?


[Baker Continued] “On the surface this is very much a revenge story; that is the most tangible element that you can grab, but revenge has a very short wick. When you’re telling a story over 90, 120, or 140 minutes, that wick is sufficient, but when you sit down for 10, 20, or potentially infinite, hours, you need something that is going to burn a bit longer than revenge. I think this is a story about identity, who is Talion? Who is this Wraith that is with him? Who is Gollum? Who do you want Talion to be and how are you going to play? That to me is what next-gen is all about. Real emergent gameplay [in which] I’m not writing the story, but I am choosing how I operate inside of that story. I get to craft my own experience inside that story, and you just don’t get that from anything else. You don’t get that from movies, and I love movies, [but] this is something that is unique to the game-space.”


For the full interview, as well as our chat with Michael de Plater and Christian Cantamessa, subscribe to our show and keep your eyes peeled for it at a later date. Subscribe on iTunes – http://bit.ly/rated_na  – or Feedburner http://bit.ly/1jnURZz 

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