Cortana’s character and her relationship with the Chief take on special significance in Halo 4 (out today). A condition called “Rampancy” threatens Cortana’s digital sanity, and the odds against saving the galaxy grow longer. We spoke to Taylor by e-mail about life as a bright blue, increasingly demented hologram.
Kill Screen: At this point, you’ve found long-term success as the voice of two very well-known characters. Are there specific elements of your acting technique that you think make you well-suited to video game voice acting?
I’ve been working in voice over work for about 15 years now and every time I do a project I learn something new that I then get to add to my toolbox. In regards to video game acting, I use my body when I do voice work. Engineers love to make fun of me for this but quietly physicalizing helps me find truth in my character’s situation. And like anything, the more experience you have the better you are at it.
Do not mumble. Speak clearly and slowly, unless weapons are being fired at you.
I’m not sure about particular roles but I do enjoy roles focused on language. Shakespeare is a favorite as is Shaw.
Ariel in The Tempest maybe? I’m just throwing that one out off the top of my head.
I particularly choose not to play it differently. She’s almost more “human” than Chief so it’s more interesting for me to focus on her humanity.
The writers spend a good amount of time agonizing over each and every word so I do my best to give them that for which they’ve asked. They are adaptable if we just can’t “make a line work” though. Sometimes we get to improv but that has to be at a formative stage of the game.
I fear giving you too many details on this one to avoid spoilers. Sorry.
They are just as much a part of Cortana’s story arc as her longer lines. I’m simply doing my best to tell her full story.
The last scene in Halo 4 that Steve and I recorded together is a favorite… or that stupid song I sang in Halo 3 that they never used (Marty O’Donnell I shake my fist at you).
Not many people know that Cortana was originally a tiny, invisible, pink dragon that sat on Chief’s shoulder and only sang limericks. I’m not sure why they changed that at the last minute. Actually, half way through my work on Halo 4, I tore both my calf and shoulder muscles. It made Mo-Cap a bit of a challenge. I really used it while recording some of Cortana’s dialogue. Pressing on my shoulder really hard simultaneously relieved the pain and intensified it. I think it helped.
She’s your lucky charm, isn’t she? It’s easy to like a character who helps save your life over and over and over.
Is that what Frank said? He’s the boss so I am nodding my head on that one.