gigiwilkins wanted Treavor, alter-cation wanted Martin… Then this happened. I’m sorry, korrenraa but Sokolov will be tomorrow and doodlier. I wanna draw some more Valentine silliness, but it will be late.
I will be drawing some Valentines with my Dishonored ocs too… Does anyone want a Micino Valentine (you know, it’s like a professional holiday for him… I guess)? Any other suggestions?
Hello, everyone! This is the second part to the Q&A between Stephen Russell and us fans. He is extremely busy, but he still found the time to answer our questions. So if you’d like to leave a small “thank you” for him, either here or in my ask box, I’ll be sure to send it his way. I’m sure he’d appreciate it. ^_^
Personal Questions: 1. You’re a very talented voice actor and you can throw
your voice so well. Have you ever used
this to pull any awesome pranks? Do you
have any funny stories in regards to any antics caused by your voices?
I used to enjoy talking to telemarketers in the character of
a very elderly, hard of hearing and slightly confused person for whom English
was not their native language. Or even
one they used very often. This
character had a lot of questions and seemed particularly puzzled by the concept
of credit card promotions. I figured if
the telemarketers were going to waste my time, the least I could do was return
the favor. My wife tried to convince me
this behavior, which I just saw as an opportunity to practice my craft, was
cruel; but then she wasn’t the person trying to work from home. When she retired last year and was, herself,
subject to the endless barrage of telemarketing calls, she mostly solved the
problem by canceling our landline.
2. What is the weirdest/most fun interaction you’ve had
with a fan?
That time when someone asked me, “What is the weirdest/most
fun interaction you’ve had with a fan.“
3. The last time you answered our questions, you said you
used to sing in a choir. Is there any
chance we might get to hear you sing in an upcoming game?
I got to sing a little bit as Raoul in one of the
"Thief” games, and I’m always hoping for more opportunities.
4. Have you ever read the fan fictions for the games
you’ve voiced in?
I confess I haven’t.
I wasn’t even aware such things existed. I’ll have to look for them.
I have to read quite a lot for my other work, so the opportunities to
read just for pleasure are few and far between.
5. When did you start acting and what sparked your
Third grade? Fourth
grade? Somewhere in there? As to what sparked my interest, I think it
all boils down to my love of stories and storytelling in all its varied forms.
6. Did you always want to be an actor?
Yes and no. I always
wanted to be a performer and to be involved in the business of telling stories,
and for many years I really thought that music and writing would be my avenue
for that. Music is still really my
first and most enduring love, but I’ve learned I’m a far better actor than I am
7. It says on your bio that you’re a writer, too. Have you published any novels or other
I’m primarily a playwright, as well as a songwriter, and
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing somewhere around 18 of my plays for family
audiences produced. None of them have
been published. Not for want of trying,
8. In the previous Q&A you did for us, you seemed
very passionate about the writing surrounding the characters you voice. What do you think is the importance of
storytelling and developing a meaningful narrative?
Story is the foundation for everything. If you don’t have that, you don’t have a
play, a movie, a song, a game, etc. It
doesn’t have to be that complicated, either.
It just has to be something that makes us care about the situation and
the characters in that situation. The
stakes have to be high, but that doesn’t always mean Armageddon. In Jane Austen’s world, the right marriage
proposal really was life and death.
9. What is your favourite part of voice acting?
The feeling that I get when I’ve really nailed a line. I also really like all the people I get to
work with - the audio directors, the writers, the engineers, the sound
designers - all of whom are smart, funny, and totally dedicated to getting the job
done right. My other favorite part is
when I see that red, white and blue truck pull up to my mailbox, put something
in it, close the little door and then pull away, and I walk down my driveway
and discover that the check has arrived.
10. What is your favourite band/genre of music?
Too numerous to mention.
I’m a sucker for a good melody, no matter what the genre, and I like
exploring unfamiliar territory. In
fact, I don’t even really like classifying music by genre. I tend to think of music as either formal or
informal, which roughly translates to classical and everything else, but even
there the lines get blurred very quickly.
I’ve mentioned somewhere else that I’m a huge Bellowhead fan, and one of
the reasons why I like them so much is that their arrangements of traditional
English songs draw from so many different influences. I think “Stardust” is the most beautiful song ever written and
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is the crowning achievement in all of Western music. As you might guess, I can get very
passionate about voices, both the ones I like and the ones I can’t stand.
11. When is your birthday? We want to shower you with birthday wishes!!
I think last year it was on a Wednesday. It probably will be again in about six or
Game-related Questions: 1. What’s it is like to voice Corvo in the upcoming
Dishonored 2? Is it challenging to
voice him fully this time around?
Nothing but fun. I
was thrilled to get to work with the wonderful director Wes Gleason on this
project, and we were also very fortunate to have in the studio with us Arkane’s
Harvey Smith, who probably knows this character better than anyone. When he heard the initial takes and said,
“That’s Corvo, that’s our guy.” I knew we
were on the right track.
2. What has been your favourite game to work on? Are there any that are particularly dear to
you? I’d imagine “Thief” has
a special place in your heart.
“Thief” was pretty special because that’s where it
all began, but, otherwise, I don’t really think in those terms. I love to work and I love a challenge, so my
favourite is usually the one I’m working on at the moment.
3. Do you improvise often, or do you have to read
everything word for word with no exceptions? 4. Were all of Codsworth’s jokes scripted, or did you
throw any of your own in there?
It’s kind of the same answer for both questions. 99% of what you hear in the game is what was
in the script. The voice recording
happens pretty late in the development of a game, so there’s not a lot of room
for improvisation. On occasion, a line
will feel a bit stilted or awkward in performance and then will need to be
adjusted, and every now and again there will be an ellipsis at the end of a
line that allows me an opportunity to continue a character’s thought beyond
what has been written. This happened most
often with Codsworth, and I certainly enjoyed cracking wise when the
opportunity arose, but, again, 99% of those jokes came from Emil Pagliarulo and
the other writers at Bethesda. They’re
very funny people.
5. Do you ever get to work with the other voice
actors? For example, did you work
alongside Courtenay Taylor and Brian T. Delaney, or was everything recorded
Everything was recorded separately. It’s a lonely business, voice acting. Just you in a room with a microphone, a
glass of water and #2 pencil. And, on
the other side of a wall of glass, half a dozen people judging every word that
comes out of your mouth.
6. What’s your favourite silly name from Codsworth?
7. What was it like recording all the different names that
Codsworth can say?
8. Was it difficult voicing Nick and DiMA back and forth?
Those characters were recorded in separate sessions so, not
9. Do you think that if Nick had the chance to become a
third generation synth, he would take it?
Hard to say. But I
do happen to know that if Nick had the chance to play third base for the Red
Sox, he’d jump at the opportunity. Why
do you think he has his office in Diamond City?
10. How would you describe the relationship between Nick
and his secretary, Ellie Perkins? I
always felt like there was a great friendship there, even though we didn’t
really get to see that played out.
It’s kind of the classic noir detective/secretary
relationship, like Sam Spade and Effie Perrine. One of the things I really like about J.K. Rowling’s “Robert
Galbraith” novels is how she riffs on that relationship with her
characters, Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott.
11. Are you surprised with the reactions and fandoms
surrounding Fallout and all the other games you’ve voiced in (Skyrim, Thief,
Dishonored, etc.)? Part of that is
definitely because of your hard work and dedication to the characters you
Surprised, delighted and very grateful.
12. Nick Valentine is by far one of my favourite companions
and characters in the entire Fallout series.
As someone with particular insight into his character, what would you
say his reasons are for not being romancable?
Too busy thinking about playing third base for the Red
Sox? But, really, I think his work is
his life and he’s just not that interested in anything that distracts from the
case at hand. It’s just the way he’s
13. What ending of Fallout 4 would you choose?
Myself, I love a happy ending, don’t you?
14. Would you say that robots like Codsworth are
15. What were the hardest/most emotional lines to record
I think some of the exchanges with DiMA, but they were also
some of the most fun to record.
16. How do you feel about Nick becoming such an influential
character, along the lines of: “What would Nick Valentine have to say
Nick seems to have a pretty good moral compass, so I’m
thinking there are worse individuals to look to for guidance.
I hope this answered all of the questions people submitted. Thank you all so much for your patience and for participating! Please remember to follow Stephen Russell on Twitter and continue to support him. ^_^
These are the questions that my friend and I gathered from all of you
here on Tumblr and sent to Stephen Russell. If your question is not on the list below, please do not take it
personally. It just means that your
question didn’t make it to us before I had to close the post. I apologize.
Much to my friend’s and my admiration, he answered everysinglequestion we sent. He even
apologized for the delay and said he appreciated the questions and our
patience. This went far beyond what we
expected. He is a very busy man,
yet he took time out of his busy schedule for us– his fans.
IMPORTANT: Even if you didn’t ask a question, if anyone who reads this
would like to leave a comment thanking Stephen Russell for his time, and for
the genuine thoughtfulness that went into his answers, I will gather them up
and send them his way. I think that
would be a nice surprise for him. My
words alone cannot do our gratitude justice, so I ask that you lend me your
support. Thank you and enjoy! :)
1) You have such a range vocally, going from rough to
soft and also a range of accents. Did
you have specialized training, or was it down to years of mimicry/trial and
Thanks for your kind words!
It was a combination of the two, really, but far more of the
latter. A lot of listening, a lot of
imitation, a lot of experimenting with my voice to see what it could do. The training part I got mostly through
singing in choruses and choirs, taking individual voice lessons and singing
with bands and as a solo act for many years.
2) How did you get into voice acting? I know you’re a stage/film actor as well,
but I’m told that voice acting is quite different. What sparked your interest?
I had been doing voice work for commercials, narrations,
industrials, radio drama, etc. for quite some time. In May of 1997 I answered a casting call and went to an audition
for something that turned out to be Thief, The Dark Project, for Looking
Glass. So my initial interest was
really just about landing another job.
However, once I started actually doing this work I became fascinated by
the storytelling possibilities. That’s
what it all comes down to for me, no matter what the medium - stories.
3) How do you feel about the characters you portray? How deeply do you get to know them before
you voice them?
a) You can’t have a great story without great characters and
I’ve been really fortunate to get to work with smart, witty writers who know
how to create memorable characters, each with a distinct worldview, and then give
them dialogue that brings out those subtle quirks of personality through which
character is revealed. It’s fun to slip
into those characters and I’m always glad when I get to revisit a character
I’ve worked on before.
b) One of the challenges about this work is that there’s
often not a lot of time to get to know a character before an initial recording
session, so you discover nuances of said character over multiple sessions.
4) How hard is it to break into the voice acting
business? What is some good advice you
would give to a beginner?
Giving career advice to strangers is really difficult
because it all depends on the individual and there’s no one single path that
works for everyone. It can be quite
challenging to break into any aspect of the acting business, and anything you
can do to gain experience or training as an actor is going to be of help in the
5) Is there a character out there that you would like to
portray in the future?
No one in particular.
Creating from the ground up is always the most fun for me, taking on a
character that allows me to stretch, that challenges me to learn something new,
to find a new place in my voice that I haven’t used before.
6) Have you ever considered getting into animation;
outside of video games?
Love to! Happy to
entertain any and all offers, provided they’re union jobs, of course.
1) How long were the recording sessions for Fallout
4? What’s the longest recording session
you’ve ever had?
Union contracts specify that sessions can last no longer
than four hours, so no Fallout 4 session went over that time limit. I can’t remember exactly how many days in
total I worked on Fallout 4, but I know there were a lot of sessions over several
years, usually three or four days back to back every four months or so.
2) If you have one, who is your favourite character? Who
did you enjoy voicing the most? Which
character was the most fun to portray?
My favourite character is always the one I’m working on at
the moment and they all have unique challenges and pleasures. Voicing Codsworth was hilarious because Emil
Pagliarulo and the other writers at Bethesda gave me so many good jokes to play
with. I always welcome a bit of
humor. I find that characters who take
themselves too seriously are as tedious in games as they are in real life.
3) Who do you enjoy playing more in games: protagonists
Antagonists are fun because they’re usually bigger, broader
characters. Protagonists require more
subtlety to bring out emotion. Again,
different challenges, both enjoyable in their own way.
4) What is it like to record interactions between two
characters you portray? For example;
Barbas and Clavicus Vile or Nick Valentine and DiMA?
Lines are recorded individually by character, not
sequentially or by scene, so we might do all of Barbas’ lines in one session
and then Clavicus Vile’s dialogue in another, sometimes months later. So, in general, I treat those lines where I
know I’m talking to a character I’ve already voiced or will be voicing no
differently than any others. It is fun
to hear them together later, though.
5) Do you interact with the rest of the Bethesda team at
all? Or is your work mainly separate
from the rest of the game’s development?
Sadly, I don’t get to interact with the rest of the Bethesda
team much at all, other than as disembodied voices in my headphones. I have such respect for the work they do,
that it would be fun to get to meet more of the team. For that reason, going to E3 in 2015 was an enormous pleasure, as
I got to say hello to Todd Howard, Emil Pagliarulo and others whose work I’ve
6) DiMA’s voice is so unique. How did you develop it? Did
you get a lot of direction from the writers, or were you mostly free to create
It’s always a collaborative effort.
7) What is your overall opinion of the Far Harbor
DLC? Did you enjoy working on it?
I think it’s brilliant and I loved working on it!!
8) Did it take time to discover the voice of the Mr.
Handy robots, or did it come to you naturally?
It was shockingly easy. Codsworth may be my alter ego.
9) Was DiMA’s voice scripted or accidental?
The dialogue was scripted, certainly. As for the tone and the specific vocal
quality, again, a collaborative effort.
10) What do you think of your Valentine fanbase?
Especially in the case of the fan girls who really want Nick to be romancable?
I think the Valentine fans are the nicest, kindest, most
wonderful human beings pretty much ever.
Now, by romancable, do you mean flowers and chocolate and long walks on
the beach? I do happen to know that
Nick is singularly disinterested in flowers or consumables of any kind, though
he does like a good shot of WD-40 every now and again, and, given the state of
the beaches in Far Harbor, walking there might not be the most prudent course
11) Are you excited for Dishonoured 2? We are!
November can’t come soon enough!
12) Was Nick Valentine fashioned after you specifically?
I have been known to wear a rain coat, particularly during
inclement weather, and I did own a fedora at one time. (I wonder what ever happened to that? Must remember to look in the attic.) That’s about as far as the resemblance goes.
13) Dishonoured took a lot of inspiration from the
original “Thief” games. Did the team seem excited to have the
original Master Thief on board to VA for Corvo?
Everyone was very kind, yes.
14) What was your favourite Nick Valentine line/scene to
That’s a tough one.
He has so many great lines. I
could probably choose a different one every day.
15) How did Bethesda first describe Nick Valentine at the
beginning of game production, and did they make any changes in Nick’s
personality/back story/role later on?
I think we’ll just let the mystery be on that one.
16) For the role as Nick Valentine, who did you use for
inspiration/ reference to develop the voice/tone?
We’ll let the mystery be on that one, too.
17) What was it like to voice act as Codsworth live at E3
and PAX Prime? I didn’t realize you
were improvising until I saw videos showing you were interacting and sharing
dad jokes with fans.
Nothing but fun!
First of all, it was great just to be there and to get to see that
incredible animatronic Mr. Handy created for the event. And then I just loved improv-ing and riffing
on all the people walking by. Is there
anything better than getting an adult to sing “I’m A Little Teapot” in front of
a crowd of strangers? I don’t think so.
18) How do you feel about the fans creating and posting
online artworks of the characters you voice?
I’m really impressed by both the quality and the quantity of
creative efforts that these characters have inspired. Some of the artwork is truly stunning and the fan fiction is
often highly imaginative and well written.
Keep up the good work, folks!
19) What is it like to bring these characters to life?
Challenging, in the best possible way, and rewarding like
nothing else I’ve ever done. It’s such an honor to get to work with all the
incredibly talented, smart, funny and creative women and men who create these
games and these characters and I feel really fortunate that I get to do this
work and they keep asking me back.
20) If given the chance, would you voice Garrett again?
As I mentioned earlier, I’m always glad when I get to
revisit a character I’ve worked on before.
But somehow it feels more natural to want to see what’s ahead rather
than always looking back.
Finally, a big thanks for all these thoughtful and
intelligent questions. I really
appreciate all the interest in my work. Best, Stephen.