MI6 chatted to Gideon Emery, who supplied the voice of Number One (aka Blofeld) in EA's "Goldeneye: Rogue Agent" videogame...

Gideon Emery Interview
26th July 2005

How were you approached by Electronic Arts to provide the voices of Blofeld in "Goldeneye Rogue Agent"? How excited were you to be the voice of one the world's most famous villians?
I auditioned at my voice agent. It was a thrill to even get the opportunity to read for such a role. I loved the character when I first saw him years ago, so to actually land the job was incredible.

When and where the voice-overs recorded? Was the recording process any different to those of other projects you've work on?
We recorded in Hollywood in July of 2004. The experience was fun because everyone involved seemed to get a kick out of doing the project.

Describe to us the process of recording a Blofeld sounding voice for the game. How difficult did you find it to replicate his voice?
Blofeld had been in my "bag of tricks" since childhood. So I was already familiar with him. I rehearsed with the movie, until I had the stock phrases down - then "did" Blofeld around the house, much to my own amusement and others' irritation. Then it was off to the studio and hoping the producers didn't think I sucked!

Above: Nintendo DS Cover Art
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What do you think makes the James Bond series so popular? Do you feel that the Bond games are now becoming interactive movies of their own?
The Bond franchise transcends age in a way, as it has generations of fans. It's the ultimate boy's movie, as all guys want to be as confident, skilled, suave and lucky as James Bond. As for me, I've always looked forward to the next Bond. Game designers have learned they need to go beyond the scope of the movies to keep gamers happy. Bringing old characters together in new plots is appealing to that built-in audience. They are, as you say, interactive movies. It's an even greater challenge than a regular movie which only lasts around 2hrs. Games have to deliver new challenges and entertainment for hours on end.

Above: Number One aka Blofled.

Do you prefer voice recording for a game or that of acting in a movie?
While I've voiced for years, I'm pretty new to gaming and have to say it's a different challenge. Unlike on screen, where you read opposite someone, most of your lines in-studio are in a vaccuum. You're on your own, delivering comments and replies to dialogue that's just words on a page. Both mediums are enjoyable, though a voice session tends to be more intense. I recently did a 5hr standing-up session with one toilet break. It's tiring, especially if you have lots of in-action lines, which have to be shouted. That said, it's obviously a great gig. I come in for a session or two, and leave. I could be slaving away behind a desk, or animating the game for a year!

Were you provided with any art or in-game footage of the scenes you were creating voice-overs for? Does having the ability to see the role you're providing a voice for improve the quality?
I didn't see anything beyond a sketch of the character, but since it was based on something already in existence, I didn't need it. For creating new character voices, the more visual reference the better. Hopefully I'll come up with something that feels organic to it's appearance. Usually there's at least a description, which provides something to go on.

How do you feel modern technology benefits a voice actor when trying to create believable voices?
Well, my favourite toy is my digital recorder. It's an Olympus and it's brilliant. Often I'm called on to match a voice, so I'll record samples which I can rehearse with beforehand. I'll also play it en route to the studio and immediately before, to get me in the zone. The Net is also a 24hr resource for reference information, whether it's researching an actor's movies or finding soundbytes

Because there has been much low quality voice work in the game industry, do you think the expected standard of voice over in games today is lowered?
From the player forums I've visited, I'd say there's a demand for quality voices that isn't always met. Games are an investment, and if the standard drops significantly, sales will drop and the creators will have to respond appropriately.

Do you feel it is an advantage to have on-screen acting talent when providing voice-overs for scenes in a game?
I don't know if it helps. If an actor is reprising his/her role from the movie, then it makes sense. But other than that, I doubt if it translates into sales or a better product. I doubt there's any name value in a gamer's decision whether or not to buy a game. Also, very few actors have any voice-over experience.

Above: Gideon Emery

Above: Gideon Emery in Diamond Cut Diamond

How do you train to become a voice actor?
I'm an only child, which meant I kept myself amused by imitating voices from film and TV. I trained at Drama School, which honed my character work, and then did a couple of thousand commercial voice-overs before I did my first game. Of course, if you have an affinity for accents and characters, you've got the goods, too. All you need is the ability to work a mic and to interpret copy.

Is it a profession that anyone can get started in?
With a good demo, sure. But, as with acting, it's not just about talent. It comes down to your voice realising the creative's vision. You don't know what that is and oftentimes, neither do they. They just know it when they hear it. Add to that a talent pool of thousands and you realise that booking a gig is a massive achievement.

00-Seven Questions

How were you involved in the Bond series?
I auditioned for the game "Goldeneye: Rogue Agent"

What was your first ever Bond experience?
Moonraker. I remember being blown away by the Jaws character.

What did you think of the last film, "Die Another Day"?
It was a bit "celeb heavy", but Brosnan's solid and Rick Yune was a great baddy sidekick

What is your favourite Bond film?
A View to a Kill.

Who is your favourite Bond?
Roger Moore.

Which Bond girl should come back?
Someone exotic like Natalya Simonova

What is your favourite Bond moment from the series?
Zorin's (Christopher Walken) death scene in A View To A Kill.

Many thanks to Gideon Emery. Images copyright EA Games.