MI6 chatted to Tim Bentinck, who supplied the voice of James Bond in the 2000 game "The World Is Not Enough"...

Tim Bentinck Interview (1)
23rd September 2004

"The name's Bond, James Bond" - one of the most famous lines in movie history, as well as video games thanks to EA's 007 licence to thrill in the digital domain. One of the men lucky enough to say the line as 007 is Tim Bentinck, who played James Bond for the 2000 game "The World Is Not Enough". As well as impersonating Pierce Brosnan's accent for the console game, Tim Bentinck has played David Archer in radio's long running series "The Archers" for 22 years. He has also appeared on screen as Rommel's right hand man General Speidel in BBC's "D-Day" TV drama in an all German speaking part.

How were you approached by Electronic Arts to provide the voice of Bond in "The World Is Not Enough" for PlayStation? How excited were you to be the voice of the world's most famous secret agent?
I auditioned for the part by recording a piece at my voice agency Hobson's.

They played me a clip of Pierce Brosnan a few times so I matched the timbre of my voice to his and tried to pick up his idiosyncrasies. The file was sent off to America and I was the one who got lucky.

Above: N64 box art.

When and where the voice-overs recorded? Was the recording process any different to those of other projects you've work on?
It's called 'down the line' and we all do a lot of it these days. The studio is hooked up via ISDN to anywhere in the world - in this case Electronic Arts in Los Angeles, and it's like being in the same studio as them. There's no time lag, and they record you at their end just as though you were in their own recording booth. So I'm sat in front of a mike in Soho with headphones on and a fat script in front of me, and the engineer's in LA. They play me a bit of Pierce saying something totally different to what I'm about to say to get me into his head, then I say the line. If they like it we go on, if not it can go up to max take 4,5, seldom more. This goes on for about two hours solid. I've done six hours at a time before, notably as the eccentric German commentator on Quidditch World Cup. That was six hours of YELLING, too!

Above: Tim Bentinck.

Six hours of yelling must be tough, is it uncommon to exercise your voice beforehand much like a singer would?
I always warm up before any voice job, you may have encountered us weird voice artists in the morning in Soho, we're the ones singing loudly at 8.45 am.

Describe to us the process of recording a Pierce Brosnan sounding voice for the game. How difficult did you find it to replicate his voice?
As I mentioned, the timbre, i.e. the pitch and resonance of the voice is the most important thing to get right.

In Pierce's case our voices are actually quite close, we have a light voice but with a resonance when needed. He half whispers quite a lot, but his accent is difficult because it's very much his own, it isn't an archetype at all.

There's the Irish, the mid-Atlantic, the trying-to-be-posh because he's Bond. He also had a je ne sais quoi rather sexy ironic catch in his voice that is his selling point. Great fun to try and match.

Are you a fan of the James Bond movies? Did you find any inspiration from Pierce Brosnan's movies for your role?
I'm a huge Bond fan. When I go on holiday with my family we make Bond movies - two so far with a Jackie Chan epic in between. I edit them in Premiere on the computer and do music, sound effects, post production, the lot. It's very professional and I tell you, my son Jasper is definitely the next JB and big Will is BAD man!

I was also Roger Moore's lieutenant, Harris, in the film "North Sea Hijack", and on a night shoot in the galley of a boat on the Irish Sea, Roger told some Bond stories that had - and here I name drop -James Mason, Anthony Perkins and me in stitches. I was brought up on Bond, all the characters are in my blood.

I read all the Ian Fleming books at school before the films started being made, so I always compared the movies to the original. I have the greatest respect and I'm thrilled and honoured to think that my delivery of "The name's Bond, James Bond" is heard by millions around the world. It's humbling.

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 familiarity of a formula, you know what to expect, and the fun is how it deviates from the accepted structure. I don't believe a game will ever supplant the movie - that is until the CGI samples the actor, so you really can't tell the difference between the graphics and the real thing.

Do you prefer voice recording for a game or that of acting in a movie?
No contest. I'm an actor. Doing it on camera is real, everything else is replicating reality.

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?
Good question and no, none at all. I didn't mind though, I could see it all in my head anyway. You have to remember I'm a 51 year old programming geek as well and I've been playing computer games since the late 80s. I've written a massively complex Archers game in a language called PAW (Professional Adventure Writer) and I've played everything from Pong to the highest levels of most of the classic major PC games. I therefore know what's being asked of me.

Above: Back in 2000, character models like Elektra (as seen above) were at the cutting edge of console graphics.

I remember when playing Myst 1, which was a mind-blowingly radical and brilliant game at the time, being totally let down by the programmers trying to do 'acting' - suddenly they lost me. I saw these wallies trying to be frightening or silly or, god help us, funny. NOOOO!!! Get the professionals in and let's keep up the pretence that it's actually real. It's so much better now and it will only improve. Producers and actors see the importance of the future of games and also of course, animation.

Many thanks to Tim Bentinck. Images copyright EA Games.

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