By Marty Mulrooney
In 2011, Alternative Magazine Online reviewed Jurassic Park: The Game, describing it as “undoubtedly the best Jurassic Park game ever made.” A huge contributing factor to the enjoyment of the game was no doubt its stellar voice acting. It is therefore with great pleasure that AMO presents an exclusive online interview with Heather Hudson, the voice of Jess Harding!
Hi Heather, thank you for your time and welcome to AMO! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself please?
Hey there! Thanks! A bit about me… oh geez – that is a very broad question.
Well, in just everyday life – I am the kind of person that sees the glass as ‘half full’, or else I am trying to figure out what is in the glass. I tend to see the bright side of life, to find the lesson learned in a challenge and I love adventure, exploring and learning something new. I love to climb trees, to go for a good hike and do yoga.
I love to make animal sounds. In my community of friends, I am known for my cat meows. I love dark chocolate, but I like my ice cream vanilla because I can create so many different concoctions. I love juicing – it’s the best way to get in more veggies. I just recently started to like cooked carrots. Odd how that kinda stuff happens, isn’t it? What else, I am an artist – I paint on canvas inspired by the flow of impressionism and also abstractism. I like to work with clay and found objects. In all, I am a kid at heart.
How long have you been acting?
Professionally acting for about 3 years now. Before that, I was honing my skills in local sketch comedy, theatre, indie film and in acting classes.
You play Jess Harding in Jurassic Park: The Game – how did you secure this role?
My agents got me the audition. When I got the copy, I was super excited – I love the Jurassic Park movies and I thought it would be fun. I had to audition a few scenes. One of the scenes was me landing in the nest. It was my favourite scene to audition. I really went there, it was scary. Come to think about it – I don’t think that scene ever got recorded for the game… do you remember seeing this in the game?
No, I don’t! Perhaps we’ve stumbled upon a deleted scene… Had you ever done any voice acting before?
Yes, most of my VO background is in commercials. My specialty is natural, conversational, quirky, energetic, everyday people that don’t sound like they are ‘acting’. Due to my vocal quality I also do boy characters, which is fun because I don’t get to do that with camera work.
How familiar were you with the Jurassic Park films/books before accepting this role?
I haven’t read the books. I do like the movies, I knew of them. I really like movies that take us to realities we haven’t been able to live in our lifetime. I love to jump into different worlds.
Why do you think the franchise has lasted for so long?
I’ll be honest – that’s not my specialty. I really don’t know the ‘right’ reason… My guess is that there are enough of us that find it a thrilling concept to be in a land of dinosaurs. It just never gets old to imagine what it would be like if we had dinos in our modern day. If you think about our culture, the majority of us love fantasy and jumping into unknown worlds in a very ‘real’ way. Jurassic Park the franchise delivers that adventure… we get to go there!
Personally, I am excited to see if they create another movie. After seeing the ‘newer’ technology in Avatar, I can only imagine it will be awesome.
Jess Harding is a teenager – how difficult is it to voice a character that is significantly younger than you are in real life?
It’s not sooo long ago that I don’t remember what it’s like to be a teenager. To be honest, I really connected with this character quickly. My vocal range is kids to adults so once I know the age range they need, I just adjust it. Really, the biggest part of voicing Jess was to understand being a teenager and remember where she is really coming from. There is more behind the words she says.
How would you describe the character of Jess Harding?
Jess is such a full character and has so many emotions moving through her. I think that is what is so awesome about the role of Jess – there is so much to work with, she is not a one note character that is for sure.
Jess has this continual “I love you” “I hate you” “I want you to love me” “Do you love me?” “Get away” “Come here” “I need you” “I can do it alone” going on, and then add that to being on an island with dinosaurs coming after her, just trying to survive, scared as heck… wow! To me it was like doing a film. I was just behind a mic as I did my work this time. I really was sweating and had tears and joy run through me in this performance. They really gave me a great character with so much range. I loved playing Jess. I looked forward to every recording.
What was it like working with Telltale Games?
I had a great experience working with everyone at Telltale Games. I’m not just saying it – they’re really good people, for reals. I had so much fun and it was neat because when we recorded the episode designer came to the sessions. A few times, for fun – they would show me where they were in the making of the game. I felt like I got to learn so much more about the entire process of creating games. I was a part of a really good team. I’d love to work with them again.
Where did you record your lines? Was it a solo process or did you get the opportunity to interact with the other voice actors?
We recorded outside of San Francisco most of the time and one time I had to record from LA via ‘patching’ into the group. I just got there and they gave me my lines on the spot, solo. I never got to work with my fellow actors. The weird thing is that a few of my friends were on the project and I didn’t know until after the recordings were done. I did however know that my friend Jason Marsden was in the project, so he’d call me after recording and say something to me to hint what was going on and vice versa. That was cool, we were excited to be on the same project.
Did you have any visual aids to help you capture the moment when recording your lines?
No. I just imagined the world. Sometimes the designer would explain the physicality of the scene regarding the space or distance.
Is it difficult to imagine yourself being chased by dinosaurs from the safety of a recording booth?
No, not at all. That is what I do for a living – imagine. It may also be the syndrome of being an only child!
Do you have a favourite dinosaur?
Like them – NO WAY! By the end of the game, I just wanted to get off the island and forget about dinos. But really, no – I haven’t ever thought of that… I like turtles – was there a turtle that was a dino? Here – I looked it up – the Archelon. It’s the largest prehistoric turtle. I like that one.
Who is your favourite character in Jurassic Park: The Game apart from Jess?
I am not sure yet… I am going to have to play the game a few times and see. I didn’t even get to read all the scripts so I don’t really know much besides what happens in Jess’s world.
What’s harder – regular acting or voice acting?
I personally don’t feel one is harder then the other. They each have their own skill sets and some of those skill sets cross over. I will say it’s much easier to go to a VO session because you don’t have to figure out what you’re wearing and all that… What I love about VO is that there are no boundaries, my character can run up the side of a wall, transform into a different shape, I can play any age or form. So many sounds and expressions – sooo fun to play with. Probably why I love doing improv, lots of freedom and play! Yeah, it’s all just a different flavour – for me, I like them both.
Are you a gamer yourself?
I don’t have my own game system. But I love the games where I can jump around and move my arms and really get involved in the game. I’m a mover and shaker. I am getting the urge and checking out the game consoles. I have a feeling after Comicon this year, I will have to get one (if I don’t get one sooner).
Have you played Jurassic Park: The Game yet?
No, I haven’t had the chance to play the game yet. Bummer right!?
Would you like to do more voice acting in the future?
Yes, I am still doing voice acting. I am delighted that my commercial VO work and acting has lead me towards games. I just never realised how close to doing a movie a video game is… it’s awesome. I want to do lots more games, animated series and movies.
What’s next for you Heather?
Lots going on in my universe…
Currently, I am in pre-production for a SAG webseries called @thebar. I am a co-producer and actor in the show. I can’t tell you too much right now, but it is going to be good. I think it will be a fun show for the online community. I am excited to get it out there. We wrap filming early April and it’s scheduled to be released in 2012. Join up on Twitter @thebartheseries.
At the end of February 2012, I will be launching www.positivityartist.com. I will be blogging there, my main intent is to uplift and inspire people and just be my quirky self. It will also be the home of my project – The Serenity Toolbox: Practical Guidance for Positive Thinking. It’s a spoken word project that I created and voiced to help people live life to it’s fullest. Check it out – I will have my art work up there too. For fun, I am going to start a collective art project that everyone can be a part of. It’s just my way to share and connect with the world.
And… last but not least – I just recently got accepted into The Groundlings and will begin there in March. I am excited to be a part of such a great community of improv performers and to have another outlet for me to try out different characters (www.groundlings.com).
Whew, that is the main stuff, there is more brewing – but that is enough for now.
Thank you for your time!
No problem, it was nice to connect. Stay in touch!
For a more daily connection: I am @PositivityChic on Twitter.
FILM REVIEW – Jurassic Park (UK Theatrical Re-Release)
GAME REVIEW – Jurassic Park: The Game (PC)
INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Kevin Boyle (Executive Producer, Jurassic Park: The Game)
INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Jared Emerson-Johnson (Video Game Music Composer/Voice Actor)
GAME REVIEW – Jurassic Park: The Game (PSN)