By Marty Mulrooney
Alternative Magazine Online recently reviewed Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, an adventure game created by legendary game designer Ragnar Tørnquist that was released by Norwegian developer Funcom in 2006 for Xbox and Windows PC, describing it as “a flawed game that has nonetheless stood the test of time.” Earlier this month (November 2012), Funcom announced that ‘Dreamfall Chapters’ had gone into pre-production at Red Thread Games, a new studio founded by Ragnar Tørnquist. AMO is therefore proud to present a short but sweet exclusive online interview with Ellie Conrad Leigh, the voice of Zoë Castillo in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey!
Hello Ellie, thank you for your time and welcome to AMO!
You are currently living in Australia – do you miss England?
I miss the ‘quaintness’ – I’m originally from Devon so whenever I go back home for a visit I have developed a huge appreciation for the beautiful green countryside and the historic buildings and houses – something I totally took for granted when I lived there. I also miss the shopping so I always arrive with an empty suitcase as my fashion needs have to be met! What I miss the most though is the people – all my family and friends that I left behind who mean so much to me and who you wish you could just meet up for a quick coffee with. I absolutely love Australia though and don’t think I would move back to the UK in a hurry – the climate, the beaches, the ‘outdoor’ lifestyle all seem to suit me and I wake up every morning looking forward to the day ahead.
How did you first get into acting?
My parents joined me up to a drama school from a very young age so acting has always been a part of my life. I took part in many drama festivals and theatre performances but my break came when I was 14 and auditioned for an agency in London. A few months after joining, I auditioned for a ‘Sunny Delight’ commercial and was lucky enough to be chosen.
How did you make the transition from television acting to voice acting?
I was actually introduced to the guys at Voiceovers.co.uk through an old friend who I had lost touch with but who managed to track me down, which I am extremely grateful for – it just makes you realise that somewhere, at some point, someone is thinking of you! I had no experience as a voiceover artist so it was all new to me, but the guys are fantastic coaches and as well as forming a friendship, they were very supportive and put me forward for the role.
You voiced Zoë Castillo in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. How did you secure this role?
I had to audition for the role of Zoe. As Funcom are based in Norway, this was carried out via a studio ISDN link from Devon (Voiceovers.co.uk studio linked up to Funcom’s) and I read parts of the script of which I’d had time to read beforehand. After a call-back I was offered the role and travelled up to a London studio for the full recording.
Zoë starts off as a restless teenager who doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life – was it difficult to put yourself in her shoes?
I think we’ve all been through those awkward teenage years where you question everything and make some key decisions in life, and yet don’t feel qualified to do so. In your teens you go through so many changes and learn a lot about yourself so I really felt for Zoe and was compassionate with the journey she was going through.
What was it like working with Ragnar Tornquist?
Ragnar was fantastic, he had a very clear idea of his vision for the game which resulted in very clear direction. Before each take he would intricately describe all the emotions, scenery and history surrounding the circumstances of the scene making it very easy for me to conceptualise his vision for Zoe.
Ragnar Tornquist has recently confirmed that Dreamfall Chapters is in the works. Would you return as Zoë Castillo if given the opportunity?
Is voice acting in general something that you would like to return to in the future?
I would love to. Having recently moved to Perth, Australia I am still finding my feet and unfortunately have no idea how the business works over here or even have any contacts for that matter – contacts are always helpful! I will certainly be looking around and scoping it out in the near future.
Thank you for your time! I thought your performance as Zoë Castillo in Dreamfall was the driving force of the entire experience and I truly hope to hear you again in another video game, sooner rather than later!
Thanks so much!
Special thanks to Gary Churcher (www.voiceovers.co.uk) for helping AMO track Ellie down!