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The year 2020 was not only filled with a lot of fantastic video games, but also a lot of fantastic voice acting performances in them. While many of us were stuck indoors for the duration of the year, we relied on the talents of actors to transport us to new worlds, stories, time periods, and maybe even underground. Like, deep underground. Down in, I don't know... Hell?
Logan Cunningham is one such actor, and the voice of multiple characters in Supergiant Games' indie hit Hades. (GAMINGbible's game of the year for 2020, no less.) The game is nominated for the public-voted EE Game Of The Year of the Award, and he's up for a BAFTA Games Award in the 'Performer in a Supporting Role' category for playing *ahem* title character Hades, Achilles, Poseidon, Asterius, Charon, and the Storyteller. A hell of a list, wouldn't you agree? (No pun intended.)
We sat down for a quick chat with Logan - voice actor in residence at Supergiant - about his performances in Hades, learning how when he was stuck on any of the title character's lines, he'd just ask himself, "How would Tim Curry say this?"
GAMINGbible: Congratulations on the phenomenal success of Hades - I'm sure you hear that a lot at the moment. Voice actor in residence is hardly a regular role in this industry, is it? How did you come to join Supergiant?
Logan Cunningham: I don't think 'voice actor in residence' is regular at all, no. I knew I wanted to get into acting by the time I left college - and I'd met Darren (Korb, music and audio at Supergiant) and Amir (Rao, design and studio operation) at high school. There didn't really seem to be anything else I was particularly good at. I don't think I ever had a moment of soul-filling knowledge of, "yes this is it, this is what I was meant to do!" I just seemed to be an actor, anyway.
GB: Interesting - so performance was something you always liked, and it was something you wanted to do. And now you're up for Performer in a Supporting role at the BAFTAs, for your Hades performances as Posidon, Achilles, Charon... wait, how do you pronounce Charon?
Cunningham: "Kah-Ron". On the team, we lovingly refer to him as Karen from finance.
GB: That's so good - and the groan that the character has suits that, too. And you also play the Storyteller and Asterius, and Hades himself of course. With those roles was it sort of like, you 'dibsed' them? Or was it that you had to go through a process of what you knew you could do with the characters, and then you brought in other voices depending on that?
Cunningham: Yeah I think it's more that - more of the latter. You know, as an actor, I don't have a lot of say in what I'm cast as, but I think they always have me in mind. They have me in their back pocket, right? So if they're having trouble casting a part they'll sort of give it to me, or let me have a go at it, and be like, "Eh, Logan can do that, probably."
GB: It sounds nice to have a friend go, "Logan, in you come, see if you can do this one." So with that in mind, I guess doing an early access game, as Hades launched that way back in 2018, is really different in terms of your performance. With other games, there's a final date that everything goes out to people. What was the process like doing early access, and having to come back to the voice acting as the game was changing?
Cunningham: It's sort of like making a TV show, because there's this episodic nature to early access. But from my end, it was just keeping more notes than I'm used to keeping. Just references and little, nit-picky things like, "Oh, when this character says often. It's OFF-TEN. Not OFF-EN." Like the narrator character. Lord Hades is that way and having to remember all those voices and the various balances and things like that was a bit of a juggling act. But you know, you find your cadence. You find your rhythm.
GB: So when you jump back into a role after being away for a while, were there certain voice clips or sentences that acted as triggers for you to remember the voice? Or was it more that you've got those voices locked away, and only need a few notes?
Cunningham: A little bit. It's usually more kind of a physical thing. It's like, oh god this character fights. So I have to do exertion for this character. So, I should find out as early as I can if we have lines for, you know, the Minotaur for this coming Wednesday so I can make sure to, like, get my rest and drink plenty of water and things like that - do my stretches.
GB: Am I right in thinking you're also in Dota 2?
Cunningham: Yes this is true, as the narrator from Bastion.
GB: What's the difference for you, doing a residency role and knowing there are games coming up for the studio, and doing other gigs outside of Supergiant?
Cunningham: When it comes to those other things, I've very much just an actor. I'm just a contractor. Whatever, I try not to make a fuss, and just do what they need me to do and then I leave, I go home. But at Supergiant I'm working with... well, I work most directly with Darren Korb who I've known since I was 14. And there's a luxury there. We waste a lot of time in our sessions. But, there's a luxury, and there's a safety with working with them.
GB: Did you expect the wave of thirst that people had for the characters of Hades? Everyone seems to have a favourite character that they say, this is the one I'm attracted to. Was that expected, or was that a surprise?
Cunningham: Um, I mean we knew the game was going to do well. That's one of the things that early access told us. And because with video games there's sort of there's no ceiling, there's kind of no limit, it's sort of... Eh, it's probably going to do well, the question now is about how well it's going to do. Or like how much people are going to like this because we knew people were already were liking it - we'd known that for almost two years. But yeah, no one at Supergiant is used to this kind of attention. And we've always been this kind of indie darling - we've never been kind of the Belle of the Ball. And it feels like this is sort of our turn at that.
GB: It's so cool to see Hades up for so many awards. I've been rooting for Hades because you're very used to seeing triple-A doing well at events like the BAFTAs. You know that they're going to perform well, but sometimes when it comes to indies, you fear them getting underappreciated. Hades has got so much positivity surrounding it, which has been amazing to see. But what about 'dream' roles - any gaming icons you'd love to voice?
Cunningham: No, I don't really have dream roles, or like a bucket list of things. I know it when I see it. I don't think that far ahead. But, when I would get stuck trying to work out how Lord Hades would do something - like, how would he sound in this particular line - I would just think, what would Tim Curry do? As he's the Lord of Darkness in Legend, if you've seen that movie. So, that was very much in my head.
GB: And are there any acting performances that you've really loved over this past year in games? Any roles where you were like, "Damn, they've really nailed it"?
Cunningham: Daisuke Tsuji (as Jin Sakai) in Ghost of Tsushima. The game's great, it's great - beautiful game. With load times like you wouldn't believe, it's just like *snaps fingers*.
It was a pleasure talking to Logan after hearing his voice so much in Hades. You can check out the game's Steam page or find it on the Nintendo Switch eShop. If you want to watch and see if Logan wins a BAFTA Games Award, or if Hades takes home any of its eight nominations including that EE Game of the Year, you can find out where to watch the ceremony here. It's held on March 25, at 7pm GMT.
Featured Image Credit: Nathan West (via Logan Cunninham's Twitter) / Supergiant Games
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