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A few weeks back, we spoke with actor Patrick Fischler about bringing to life infamous bad man Mickey Cohen in Team Bondi and Rockstar Games' L.A. Noire. So in preparation for the release of the upcoming downloadable vice case “Reefer Madness,” which will be released on July 12, we put the screws to Adam Harrington, whose slick-talking and deeply corrupt Roy Earle no doubt made a few gamers want to punch him in his smug, yet dashing, face. He’s just one of those kinds of characters you just can’t help hating but also can’t help being captivated by, because he just commands such a presence on screen. We chatted with Harrington via email to find out what it was like to work on one of the most technologically groundbreaking games of all time,and the unique challenges and opportunities it presented along the way.
G4: How did you get involved with L.A. Noire? When did you first hear about the project, and what drew you to it?
Adam Harrington: The first time I heard about the game was when I was invited to a casting session for Roy Earle, and then I was lucky enough to be hired. I was immediately drawn to the genre that L.A. Noire was taking on, and the fact that right from the beginning, it felt like it was going to be a movie that you could play. It felt different than other things I had seen before in video games. It was taking an entire genre and pulling the player into that world. And I thought the character was, from what I saw at the beginning, just so well-written, and was a great classic film noir character.
G4: Now, Roy Earle isn’t exactly the most upstanding officer on the force. What was your approach for bringing such a conniving character to life? Did you draw on any performances from classic noir films for inspiration?
AH: Well, two things. One, I thought he was really well-written, and sometimes your job as an actor is to just get out of the way and let the writing do its job. For my inspiration, I drew more from books than from films I had seen. I read a number of film-noir style books when we were getting ready to shoot, so I drew from that. Brendan [McNamara] had said that there were certain movies that were influential, and I kept those in mind, but honestly, even when I auditioned, the character just jumped off the page. I saw the way he was written, and I immediately felt that I had a good way to do it, and I went from there.
G4: L.A. Noire is the first game to use MotionScan technology. What was that performance capture process like for you as an actor?
AH: [Laughter] It was new. It was a very new process for me. The hardest thing to get used to was how bright it was, and the temperature. The room was really bright in order for the cameras to pick up the detail they needed, and I have light-colored eyes so that was hard to get used to. The temperature of the room is kept cold so that nothing could overheat. I noticed in the ["Technology Behind Performance" trailer] of us being filmed in the room, you can see me completely covered in all these orange t-shirts…I was actually using them as a blanket. I noticed that a lot of reviews commented on the voice acting, saying the game was very well voice-acted, and what I don’t think they understand that we acted the entire game out when were filming the full-body motion capture, so we were actually interacting with each other as if it was a movie. Then, when we came in to do the facial scanning, we could recall those experiences, and I found that really helpful.
G4: What was your first reaction when you saw yourself in the game for the first time? A little creepy, no?
AH: The first time I saw myself in the game as a character was probably about half-way through the motion scanning. On the one hand, it was weird because it was me, but on the other hand, it wasn’t weird because it was me, if that makes any sense. I was happy with how much it looked like me, but I kept telling my friends, “They’ve made an avatar of myself.” And when the trailers started going around, I started saying to people, “It literally is me.” And then it really became fun. Once I saw the game, it’s strange to see yourself in this whole other universe.
G4: Do you think more actors will be drawn to games now that this technology is available and capable of so completely capturing performances?
AH: I know that there have been big-name actors starting to crop up in video games for a while. I think with what this game has done is that it’s even crossed-over more, and it will make actors start to do more of this because of the technology, and fans are enjoying it. They’re telling the industry they want a high-quality product, and the line between both mediums is blurring. With so many movies being made into video games, and video games being made into movies, you’ll definitely see more actors do it, because it’s part of the future of gaming and the acting industry.