Haven Editorial: Interview with Elias Toufexis and Amber Goldfarb

SLGC-Logo-highres

 

 

amber-goldfarb-assassins-creedadam_jensen

 

Before we get into the interviews I’d like to say that these were done in a round table style interview, with various Press including GeekTyrant, and Geek Factor Radio. Please know that not all these questions are mine, and for the sake of importance to the answers over the questions, I’m not going to leave the questions anonymous. This was such a transformative experience for me, I hope you enjoy.

 

to start would you like to state your name and previous work.

 

Amber Goldfarb: Hi I’m Amber Goldfarb, I’m from Montreal, Quebec. Born and raised. I work a lot in video games. I’ve worked in over 10 games. Mostly for Ubisoft, but for Eidos and Warner Brothers as well. Most recently I played Batgirl in the DLC. I just did the Mo-Cap, not the voice, that was already cast. The voice actress had already worked on one of the previous games. I’ve also been on several TV shows, mostly Sci-Fi. Recently, Helix. My upcoming project is called LARPS the series. It’s a web series Executive produced by Felicia Day, and it plays on Geek and Sundry. Season 1 has already aired, and season 2 is airing in the fall. It’s an awesome show so you guys show definitely check it out. When I found about the project it was like  ‘I Have to be on this show!’ and I fought to get an audition, and they were like yeah yeah ok ok. we’ll see. 

Elias Toufexis: My name is Elias Toufexis, I’m 5’10, I like walks on the beach, 

A: I Have a sexy voice, everything he says is like bedroom, before he was like ‘You want a coffee?’ just the way he said it, i felt like we were like…it was pillow talk. 

E: you really wanted a coffee

A: yeah, I really wanted my coffee after that

E: I’m also from Montreal. I’m Adam Jensen in Deus Ex. in Human revolution, and now mankind divided, and a bunch of assassins creed games, and splinter cell games. which are not as popular as they should be. and I’m on a show called the expanse which is starting in December on Sci-fi Network. 

A: I forgot to mention I play the first female protagonist in the assassins creed series Aveline de Grandpré. in assassins creed liberation, and I also play Kristina Vespucci in Brotherhood. Which people seem to love the Ezio Kristinia love story. At one point I was looking for voice demo material from that, and I just went on to youtube and I did a little search and then all of these videos that people have put together following the love story, editing it all together. I was like oh my god, there’s like a real following. it’s serious business.

E: Then there’s the other side of it, Which I played Federico Which is Ezio’s brother. In assassins creed 2 and all over online Drawings online both of them very naked, and different things. it’s very interesting. There was a lot of Jensen Stuff like that too.

What kind of interaction do you guys get with your fan bases? Is it mostly at conventions, like this? or do you do more community events, or like live events online? How do you like to communicate with your fans bases.

E: I’ve done a couple of twitch things. mostly those were in collaboration with a studio release, but mostly just conventions and Twitter, Twitter is always, social media is always fun. Facebook, things like that. I think nowadays it’s important for actors. Initially, it was frowned upon I think, you don’t want to connect with people. you don’t want to talk to people cause they’re the fans and you’re the actor. I hesitate to say star. but now i think people enjoy it more. People I meet at conventions who I’ve spoken to on twitter they have more of an appreciation and then they follow more things I do. and they want to follow up on those things. instead of just like ‘Don’t talk to me dude’ which i dislike. I like talking to people who follow the work that I do. 

A: Yeah, absolutely. for me it’s really predominantly through twitter and my facebook fanpage. and these events. That’s why I was interested in starting to do conventions and comic cons and things like that. It’s because I actually wanted that relationship and contact with fans, and my audience. You don’t have that with film and tv and you’re working on set, or doing mo-cap. or being in a sound booth or whatever. it’s just you and the director and the crew and the other actors, you don’t have that relationship with the audience. so coming to conventions, and getting to meet people, and actually getting feedback and hearing what they love, and hearing what they hated. it’s fun I really like it.

E: That’s always the fun thing, when they’re like ‘I love your game man, but why did they do this?’ it’s like ‘dude, I know know I just say what they tell me to say’ Although to be fair, in the new game, it’s the first time in my career that I’ve done a sequel of something extremely popular. so, I had a lot more leeway and lot more input into the script and into things that Jensen would say and do, which was a first for me, and they were very open, and I love that. There were things in the story of the last game that I didn’t like. and if that came up in Mankind Divided I was able to say ‘look let’s try doing it in a different way and a lot of times they listened to me.

You’ve both done recurring characters. so do you kinda get that input as well, because you get a real feel for the character that you’re working on. do you kinda get some of that input creatively?

A: Depends on the project. Sometimes they’ll want you to really stick to what’s written, what’s on the page. verbatum. Other time’s they’ll be more open to improv and you putting your input in. It has a lot to do with the creative team and their approach. and there are very different approaches. Sometimes how it’s written works so well, that it’s like why would you bother changing that or even why would you meddle with that. And other times allowing actors to put their input is just going to improve it. and bring a unique flavor, that only that actor can give to that role. So I’ve definitely experienced both. I would say that with TV a lot of the times they want you to stick to what’s on the page. That has been my experience.

E: Especially with Network TV. 

A: yeah

E: network TV has their ideas. They just kinda hire you to say them.

A: yeah exactly, I have to say, Ubisoft has taken a new approach in the past few games that I’ve worked on. where there’ll be a rehearsal process before we shoot and the writer will be there. Like working on black flag, the writer was there with us. and whatever didn’t feel natural, whenever it didn’t flow we would just say ‘hey, [Darby McDevitt] this doesn’t feel right to me, or like this doesn’t flow naturally, and he would re-work it. 

E: Let me get this straight, the Director of Assassin’s Creed, the pirate one was named Darby.

A: no, the writer.

E: The Writer, even worse. 

A: It was a woman who was Directing. Which she is an incredible director I love working with her. I also worked with her on revelations. she is amazing. just a pleasure to work with. and she loves actors bringing their input to things. She pushed for that rehearsal process. She was like no we are not going to just shoot it, no I want a rehearsal process. I want time to work things with the actors. To explore, to try things, and have that relationship with the writer. and I think that that’s really effective way of shooting, because you get that collaborative experience. you can’t just improvise a period piece, in terms of the language to use, we needed the writer to verify like that is a word they would use at that time. 

So who’s the person that you’ve worked with that you enjoy working with the most?

 

E: Ah, Amber.

A:We’ve actually been doing these events together a lot. We did Sac Anime together, Space City, Comic Con, and now this. it’s been a lot of fun. In terms of shooting, in terms of a director, or cast. Going back to that experience on Black Flag, that was really awesome. The cool thing about doing mo-cap is that there is no, you’re not going to have like crazy egos like in terms of the actors. it’s not set up that way. You show up at the mo-cap studio, we don’t all have our own trailers. There’s not like one actor that has a bigger trailer cause of the movie. We all have the same dressing rooms. And then you get on set and we’re all wearing these silly spandex suits. covered in balls. You know what I mean, you can’t be like well I’m the star of this show. We all look at each other like ‘Yup. Ok, let’s do this.’ So that was great. Matt Ryan, who played Edward Kenway. and most recently Constantine was an absolute joy to work with. and Like I said the Director of Black Flag. That experience was particularly collaborative, and fun. and LARPS, like what I shot most recently That has been honestly the most fun that I’ve ever had on set, working on that show. Cause everyone was equally invested in the project. It was a labor of love, and everyone was there because they really wanted to be. They weren’t there for the money. So, it was a real sense of appreciating what we were doing, and appreciating all the work that everyone was putting into it. and it was hard work, but it was really fun. 

Speaking of which do you have a preference between working in video games vs. in TV. Or does it just depend on project to project?

 

E: Depends on the character for me. and obviously the project, which the character is in. For me, like there are some TV shows that are… not… good, that I do still, because you’re an actor. Like an Actor is like an contract worker, right. You get hired for this job, and you do the job, and you either think this is a great like thing you’re build or it’s terrible. and to be honest, right, right now video games are better written than most of the TV I do. and most of the movies too. I mean occasionally like The Expanse, the show. I love that show. I had a great time playing that character, and it’s written by the guy’s who wrote Children of Men. So it’s like by good writers. but, yeah. I mean it’s just a matter of the character. The way achieve as an actor is the same no matter what the technology is, whether you’re just talking to a mic, whether you’re in a mo-cap suit, or whether you’re on set or stage, or whatever. 

A: Yeah, absolutely. I think that it’s always about the story you’re telling and the character you’re playing and if you connect to it, and find the joy in that work. If it’s meaningful to you. What I can say just from a working view standpoint video games follow a kinda a 9 to 5 shoot schedule. Where as Tv Shows follow a whatever works best for daylight and location.

E: Yeah, you’re working 6-8 hour days on TV shows, and you can’t work more than 8 hours on a mo-cap.

A: yeah, exactly. so like if I have a day at the mo-cap studio I can make Dinner plans, no problem. If I have a day I could be done at 5 pm, I could be done at 3 in the morning. You have no sense, going into it. There is so much overtime.

E: It’s mostly because mo-cap you don’t have to light, you don’t have to change camera angles. You don’t have to do any of that stuff. So you can go from scene to scene to scene to scene pretty quickly. Because there’s cameras but they are all capturing the data of whatever markers you want. Not capturing any light. So you don’t have to worry about that kinda stuff. Although there are always markers that fall off, or the camera gets bumped. and looks crooked. 

A: There are still technical difficulties.

E: Yeah, there is a lot of technical difficulties. 

A: And also Locations is a big one. When you’re shooting a series, and they have a location for only maybe that day, or certain amount of days. and you have to finish all the scenes that are taking place in that location. whereas, the mo-cap studio can become whatever location you need it to be. 

E: anything you can imagine

A: yeah, it’s this magical place that can turn into anything. It’s pretty cool.

E: It’s actually, I don’t know if you guys know this, but they have this, I don’t know if you did this on any of you’re games, but for Blacklist, and now for Deus Ex, there’s a camera That you bring into the studio, that when you look through the camera you see what the gamer would see. That in and of itself is pretty cool, but what they do now is they’ll shoot  the scene out, and the director will go in later, on his own and wherever he points the camera is what we’ve shot, so he can change the angles of whatever the heck he wants to do, it’ll all in there as in wherever he’s looking. So he can take an entire day and redirect the entire thing, because we’ve already shot it, it’s incredible. and every time I go in, and it’s probably the same for you. Every time we do a mo-cap thing some other technology has shown up. Where it makes it easier and better, and it’s crazy. and we’re in it’s infancy, it’s going bigger and bigger and bigger, it’s nuts.

Do you guys find that it’s kinda like freeing to be acting in a space where it’s completely up to your imagination to fill in what’s around you, or do you find that a little more challenging?

 

A: well at first I found it challenging. you know, you show up and your set like, I’m used to having props that are like the actual thing, and these are just like, they do have props, but they have like balls on them and everything. 

E: and the guns are literally toy guns. like blue toy guns.

A: yeah, so I recently learned to ask a lot of questions. Because if I just leave it to my imagination it could be potentially not what they envisioned for the game design, so I always ask now for them to show me what does this location look like. and they have gotten to the habit of doing it anyways. So they’ll show you the location, they’ll get the proportions right, and any other kind of missing pieces I’ll just ask them. What’s this, what does that look like. How far do I get to this person. Is this going to be seen from close up or do you think it’ll be shot at from afar. Because that might change how I’m going to do it. So they’ll tell me, so I think that that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned, is just ask. Ask as many questions as you can. and paint that picture for yourself. and then you gotta fill in the blanks in terms of the wardrobe, what you’re wearing, how that would translate in your movements too. You gotta incorporate that. 

E: There’s a lot of dragging dead bodies, which are actually just giant sandbags. It’s true I remember just last week I was shooting one where I’m in a helicopter technically. And the helicopter lands, and I have to jump off and then start shooting and run. but nothings moving, I’m not shooting at anything, and I have a toy gun. but, you hear the guy going you’re fine. it’s fine you’re flying, you land, and you have to ask like you hit the ground you jump up, there’s people firing at you, you have to act like things a flying at you. I’ve done action movies where things are firing at you, but there’s things around you, squibs going off. It’s easier, so it’s kinda both. It’s freeing in a way cause you don’t have to worry about  everything else, but it’s difficult because you do have to act, and I do find myself unconsciously over acting, and I’ll watch the take and be like, don’t use that take. so yeah it’s a little bit of both. 

Is there any particular projects, like a dream project that you’d love to work on. Maybe a previous title, or just something you’d really love to be involved with?

 

A: I want to be on Daredevil. I want to be in a Marvel film or series really badly. That would be a dream come true for me absolutely. 

E: I want to work with William Shatner. Crazy William Shatner fan boy. I met him in Houston, for the first time in my life. and was like a school girl. 

A: I walked past him, and was like Elias I just walked past William Shatner. 

E: and He was wonderful, for all the rumors about him, he’s a wonderful man, to me at least, but we’re both, we’re all from the same town. So that’s how I opened my conversation. I could talk about William Shatner for the rest of the time. Specific projects, I don’t know man, I think now that the Arkham games are done, whatever reboot they have in mind for, I’d love to work on a Batman game of course. For me it’s project to project. Of course, I’d love to be in the Marvel movies, or Star Wars. Y’know I just want to keep paying my bills. 

So when you guys are in your down time like are there any video games you relax with?

 

A: Nope, I’ve chosen my love of TV watching vs. Gaming. Because there is not enough time, in a day to do both. That’s what I’ve concluded. I actually, started playing Liberation my game. I got so sucked into it, I don’t have a life anymore. I guess that’s what happens when you become a gamer. and I barely even have time to watch the shows that I want to watch. 

Was it odd playing as game as yourself?

 

A: It’s Kinda weird. It was terrible, because I’m not good. and I accidentally killed innocent people. I was like ‘No I don’t want to stab the slave, What am I doing!’ It was terrible. and then I got the hang of it. but, petting the dog, that was really nice. I liked petting the dog. I think that’s a really cool feature. it’s funny how that was therapeutic for me, This is not real, it’s not happening, but I’m feeling the calming effect of petting an animal. 

E: I would say, this is funny. The idea that I’m the only person who can play Dues Ex, or you with Liberation and add lines, while playing. Which is always fun. For me I’ve played, I have two kids and work, and conventions I don’t have a lot of time either. So it’s funny, I’ve been playing Arkham Knight, right now, and it’s been out for a month and a half, two months by now. I’m at 11 percent. So that should show you how much time I have to play games, I like Arkham Knight, I like zombie games, and I like sports games. I play the games I’m in, I thought Blacklist was amazing. People are so hard on that game. freaking good game. I love that game, and not just because I’m in it. 

I’d like to know about anything you can tell us about upcoming projects you can tell us about or Elias anything you can tell us about Mankind Divided?

 

E: you know what’s funny they’re so picky about what I can and Cannot say, so anything in the trailers is what I can talk about. and yeah, it’s gonna be a great game. There’s more choice than the last game. In fact, there are even choices you can make at the beginning of the game which would steer you in a completely different story line almost. Not, completely different, but how you experience the story is completely different, and you can go different ways and branch off. That’s why the game takes so long to make, you just have so many different options. It’s bigger, and darker in a way. 

How long have you been working on it.

 

E: like 2 years, but on and off. This summer we really hit the ground running and we finished it. I have some pick ups, and some other stuff to do, but we’re pretty much done. 

A: I think I already spoke about mine. LARPS, Check it out. 

So do you plan on Chopping off all your arms and legs to be more like Jensen?

 

E: To be augmented? If augments were really I think I’d probably go for it.

 

Thanks again to Elias and Amber.

 

-Jordan Kamm-