Photo Credit: Jose Element
We recently had the opportunity to talk to Cissy Jones, the voice actress behind Delilah in Campo Santo’s upcoming title, Firewatch. She also voices Alex Oshima in the upcoming Oculus Rift title, ADR1FT. Other notable credits include Katjaa, Shel, and many others in The Walking Dead: Season 1 and the DLC 400 Days, Doctor Duff/Doctor Patricia in Fallout 4, Nora Freeze in Batman Arkham Knight DLC, and many more.
Spoiler Warning: This interview contains spoilers for The Walking Dead, Season 1 and the 400 Days DLC on the first page. Read on at your own risk (or skip to page 2, for ADR1FT and Firewatch, spoiler-free).
GameSided: Thank you so much for talking to me today.
Cissy Jones: Likewise, thank you!
GS: You played a lot of characters in [Telltale’s] Walking Dead. Did the earlier roles, such as Katjaa, affect how you portrayed some of the later characters that appeared?
CJ: Katjaa was my first video game role ever. She was one of my first jobs since becoming an actor, and I hold her near and dear to my heart, always. But then, Shel was very similar in the sense that she was also a mom, and that she also had a charge to take care of. So there was a lot of similarity between the two of them, even though Shel was much younger and Katjaa was older, and a little more tragic. But yeah, it definitely informed my “taking on” of Shel, if you will, in terms of everything that you had to lose in this world that Robert Kirkman had created. I think when I first went in with Katjaa, I was just thrilled that I was getting paid to be there! So by the time Shel came around, it definitely felt a little more cemented in how awful this world really was.
GS: Had you done any voice acting before you started Walking Dead, at all? Even outside of video games?
CJ: I had done a random commercial for some weird little gadget that you use to hang your purse on a counter. And I think I booked some random commercial. Katjaa was my first foray into video games. And it changed my life, absolutely.
GS: That’s awesome! So now you’ve obviously done tons of stuff–do you have a preference between seeing a story through as five or six really important characters, like in Walking Dead, or one who follows the narrative through to the end, like in Firewatch?
CJ: That’s a really tough question! I did love The Walking Dead in the sense that I got to be the “good person” in the group, and then I got to be the bat-shit crazy lady in the woods, and then I got to be the cancer survivor that nobody liked, so it was a different experience for every single character. But then to be able to play somebody like Delilah, where I’m with the character from the beginning to the end, that’s just really special. That just doesn’t happen very often, especially for women. So it’s really nice to have these roles start coming up and to be a part of them.
GS: I know you were Joyce Price in Life is Strange here recently–if you could use Max’s powers to save any one of your characters in Walking Dead from their inevitable deaths, who would it be?
CJ: Shel. I mean, we haven’t actually seen Shel die, but I’m pretty sure she’s dead. I would save Shel. A lot of people ask me if I were Katjaa, would I make the same decision? And I don’t want to spoil anything for people who haven’t played it, but as a parent, watching a kid go through what her kid went through, I absolutely understand, what the writers were going for there, and I understand the character’s decision. So Shel would be the one I would save because I think she had Katjaa’s heart, but a little more…balls.
GS: So, motion capture work! What of your recent voice acting work has involved mo-cap?
CJ: I can’t talk about it! I just wrapped up a big project I’ve been working on for a year–I can’t tell you the name of it; I can’t tell you the studio. I can tell you, I got pregnant during it, so as we were getting about ready to wrap and I was seven months pregnant, and I was like, “All right, you guys, I don’t know that my character’s going to be able to do much more of this particular stance that you want without looking completely ridiculous, so we’re going to have to wrap this up!” But, it was a really fun project, I’m really excited for it to come out; I’m excited for it to be announced! It’s going to have some really cool technology, but again, I can’t talk about it.
I have done quite a bit of facial mo-cap, where I’m still in a recording booth, not on a sound stage, with a camera pointed at my face. One of them was for a project that never got green-lit, and the other one recorded under a fake name; a lot of video games record under fake names for triple-A titles, and I don’t know what the name of the actual game is.
GS: Wow, congratulations! I’m excited to hear about this new project. But facial mo-cap, does that make you really self-conscious? Do you like it?
CJ: It’s a little awkward! Part of the reason I got into voiceover is because you don’t have to look at me! I don’t have to worry about, am I wearing my pajamas? Did I wake up with a fro this morning? So, it’s definitely a little awkward, but it’s just a different part of the business, which is really fun. It was really intimidating at first, but the more we got into it, it was just like okay, whatever! I remember going in for one session, where somebody had to be in the booth with me instead of just having it set up on a tripod. And, he was telling me that they just wrapped a session with a celebrity who was very angry about having to have this guy in the booth with him, and just kept farting! Through the whole session! Just trying to piss off the guy holding the camera! It made me very glad not to be the guy holding the camera.
GS: Without talking about the new project itself, can I ask how you feel about full body mo-cap? Does it help you get into character more?
CJ: It’s different for me. I don’t have a ton of stage experience, so it’s really comfortable to be in a booth, behind the mic stand, with a microphone, not having to memorize lines. Because I can still get into a stance that helps me find the character. If I’m a super tough army chick, I’ve either got my arms crossed or my hands on my hips. If I’m a softer, mother-type, I don’t have the rigidity to my body. It’s a little more daunting for me, mo-cap, just in the sense that, oh my God, I have to memorize lines? I didn’t get into voiceover to memorize lines! But again, it’s really fun, and most people know that I’m not a stage actor, so they have lines strategically taped around.