BRC: It seems you rather like more comic character types, to which Commander Shepard obviously doesn’t belong to. What was it like to act as him? Have you faced any difficulties?
Mark Meer: I do a lot of comedy, it’s true. Specifically, I do a lot of improvisation. However, I’m no stranger to dramatic theatre work — here in Canada, I received an Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award for Best Supporting Actor for my work on Helen’s Necklace, a play about war in the Middle East, which was most definitely NOT a comedy... That said, I did enjoy being able to take a break from Commander Shepard now and then during recording to play comedic characters like Blasto or the Biotic God Niftu Cal.
BRC: Your work in Mass Effect is amazing! Will your voice gladden us in the coming Dragon Age: Inquisition? And in Mass Effect Next? Maybe in any other gaming projects?
Mark Meer: I’ve already done some work for the new Dragon Age game... I’m also about a dozen different characters in the upcoming Baldur’s Gate II Enhanced Edition from Overhaul Games (I also played several characters in the first Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition). And I’m happy to announce that I will be playing the lead role of the player character Will MacKenzie in THE LONG DARK, a new first-person post-disaster survival simulation from Hinterland Games. It’s a realistic survival simulation set in Canada’s north. We just launched the Kickstarter campaign this week, and at the time of this interview we’re already over 30% of the way to our goal of $200,000.00. Here’s a link to the Kickstarter campaign:
BRC: Would you like to act as Commander Shepard in a movie?
Mark Meer: I think they’ll want someone a bit more muscular than I am in real life... my body type is more like a Salarian scientist than Commander Shepard. I’d love to do a cameo as an alien, though!
BRC: You are often seen in fan-movies, cosplaying in N7 armour, and in short comic ME scenes — are you fond of it yourself, or is it all just a result of fans’ implores? Take your N7 suit for instance — was it a gift from fans, or did you made it by yourself?
Mark Meer: I have many costumes, mostly from Halloween — my favorite holiday and also my wife’s and my wedding anniversary. And I do bring costumes to conventions. My N7 suit was made by the very talented David Carpenter of Evil FX Props and Armor. Many other fans have built me weapons and costume pieces as well, including Michael Kraft of Pillar of Dawn Studio, Eric Jarman of Jarman Props and Peter White of Moonbase Creations. I also have a number of Marvel Comics and DC Comics costumes, mostly supervillains. I sometimes make some of the props, but all the sewing is done by talented friends of mine. Here are a few pictures:
Those first two were a HYDRA Officer and The Hobgoblin. Here’s The Super-Adaptoid:
BRC: Many of our guys appreciate your sense of humour. So we’d like to know, have you ever had a desire to dial a random number and with Shepard’s voice command everyone to immediately arrive to the Normandy? Maybe you happened to take part in any Mass Effect related pranks or funny stories?
Mark Meer: I am often asked by fans to leave voicemail messages for their friends. I think I’ve surprised some people!
BRC: Many people are interested in your opinion on different aspects of the Mass Effect Universe and Shepard’s Story. If you would be offered to live in the Mass Effect world, which character of this saga would you like to be?
Mark Meer: Well, I think i’d have to pick one of the characters I voiced... As fun as it might be to be Blasto or a Vorcha, I think I would pick Shepard.
BRC: On your opinion, which one of the trilogy’s endings could be the one and only version of the conclusion of Shepard’s story?
Mark Meer: Before the Extended Ending, my favourite ending was Destroy. With the Extended Ending, my favourite ending is now Control.
BRC: Whom you romanced with playing Mass Effect?
Mark Meer: My Renegade romanced Ashley, then Miranda. My Paragon romanced Liara, them Tali.
BRC: Which one you prefer to be: a Paragon or a Renegade?
Mark Meer: I usually play both Renegade and Paragon, but I always play Renegade first. That way, when I do my Paragon playthrough, I feel like I’m redeeming myself for being such a jerk to everyone the first time through.
BRC: And the most thrilling question: which store is you favourite one on the Citadel?
Mark Meer: My favourite store on the Citadel is whichever one will give me the biggest discount!
BRC: Tell us please how you manage to create such different voices? Is it a gift from birth, or do you specially train your voice? Did your throat hurt after the vorcha voice-over session?
Mark Meer: I’ve always done voices — I was a big fan of cartoons as a kid (and I still am). I also used to play a lot of Dungeons & Dragons when I was a teenager, and one tends to do a lot of voices if one is the Dungeon Master... Yes, the Vorcha were hard on my voice. We would generally save them for the last in any given recording session.
BRC: Movie and voice actors often add their own ideas or improvements to the scenes or to the script in general right in the middle of the work. Have you been doing something like that when you worked with BioWare?
Mark Meer: There’s not too much room for improvisation in video games — especially when it comes to the plot. Everything has been worked out long before the voice actors record their dialogue. Sometimes, they will let us make small changes to dialogue... in order to make a sentence sound more natural, for example. And of course, in the Mass Effect Trilogy, Jennifer Hale and I had to say exactly the same lines, so we had to stick to the script for the most part.
BRC: It is no secret that women like you, and no girl can resist Commander Shepard of course. Maybe you, Mark, or the Commander, could give some advice on how one can meet girls properly?
Mark Meer: Well, I’ve been happily married for 12 years. My wife Belinda is also a voice performer, and she appears in the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games as several different characters. So I’d say to secret is not so much meeting girls, but meeting the one right girl.
BRC: What do you think of Russia? Would you like to visit our country, make your acquaintance with enigmatic Russian soul, and meet with your fans over a cup of coffee or maybe something a bit stronger?
Mark Meer: I would like to visit Russia someday, and while I do enjoy coffee, something stronger would be appreciated! Vodka?
BRC: Maybe you want to ask your Russian fans some questions yourself? Ask away, we’d be glad to answer!
Mark Meer: How did everyone enjoy Citadel, the final Mass Effect 3 DLC? Does The Long Dark from Hinterland Studio interest you as a realistic post-disaster survival simulation?
Aaaand... thanks again to you, Mark! You are the best!