MY QUANTIC EXPERIENCE – DOMINIC GOULD
My Quantic Experience is the story of those who lend their face and voice to our beloved characters. In this episode, meet Dominic Gould, the talented actor and long-time QD collaborator who portrayed Earl in Beyond: Two Souls and Todd Williams in Detroit: Become Human!
I don’t recall whether I was first contacted to audition for Todd or to help re-write the English dialogue of the script, it may have happened at around the same time. In any case David Cage [writer and director] let me know thru Benjamin Diebling [shooting director] that he was interested in having me audition for a particular character in Quantic Dream’s new game. We had worked together before, and I don’t know why but David seems to think I have an evil streak in me! There are not many people who see it and I take it as a compliment as well as an opportunity. So, I went from being a criminal in Beyond: Two Souls to another level of depravity in Detroit: Become Human: drug addicted, abusive father. But I also enjoyed helping David and [writer] Adam Williams re-work the dialogue for the game, we had so much fun inventing new lines to suit each character. Given the game’s dark atmosphere it’s hard to imagine the laughing fits that went into it!
Earl in Beyond: Two Souls was a small part, a very nasty guy who didn’t need a lot of character development or backstory. All we needed to see was a menacing figure who crosses the line and becomes violent. As an actor you need to – I do at least – leave your moral compass at the door when you play this sort of scene. Which allowed me to get a real kick out playing such a tense, threatening situation. If everyone manages to keep that distance, you leave the studio at the end of the day feeling like good work was done. Period.
As for [playing] video games, I guess I missed the boat. Or should I say the boat hadn’t come into the harbour yet when I was a kid. There may be a lot of people out there who got hooked on video games in adult life but I’m not one of them, and I do think it is generational thing. But I can say I am a big video game enthusiast when it comes to playing in them! Just the nature of the game provides an actor with more possibilities, plus the fact that motion capture makes your physical envelope metamorphic.
Now, regarding Detroit: Become Human, well, I love a good story. And once again maybe I missed something, but I didn’t notice a lot of great stories in video games until recently; I think David was and is at the forefront in that regard. So, when I read the script I just loved how he told the story, I was very excited about the project. And as I was there helping polish the dialogues, I got to see the project advance which was also very stimulating. Just watching all those photos of actors getting pinned on the wall in the casting process made me want to be a part of it!
Filming was tough, because David is demanding. I think I understand his method, but it is nevertheless an exhausting experience, he likes to explore the limits. As my character – Todd – was quite extreme in his behaviour, David took the time to find how extreme I could be on set. Not necessarily in every scene, but there was that one scene where Todd gets very upset before going upstairs to punish his daughter. We must’ve done it at least 20 times. I think my voice was shot for 3 days after that. But I knew what David was trying to explore and so I went along with it. Once again, as everyone on the crew, from David on down, knew what they were doing, the work was always well done and a pleasure. Of course, I was only there for my chapter. I’m sure that being there for the entire shoot must’ve been a real roller coaster of a ride. And not to sound too old hat but I’ve been experiencing motion capture for more than 15 years now; it has obviously been evolving over the years but for an actor it’s still essentially the same thing: it’s a question of combining the imagination you use onstage in theatre with the precision and technique of cinema. Which provides a unique thrill. And I just hope the little girl who played Alice doesn’t have nightmares about my character!
AFTER THE RELEASE
It is a very humbling experience because as an actor you tend to think that the performance is the goal of the whole project and then you realize when it’s done that in fact it is just one bit of input in a huge piece of machinery. The amount of collective tie and work that went into that thing! It left me more and more eager to start another Quantic Dream experience! Overall, it just makes you realize how much can be achieved in a collective effort. Maybe the next game should be called “Save the Planet” or “Peace on Earth” or “Share the Wealth”… 🙂