The Walking Dead Interviews: Nicole Vigil aka Carley
The Walking Dead Cast Interviews
Actor Nicole Vigil
Nicole Vigil played the role of Carley in TellTale’s The Walking Dead, Carley had one of the most surprising exits in the series (at least in our play through) when just as her and Lee looked like they were hitting it off, Carley gets shot in the head by a paranoid Lilly.
The Walking Dead is not known for its happy endings but even for this series this one moment stands out for many player. So much so that one of Nicole’s new favourite past times is to watch the reaction videos.
We are delighted to have Nicole join us today to talk about her career so far from The Lost Boys to the Walking Dead and her fondness for Lego.
A very broad open question to get us started but can you give us a little introduction to your background?
I am a San Francisco, California native. I’ve lived in the Bay Area all of my life, and though I love to travel, it’s always so good to come back home. I’m an only child, and grew up talking to myself (and my cat) quite a lot…so it kinda made sense that I ended up in the arts with so many other strange, quirky people.
How did you find your way in to the world of voice acting?
Well, going waaaaaay back to when is was about 8 or 9, my parents bought me a tape recorder (for you youngins, that is a mechanical device used by ancient civilizations to record and play back sound). I’d spend entire afternoons making up stories, commercials and the like, until my mom would get sick of hearing me laugh like a maniac and tell me to stop. I was involved in drama classes all through my school years and got my first taste of being on a movie set as a bit player when I was 16 for the vampire film “The Lost Boys” (1987). From that point on I was totally hooked on the performing arts. I did a bunch of extra work, bit parts and a couple of supporting roles into the mid-1990s before taking a detour into music. I joined a couple of different bands, toured the country, married a guitar player and settled down, and eventually got a job at Lucasfilm Animation. Working at Lucasfilm, I had the opportunity to record “scratch” dialog (temporary dialog for people working on the production to use until the actual actor re-records it) for a couple of shows the studio was working on, including Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Doing that really piqued my interest in acting again. At one point, we had a guest director, Robert Dalva, who seemed to really like one of the voices I did. He told me to contact a particular casting agent in San Francisco and use him as a reference, which I did. That casting director in turn got me connected with my current talent agency (Stars, The Agency), and then I was off and running!
What other projects have you worked on that our readers might be familiar with?
I have to say, compared to Melissa Huchison, Nicki Rapp and Dave Fennoy, I am a total newbie to the world of voice acting. My credits aren’t a quarter of theirs, of course…but a few of other video game projects I’ve worked on are Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery, Test Drive Unlimited II, and Grotesque Tactics 2: Dungeons & Donuts. Hmm…Iots of “2’s”…kinda looks like a pattern there… J
Do you play video games? If so which genre is your favorite? If not do you play or at least watch someone play the games you have starred in to see how they turned out?
(Do you get a free copy of the game?)
Pretty much the extent of my gaming experience (that is, within the last decade) has been Lego-based. I have, however, played the first 2 episodes of The Walking Dead Game, and I must admit that on my first play through I saved Ben. I just had to see how gruesome Carly’s death was…I couldn’t help it!
People have sent me clips of youtube videos of play throughs, which are usually interesting and hilarious – especially the reactions to Carley’s demise. Those were AWESOME!
Oh, and so far no – I’ve never received a free copy of anything I’ve done voice work for. *sulk* Hee-hee…I never really expect that, actually.
Do you think Voice actors get the recognition they deserve? It is often quite hard for the fans to put a face to the voice and although they could be huge fans they might walk past you on the street without recognizing you. (Although that might be a good thing too)
Hmm…well, I have somewhat mixed feelings about that. A lot of voice actors, such as myself, love the anonymity of the profession and don’t wish to break the illusion of the characters they voice. At the same time, we work very hard at what we do and should be recognized as much as any other kind of performer, in my humble opinion. Plus, the more recognition you get for your work, the more in demand you are, so there’s that. I guess you can say I’d like my anonymous cake and eat it too.
I see you have done some screen acting as well as voice work which do you prefer and what a the major differences?
I far and away prefer voice acting as opposed to in-front-of-camera acting. MUCH less pressure in my experience. I think there are probably phenomenal actors out there who we will never know of because they are limited based on what they look like. I hate the Hollywood standard of beauty – always have. Voice acting allows me to do my thing and be judged by the quality of my performance, not the outward packaging.
I think the major difference with being in front of a camera versus behind a microphone is the set of tools you have. Voice actors rely soley on the emotion they can convey through their voice, whereas in-front-of camera actors have body language, facial expressions and physical actions they can use to convey a character’s personality and state of mind. Not having those tools can really present a fun and unique challenge to a voice actor.
We are huge fans of pretty much everything Telltale has made and every time we do get to meet them they are really nice and lots of fun to be around. What has it been like working with them?
The Telltale guys are awesome – it’s been such an exciting process working with them. A lot of that comes from the fact that they are fans of the franchises they work with – such as Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. If you love what you do, you can’t stop it from becoming infectious, and that’s how those guys are…and a little twisted too. Which helps. A lot.
How exciting is it to work on something that turns out to be so good?
When I first heard about the auditions from my agent, I was all over it. I remember watching the pilot episode of The Walking Dead on tv and loving it. Even though the game is its own thing and not based on the show, I knew I wanted to be involved in anything Walking Dead, for sure. Are you kidding me?! Zombies are cool! The think what I loved most about this game was the interrelationships among the survivors, which can obviously become just as deadly as the walkers. The writing is excellent and the more I got into it, the more I realized this was probably going to be pretty interesting to a lot of people. I suppose I’m a little surprised HOW well it’s been received, though – I mean, you just never know.
Do you get any input into this process or is it very much record the lines and let them work their magic?
For this particular project, we stayed pretty true to the script with some tiny adjustments here and there. Occasionally, when you get into the recording booth, something in the dialog doesn’t work. I’ll throw out a suggestion, so will the engineer, or anyone at the session really. But for the most part, we stayed on-script.
Before starting on a role such as Carley in TWD what do you know about your character, do you just get the script or do you get an introduction to the “in game character” via art work, gameplay video’s or is that the director’s job to ensure you understand what the writers/developer want from you?
“It was all of the above, actually. I knew some of Carley’s history and how that shaped her personality. I’m pretty sure I saw artwork of her before we started recording as well. Julian Kwasneski and Jared Emerson-Johnson directed all us voice actors and writer/producer Sean Vanaman of course was hugely instrumental in steering me in the direction of what that character was all about.
Did you turn to either the TV show or comics for inspiration?
I watched some of the tv show, but honestly, the writing in the game made it easy to just go with that and let it all unfold in its own horrifying way.
We always like to get the actors impression on their characters as they often have a greater insight than the players? What are your impressions of Carley?
To me, Carley seems to be a hard ass in the beginning of the series. As things progress, though, she softens quite a bit. She liked Doug to start with, but she really warmed up to Lee. She started showing her more caring, softer side – the side that still held onto the idea of love, I think…even in the dark, depressing world they’re all living in. While Lily had that tough-militant-crazy element to her, Carley was a little more tough-with-a-cause, I think. She was more apt to show you her hand in the emotional sense.
Carley’s exit came as a huge shock as she was one of the major characters throughout the previous episodes. How did you feel reading about how she leaves the series?
Ha! When I first found out what was going to happen to her, I was pretty shocked. I had known from the very beginning that she was outta there midway through episode 3, but I didn’t know until right before we recorded that episode how it was going to happen. I remember thinking at the time, “Wow…I have a strange feeling that’s going to piss off a lot of people.” Aaaaaand it did! I received tons of messages from players telling me how upset they were about that twist in the game and Carley’s departure. That’s actually awesome, because that told us we did a good job staying true to The Walking Dead universe, where nothing is out of the question and anything can happen to anyone.
Do you ever get to record in a session with the other actors or is it all recorded separately? I’m sure with the various choices the developers have to record and mark makes it almost impossible to record in a session. But does this make the process harder not having someone to bounce off in scene.
About 99.99% of the time I’m by myself in the booth. Actually, the only time I’ve ever recorded with another actor was with Melissa (Clementine) on a completely separate project. It was a blast! I wish I could do more of that. For the most part, though, we’re all just like ships passing in the night. Occasionally, whoever is directing the episode will read some the other character’s lines to help with the flow, but that’s usually left up to the actor’s preference.
How far ahead do you record the voice work, did you have to run through the whole series then start making the game or has it been an ongoing process where you recorded for each episode?
The Telltale guys played it pretty close to the vest, if you know what I mean, so I didn’t know a lot of the details of the episodes before we recorded them (we recorded one episode at a time). Hell, I’m just as much in the dark about how this season ends as everyone else! I can’t wait to find out!
What’s next for you? Have you any other exciting projects coming up that you can tell us about?
I’m working on a lengthy non-video game project right now, as a matter of fact. Unfortunately though, If I told you about it, I’d then have to kill ya.
To finish up as we are Ireland’s biggest Independent Video Game publication we do like to ask everyone if you have any connection to Ireland? Ever been? Or planning any trips soon?
I’ve never visited, though I would LOVE to! My husband (who is of Irish descent) and I were just recently talking about planning a trip to Ireland in the next couple of years. I really want to visit Dublin, Belfast and especially Galway. I’ll try not to lead any of the walkers there when we make it over.
If you would like us to include any contact details so our readers can keep up to date on your next project?
You can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/nicolevigil.voice , Twitter @NicSF, or my website www.nicolevigil.com
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