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News Opinions 14 April 2023, 19:09

author: Mike Manka

„Geralt Is Part of My Soul” We Talk to Doug Cockle, the Voice of the Witcher

We met virtually with Doug Cockle to talk about how he sees Geralt as a character and what The Witcher means to him as a brand. The actor also revealed the behind-the-scenes of his work with CD Projekt RED.

Source: CD Projekt S.A.

Doug Cockle: Okay. Hi! My name is Doug Cockle and I provide the English voice of Geralt of Rivia from the Witcher videogame series, by CD Projekt RED.

Gamepressure: Awesome to have you! So let’s start with this: How did your journey with Geralt actually begin? Do you remember auditioning for the role?

DC: Yeah, I tell this story all the time.

I know, I’m sorry, I just had to ask.

No, no, it’s okay. I just suddenly realized I have to tell the same story again. How do I do it, and make it sound like it’s the first time again?

It was very standard. This was back when I auditioned for The Witcher videogame, the first one. It was just another job, I knew nothing about The Witcher world, the books hadn’t been translated into English yet. I didn’t even fathom that there might be a TV series down the road – apparently, there was at the time. There had been a TV series made in Poland. But I knew nothing about it. So, I went in cold.

As I remember it, Borys from CD Projekt RED was overseeing the auditions. He tried to explain the nature of Geralt of Rivia to me, the world of the Witcher and everything. It just sounded like a really cool world. I love fantasy, I grew up reading fantasy novels, watching fantasy films and things like that. Still, it was a whole new world to me. I didn’t have a lot of time, so he just described what he was looking for and I did my thing, and I found out that, a week or two later, I had the job.

So that’s how it all started. I think it’s important to say, though, that when it happened, CD Projekt RED was just a little, teeny company – I think they only had like six or ten employees or something like that. This was their first major effort at producing a videogame. People who know CD Project, know that story. They were distributors of games in Poland before that. This was their first real outing.

In some ways it was just another job for me. Because I do a lot of videogames and it was an exciting job – the whole new fantasy world and stuff. I had absolutely no idea what would happen way back when I recorded Witcher 1 in 2005. I had no idea how big The Witcher was gonna get. How big globally it is now with the TV series – two TV series, the Netflix series, the Witcher video game trilogy, all the DLCs and the next-gen version now, the books finally translated into English.

You know, back then it was this little… fun little game that I did. And then over the course of years, it became the thing it is today. It’s just an incredible thing to be a part of. It’s a bit long answer for the simple question: “How did I become Geralt of Rivia?” – it was just an audition and I did my very best, I did the best work I could at the time and then it’s become what it is today.

So, were you aware at the time that it wouldn’t be the only game, but hopefully one of many?

I was aware that CD Projekt had such ambitions. I knew that they were thinking about Witcher 2 when we finished recording Witcher 1. I think I went to do some pickups at one point. And Borys was there again, and he was overseeing the pickups for Witcher 1. He’s such a passionate guy, I love him, he’s fantastic. And he was talking to me about how immersive we could make the game. We’re already looking at Witcher 2, and we’re trying to work out how exactly to make it super immersive as a game… to get you right into the gameplay, into the headspace of the characters and stuff. And I was like: wow, it sounds great Borys, more power to you, go for it (laugh).

That’s interesting because we’re always wondering if they knew from the get-go that it was going to be The Witcher 2, The Witcher 3 and right now, another trilogy happening.

I would love to be a fly on the wall in the board meetings at CD Project RED. I have no idea how far they advanced, they knew exactly where they’re going to go with things. I mean they’re quite a visionary group of people, so I think they probably had ambitions, that they perhaps didn’t necessarily make public.

They were testing the water at first, seeing if they could do this and then found out they could. The amazing thing about them is that, every step of the way, every new game, they pushed the boat out further. It’s been really exciting to be on the journey with them.

So, from the perspective of a voice actor – how do you prepare yourself to become such a character as Geralt? Did you have any reference? And obviously the main question: how did you find the voice for Geralt?

Well, the voice… I play a lot of… kind of reluctant, antihero characters in videogames… So the voice that we ended up finding for Geralt wasn’t too far off from some other characters I had performed before. But it was different. It was much more lower in my register that I’m used to, and it was very difficult for me to achieve in Witcher 1 actually. It was a real push to put my voice down there.

But gradually, over time it just become part of my voice. I was walking around the house and talking to myself, as you do, just go: (in geralt’s voice) “Ah man, I’ve gotta do dishes again.” And this Geralt falls out of my face now. But that was really hard for me, when we first did it.

They kept saying to me at the audition: “Lower, more gravity, no emotion.” They wanted to have absolutely no emotion. The note that I usually got was “flat him out more.” You know… “Keep him really low and gravely, like he doesn’t have any feeling about what he’s saying, he’s just there to do the job.” So that was the part of the inspiration for him. But what really stuck was – somebody, I don’t remember exactly, I usually attribute this to Borys, but Mark Estdale of Outsource media says it might’ve been him – somebody anyway, suggested that I think about Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry. You can hear it, can you? I’m leaning to the mic over here: (in Harry’s voice): “Go ahead punk, make my day.” (laughs)

Oh yeah, that’s the one. (laugh)

That’s kind of what they put in my head; immediately I was like “I know exactly what you are looking for now.” That was kind of the inspiration for where I took Geralt’s voice.

And did you, by any chance hear the Polish Geralt beforehand? Were you given the Polish Geralt as a reference of any kind?

No, um… For Witcher 1, again, I didn’t know about the polish TV series.

I mean like the game; Jacek Rozenek doing the voice. Did they give you the samples of the Polish audio for the game? To have as a references maybe?

No, no, because I was recording first. If I understand correctly – and I’m pretty sure I talked to someone at CD Projekt, because I just wanted to be sure that – but I never did any dubbing for Geralt. I was the first one recording, and then all the other actors who voiced Geralt in all other languages, they didn’t copy me, they did their own thing, but they did the actual dubbing, which is harder than what I did, because I just had to act Geralt. Which is, you know… it takes skill and talent and everything else.

I’ve done dubbing myself and it’s hard cause you have to match the first actor who recorded. If what they recorded is 3.36 seconds you have to be within .10 nanoseconds of 3.36 seconds. So it’s a real skill to do it. And… you’re bringing your own artistry to it, and you’re doing everything else.

So no, I never had any references to go by. I had concept art, I had the developer’s description of the character – what they wanted to do with him. And then it was just my own… You know, working from myself and my love of fantasy, those kind of characters, my understanding of who this guy might be.

Got it. The reason I’m asking is cause back when I was talking to people involved with Cyberpunk, they mentioned that the thing that they do is not recording with Cyberpunk. Not any language being a dub of something else. They just make it’s original voice for: English, Polish, German. So it’s not a dub, it’s their own interpretation of. I was wondering whether with the first game they already had this approach or maybe it developed along the way. But you already said you were the first.

Well I think so. I won’t swear on the bible or something like that. But my understanding was that I was recording first. And then they were recording another languages afterwards because they wanted… Somebody has to record first.

I have great, great respect for actors who do localization cause it is really, really challenging. They’re not only having to match the lips flaps – or may or may not be – I’ve done quite a bit o localization, and I don’t usually have a video to look to, I just have a time code. The engineer goes: “Right, Doug, this pint is 3.36 seconds.” With the last one I worked on – it was game called DioField Chronicle – and I was doing the English localization for the narrator of the game. But it was originally written in Japanese or Korean – one of the two – and sometimes what I had to say in English was so much longer, than what the original actor recorded in Japanese. I was like: “How I’m gonna fit that into 3.36 seconds?!” Then you work with the director and sometimes you have to rewrite the line a little bit, to make it work. But you’re not only trying to match that time signature. You’re also trying to bring your own version of this character to three-dimensional life trough voice. It’s really hard.

It’s amazing to hear that. I used to think that I would like to try voice acting at some point in my life. Just to see how it feels. But every time I hear about it, I’m like: “Yeah, I’m not sure I’m cut out for this kind of job”. Okay, so let’s keep going. Do you remember how long the recording process lasted for the first game? Can you compare it to the following games? How it changed? Obviously, Witcher 3 was bigger – that’s one thing. But I the whole recording process – timewise and process-wise?

So many things changed over the years. Like I said earlier, we recorded Witcher 1 sometime in the spring of 2005. And the game didn’t come out until 2007. I would say the basic process of recording is the same. It’s me in the room and with microphone. And the script. What has changed over the years is they’ve gone paperless. I remember with Witcher 1 just reams of Excel’s spreadsheets were printed. There were about 5 or 6 guys from CD Projekt who were there for the recording session, directing and stuff. I didn’t know this at the time, but apparently they were up late, late every night before the next day of recording. Rewriting lines and stuff. So, literally the sheets of paper that were coming out of printer were hot off the press. The guys from CD Projekt weren’t sleeping.

So Witcher 1 was a bit crazy, because, again, 2005, the industry changed a lot since then. For Witcher 1 – and this wasn’t uncommon back then, it’s not like they did anything that we weren’t already doing – we were recording like, 8 to 10 hours a day. And we were recording back-to-back I think. We recorded for about 10 days I think. It may be more like 7 or 8.

We were doing back-to-back days of recording, long sessions. And we’d take like an hour for lunch and regular brakes. But that’s a long time to record as a voiceover person. Especially when you’re pushing your voice do something that it doesn’t really like to do. Like I said, with the tone and register of Geralt’s voice I was pushing my vocal cords to their limits. So when I finished a session on Witcher 1 my throat would hurt. I’d go back to my hotel and I’d drink lots of peppermint tea and stuff. And trying to not say anything until the next day, cause I knew I was going to do another eight hours. That was really hard.

What changed between Witcher 1 and Witcher 2 is that things started to go digital. Instead of a paper script in front of me on a music stand, it was on a TV screen in front of me. And so the director could scroll trough the script and save a lot of trees in the process. But also one of the things that changed is that the industry finally recognized that putting the actor in a vocal booth for 8 hours and having them scream and shout is not really good for their voice. So I think the max recording session for Witcher 2 was 6 hours? We did quite few of those, but most of them was only 4 hours. When the developers were at a crunch point, we sometimes recorded for six hours a day. But that often wasn’t seven to ten days in a row – that was like two or three days a week for a month. I was kind of spread out a bit.

Now, the industry standard is 4 hours maximum for a voice actor in a booth. Which is about right, cause about the three-and-a-half-hour mark I start to feel it a little bit. I can go for 4 hours easy. But you do start to feel it, you know. And then you as the actor go “Ok, I’ve got to pull back a tiny bit because I’ve got another hour and a half to go.” So, things like that have changed. The industry has become a bit more careful with the actor’s instrument. And a way to save a lot of trees. The fundamental process of recording is still the same. I stand in front of the microphone, I read the script and I try to give the character as much as I can.

„Geralt Is Part of My Soul” We Talk to Doug Cockle, the Voice of the Witcher - picture #1
fot. Witcher 3, CD Projekt S.A., 2015

You mentioned that you finished recording your voice very early, like two years before the release of Witcher 1. Do you remember when you finished doing voice for Geralt in The Witcher 3? How early before release?

I can’t remember exactly. I think we may have already started to record some DLC material, for Hearts of Stone when we were still doing some very last-minute pickups for Witcher 3. I’m not 100% sure about that. But it was quite late in the process. The Witcher 3 came out in July or May 2015. I think I was probably doing pickups that winter. I don’t remember specifically, but I think it may have been around January 2015 when I did my final pickups.

That’s a fascinating retrospect when you think that The Witcher was supposed to come out earlier. Like in December 2014? Or maybe even earlier. And just how the process got longer when you’re saying that you were still doing last-minute pickups for that in winter. It’s fascinating for – being a fan of a game, and seeing how it all changes, how it gets postponed every now and then.

It is amazing. I mean, I take my hat off to CD Projekt RED for that when they recognized it – that we can either put this game out with loads of bugs and fixes still needed, or we can fix those things and then put it out as perfect as possible to the world. That’s not an easy thing to do. It would be easier in some ways to just put the game out there and then fix things. But they chose not to do that and I think that was a great choice. People recognize the effort that CD Projekt has gone into with all of their games. They care.

Even though some people might complain that about Cyberpunk.

They put off the release of Cyberpunk two or three times as well.

Yeah. It’s a difficult situation and obviously there’s so many factors involved. But I’m happy – I remember playing the game like half a year before the actual release and we felt like – it’s not ready yet. But yeah, they did their best and now it’s absolutely awesome. Ok. You mentioned recording DLCs around the same time, so how early were you aware of what was going to happen in the DLCs? When did you start recording those, and when did you finish your actual work and completed Witcher 3?

The way it works with voice acting in games is quite often that we – the actors – know almost nothing. We know so little about the game. And we often get like a character brief that gives us some kind of pointers, or some concept art for the character. So we don’t know what story we’re telling, we don’t know where it could go, we don’t even know what the dialogue is going to be – we just show up and we sight-read and act, act our little socks off. And game developers are famously secretive about what they’re working on. So, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t even know there were going to be DLCs until my agent called me up and said: CDPR is asking about your availability to go in and record DLCs for The Witcher. And I go: “Oh good, more Witcher! Yay!” That was my reaction. I didn’t know what the storylines were until we recorded them.

Do you remember anything from your recording sessions that stood out for you at the time, without knowing the full story? Like any particular bit that you recorded that made a lasting impression on you?

You know, the recording itself – it’s work. It’s enjoyable work, but it is work. So no, there’s nothing in actually recording lines, there nothing that stands out as particularly enjoyable. I love working on The Witcher. Because now it’s part of my soul. It’s part of me.

There was one thing that happened. What always makes recording on something like that over so many years really fun is the relationships that you develop with the people who you work with.

There was a thing that happened one day. And this really surprised me. I was pleasantly surprised about how willing CD Projekt were to negotiate some things. I went in to do a recording, I had no idea what we were going to be recording for the day. I showed up in recording studio and I was sitting there in lobby waiting and Kate Saxon, the director, came out and she said: “Doug, just come in a few minutes earlier. I want you to have a look trough this section of the scene that we’re supposed to be recording, and tell me what you think.” And so I went in and read trough it and I was like: “Oh, okay.”

CD Projekt, right from the beginning – they’re really wanted the Witcher game to hit hard and hit home. They wanted the game to deal with real life issues. And not shy away from tough subjects. But this was TOUGH. And I said to Kate: “Wow, that’s heavy stuff.” I won’t tell what it was, because I don’t think that’s fair. I think I had mentioned it before, but I think I’d prefer not to in the future…


Anyways, it was a storyline that was really walking the edge of what might be acceptable or not. That’s what Kate thought and she wanted to see what I thought and I was like: “Yeah, that’s pretty tough, I don’t know… Should we talk to CD Projekt about this?” And the engineer felt the same way.

So the three of us, we’re in this room going on about “Wow, this is what we’re supposed to record today? We don’t think we should, we don’t think it should be in the game.” So we called up the CD Projekt and I think we spoke with Borys and I think he took on our concerns, or whoever we spoke with understood out concerns. And then they said: “Ok, record this other stuff today, and we’ll get back to you on that quest.” And they never did. I think they went back and looked at it and went: “Hm, yeah maybe they’re right, maybe this is a bit too much.”

But it was really interesting because that had never happened to me before. I suppose I’d never kind of felt that I had the power… I mean there were the three of us, it wasn’t just me. Usually I just record the lines that I’m given and unless they don’t make sense I might suggest rewording so they make better sense in English. That whole adventure stood out to me as an interesting event. Partly because… It's a really good example.

I think even I fall in the trap sometimes of thinking that I’m in my little silo recording voices for characters in games. And that’s what I do. I’m part of something bigger, you know, I’m providing a voice, but there’s animators providing character movement, concept artists are creating the look of the world – there’s a whole bunch of artists making these games. Sometimes you feel – cause you’re alone in the boot, you don’t feel like you’re part of the collaboration. But you are, and that was a moment when the nature of collaboration in this industry was very clear to me. We were three artists sitting in a room going: “Hm, we thing this might be too far.” And we talk with the writers and they apparently agreed. That’s kind of cool.

Very interesting insight. Now coming back to the character of Geralt himself – how did your Geralt change over the years? You mentioned the voice – that’s one thing. He was a flat, emotionless person. But I kind of feel like over the course of three games, he changes a little bit, don’t you think?

I just wrote an article… Not an article – kind of a chapter in a book that’s coming out sometime in the… who knows when. It was all about this. When CD Projekt RED first introduced me to Geralt and they were absolutely insistent that he has no emotions and I think… I don’t think it was conscious… but I think unconsciously… maybe a little bit consciously… Well, I kind of rejected that.

Cause I just felt like – first of all, if he’s absolutely emotionless, then why am I here? I’m an actor, actors deal in human emotions, that’s what we do. I understood what they were going for… They wanted this feeling of a character who had been so changed by the trial of the grasses that they just fundamentally didn’t feel anymore. I changed that. In my head, I felt that Geralt does feel – in fact he feels very, very deeply. He just can’s allow himself to feel. Because if he lets himself be ruled in any moment of time by his emotions, he’ll die. So, he’s kind of the classic male kind of stereotype, you know? The guy who suppresses emotions, buries them deep inside till he develops cancer or something like that, you know?

So, I’ve never felt that Geralt was emotionless. And I didn’t really debate this with CD Projekt. It was just my own way of working. Because as an actor, one of the things you’re trying to do, is you’re trying to find reasons for the actions that a character takes. And those reasons are usually based on some kind of emotion… A desire for something? Or they’re the result of not getting something you want. Which is you know… other emotions – disappointment, depression, whatever it might be. I’m getting a bit philosophical, but I was constantly pushing the emotional barrier for Geralt, a little bit. Some of that was conscious, some of that was unconscious. I wasn’t trying to change the writing or anything like that. I was just trying to make Geralt as three-dimensional as I could. And that meant giving him emotions every now and then. I think it was collaboration again, but I think part of what happened is that… The writers, consciously or not, as the game’s seriousness went on, they became more interested in, and more confident about giving Geralt more in the writing itself. And for every inch they gave, I took three inches.

I like to think and I’d love to have a chat with the writing team about this. If there’s any truth to this, cause I’m only making this up in my head. I have no proof of this at all. I think we were pushing each other. I think they saw my performances as they were developing and saw that I could take Geralt to these places and actually get away with it. And they went: “Ok, let’s get Geralt a little bit more.” So, by the time we get to the Blood and Wine DLC, he’s got quite a full emotional life going on, and it’s evident with his friendship with Regis and relationships with other people around him as well. So yeah, I never thought he was emotionless. And I think that the writers became more confident with giving him more emotional space to live within.

I think games kind of mirror what happened in books as well. I don’t know if you recall but… I think it was in the “Sword of Destiny.” There’s this story about Geralt and Yennefer and the mage, Istredd. Yennefer was giving both of them two black magic birds and leaving both of them. And that was the moment when – at least for me – Geralt kind of connects with his emotions and becomes angry, he does something reckless, something that he wouldn’t do as a witcher. For me something similar happens in the games, when you start with this bit emotionless character who just goes on a journey and as he experiences all those things as they happen, he kind of reconnects with what used to make him the Geralt he was. At lest that’s how I feel about this.

In the books, I can’t remember him ever being described by Sapkowski as emotionless. I’ve read trough the books several times now and I see loads of emotions in Geralt. Loads of it! But like I said, he’s not ruled by them, he can’t be. So that was my interpretation of the whole character.

And then I couldn’t read the books until… I think it might’ve been 2008 or 2009. I mean, “The Last Wish” didn’t come out in English until 2007 or ‘08 I think? And I didn’t get my hands on it until 2008 or 2009. And had I already recorded all of the Witcher 1 and I was probably about a third of the way through recording Witcher 2 when I got my hands on the first book.

Did that influence your Geralt? Just getting familiar with the books at that point?

It certainly gave me deeper understanding of Geralt and his world and how he sees it. And I think having done Witcher 1 I kind of developed an understanding, cause the guys from CD Projekt RED – it was literally like five guys – they were really good at describing the Witcher world. They had concept art that they could share with my and stuff like that. They were able to introduce me to the world fairly well. But reading the books was fascinating. I don’t even remember what they were – but they were conceptions that I had in mind of the Witcher world, that once I started reading the books, I was like: “Oh, I didn’t have that right in my head, but now I get it.” You know, those kind of little moments. When I was finally able to read trough to the very last book I was just like: “Ugh, WHAT NOW?!” (laughter)

Yeah, a lot goes on. It must have been fascinating to get to know how the story of Geralt ended, when you were writing he’s new story. Obviously, Sapkowski says that it’s not connected, that the games are not canon. But they also are a fairly realistic continuation of Geralt’s story. So it must be nice to have this piece of puzzle finally fit in the right place.

Yeah, it is. I mean it’s a funny thing, isn’t it? Because the Netflix’s series is different from the books as well. In three different mediums, each taken on its own stands just fine – great storytelling, you know?

And that’s what it’s really all about. But it’s interesting. I’ve given up on this – trying to make sense out of timelines and storylines – my head can’t do it anymore. The books are what they are, the games went where they went, and the Netflix’s series has gone where it’s gone. And like I said – each one is great, fantastic in its own silo. You’d try to make sense out of three together and it doesn’t make any sense. You can’t make head or tail of it.

„Geralt Is Part of My Soul” We Talk to Doug Cockle, the Voice of the Witcher - picture #2
fot. Witcher 3, CD Projekt S.A., 2015

That’s true. Okay, in your opinion what defines Geralt’s voice? If someone wants to try to do you doing Geralt. What’s the key ingredient?

People often try to mimic my impression of Geralt and what they tend to describe it as is “low and raspy.” (starts speaking in clearly low and raspy Geralt’s voice) “You can kind of hear it in Geralt’s voice that I provide” That’s not it actually… (another attempt at getting even more low and raspy) “My voice is really quite down here, it’s quite subtle, very low, I need to turn the gain up on the microphone to really do it properly.”

So when people are trying to do my Geralt voice they tend to go on lower register and try to make it a bit breathy. Which is – I suppose it’s kind of what I’m doing? But like I said when I first started doing the Geralt voice that we all know in English now, it was really, really difficult.

I’m not 100% sure what I was doing with my vocal cords to make the sound. I just know it hurt. (laughs) And now it doesn’t. The vocal cords are like any other muscle in the body and you can train them like an athlete. Just by doing Geralt’s voice for so long I’ve trained my vocal cords to go to that place and I can do it all day now if I want to. I don’t know if it answers your question.

It’s just an interesting perspective how you perceive your voice.

I literally do think of Clint Eastwood. So in my mind, I’m Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry. But with long white hair and swords on his back.

That’s an interesting image. I have to ask this – would you like to continue being this character? You did the Witcher games, you did all those cameos for Geralt like Soul Calibur, Monste Hunter, what else there was…

Just recently the AFK Arena.

And they have it in Lost Ark, but I don’t know if Geralt has voice in this one. But would you like to continue to do that?

Yes! I would. I think I can honestly say that if I’m not invited back for voice of Geralt in future Witcher-realm games, I think I would be really disappointed (laughs). I’ve so enjoyed voicing Geralt, I really loved it. And he’s – like I said – he’s become part of me now, and I like to think that I’m part of him as well, at least when you’re playing the game in English.

I have met loads of Witcher fans and some of them say: “You’re fantastic Doug! But I just love the German Geralt. I really love the way that actor portrays Geralt in German.” And lots of people love the Polish Geralt. And I was listening to Jacek’s performance just recently. And I was like: “Wow, he sounds more… his version of Geralt is a little bit more musical.” Which kind of makes sense cause actually – I don’t know this, because I don’t speak Polish and I can’t read Polish books – but someone described the books in Polish as almost poetic in the way that Sapkowski uses words and imagery. And it just made me think that maybe that was what Jacek was going for – you know, trying to match the flow of language in the books. And it’s also what talked about with the localizations – it’s these characters in this language with cultural references. Because every language has its own versions of what a hero is, what these archetypes are that we all kind of know. But you know, the Japanese Geralt would be different from the Polish Geralt, from German Geralt, from Chinese Geralt.

The Japanese Geralt is certainly fascinating to hear… It’s like Geralt is a samurai. And then I think German dubs in general have specific people doing voices of specific actors – if someone dubbed Keanu Reeves in John Wick they will also dub him in the Matrix, same thing in Cyberpunk. It’s like you do the same actor for the rest of your life.

DC: I didn’t know they did that in Germany.

Apparently they do, I read about this sometime ago…

I think they protect their industry quite strongly. I don’t know a whole lot about it but I know about the drama schools in the Germany have very small classes, generally speaking, and there’s only like 6 drama schools in Germany or something like that? I don’t know, I might be talking bollocks. I have a friend who still does teach and work in Germany and he was describing it to me, basically saying that the German entertainment industry is very insular, they don’t really want outsiders coming in and they protect their industry very strongly. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if someone was Geralt for life now.

Yeah that’s possible. So, I’d like to know your opinion on what they could potentially do with the Witcher 1 remake. My question is first of all: how do you feel about your work with the first Witcher – would you like to see it just reused for the remake? Are you as happy with that one as with Witcher 3? And would you consider joining the adventure once again for the remake?

I have to state the obvious first which is – I love voicing Geralt, so yeah I’d love to do more. I also like the work, yes please. I have bills to pay. So you know, more work as Geralt would be fantastic. I’d be thrilled to do that. I have no idea what’s going to happen with the remake. I talked about this with other people as well and unfortunately – I’m not that a fly on that wall. I don’t know the exact plans of CD Projekt and... the studio who’s developing the remake is…?

It’s Fool’s Theory.

That’s right, Fool’s Theory, yeah. I don’t know what they’re thinking about. I think… anything I think are just supposition. I know nothing. I would think that they’re probably trying to retell the same story that was told in Witcher 1, but with bells and whistles they didn’t have available when they made it. Which might mean different side quests or slightly different story focus? I mean it’s the whole idea of the remake, isn’t it? The Last of Us wasn’t made so long ago. Witcher 1 was made quite a while ago. Giving the dialogue in the game a revamp could be a good thing, but it’s also expensive. They could end up remaking Witcher 1 and keeping the lines from the original… I don’t know.

I would like them to remake Witcher 1 with the whole new vision for the game, which would require me to record Geralt for six months (laughs).

Yeah, that would be awesome. And then, while remaking Witcher 1 why wouldn’t you go for parts two and three?

Yeah why not. I mean, Assassins of Kings still stands up pretty well, and Wild Hunt is a classic if nothing else.

Ok so that’s the remake. I guess that if Geralt would come back in Witcher 4, which is already in production, you’d be there?

Oh! In a heartbeat, absolutely.

I guess there’s no point pushing you about this… Even if you were already somehow involved, you’d be obliged to keep it a secret.

I can’t talk about anything now. The thing is that no matter what I say, people are going to think I’m keeping something quiet. It’s such a funny thing because sometimes I can honestly say: “No I don’t know anything.” But someone out there in the audience is going to say: “No! You must know something!”

I’m sure it’s going to be interesting for the studio as well. Because they were saying that Witcher 3 was the end of Geralt’s story. But finishing that story doesn’t mean he can’t reappear as part of someone else’s story. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be about Ciri.

Here’s what I think: they kind of set it up. I don’t know if they did this deliberately – when Geralt finally finds Ciri in Witcher 3, she’s telling him about all the worlds she’s traveled to and stuff, there’s a reference to Cyberpunk there and… little nods in that little conversation with Ciri. For my money that’s a great thing to potentially do. If I were at CD Projekt I certainly would’ve pitched that: that The Witcher 4 is about Ciri jumping from world to world to world and having loads of adventures.

I completely agree. I feel that this is the character that could be the hero of another trilogy. Then, you can have all the familiar characters come back.

Yeah. Why else would they make her a playable character in Witcher 3?

Exactly. So it seems we’ve figured it out.

But they could still surprise us completely. Witcher 4 could end up like about the school of Lynx and be about this whole new adventure…

Okay I’ve got to ask, since we’re almost out of time. It’s a quick one – Triss or Yennefer? For your Geralt.

For my Geralt? Well… (laughs) Okay, first of all… Triss and Yennefer – both amazing female characters, you know… strong, powerful, beautiful, intelligent – fantastic characters. If I were Geralt and if I were in a position to choose between them, I would probably go with Triss. But that’s me! That’s me okay… I’ve dated Yennefers (laughs). And I loved those relationships and… Maybe one, maybe several… I don’t know… You know what I mean. Those two women are like the opposites, they’re so very different. I kind of see Yen as the dangerous choice. If you go with Yen you’re going to get passion. Dark passion.

You get the stuffed unicorn basically.

The stuffed unicorn, yeah. But why I gravitate to Triss is because she feels more like a friend. This is my perspective – other people see it differently – Yen is a passionate lover choice. Triss is someone who I would go with, because she feels comfortable. In a good way, not comfortable-easy, she’s not easy. She has her own hangups and issues and everything else as well. Which is what makes them such great characters. They are so wonderfully complex. I would just go out with Triss. And I also always liked red hair, don’t know why.

I see. Another thing I have to ask is how did you like Henry Cavill’s impression of Geralt? He was always very vocal about his fascination of the games and I’d like to hear your thoughts on his work.

I thought he did fantastic. I try to not have any expectations because that’s so easy to do for myself. I wanted Henry to have the space to go and do his own thing and see what he can come up with, see what his take on the character is. And I love it. I think he’s done a phenomenal job with his Geralt, so… Yeah. I approve. Doug approves of Henry’s Geralt.

Kay, that’s a headline! (We both laugh). Would you like to listen to a comparison of the original Polish version of Geralt with yours? Here’s a short clip from YouTube.

Okay, I’m just listening. There’s so much musicality. He has such a lovely voice. Listening to all the thugs as well in Polish. He’s a little bit, I’d call it throwaway which isn’t a bad thing… The way he’s delivering the lines… He seems to be giving Geralt more of… Mine is much more gravitas… And Jacek’s, I think he… The sense I’m getting, but I don’t understand Polish, so I don’t know if I’m getting it right – but just from his tone, it’s like – he can’t even be bothered to deal with these guys cause they’re just so far beneath him. There’s some kind of, in his voice, dismissiveness of these guys.

It’s the same thing I always felt with Geralt in the books. Like he was too well-educated for a regular witcher, and then he felt that the thugs he met were indeed below him. But it’s not like “Haha, I’m better than you!”. It’s like: “I don’t even care about what you think, cause you’re not even there.”

Yeah, I think that’s what I’m hearing in Jacek’s performance. Yeah. “Which do you think sounds better?” (laughs). I don’t know! I mean, I’d vote for myself of course.

Yeah, this was posted by someone from Poland, seven years ago. And the comparison got over 700,000 views and there’s lots of those. But it’s lovely to hear… It’s localized individually like it gives so much more depth cause you have different interpretations of the same character. And it’s just absolutely amazing to hear that.

That’s the art of voice over, you know. I think it’s absolutely fascinating to think about the mental shifts that actors have to take to make something culturally understood from one expression to a new expression. Same material… It could be a simple thing, just a word in Polish that doesn’t have a direct translation in English. And an English word has to be found that approximates that, but for this new cultural reference.

I don’t speak enough of any other language to be able to make a direct comparison, but you know what I mean. I think that’s absolutely fascinating. Like I said, I’ve done some localization, and sometimes you… you have the translator on the line, and the director, and the original director… (laughs) You know, all those people scratch their heads, going: “Okay, that made sense in Japanese, but that doesn’t make sense in English! How do we make it make sense in English?!”

I know what you mean. Okay, last question. That’s probably easy for you to remember. What lines from the game have stuck with you the most? What lines fans ask you to do?

DC: It’s usually stuff like (getting low and raspy again) “Wind’s howling.”, “C’mon roach.” or: “Damn, you’re ugly.” Things like that. This is true for a lot of games I think – not all games, but many of them. But it’s certainly true for The Witcher. You know, all those times you talk with people in the game and at the end you run out of options to ask questions, so all you can do is go: “See ya.” And every “See ya” – I think – every single “See ya” that you end up saying in the game as Geralt, each one is unique. They didn’t have me record just one “See ya,” you know. At the end of each dialogue tree, I had to do: “See ya.” (laughs)

Mike Manka

Mike Manka

Can it wait for a bit? I'm in the middle of some calibrations.


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