“Can it wait for a bit? I’m in the middle of some calibrations”- Garrus

Another day, another Mass Effect interview. Due to the extremely positive response to the Definitive Mass Effect Interviews I just thought I’d share these interviews as soon as I possibly can. Yesterday I posted my expanded interview with Michael Beattie, who voiced Mordin Solus, and today I give to you yet another dose of Mass Effect goodness. When I posted my definitive cast interview there were two people whom fans were dissapointed to hear I didn’t get on board- Brandom Keener (Brandon) and Liz Sroka (Tali). Well, today I’m very pleased to present to you my interview with Garrus Vakarian himself, Brandon Keener. Anyway, enough of my mindless jibbering. On with the interview!

Retroplayer- First off, tell us a little about yourself.

Brandon- I was born and raised in Fort Smith, Arkansas (the setting for True Grit, but it looks pretty different these days.) My wife and I packed up the car and moved to LA as soon as we finished school, and now we consider it home. I have two fantastic kids (3 years old and 6 months old), so my days are busy with diapers and zerberts for the little one, and dancing, jokes, hugs, and answering constant questions from the pre-schooler. Kids are fascinating. I’m a basketball fan, and I’m pretty serious about my music. I’ll make it to concerts again when the kids are older; for now I’m a bit of a homebody.

Retroplayer- Did Bioware have an idea on how your character should sound or were you left to your own devices?

Brandon- Well, Ginny gives direction on the individual lines, and the writing is pretty specific. I use my natural speaking voice, perhaps a bit more formal. I didn’t realize they’d alter my voice with the cool reverb effect until I heard it.

Retroplayer- Brandon, Garrus seems to have a very teacher-student relationship with Shepard. As an actor how have you seen their relationship change and grow over the course of the two games?

Brandon- Male or female Shepard? ;)

Retroplayer- Take us through a typical day during the recording process.

Brandon- I schedule a time (usually 2-4 hours) and get the dialogue when I show up. I sit in a recording booth, and voice director Ginny McSwain is in the control room. I have a sheet of the dialogue – usually 1-2 lines of lead-in from another character, then my line. I read each of my lines 2-3 times, sometimes more, and Ginny gives me direction until she is happy with the recording.

Retroplayer- Did Bioware show you any concept art of Garrus character during the recording sessions?

Brandon- We started this several years ago, so my memory is fuzzy. I believe I saw character sketches and a paragraph of background information and personality traits. If only I’d known what a celebrated character Garrus would become, I’d have documented the process better!

Retroplayer- Brandon, when we meet Garrus in Mass Effect 2 he feels that he has been abandoned by Shepard and even, due to his crackdown against the criminals on Omega, has become colder and battle hardened. How did you approach this new take on Garrus?

Brandon- I really enjoy the more dramatic dialogue. It’s an actor’s dream to get to play the darker side. There’s a freedom in voice acting (and in theater) to go further and play with the drama of the lines. I rarely get that freedom in TV and film work.

Retroplayer- Brandon, you’ve acted in film, on tv and of course videogames. Do you have a favourite medium out of the three?

Brandon- I love to work. I’d love to do more voice work; since there are no physical limitations, videogames give me a chance to play cool characters that I’d never get in movies or TV. If I sound like the guy, I can play the character.

Retroplayer- Garrus comes across as someone who prior to the events of Mass Effect prefers to work alone. Do you think this aspect of his personality has changed considering what he went through with the crew of the Normandy?

Brandon- I was discussing this with my friend Jessica recently. I think much of Garrus’ reticence is due to his experiences with C-Sec bureaucracy, which he found demoralizing. I don’t know if he preferred to work alone as much as he was extremely selective about his companions. I definitely think Garrus has warmed up as he’s become closer to the crew; in spite of his occasional awkwardness, he considers the crew his confidants and friends.

Retroplayer- Aside from Garrus, if you had to choose a favourite character from the Mass Effect universe who would it be and why?

Brandon- I’d have to say Grunt. Because next to Grunt, Garrus looks suave.

Retroplayer- Garrus, along with Tali, seems to be probably the most popular character from the franchise. How do you feel about this love for the character the fans have and do you get much fan feedback?

Brandon- I have been overwhelmed and gratified by the dedication of the Garrus fans, and for the way they’ve embraced me. BioWare created a fantastic character, and I’m grateful to play a part in bringing him to life. I’ve had a terrific time getting to know many of the fans through my Facebook page; they’re a diverse, witty, energetic bunch! And not shy, either. I feel like I have a lot of new friends out there, thanks to Mass Effect.

Retroplayer- Brandon, are you hopeful that they end Garrus’ story arc in a meaningful and fitting way in Mass Effect 3? Also, how would you like to see his story end?

Brandon- The writing team at BioWare has created an intricate character with more layers and back story than most characters I play in film and TV. I trust their vision for Garrus’ next adventures will be dynamic and satisfying. I do hope there’s some romance involved.

Retroplayer- While I can appreciate you probably signed a non-disclosure agreement for Mass Effect 3, what do you think we should expect from it?

Brandon- I have no idea, but I’m sure it won’t disappoint.

Retroplayer- How do you want Garrus to be remembered?

Brandon- There’s still a lot of story to be told…

Retroplayer- What’s next for you?

Brandon- I have a role in the comedy ‘Zookeeper’ coming out this summer, and hopefully will have lots of other work! I’ll keep the Facebook page current when something new airs. Keeping up with the kids keeps me very, very busy in a good way.

Retroplayer- Got a message for all of you fans here on TGL?

Brandon- Thank you for being passionate about the things you love. I appreciate being part of your universe.

Brandon on Facebook