Dead Space is an unrelenting, unforgiving, assiduous horror experience. The Dead Space franchise has become an allegory of psychoneurotic escapism and provocative space melodrama, defined by myriads of plasma cutter space massacres delivered by systems engineer Isaac Clarke. Isaac has become something of an unconventional gaming hero. When he grabs a plasma cutter, sinks into his engineering suit and begins to deliver his all too familiar frenzied plasma punishment, his heroic status is reinforced among gamers.
TGL caught up with the man behind the voice of this new ‘hero’, Gunner Wright. We spoke to Gunner about his career, his love of motorcycles, working with director Clint Eastwood and taking on the pressures of voicing former mute Isaac Clarke in his stride…
Here we go….
GW: Hi TGL my name is Gunner Wright and I am an actor based in Hollywood. I grew up in Florida and moved out to LA with my folks back in 1996
TGL: Before you took up acting, you used to ride motorcycles for a living, right?
GW: I have ridden motorcycles since I was 3 years old. I raced Pro-amateur until the age of 21 where my dad moved us to LA. He’s in the motorcycle business so it has been in my blood ever since I can remember.
TGL: What was it about acting and performing that made you step away from your motorcycle; take the ‘key out of the bike ignition’ so to speak? Was acting something you always wanted to get into?
GW: The motorcycle industry has been very good to me so there was a little bit of fear that I would lose that part of my life as I got into acting. The truth is I probably ride more today than I have in a long time. It’s the best way to get around LA! As far as acting goes, I remember as a kid acting out parts to my favourite movies and TV shows but never thought I would be doing what I am doing now for a living…..my friends back in Florida tease me that I still play like we did when we were kids, I just get paid for it!
GW: I play a young Dwight Eisenhower opposite Leonardo DiCaprio who plays J. Edgar Hoover. Clint Eastwood is everything that I hoped he would be on set. He’s the real deal, the last of one of the greats! He never put pressure on me or the crew. He was a complete gentleman and funny as hell. The Heavyweights man…..doesn’t get much bigger than that!
TGL: Can you tell us a little bit about your voice over and voice acting work? Before you landed the part of Isaac Clarke in Dead Space 2, had you done any voice over work previously?
GW: I had done voice over work but never a video game before. But most importantly I did the mo-cap work for Isaac Clarke as well, everything except a few stunt sequences that they just wouldn’t let me do. So it was a new experience all around. I just tried to embrace it and once you put on the mo-cap suit and get use to the technical aspect it becomes pretty freeing to act the scenes.
TGL: How did you land the part of Isaac? What did your initial audition entail?
GW: My commercial agent actually got me the audition. I had seen the breakdown and liked the description of Isaac’s character. There was another audition process after the first and it was a little more lengthy. I didn’t hear anything for a solid two months and thought that the role had gone to someone else. That’s the hard part of acting. You prepare, go in and do the best that you can, but then you have to leave it behind you and move on. You can’t dwell on it once you leave the room…..It’s like racing….you just put your head down and ride the track, and as long as you give 100% nobody can argue your effort. So I got the call that I booked DS2 just over two months after auditioning and we started right away after that.
GW: I wasn’t familiar with the franchise before auditioning, but to EA / Visceral’s credit after I was hired they gave me tons of artwork, back story, and information….hell, I even know where Isaac went to school! I reviewed a lot of the first game on YouTube watching the various levels and researching the character interactions. My thought was to keep my actor hat on instead of trying to be the gamer. I figured as long as I did my job, the gamers will kick ass and do theirs.
TGL: How would you describe the character of Isaac Clarke?
GW: He’s a regular guy forced into some extreme circumstances. He’s not a military bad ass but he’s not going to lie down and be a victim either. Emotionally he’s a tortured soul but he’s coming to grips with this side of him as he ventures along in the game. That’s what I loved about DS2, you have a guy just trying to survive and yet there is this great human element that we all can relate to.
TGL: Of course Isaac was a mute character in the first Dead Space. Was it slightly intimidating giving an established character a voice and a personality for the very first time?
GW: You bet. But I put a lot of that pressure on myself while filming. It’s weird but that’s how I work best….being my own worst critic.
GW: We worked in a vocal booth outside of mo-cap for a few months. Visceral had a very direct vision of what they wanted. They didn’t want him just to start talking just for the sake of making random smart ass comments. There needed to be a purpose, a need to hear what he has to say. And they put together a very good script to carry the dialog. It’s like we shot a movie it just happens to be a game.
TGL: What was it like working with the team at EA/Visceral?
GW: First rate. Good people man….they all work hard and like to play hard as well. They are gamers first, game developers second. I love that they really care about the franchise and care how the fans react to what they do. I feel like they really listen to the fans and want Dead Space fans to be proud of playing a follow-up game.
TGL: It probably goes without saying, but if given the opportunity to return as Isaac in a third Dead Space, you’d do it right?
GW: Sign me up daddy!
TGL: What’s been the most rewarding aspect of the whole Dead Space 2 experience for you?
GW: For me it has been seeing the positive reviews! I think back at all of the meetings, the rehearsals, the endless hours for all of the staff, and it’s like a race victory…..we all won man…including the fan.
TGL: What’s your next project Gunner?
GW: Right now just focusing on LOVE, a new sc-fi film due out later this year. I play an astronaut who’s stranded on the International Space Station….pretty trippy story plot and it’s shot beautifully, I think you are really going to dig it.
TGL: And finally, we take it you still ride motorcycles from time to time, what’s your bike of choice at the moment?
GW: Right now I own a 2010 Kawasaki Z1000. She’s my girl! Pretty stock except for a little powder coating here and there. I’m in love…….for now.
TGL want to say a huge thank you to Gunner for taking the time out of his busy schedule to speak with us. I’m sure you’ll all agree, he did a great job on Dead Space 2. We wish him all the best in his career moving forward. Heres to Dead Space 3.