Jiub is in many respects a crucial character in the world of Tamriel. At the start of the Morrowind story, Jiub is found alongside the player on a prison ship. While the player dreams, a deep, grainy voice spits out “Wake up”, then asks “Why are you shaking?”. The realm of Morrowind is then revealed. Moving through the game, characters hear of, and eventually confront Dagoth Ur; the main antagonist.
Jiub vanishes after the very brief introduction though and only reappears fleetingly in the mythology of Tamriel; “Many are dead in the land of the Dunmer. Even St. Jiub, who drove the cliffracers from Vvardenfell, has fallen to the daedra hordes”.
Did you know Jeff Baker voiced both Saint Jiub and Dagoth Ur? Well you do now, and by doing so he bookended one of the greatest adventures of all time. We had a chance to talk to Jeff about Redguard, the world of Morrowind and we even asked picked his brains about Skyrim. Here’s how we got on…
The Gaming Liberty: Hi Jeff – a BIG TGL welcome! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your voice acing background?
Jeff Baker: I actually started as a stage actor at the age of 7! I started doing character voice work when I entered radio some years back. I did a lot of impressions and original character voices on morning radio shows throughout the States.
TGL: What led you to pursue a career in voice acting?
JB: As my list of character voices grew, I began getting work on commercials. That continued to grow with new media. Doing voice work is something I enjoy and I think I do it pretty well. It’s a great form of acting. Just show up wearing whatever suits you, and fire off the lines.
TGL: You’ve worked with Bethesda for quite some time Jeff. Can you tell us a little about the old days of working with them, your work on TESA: Redguard and how the recording process of old compares to that of recording voices these days?
JB: Redguard was only my second experience with game production. It was quite a challenge. There hasn’t been much change in the process from an actor’s perspective. I did a lot of Bethesda Softwork’s projects at a place called Absolute Pitch Studios early on. More recently, I’ve worked in the studios at Bethesda Softworks headquarters outside Washington, D.C.. That’s been the only real change for me.
TGL: Moving onto Morrowind, gamers had a chance to hear you right from the start when you portrayed the character Jiub on the prison ship. Did you have any idea just how symbolic Jiub would become to fans?
JB: Honestly, no. Games take a long time to develop. A lot of time passes from the time I voice the characters until the game’s release date. You never know how well a game will do until it’s out there and gamers have a chance to have a go at it.
TGL: A lot of fans claim that some of your best work was when you played “Dagoth Ur” in Morrowind. Can you tell us a little about your preparation for such roles?
JB: There’s really is no preparation outside of the studio. At least, I don’t work that way. Once a recording session begins, the game designer and producer will talk me through the characters’ traits and their relationship to other characters and the storyline. Then, I play with a few different voices and keep trying different things until I hit on a voice that we all seem to think works for a particular character.
TGL: Do you, as a voice actor openly request the volume of roles we see credited to your name, or would Bethesda approach you with various propositions?
JB: Bethesda has always made those choices ahead of time. Occasionally, during a session, they’ll think of another voice they’d like me to try.
JB: That’s not a reference I was aware of. Interesting.
TGL: Your work in Oblivion, from what we understand, wasn’t as pronounced as previous Elder Scrolls titles. Was there a character, aside from Haskill (Shivering Isles) that you would have liked to play?
JB: Naturally, if I had my way, I’d play them all! But the game designers always have a good idea of what they’re looking for and which actors they’ve worked with before who they think can deliver what they want.
TGL: Working on Fallout 3 meant fans got the chance to hear your voice again Jeff. The characters that would stand out for us would be the Gary clones, Hannibal Hamlin, and Desmond. Which voice is closest to your natural voice, and what are your thoughts on the cult status of the Gary clones?
JB: That’s a tough one. I haven’t heard any of those characters in quite some time. I can tell you that I really enjoy playing bad guys. Since the only limitation is imagination, one can really go crazy and take the evil right over the top.
TGL: Looking to the future – obviously Skyrim is something fans are now very eager to get their hands on, and a lot of fans would like to know if you’re part of the project Jeff?
JB: I haven’t yet been contacted. And the title isn’t familiar to me. But, if your readers would be so kind as to send Bethesda a few letters…!
TGL: Is there a certain character, in retrospect, that you enjoyed playing maybe a little more than the others?
JB: As I mentioned earlier, I love playing the bad guys but, I have to say that all of the characters are fun to do. I couldn’t possibly single out one or two.
TGL: Is there a game or a character that you would have, or even would like to play and be part of?
JB: I can’t think of one I wouldn’t want to do. Helping to shape a character and bring it to life is something I’m really passionate about, whether it’s on stage, TV, film or a really good game. I’m a bit of a political junkie, so I think it might be fun to portray a president, senator, etc. if ever such a game is created.
TGL: Are you a gamer? Have you ever played Redguard/Morrowind/Oblivion?
JB: No, I’m not a gamer. I’ve tried a few, but I’m afraid I don’t have the patience or skill to really get into gaming on a serious level like your readers.
TGL: Do you have any advice to those wishing to get into voice acting?
JB: Be original. Develop voices unlike any you’ve ever heard, before. And practice, practice, practice. Like any other skill there’s a lot of work involved. Formal training can be helpful but only if you really have a natural talent for the work. That isn’t always easy to determine. Your friends and family will think you’re great. Producers may have a different opinion. Record and listen to yourself every day. Work on one voice at a time, and stay focused. Good luck!
TGL: Do you have a message for your fans Jeff?
JB: Thanks you so much for your support and for sharing the fun with all of us involved in creating these games. The nature of the medium is that we rarely get feedback from the gaming “audience” so to know that your work is appreciated means a great deal.
TGL: Finally Jeff, what’s next for you?
JB: Right now, I’m taking some time off from theater to concentrate on acting theory. I’d like to do some teaching and writing. I will continue to do voice work though. I have a session coming up to perform the character Lex Luthor in an audio comic of Superman. Should be a lot of fun. After all, he’s another bad guy.
TGL: Thanks for your time!
JB: All the best!