Even if you don't already know the name, there's a good chance that you know the voice. Jennifer Hale is no n00b to the video games industry. You can hear her voicing characters from Bastila Shan in Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic to Dr. Naomi Hunter in Metal Gear Solid. Hale has also lent her voice to television in The Powerpuff Girls, Totally Spies and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Jennifer took a few moments out of her hectic schedule to speak to Complex about her latest work in the wildly successful Mass Effect 3 as the voice of FemShep.
Tell us little about yourself and your history of voice acting.
That's a big question! (laughs) I've been doing it for about 20 years and I love it. I've done hundreds of cartoons and series of all different genres. I've done everything from wacky stuff to serious superhero roles. I do on-camera acting as well.
Were you interested in providing a voice for FemShep or did BioWare come to you?
They had an audition as they do for most projects and I was lucky enough to be chosen.
A lot of us know you from voicing Bastila Shan from Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic as well. How different was that for you than FemShep?
Completely different. Different character, different universe. The Star Wars universe is really unto itself as is the whole Mass Effect universe. That's really one of the things I love about video games. It's a whole new world every time you start.
Are you a gamer yourself?
No, I'm not very good at it. I'm also quite busy, so I don't have much free time. When I do, I love to get outside and rock climb, jump on a horse or travel somewhere. That gives me the life experience to do what I do, which is the acting.
When voicing FemShep, did you have much room to ad lib or did you stick strictly to a script?
In the Mass Effect universe, there is zero ad libbing. Not even a rest, pause, or an "um". There's no contraction where there isn't one. You have to be true to every single letter or it creates a bug in the system. That's the way that they put games together. Otherwise, it'll get kicked right back to be redone.
No input whatsoever?
You get a script and you don't get it until you get there [the studio] because of confidentiality issues. If you're lucky, you can see your lines and the other people's so you can read what happens in between and get some context. There's the director as well who I believe has one of the most underrated parts of the process. They're critical for giving you context and making it all sound right and come together.
Writing is also key. It's gotta be well-written. You've got to want to relate to it, get involved in that universe and spend time there. Everything has to move you on a human level and it takes a lot of skill to write that way.
Which FemShep were you rooting for when fans were asked to vote for their favorite?
I was hoping for The one with blue eyes and brown hair but was quite happy with the one they chose. I think she's awesome.