Actress Adrienne Wilkinson had the honor to portray Maris Brood, the Zabrak Jedi who survived Order 66.
Besides The Force Unleashed, Adrienne has been in many series and movies including Xena: Warrior Princess, E.R. and Angel.
I had the honor to interview her in late March 2010 and here is the result.
How did you get started in the (voice) acting business?
My first 'official' voice job was a character named Duchess in the videogame Kill.switch. But I had been very familiar with the process of voice work, prior to that, as many of my on-camera jobs required extensive looping and ADR work in the voice booth. So it was sort of a natural transition, once I decided to start pursing voice acting as well.
How did you land the job for The Force Unleashed?
I was submitted through my voice agent, and unlike most videogame auditions, they wanted to meet me face to face, and have me audition in person. Once I was at the audition, I discovered that they were looking for an actor that could not only voice the character the way they saw her....but also one who looked like the character concept art and could play the role on camera as well. Luckily, I fit both of these requirements for Maris Brood. The audition went well, and I was officially booked for the job, soon after.
For The Force Unleashed you voiced the character Maris Brood and your expressions were also used for this videogame. Can you tell something about this process and what you exactly had to do?
Yes, I not only voiced the character of Maris Brood, but just like Sam Witwer and Nathalie Cox, I also portrayed the character as well. The three of us went through a process where several new technologies were used to create full, live action type animated performances that attained a new level of detail and reality through motion capture and other means. All of our performances were filmed and photographed as reference, we were scanned, we were also using a new type of motion capture technology created for the game...and something called a Clone Cam - where incredibly detailed 360 degree photos were taken of us in different poses and fed into a program that helped accurately portray our facial expressions. All of the information from all of the various sources was then married together to create the final product. The one additional process I went through were makeup tests for Maris Brood. She had very specific make up and prosthetic horns that were part of the process of creating and 'capturing' the character, as well. Also unusual for a videogame was the fact that the actors were able to record our scenes together in the same room - working off of one another, instead of just being solo in a voice booth - I'm sure that greatly helped all of us. It as a complicated process - but we all had a great time learning it together.
How long did your work on The Force Unleashed take?
I worked on it in bits and pieces over the course of about a year and a half, I think.
You must have played the game yourself. Did you like it and were you happy with the final result of the game?
Yes, I did like the game and I thought it was amazing to look at. I know most people had wished it was even longer...but I thought the storyline and performances were strong and entertaining. I thought it was beautiful to view and fun to play. Maris Brood had a wonderful backstory that I wish had been able to be included. That was one of the reasons I was so interested in playing her....the backstory they had created for her was so rich and complex....she has a fascinating history that led her to the place where you meet her in The Force Unleashed. I hope that one day everyone is able to share in that history, and experience her in detail.
You mean that you hope she will return for another appearance? Like maybe in the upcoming Live Action TV series?
I would love to see Maris, wherever they can think to include her. Absolutely it would be amazing to think of her for the live action series, but truly there are many projects that it would be great to see her in. She's a juicy character with much to explore in several different mediums.
How do look back at the whole project?
I loved it. I worked with such incredible people. All of the actors, and everyone at LucasArts etc, were a dream to work with. It is a group of people that really love what they do and they are pushing the envelope to achieve the things that as fans, they would want to see. It’s a great process to be part of. I love that such a cool project, was my introduction to the Star Wars Universe. I hope to work on many more!
What is your own view on Maris Brood?
I really adore her. She was such a strong, sexy, interesting character....a lot of fun to play. Much of how I feel about her goes back to her personal history...she had a very tumultuous life, nothing came easy to her....but basically she is a fierce and loyal Jedi, who is put into a series of circumstances where her entire world falls apart....and when we meet her in The Force Unleashed, she is literally losing her mind....her sanity is slipping away from her..which allows the dark side to creep in. It’s a great challenge to play someone who is simultaneously powerful and strong but also terribly vulnerable.
You attended Celebration 4 where you did a Meet & Greet session. Can you tell something about your experiences at that convention?
It was the first time I had been to a Star Wars convention - and I was amazed and impressed with the event. The size and scope of the event itself... but mostly the fans. Their loyalty, enthusiasm and their breadth of knowledge down to the tiniest detail was quite extraordinary! I loved meeting the fans in person and hearing their thoughts on the project.
Did any remarkable, strange, funny things happen?
I think the whole event was remarkable...but probably the funniest things were being 'chased' by R2-D2 and talking to Chewbacca.
I bet the most attention you get is because of you work for Star Wars. What do you think of this?
I played Xena's daughter on Xena: Warrior Princess, which was the most widely watched show in the world for a while...and that fan base is still very strong. I've also worked on other projects with a very intense fan base - like Angel, Charmed and others. So, I'm lucky to have crossed paths with a few different fan bases - that are all very enthusiastic. I'm honestly not sure which project brings me the most attention - it sort of depends on which circle of people you ask.
Yes, I'm lucky enough to have gotten a lot of attention from Star Wars fans, which I love!! The one misconception is that a lot of people are still under the impression that I only voiced a character for the game, as opposed to actually portraying the character. Sam is easy to recognize in the game, as the apprentice...but Maris has such intense makeup, that it’s not as easy to see that it’s really me, and my performance on screen. The Maris publicity stills look exactly like me....but in the game it was harder to see 'me' through the makeup and animation.
Did you grow up with Star Wars? When was your first encounter with the saga?
I was probably about 6 or 7 when I saw my first Star Wars film.
What did you think of it? Did it make a big impression?
It did. I found it really magical. I loved the adventure, but I also distinctly remember being grossed out and scared of Jabba the Hutt.
You have had roles in hit series like E.R., Xena, the legendary soap Days of our Lives… what role are you most proud of and why?
I'm really blessed to have worked on many projects that I've loved and had a great time being a part of. And I'm lucky to have worked with such great actors, and fantastic people. I've liked each project for different reasons. Projects like Xena were a fantastic adventure - shooting in New Zealand and working on complicated stunts and fight sequences. Small films like Lakeshore Drive and Reflections had delicious characters to play and the directors and casts were great to work with. Cult shows Angel, theater projects like Closer and a wide range of animation and videogames that have let me showcase different characters and try new things - have all been so much fun. My list could truly go on and on, as I've really enjoyed the jobs I've done. The Force Unleashed was a really special project. Everyone involved was so respectful of the material wanting to make sure that everything was done as perfectly as it could be done. It was one of my favorite jobs because everyone involved was so determined to make the project as great as it could be. In terms of most proud of? I'm not sure I could pick just one. I'm just generally proud of the work I've done and hope that I get to do more!
Looking at the future: what are your upcoming projects and what would be your dream project?
The best way to keep up with my latest news is to visit AdrienneWilkinson.com. I have a handful of projects I've completed that aren't announced yet...but I will post the news, as soon as I can. Star Wars fans should check back soon, as I have announcements that involve the Star Wars Universe, that I know they will be interested in.
In terms of dream projects, I have about 5 very different women in history that I would love to play. But even beyond that, I have to say that I've loved the roles I've gotten to play up to this point, and most of them are not characters I would have ever expected to play. I'm a huge fan of films and of several TV series... there are tons of characters and projects that I am eager to sink my teeth into....and tons of people that I hope to one day work with. So I hope that my career continues to bring me roles that are fun, surprising and challenging.
I’m curious: which women in history would you like to play?
They span continents, decades and are vastly different from one another - which appeals to me. They include Edna St. Vincent Millay, Nancy Randolph and a few others. Complicated women with rich histories that offer a lot of material to play with.