Actress Ellen Dubin Talks About Her Character in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Recently I got to speak to the talented Ellen Dubin about her work in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Ellen has a very long list of television and film credites which include LEXX,The Collector, Napoleon Dynamite, and The Pending Dead Before Dawn. Ellen also has done voice work for games and animated shows.

What can you tell us about your character in Skyrim?

What I found fascinating about my character in Skyrim was the great gamut of emotions I got to play. When you first get cast in a game, you don’t know till you are recording what the character entails because you only see the dialogue at the actual sessions. So when I initially auditioned for COMMON WOMAN , I thought it was just going to be a small role. But, it was a juicy meaty feast – – I got to use both my comedy and dramatic skills. Had a blast playing this multilayered role and loved all the directions she could go in depending on what the Player chose to do with this character.
I loved Common Woman

How did you become attached to the project?

My wonderful voice agent Tom Lawless at VOX in Los Angeles sent me the sides for the project and I auditioned by self- taping some of the dialogue in my own closet for a wide variety of roles in SKYRIM.
The casting director/ production supervisor Timothy Cubbison of BlindlLight heard my read and I guess along with the creative team at Betheseda Software cast me in the role.

I am very grateful to be a part of such an iconic game with such an incredibly strong cast of actors and an astounding production team.

What type of research did you do for the part and have you played any of the previous games in the series?

I went online to see what type of game it was and if there were any diagrams or drawings of the game – just to get a sense of style. I had not played any of the previous games in the series. I went in and basically used my actor skills and “played” the role using my voice. I just jumped in and with the help of the creative gang did my best!

How many sessions did you record for the game and over how long of a timeframe?

The game recording for my character was done pretty quickly in a few short months and if I remember correctly, I had about five four hour sessions for the recording process. They were very well thought out recording sessions- The creative team was very organized and thoughtful because there were major screaming sections in the script . So they always made sure we did the intense shout outs at the end of the session to preserve our voices.

How much input did you have into the character and were you able to see visuals of her and the game at any point in the process?

What is so impressive about working on a game of this calibre, is that it is all worked out for you- they have done years of research and basically they are so aware of what they want and need , that you just go for it. Yes , when I am recording and I decide to try another way to do a line, they were very open to me playing around with it. But I loved the fact that they were so specific with the direction.They have worked with these characters for years and know their backgrounds so I welcomed their notes. We would usually record a few variations on the line so they could fit whatever version would work best with the game once it was all put together.

I did see a a visual before the first session begun. The wonderful sessions director Brenda Phillips showed me a diagram of Common Woman. The character was a very different physical type then I am. I am long tall and lean and she was short stocky and round.

In what ways were recording lines for the game similar and different from past voice work and from traditional acting?

I love video games more then any other form of voice work because I am able to use my well trained acting chops and apply them.

The style is very cinematic so my tv and film background is a huge factor when I am recording. I find strong objectives and have to turn on a dime and change direction quickly.
This is more subtle work then doing an animated film – A pause , a beat can change the whole direction of a character whether it be a comedic or a dramatic turn.

I approach all my voice work from an actor’s point of view because that is my training. I dont’ think about the sound of my voice, I think about the intention – the relationship I have with the other characters ( even though in voice work , you are not working with another actor in the studio) – You have to imagine ,he or she is there. So that is even more of a challenge then traditional acting. You also have to have a huge imagination because you are talking about a whole new world you have never heard of. I love creating and being part of another universe. My sci fi background definitely helped me with this element.

The game is set to launch to tremendous expectations, do you have any nerves over how gamers will respond to your character knowing how serious they take the series?

I am not nervous at all . I know in my gut ( just from the sections I recorded) that this game is going to be huge and absolutely astounding. I am not sure how they will take to my specific character but I can’t worry about that- Like any job I do, I commit one million percent . I have to love what I do with passion and dedication and hopefully the fans will appreciate it. This is one stunning game!
I am one small cog in a huge magnificent wheel!

How did your character evolve over your sessions as I am guessing there were constant changes and additions to your lines as the game development grew.

The character had many different scenarios to record. What if the Player went this way with you what would happen? What if he went the other way?

So we taped many versions depending on the choices of the Player.
I found that fascinating- I never quite knew what was going on but loved the challenge of creating something strong and compelling for the Player.

The final session only took about fifteen minutes with very few additional lines- For a game of this size and magnitude, these creators were really on their game. Excuse the pun!

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