Published on October 17th, 2013 | by gareth0
Actress Kate Drummond Talks Splinter Cell: Blacklist and CAT 8
Recently I got the chance to speak with Kate Drummond about her work in Splinter Cell: Blacklist and her upcoming movie “CAT 8”. I want to thank Kate for taking the time to speak with us about her projects.
What can you tell us about your character and what attracted you to the part for both Splinter Cell and CAT 8?
I play Anna Grímsdóttir (known as “Grim”) in Splinter Cell Blacklist. She is the technical operations manager of 4th Echelon, a skilled hacker and she provides Sam Fisher with technical support in the field. I love playing Grim. She’s smart, great at her job, stands behind her opinions and is completely at ease asserting herself in her male dominated environment. I knew of Anna Grimsdottir before I auditioned for her, so I was pretty excited to dive into her character. And it was a video game! I mean, who wouldn’t want to be in a video game!?
Cat. 8 is a disaster miniseries and I play Beverly Hillcroft, a mother whose former husband (played by Matthew Modine) has the fate of the world in his hands. I love anything Syfy so I was really excited to play this part. It was a lot of fun because everything was really tense and our doom was in the air. Beverly was always swinging between staying strong for her family and falling apart. I love playing characters like that.
How much did the script and your character evolve/change during the recording process for Splinter Cell and how you got into doing voice work?
Splinter Cell Blacklist is the first game of the series to use performance-capture technology, which is different than voice work. The technology is so advanced that it takes our voice, body and facial movements and syncs them onto our animation. So basically, what we were doing as actors, our animations were doing. What’s great about this, is that for the story portion of the game, the actors would work together just like on a regular film and television set. We were in the space, interacting with each other and the cameras picked it all up. This made our relationships more authentic and I think it made the storyline that much more believable. I think the only time I was separated to record lines of dialogue was when I was giving straight voice commands with no back and forth conversation happening. Grim evolved over the course of the game because of the circumstances that she faced. All the characters evolved naturally and the writers evolved along with us. It was a great collaboration.
Doing voice work, however, really interests me.
As a follow up, how long did it take to do your work on the game?
We were working on Splinter Cell Blacklist for about 2 years. Wow, hard to believe it was that long because it just flew by!
What sort of research did you do for the role and how did it compare and contrast with past roles?
Well immediately, my research for Grim was to find out everything I could about her. During the actual shooting of Splinter Cell Blacklist, I spent a lot of time researching all the technical terms and locations that I was talking about. I think that in order to play Grim convincingly, it has to feel like these words she says are grounded in a very knowledgeable place. Years of training. Decades. Every role I play requires a certain amount of research; it just depends on the role.
Any concerns about being part of such a huge series knowing how fanatical the fans are and how serious they take the game and its characters?
Well, it’s definitely challenging to step into the shoes of an established character like Grim, because she has years of life already lived, and then my job is to carry her story forward, bringing the past along, as seamlessly and truthfully as possible. As an actor in this situation, you want to honour the work that the previous actors and creative teams have put into Grim’s life while also bringing your own flare to the role. It’s a delicate balance. The fans have been great though, and sure, there is always resistance to change. I know that every time they change James Bond, I want to start a revolution but then I end up loving him. It just shows how much the fans have invested in the series and how much they love it and the characters. That’s awesome. Eric Johnson was incredible as Sam Fisher and the entire cast of Splinter Cell Blacklist was one of the most dedicated groups of actors I’ve ever worked with.
Who would be your ultimate cast and director to work with and in what type of project?
Ultimate cast!? There are about 100 on my list but for starters, I’ll choose Susan Sarandon. Meryl Streep. Edward Norton, Morgan Freeman and Robert Downey Jr. It would be full of action, love, redemption, loss. I love movies that are based on true stories where the underdog comes out on top. It would be directed by “one-take” Clint Eastwood because I love his style but Steven Spielberg would have to be involved in some way as well. I also have a dream of being cast in a superhero movie!
Do you consider yourself a gamer and if so what games are you playing and which are on your to play list?
You know, I used to think I was a gamer until I started playing Splinter Cell Conviction and now Blacklist. I have no idea what I’m doing! There are so many button combos! I started playing video games at the age of 7 or so, with the Coleco and then I graduated to an Atari and a Nintendo 64. I swear I lost so many years of my life playing Zelda! Right now, I’m playing Blacklist and Forza and I’m not going to lie, I’m kind of addicted to Candy Crush.
What do you look for from a director to help you give your best performance and what type of characters do you tend to be drawn to?
I’ve been really lucky to have worked with incredible directors in my career. I love it when directors give you the green light to follow what your artist wants you to do on the first take. It may be wrong, it may be completely wrong, but sometimes it’s just so on the money. I don’t want to be acting so I can get things right… I want to get things “honest” and I love it when the director has the same mentality. I’m in this industry because I love creating art and telling stories, so when I have the opportunity to do that, I’m completely over the moon.
As far as the types of characters I’m drawn to? The more complex, the better. Real people who evolve honestly through the story. I want to explore all the aspects of our humanity in the characters I play… the good, the bad, the ugly, and the quirky. I always see myself playing strong women, but that doesn’t mean “tough” women, it means women who don’t hide their vulnerabilities and their fears. I like to shine a light on what it means to be human, not hide it.
Compare and contrast voice acting for a game with more traditional acting if you could, which is harder and which do you prefer?
As soon as I read “compare and contrast” I felt like I was in high school English class and I got all nervous! Because Splinter Cell Blacklist used full performance-capture technology, it was very similar to how I would approach a TV or film role. The only difference is that our stage, called the “volume”, had very few props, if any. I had a chicken wire table for my computer and we had a pool noodle for a gun at one point! It’s very comparable to theatre in the sense that you’ve got to stoke the fire of your imagination and create your environment so that what you’re doing is believable and feels authentic to the audience.
Thanks a lot for the interview!
** For a different side of Grim, check out www.ajocksguide.com – a hilarious reality cooking show that raises money for kids so they can afford to play organized sports. Chocolate bowls anyone?