Recently I spoke with Patricia Summersett about voicing Zelda and her work on Tears of the Kingdom.
How did you get into acting?
I grew up figure skating in a small town, which eventually helped me land some theatre roles in high school. I loved theatre, but I pursued competitive ice dance in Florida and Quebec until the age of 20 before diving into theatre training.
You have an extensive career in voice work and I am sure the readers would
love to know how you got into video game work?
I’m sure the impulse to pursue this work started early, because my three sisters and I were constantly singing, dancing and doing character impressions. But I actually found video game work while training at Concordia University’s theatre program in Montreal. Riveted by the characters we created in a voice class, I made my first demos at school and started auditioning for anything I could find. I ended up landing some tiny indie games. Years later I’d land my first AAA game. I pursued it along with theatre and screenwork.
How would you compare/contrast doing voices in games to other voice work
and acting in front of a camera or on stage?
Acting is acting. But for technical demands of a given medium, I know channel energy through different body parts in different proportions. Booth work can be quite physical and you are contending more with sound overall. Screen can sometimes feel more focused on the eyes, especially in close ups. Theatre is more extroverted and wide. Performance capture can be a combo of all three.
The early Zelda games did not have much if anything in terms of voice so
how did you create the voice for such an iconic character?
I didn’t know what I was auditioning for when I landed Zelda. I’m thankful for that now. This is often the case with video games, they have code names and bleached scripts. Once I discovered what the role was, I ordered a Hyrule Historia and started researching past games to paint a larger picture. But ultimately you start with the script you’re given for that project. It’s the ultimate blue print. You can’t play the past.
How do you balance evolving the voice of the character between projects
and yet staying true to the past work? It’s such a gift to revist a character and reprise a role. Ask any actor. Inevitably certain pieces of a character will morph and evolve — they have to. But you already have a connection to the material. With that said, to prepare for sessions, I did look over some of my older work. In a sense some of my own work became primary research material.
What type of prep work due you normally do before voicing a game character
and how easy is it to slip pack into Zelda after time away from it?
I do physical and vocal warm ups before sessions. What I do to prepare may change for what a session requires. Is it dramatic? Boisterously comedic? Vocally stressful? Does it require an accent, or playing multiple characters in the same session?
I don’t find it hard to slip back Zelda per say. I had enough time to prepare and give it a good think before recording sessions.
To what do you attribute the enduring appeal of the character and series to?
I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps it has something to do with the potent combo of relying on classic storytelling structure and powerful archetypes, while simultaneously reinventing the wheel. Innovation launched from the familiar. But many people are trying to do that.
How much of yourself would you say is in Zelda?
In my portrayal of Zelda, a lot! It’s all came from somewhere in my imagination.
But I do also relate to her quite a lot, if that’s what you mean. She is very relatable.
You have done multiple games over your career and which franchises or
characters would you love to voice or work in?
Oh boy, many of them. I find that quetion hard. I’d love to work with Blizzard. So many companies.
I have one coming up that it super fun, a big franchise that was on my bucket list. Stay tuned.
Will you be appearing at any conventions or events soon that fans can look
Absolutely. You can find my appearance schedule at Patriciasummersett.com
What do you like to do in your free time?
Make music, hang in the secluded woods, drink delicious coffee, travel with my partner.
What else do you have upcoming?
Aside from several things I can’t talk about, my band is releasing a new art-folk album on May 16th!