Interview with Kate Drummond
One of my earliest achievements with Re-Mastered Media was conducting two-interviews in the lead up to the release of Splinter Cell: Blacklist. The first was with the game's new Sam Fisher; Eric Johnson. The second, here, was with Kate Drummond, the new face and voice of Anna 'Grim' Grimsdottir.
As you'll read in the interview, my inexperience was abundantly obvious, so a huge thank you to Kate Drummond for allowing me the opportunity, Fun fact: the interview was conducted entirely via Twitter, 2013 was an interesting time.
Hi Kate! So nice to meet you.
I would like to begin with, how did you get the role of Grim in Splinter Cell: Blacklist?
Well, I auditioned for Anna Grimsdottir in Toronto, quite a ways back. My agent sent me the breakdown; I took a double take because as a bit of a gamer, I knew the character and the game. I just about fell off my chair. I was so excited to read for her. It was a fairly long process, and after reading with a bunch of different characters, I finally got the news that I'd be playing Grim in the new Splinter Cell. I literally wept in my truck when I got the call. I was that stoked. Such a nerd. Lol
You've already answered my next question (did you know the game before auditioning for the role)! So what's it been like playing Grim so far? Is it as you expected, or had the character had a bit of a makeover?
Playing Grim is such an honour. She's smart and a real force on the team. She's feisty and stands strongly behind her opinions, so not really a stretch from me. I think I've been called feisty once or twice in my life! I grew up with a brother & playing road hockey with the boys in the neighbourhood, so I get the dynamics. Grim's the only female on the team & I love that challenge.
Sounds like you're having a lot of fun; Grim is definitely a great character. Is the new Grim a creation of your own, or are you trying to stick to the old Grim's style?
Well, the challenge in playing a character like Grim, who is already established, is to retain the qualities that the gamers loved about the previous incarnations, while also trying to bring something new forward that's fresh and intriguing, you know, those things that we love about the characters that we invest in over time. And that's what's great about games nowadays is that there's such an emphasis on the characters, that they really do come to life for the gamers and within the game, so it's really exciting and challenging. I mean it's not any more or less challenging than any other role that I've played or certainly hope to continue to play, but, you like to think you got the role because of the nuances and the flavours that you bring as a person to the character, so it's a balance. I tried to infuse some of me into the "new" Grim, while also continuing to honour the great work of the actors before me who have all contributed to creating this iconic woman. We're hoping that the fans really respond positively to the new Grim. I love her, and I'm honoured.
I'm excited to see how it all turns out! So what's your experience been like using the new mo-cap system?
My experience with new mo-cap system: It's been so much fun. It's my first time doing performance capture & I really didn't know what to expect. You quickly get used to the suit and the helmet cam, it's just part of your wardrobe in a way, but what's really great is that because you don't have any real props or set so to speak, you rely completely on your imagination and for an actor, this is so much fun. It's like being a kid again and creating your imaginary world. We really relied on each other as actors, to keep ourselves in the reality of the scenes but also, our director & writing team were critical in helping us to understand what we couldn't see but needed to consider when working. Other than that, I prepared as I would for any film or television role, and as a team of actors, I think we kept each other honest in the moments. Now I will say, I think that Grim looks way better in her animation than I do in my mo-cap suit! I love animators.
I would love to get to use mo-cap one day. I've seen images of the set and equipment and I can imagine the sort of connection you all have to share to bring the scene to life! How much of the voice is recorded during co-cap and how much is recorded off-set?
Well, as you know, Grim does a lot of voicing throughout the game, so there's been both performance capture and voice over work.
I spoke to Eric recently and he was equally as thrilled as you to be a part of Splinter Cell, what's it been like working with him?
He's incredible. He's such a generous and talented actor and I've learned a lot working with him. Eric brings so much to Sam Fisher. And he certainly has a good sense of humour. Eric likes to push my buttons, so truly, the Sam Fisher to my Grim.
So shortly onto the subject of past careers, what was life before pursuing an acting career?
I have degrees in Kinesiology and Education and was a school teacher for 12 years before launching full-time into my acting career. Contemplated med school at one point, but figured my fear of needles and blood wouldn't bode well for me in that job! But I truly have been a performer since I was old enough to speak. I keep in touch and visit my past students as often as I can. I occasionally get emails and tweets from them and it just fills my heart. It was actually a simple question I asked the students one year, "What is your dream?" and when they turned it on me, it was clear I had been keeping my own dream dormant for too long. Probably the biggest leap of faith I've ever taken.
Well you certainly did well, so congrats! Would you ever consider teaching again?
Oh, I'll always be a teacher. It's in my blood. I may not be teaching in the traditional sense of the word, in classroom, but I'm always looking for an opportunity to work with our youth.
What was your first job in acting?
Well, all of my first jobs came at the same time. I was doing movies in Montreal and short films and stage in Ottawa.
I think my first major role was working with Mena Suvari in No Surrender and Alexis Bledel in The Kate Logan Affair, way back when. Moving to T.O. was the turning point in my career however, because I had some opportunities come up, like Blacklist, that I may have missed living elsewhere.
What has been your favourite part of working on Blacklist so far?
Definitely the people I work with. The entire team is like family, both in front of and behind the camera. I'm doing what I love, can't ask for more than that.
Glad to hear it's going well, is there anything you'd like to say to the readers about the game?
Well, I think August 20th is going to be a big day. This latest SC is enthralling and as Eric said perfectly, it's such a gripping story. It's got everything that makes the Splinter Cell series so successful, plus a little extra!
Well to me it's looking to be the best Splinter Cell yet, thanks for the interview, it was very nice speaking to you!
It was my pleasure, Callum. Thanks very much!