Actor Seth Green on Being the Joker Of “Mass Effect”

You may already know Seth Green from the “Austin Powers” movies or TV’s “Robot Chicken” and “Family Guy,” but the 33 year-old actor is about to add a video game to the list of things he’s known for — namely “Mass Effect.”

The all-new action-RPG from BioWare, the makers of “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” and “Jade Empire,” has Green voicing a pilot named Joker who guides the player throughout the 40+ hour game. MTV Multiplayer caught up with Green last week to talk about being in one of the most anticipated games of the year. Here’s a sample of what he had to say:

Without my character you would be lost. You contact him when you’re on a planet, or he contacts you. He lets you know whats going on, if there’s any other information. That kind of stuff happening, Joker’s there.

He also sheds light on recording for the fluid dialogue system that the game promises and reveals that he’s actually not that good at video games…

MTV: How did you get involved with the game in the first place?

Seth Green: I got asked! As a voice-over actor, I get approached from time to time to participate in video games, but this is one that seemed like it would be a lot of fun.

MTV: Why didn’t you accept any of the offers until now?

Green: I’m an elitist. Super obnoxious as far as what I lend my name to. Nah! I don’t know. I’m just pretty picky about stuff, and this just seemed like it would be a blast. It was a cool character. All of the designs I saw looked really exciting. It seemed like it’d be a good game.

MTV: So tell me a little about your character Joker.

Green: What can I tell you… He’s a pilot, like a super bad-ass pilot, and I help the player throughout. Because I’m the guy that will rescue him. If the player lands in a bad place, I’m the only guy who will come and save him. And I kind of give information throughout, sort of a guide and a confidant.

MTV: I watched the first scene with your character in it. He seems pretty sarcastic…

Green: Sarcastic but unapologetic. What you come to find out is that he’s got some weaknesses and shortcomings that he makes up with an acerbic wit and kind of a biting comedic spirit. But without my character you would be lost. You contact him when you’re on a planet, or he contacts you. He lets you know whats going on, if there’s any other information. That kind of stuff happening, Joker’s there.

MTV: You said you help the player throughout the game. You must be in this a lot…

Green: Yes, definitely. I’m all over it.

MTV: About how many hours of voice-over work did you do for the game?

Green: I probably recorded for like four or six hours, I guess. But there were a couple of sessions, and there were a lot a lot of pick ups and things too. Just as things got developed they were like, “Hey, we need you to yell this here.” [laughs]

MTV: Voicing Joker, did you throw in any influences from your other characters? Is there a bit of Scott Evil in there, perhaps?

Green: [laughs] No, I don’t think so! No son of an evil mastermind in there. He’s an orphan with a chip on his shoulder, so I guess there’s a similarity in that, but he’s just kind of a badass. That’s what I liked: he’s the best pilot in the whole league, out of all the pilots, and he’s not afraid to tell people about it. But you find out that he’s compensating for other shortcomings by working so hard in this capacity.

MTV: Were you able to ad-lib at all or did you have to stick strictly to the script?

Green: No, they definitely let me bring some personality out when it was appropriate, like when it wasn’t a technical instruction or some kind of gameplay instruction. I ad-libbed a little bit, like made something sillier or funnier.

MTV: So how was it what recording the voice-over for this game, given that BioWare is focusing on a more fluid dialogue system, versus other voice-over work you’ve done?

Green: Well, it was actually really similar to what we do on “Robot Chicken” because it’s cue by cue: you record a block of dialogue for a scene and you get a little bit of background of what’s supposed to have happened. And I do my best as an actor to kind of get emotionally connected to that moment, and just read that line. So it’s really similar. It’s kind of like a “Choose Your Own Adventure,” where all the dialogue is interactive. I would just record a couple of different options. You know, if the player went in a particular direction I’d react to it with this line or if they chose this direction I’d react to it with that line. They’d show me a cool picture and say, “This is what’s happening,” and I’d react with “OH MY GOSH, YOU BETTER GET OUTTA THERE NOW!” That kind of thing. [laughs]

MTV: Have you actually been able to play through the game yet?

Green: No, not yet, but I understand I’m getting a copy of it very soon. It’ll be a beta that I’ll post on the Internet. [laughs]

MTV: I know you’re a huge Star Wars fan. Have you played “Knights of the Old Republic” or any of BioWare’s past titles?

Green: I have looked over the shoulder of my more competent gamer friends. I’m really bad with video games. Like I honestly just have no skill. And it’s sad. I would love to play, but for some reason my hand-eye coordination doesn’t work well these types of games. I can play “Tetris” really well, and I’ve mastered “Ms. Pac-Man” because I started at a young age. When “GoldenEye 007” first came out, my friend was like, “You gotta play this game!” I tried to play it and I was so bad. We played for hours and hours and hours, and I got so frustrated because it’s just not a skill I’ve been able to acquire. And it’s kind of sad. All my friends are badass gamers, and they will have tournaments at somebody’s house with six different televisions and everybody participating. And I’ll come over, I’ll try and play and eventually get kicked out and asked to go get drinks and things. It’s like, “You suck! You’re ruining our game! Our team sucks with you on it! Stop playing! Get me pizza!” And then I’m like, “Okay, you want pepperoni?”

MTV: Well, at least you tried. You have to at least try “Mass Effect” to see how all your lines play out.

Green: I will try it in the privacy of my own home when I’m not having to suffer the slings and arrows of my much more qualified friends. [laughs]

MTV: Now that you’ve worked on “Mass Effect,” do you think you’ll incorporate it into “Robot Chicken” at all?

Green: We always look for stuff that’s ripe for parody. And depending how all the writers react to the game, if it kind of inspires an ironic take, I’m sure we’d tackle it. Video games are actually tricky to parody. We always parody the old console games just because by design they’re so silly. We’ve got an “Excite Bike” thing coming up this season.

MTV: Would you consider more voice-over work in video games?

Green: Totally. If it’s the right thing, I’m open to anything. I always pick projects based on their content. I mean, any time I get to be a part of something that’s socially relevant, I’m always interested. And anything that makes me more of a rockstar at Comic-Con is fine by me. [laughs]