I had the chance to participate in a round of interviews with other journalists with Troy Baker. In the gaming world almost everyone should know him. He lent his voice to Higgs from Death Stranding, Rhys from Tales from the Borderlands, Snow from Final Fantasy XIII, Sam Drake from Uncharted 4, but also Joel from The Last of Us. Now he can also be seen in the latest episode of The Last of Us. There he plays James on the other hand, who belongs more to the side that is hostile to Ellie and Joel.

Thank you Sky and HBO for the great opportunity.

What do you think are the qualities Pedro Pascal has for this character as the original Joel?

Troy Baker: „You know, I love the notion of there being something original. It’s like you leave you’re fingerprint on that role. But everyone takes that role and show a different version of it. I really think that’s what Pedro has done here. I got my oppurtinity to play Joel and I feel like especialy with Part 2, I left everything on the dancefloor. Theres nothing that I didn’t leave and now it’s his turn. It’s his turn to show the world a to me beautiful tragically character. I think, what Pedro brings to it, is a physicality that in some ways I overlooked and this beauftiful vunerability, that really leans into this version of the story. I think, if we tried to show some of the things that Pedro is doing in the game, it wouldn’t worked, because when we’re playing a character, we want them, to be able to do something, that we can’t. We take these opportunities to explore the story and the emotional action, we have in the game, but in the end of the day, you’re gotta patch ourselves up and fight infected or fight hunters or raiders. So in our story we get the opportunity to kind of move around where the camera is and spend time with other characters and that takes some of the owners off off one single character. This really allowed Joel to stretch and show different parts of him. There’s just this ease, that he has, that I really really find compelling and it starts with episode one, the way he eats those eggs, I was like: ‚Oh man, that’s good.‘ Sometimes it’s just the benefit of actually being on a filmstage like that. I love every episode there’s something that Pedro shows me and I learn more about Joel and that’s all I ever wanted.

What did you enjoy the most of playing the role of one of the antagonists of the show?

Troy Baker: „‚Laughs‘, man just being there was a win. I never thought, that I would have… Look I was telling the group before you. It wasn’t something that I sought, it wasn’t something like ‚Hey, I better have a role‘ and it was certainly not part of a deal I have. But I knew and I trusted that when there is a role that Craig and Neil thought, that I would fit in, they would give me a chance at it. And boy did they. I was expecting, if I got something, it was like a Walk-on, just kind a wink to the audience ‚Look, what we did‘. But they really gave me a character, that I can do something with and there was an emotional stake in the story. For me being on set the first day and normally, when I go to work, I got the performance-capture-suit on, which is not flattering, I’ve got a camera that suspended from a helmet hanging of my face and I got shiny balls all over me. So for me to be standing there on a beautiful location with real snow, wind blowing from real trees, next to a real river, looking down on an really fake dear was a wonderful moment me to realise, how full circle this thing become and how grateful I am to not only being a part of the game but being able to participate in conversation on multiple levels. Now I got to be an observer. I get to watch, as you said as, Pedro now takes this character and it’s his watch, it’s his time to take it further down the line and tell this version of the story. Also being able to sit down with Neil and Craig with the podcast and being able to unpack hopefully all the questions everyone else is asking, I get to ask. So being able, to sit down with them and talk about the episode, it’s been a gracious gift. They been very kind, to let me stay at the big peoples table, a oppossed being send back at the kid’s table.

In Part I of the game Joel with all the flaws and the actions he does, he was still someone I rooted for at the end of the game. Then Part II delves much deeper into the consequences of these actions. These changed my view of him to a great extent. How has your own view of Joel changed troughout the years?

Troy Baker: „Man, without sounding to glib. I really do think of Joel as a jewel, in the sense that not only you can hold him up the light and examine him from many different angles and see all the different phasits. In some way, it looks broken and in another ways you realise that it has enhanced strength. But the value of that thing is based solely on the people examining it. There’s some people that discount Joel and see him as a thug, a smuggler and a violent man and than there’s other people, that hold him in the highest regard and see him as a father and someone, who can protect them, care for them and ultimately keep them safe. So for me, I spend the last twelve years thinking about this character, wondering about him. I missed him between Part I and II and I never forget, when we were back on stage and shooting the trailer for the game Part II, there’s Ashley and I back in our suits again and we done a couple of different setups. You know, we shoot it like a film basically. There’s a camera that’s moving and actors are on stage together. There’s this moment, where Joel kinda like posed up against the door and says ‚What are you doing kiddo?‘ and it was the first time, that anybody including myself had heard Joels voice. We were all like ‚Man, I missed that guy.‘ So now, to see this show being made in the last year and all the development, that happened before that and to see, there’s not just me or Neil, now there is Craig and Pedro and all of this people now, looking at that Joel through different light and putting that on display, that to me has been a whole new revelation, what Joel is. All that I wanted was, for someone to show me, something different and dammit Pedro does this in every episode.

You mentioned before in these interviews, that you don’t believe, that there are good guys or bad guys in the game. But how does it feel to fight on a side, that isn’t Ellies for once?

Troy Baker: „Yeah, for me it was weird. Because there’s this great oppossicening between Joel and Ellie in the game, that we also see in the show as well, that takes a while for this relationship to be earned. That’s part of the beauty of it. Something that was important for me about playing James not as this henchman, this kind of like badmanesque thug, but rather someone, that was really pragmatic. There’s a line that he has, where it’s like ‚We bring her back, she is another mouth to feed‘ and that is the exactanional threat, that these people are facing. So there is this beauty that I love how Jeffrey Pierce and his character and mine character kind of parallel. Perry is very much the right-hand-man to Kathleen and James is very much the right-hand-man to David. The difference between those things is Kathleen listens to Perry. David is a man, searching for an equal and James realises that he is not it. That is the threat, when he sees Ellie. It is someone, that is going to usurp his position. James definitly recognizes, that David is the devil and it’s definitly better to be on the right-hand of the devil than on the wrong-hand. That to me was the source of the opposition. It wasn’t someone, that was like ‚Umm, yummy, yummy, I wanna eat her‘, it was someone, who was ‚Get her out of his eyesight, because I understand, where this could potentially go‘. That was a lot of fun. I like playing cool badguys. Typically they have more dialog. It’s also to me we’re all the heroes of our own story. So being able to ‚can I get you to like him‘, that’s my big challenge. That’s one of my biggest things, that I love about playing bad guys. No mustache is here, but if I get you, to like me or atleast understand my position, then I have done my job.

Is there any character or any game, that you want to revisit in a show or movie?

Troy Baker: „James really surprised me, cause that’s not the one, I was like ‚Oh man, if they let me be James, than I would just What a win.‘ Neil was like ‚I want you, to play James‘ and I was like ‚ Oh man, thank you, who is James?‘, he was like ‚He’s is the kind of buddyboy with David‘ and I was like ‚Oh, I thought his name was buddyboy.‘ So what I trust, espacily in this franchise, is I greatly respect the Garret Dillahunt and his ability to kinda morph and looking at the 2 roles, that he played in Deadwood. If there is an opportunity where Neil and Craig are like ‚We can sneak him in and noone would know‘, that would be fun. Because the beauty of this, when the trailer launched sunday night for this, there were people like ‚Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I saw you‘ and other people were like, there were 3 levels of that, ‚Oh my gosh, that’s you‘, ‚Was that you?‘ and the third was like ‚Who’s that?‘. It’s kind of the arc of the actor. Who is, get me and who is. If there’s something else out there, I talked many time about, how much I love Daredevil and to me Charlie Cox is crushing that role right now. Instead of characters I love to see in a film, I am curious to see, what that would like in a game, because I think that would make for a fascinating game. I love games. At the end of the day, if there is someone that has a part for me, to tell in the story and it’s the right part, the right story I would tell it.“

Now that the show become something new, now everyone knows The Last of Us even my mum. But there are many people, that always like to criticise things. They say ‚Okay, The Last of Us is a great show, because it’s based on the videogames, that was based like on elementary mechanics gameplay and so on‘, which is something I totally disagree with, because it’s a great game. What is your take on this kind of criticism?

Troy Baker: „Forturnately, look, with The Last of Us criticism is kind of baked in and to me it is evidence of the story resonating with people. If we weren’t getting critique, if there wasn’t a conversation then I think we would have missed the mark. The beauty is and that’s kind the reason I’m so excited for people to finish this series. Because as someone who played the game, you understand that ending is something that you wrestle with and people have been wrestling with it for the last decade. So we now have a whole group of people that are now part of this conversation and wrestling with it. So I think that this story receives criticism, because it made people feel something and that happened both in gameplay, in the cinematics and the story and the characters. Everytime you get criticism it means you’re doing something right. I believe the reason, why this story works so well not only as a game but also as a show, is, because the fondumental premise of it is very simpel. The gameplay was so drived and compelled by the story. I think the mistake a lot of games make is, they create a story to drive mechanics of the game, as just opposed to let that being just a simple biproduct of the story they are trying to tell. The same thing happens in the show. Everything that happens is happening for the purpose of the story. The story is pulling you through the world, as opposed to hunting for a trophy or a higher score. That worked in the game and clearly it’s working in the show.“

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Hi, this is Tobias. I'm currently studying and I like to spend my free time cooking and gaming. I prefer games with a good story, long-term motivation or a couch co-op mode.

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