Final Fantasy XIV: Talking to Bethan Walker, the Voice Behind Alisaie
Few among Final Fantasy XIV’s cast are as beloved as Alisaie Leveilleur. Since her return to the Scions at the end of Heavensward, she’s won over the playerbase with her sharp wit and sharper tongue. With last week’s release of Patch 4.4, Prelude in Violet, Alisaie is facing one of her most difficult trials yet, as she searches for the truth behind her brother’s disappearance. We got the chance to speak to Bethan Walker, the voice behind the character, about how she brings life to the role.
MMORPG: You joined the voice cast after A Realm Reborn, when Alisaie's character was first established. How do you feel she's changed and grown since then?
Bethan Walker: I think we have seen her mature. She has had some pretty testing times since I have been playing her and she’s faced them head on. We've also heard more from her in terms of her inner monologue about her Grandfather and more about her relationship with Alphinaud which is helpful I think.
MMORPG: What do you think you bring to the character as a voice actress?
BW: I try to make it as truthful as I can, to really think through what I am saying, so it is believable to the player as possible. I also try and really live it out physically in the studio when recording. If she's fighting, so am I, if she’s crying so am I, otherwise it sounds forced. Obviously it's a performance but you have to make it breathe.
MMORPG: Alisaie has a very strong presence that you can feel through her dialogue. I read a recent interview with you in which you described a moment in which you 'found' her. Could you talk a little more about what you came to understand about the character in that moment in that moment?
BW: Just that she is as real as any other character I have played. It is the first video game part I've played so it took me a while to understand the tone and style required. However, I remember realising that she needs the same depth and sensitivity as any other complicated part I've played. In a way, when you discover the minutiae of a character you can then play the larger scenes with ease.
MMORPG: ould you talk me through the process of recording your lines? For example, do you record them by yourself or with other VAs on the cast? Is the direction particularly heavy, or are you allowed a lot of room to interpret the character?
BW: So far I have recorded alone in studio. At the start of the session I hear a quick play back of some work from my last recording to make sure I am on point vocally then we get going. We normally read through a scene then record speech by speech, whether that be one line or ten. Then the director will work you through any necessary retakes. Matt Delamare who has directed me is just brilliant because he knows the game so so well and knows what he wants from me. So there's no guesswork, we normally hit what we want pretty quickly. Even if it takes a few goes. He is however always very happy to let me play with the lines, which is wonderful for an actor as we don't always get the chance. If a problem ever comes up, with pronunciation or setting of a scene I can be talked through it so I am always fully understanding her circumstances.
MMORPG: Are you and your colleagues on the game influenced by your Japanese counterparts, or do you mostly work in parallel?
BW: I have not yet crossed working paths with the Japanese team, but I am familiar with their brilliance. I think we have a lot to learn from each other.
MMORPG: Being an MMORPG, FFXIV doesn't really have a fixed protagonist per se. Every player has their own avatar and is building their own story. Are there any challenges to playing a role in that sort of setting?
BW: I think it's actually great being part of something with so many strong characters. I have so much admiration for some of the other storylines and vocal performances. Knowing that you are part of such an epic world is actually helpful in terms of scale of performance.
MMORPG: Do you have any other projects you're working on at the moment?
BW: I have been voicing some adverts this week which is a totally different ball game. Great fun. I am however looking forward to finding my next video game role!
MMORPG: One last question — What can we expect from Alisaie as a character in future?
BW: More action, more feisty quips and more heart.