When strikingly handsome actor Gunner Wright got the call to be the face and voice of EA Sports Dead Space 2 video game, it didn’t seem out of place at all for his career. Given his many years racing motorcycles, and his roles in the action series Fastlane and films like GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra and The Losers, Wright is actually a natural fit for the crusading DS2 leading man Isaac Clarke.
Currently enjoying critical acclaim at the box office for his dramatic roles in the sci-fi Love and Clint Eastwood’s presidential biopic J. Edgar as Dwight Eisenhower, Gunner Wright is also enjoying the love of gaming fans around the world.
We got on the phone recently with Gunner to discuss his virtual role in Dead Space 2, the ways he avoids stereotyping in Hollywood, why gaming moms may be his biggest fans and much more!
How much input were you able to give on Dead Space 2 as far as game or character development?
Gunner Wright: You know it’s amazing. That’s one of the reasons I’m here at EA today, I wanted to cruise up and get a chance to meet everybody who worked on Dead Space 2 and learn more about what they did to make the game happen. I just got the chance to meet one of the girls, an amazing talent, she basically built me in game.
It’s an amazing process. They took photos of me at different angles and input them into the computer system, but there’s basically an artist that’s bringing all of that to life in game. I didn’t have a lot of say, and rightfully so. There was a tone and look that they wanted, and they used me as a base template. They tweaked me here and there and made Gunner Wright their own. It’s amazing to see.
In 2009, I took the photos, I went to EA in Los Angeles and they did the 360 picture graph. It wasn’t until that next year that we began to shoot. After just cruising today and seeing the different departments, I had no idea. It’s unbelievable to see each department. One person is working on Isaac’s movement, the other person and his teams are working on the worlds. One person and their team are working on the look of the game, the characters.
Have you actually done hands on with your character playing the game since it was released?
GW: Yeah, a little bit. That was the coolest thing during filming, a lot of times Chuck and Kate and Ian of EA would show me the game and certain sequences and watch like a movie. Or they would be like, “Hey we got some of the game working, why don’t you play a little bit and get a feel.” It was just awesome to see.
I remember seeing some scenes where like the fire wasn’t yet built, or certain aspects of Isaac Clarke weren’t put in. Four or five months later, that exact same scene all of the different layers had been put in, and you could just see the details, the newspapers flying off of the ground because the wind is blowing, and all of the little finite things that make it so breathtaking when you see it.
How do fans of your action films feel about you being in gaming now?
GW: What’s pretty rad is that we are all geeks of the lifestyle, in some ways it’s the same person. I was in Santa Barbara back in February right after Dead Space 2 had come out, but I was there promoting Love. I got a bunch of kids coming up with Dead Space 2 games going, “Hey man, can you sign my game?” That’s just so awesome to see.
I was in Sweden to promote Love a few months ago, and I walk into a game shop and one of the producers of Love was talking to the guy like, “This is Gunner Wright, he plays Isaac Clarke” and the guy freaked out and I signed a dozen copies! To me, you just don’t beat that, it’s so cool.
We’re all fans of something, no matter who you are. The first time I went to Comic-Con… I grew up with Star Wars and a lot of the comics… and you’re seeing things when you were 9-years-old and you would completely freak out. I was walking through Comic Con, my first trip, and obviously my love of motorcycles and being around bikes, they had on display after Batman Begins the Bat-motorcycle. I was like ‘Mr. Professional’, but as soon as I saw that motorcycle I went from a grown man to an 8-year-old kid in no time.
Then when the guy told me that there is like one guy in the world after all of these stunt guys basically auditioned to ride this bike. Only one guy out of France who could really ride it, I’m like, “Oh that’s just way too cool.” We’re all fans of something.
How have you been able to overcome that stereotype of not being the action flick guy?
GW: I’ve been blessed, because for the most part of my career I’ve been able to live and breathe under the radar. Once you get known for something, it can in some ways stereotype you. I would love to be a part of anything that [EA Sports] has in the future. It was such a process that was so unique, to do motion capture.
I was really educated with actors like Andy Serkis, who is extremely talented. To do what they’re able to do utilizing the motion capture technology, it’s just awe inspiring. To be a part of that process, I enjoyed it, it was a great, a lot of hard work, and it was different than being on a typical movie set. I’d love to do more for sure.
EA Sports “Your mom hates Dead Space 2” campaign was a little controversial when it launched [even though the moms in the campaign look more like grandmas]. The average gamer is in their 30’s, so have you had much interaction with older gamers any hot moms who love that their son gets to meet you at Comic Con?
GW: It’s great, it’s so cool. We’re all closet gamers no matter who you are, and I have met a lot, especially in Hollywood, men and women that work on set or that are in the movie business. They love the game or there’s a particular game that they are into.
I was in France last week promoting Love, and one of my new heroes Greg Broadmore who works at Weta Workshop has done District 9, King Kong, this guy is amazing. He’s a huge gamer and he was like, “You’re Isaac Clarke from Dead Space 2?! I have that game in my house! It’s so awesome.”
I obviously have my Facebook and Twitter, I have a lot of fans that are family moms. They have young kids, but when they have time they love to play games or through their kids or husband. They have different games that they’re all into. They really connected with the Dead Space franchise, especially with Dead Space 2. It’s nice to see those tweets and comments that come through.
What do you having coming next, and where can we look for you?
GW: At this point, there are a couple of things that’s coming up, a potential film and a few other things but nothing set in stone. Hopefully I’ll be able to Facebook and Tweet the news in the next couple of weeks. Really just coming off of Love and getting back from Europe.
I want to take a couple of days off and get on the motorcycle. I want to say thanks to all the folks here that worked on Dead Space 2.
Follow Gunner Wright on Twitter @splitlane and follow him at Facebook here or here
Find out more about Dead Space 2 at YourMomHatesThis.com