An Interview With Steven Ogg, The Voice Of "GTA V’s" Trevor

He talks make-believe, motion capture, and meth.

The breakout star of Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar Games’ billion-dollar-and-counting baby, is indisputably Trevor. One of three playable characters, Trevor is the chaotic soul of the game personified, a wantonly violent, wantonly sexual, wantonly amusing career criminal with an emotional soft spot for repressed Mexican housewives.

And Steven Ogg is Trevor. Ogg, a Canadian-born television and stage actor, lent not just his voice but quite obviously his appearance to the character, and makes the cartoonish and hyperbolic Trevor somehow believable. Which is not to say that Ogg has anything in common with Trevor, as he told us last week:

What has the response been so far to your work as Trevor?

Steven Ogg: It has been really wonderful! I have been so thrilled that the GTA fans have responded so positively to the performance. They have enjoyed his impulsive, psychopathic nature but have reveled in his humor — that has been great to hear! I wanted to make him multidimensional, and fans are responding to that. It’s just great!

Have you played the game? Do you plan to?

SO: I have not played it, but I have put it into a console and watched the beginning. I tend to bump into the same wall over and over and over again when I attempt to control any character in a game. I’d love to watch it, though!

How much did the Trevor character change as you acted him? In other words, from the original script to what’s in the game now?

SO: Trevor definitely evolved (not sure if that’s the best word to describe Trevor’s change) as I performed him. Nuances and character traits that began to appear — his walk, his manner of speech, his reactions, definitely informed his development throughout the game. It was so great as an actor because if I just trusted the words written — those words informed my choices and how Trevor came to life. If there were things I didn’t understand about the character of Trevor — I made it make sense.

Did you have any concerns about playing a character who does such horrible things?

SO: What horrible things? Are you telling me that Trevor does reprehensible things? Hee hee. My first day of shooting was one of the most graphic and violent acts, so it set the bar. No, I was never concerned because it is acting — it’s the same thing as when I was 12 years old pretending I was a British soldier with a gun and bayonet in the theater — it’s play.

Were there any scenes that were particularly difficult to act?

SO: It was certainly sometimes a challenge to find the reality as an actor in an otherwise seemingly crazy, psychotic world where I said and did some pretty outrageous things. It was always exciting, though, because I loved the opportunity to perform something that didn’t always feel comfortable or right to me as an actor.

Were you inspired by any other performances in your portrayal of Trevor?

SO: Tom Hardy’s performance in Bronson was certainly an influence. He was able to walk that line of psychopath and entertainer while maintaining his sense of humor in some pretty dark places. I’m always inspired by intensity and those that take great pride in what they do — be it an actor, painter, musician, writer, or arborist. There was also some great music I would listen to that would conjure Trevor up.

Did Rockstar base Trevor’s appearance on you? He obviously bears some resemblance.

SO: The entire performance was motion captured — so face, body, and voice were all recorded to help make Trevor. Take any performance you see on television or in the movies — motion capture it — and that is essentially what Rockstar did with us actors.

Trevor is the character in the game that seems most obviously targeted at gamers and game culture; he’s the “fun” character, the id of the game. How do you feel about that?

SO: I totally get why he is the “fun” character and the id of the game — that’s what always appealed to me about playing him as an actor. He is the one that gets to do, to say, to act, and to respond however he feels without any consequence. One can argue that a character who represents doing things and suffering no consequence is reprehensible, but I disagree. People play these games to escape, to be free of the repression they may or may not feel in their ordinary lives. Who hasn’t wanted to respond to the rude person or to the bully or to anyone that has made your day miserable and taken away some of its joy? Trevor brings it all back for gamers — you get to act out on every impulse and desire.

How did Rockstar discover you?

SO: It was an audition process. My agent gave me the appointment, I went on tape with a casting director, many weeks later I was asked for a call back at Rockstar, and that was how it began.

What was the audition process like?

SO: The first audition was like any other — standing in front of a blue screen acting with the casting director who is reading with you. The call back at Rockstar was a little different as they wanted to test out various combinations with actors. When Ned Luke, who portrays Michael, and I went in the room together we immediately had something. We both felt we had some sort of chemistry together, True West with some combative, male aggression thing. We felt good, but you leave the room and it’s no longer in your hands. Lucky for me, Rockstar agreed.

Have you done meth before? Speed? Did that help in your portrayal of Trevor?

SO: Nope. Not a drug guy. More of a craft beer and wine guy. The portrayal of Trevor was acting — trust the words and the actions will take you where you need to be.

Was the recording process for Trevor different than for other games you’ve worked on? How?

SO: This was my first game of this magnitude, and my other experience was very minimal. The recording process was 90% captured during the motion capture when we were suited up and our faces, bodies, and voices were all captured together. In the studio recording it was always fun — a script, a microphone, a picture, and it was off to the races.

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