If you’ve heard Joshua Rosfield, the younger brother of Final Fantasy XVI protagonist Clive Rosfield, in trailers and gameplay, there’s a good chance you find that voice very familiar. That’s because it’s Logan Hannan, the voice of Hugo de Rune from Asobo Studio’s A Plague Tale series.
Naturally, the voices Hannan uses between Joshua and Hugo are different but there’s a young familiarity to it and it turns out, it was actually his performance as the latter that landed him the role of the former, according to FFXVI localization director Michael-Christopher Koji Fox.
Koji says the auditions for Joshua’s voice were some of the first to happen. The team chose an actor that was very close to puberty, he says, but at the time, it seemed like it’d work out just fine. In some instances within game development, an actor can record all of their lines in a block of time, but in other instances, that’s not the case. Because FFXVI uses motion capture, scenes had to be performed first before voice lines could be recorded. This meant that the first Joshua actor couldn’t record all of his lines in one go. Unfortunately, puberty hit during recording, and “he could no longer sound like an 8-year-old.” He sounded like someone who was 15 years old, Koji says, and “it wasn’t going to work.”
“And it was at this time that I had played enough of A Plague Tale that I thought, ‘Okay, rather than doing another set of auditions, I know exactly who we want. I played this game and he was great in it. Let’s go with [Hannan] from A Plague Tale,’” Koji says. “That ended up working out.”
It’s the scariest aspect of voice recording with children, Koji says, noting that it’s not uncommon. “I imagine no one’s ever been angrier about puberty” than the original actor for Joshua, he adds.
As for why Hannan, Koji says it’s because his performance in the A Plague Tale series encapsulates everything FFXVI developer Creative Business Unit III needed in Joshua.
“When we got the scripts, it was like ‘Okay, we’re going to have this very, very intense scene with a very, very young character,’” Koji says in reference to the murder of Joshua in FFXVI. “We knew having a young kid be there and be happy, we had to put him through literal hell. Because the focus is to make this as real as possible, we didn’t want to go the route of hiring an adult actor and have them do a child’s voice because unless you get someone who’s really, really good at that, they can end up sounding fake.
“On the other hand, we’d be asking an 8-year-old actor to act out the scenes that are super violent. It’s an M-rated game, so we needed to find someone that can produce this visceral performance but also make it sound real.”
If you’ve played A Plague Tale: Innocence, or its sequel A Plague Tale: Requiem, then you know Hannan is quite capable of that considering what Hugo endures in those games.
“I’m thinking, ‘Who did this?’ [while playing A Plague Tale] and I see that it’s a kid at that age and I’m like, ‘This is who we need to bring into the project’ while thinking there’s no way he’s going to say ‘Yes,’” Koji says.
CBUIII contacted Hannan and he was very interested. After his audition, the team thought he was the perfect fit for Joshua.
“I mean, he’s screaming in anguish and that’s very difficult for even an older actor to do without making it sound kind of fake and cheesy, and I think we got these really, really real performances,” Koji says. “Despite Logan being so young, he’s such a great actor and it was such fun to work with him and hopefully, I can use him again in the future.
“Although he’s getting older, so his voice is going to change so I’ll need to cast him for a different type of role, but he’s such a great actor,” Koji adds.
Joshua’s older brother, Clive, is voiced by Ben Starr, a relative newcomer to video game acting. Koji says Starr actually auditioned for a different role, for someone who works with Clive during one of the game’s opening missions.
“It was an audition for one of those characters that Ben Starr came in and he auditioned for that character, and we heard it in the studio and the director was like, ‘Okay, this is good, but you’ve got a really great voice. Can you read this script?” And they handed him the Clive script, even though he came in for a different [role].”
Koji listened and immediately heard the character of Clive.
“After hearing maybe 20 other professional voice actors that had done lots of different games, lots of different movies and theater, and you hear all these different voices thinking, ‘Is this going to be Clive or not?’ And you’re on the fence like, ‘Maybe it could be Clive, I don’t know,’” Koji says. “The minute that we heard Ben Starr, everyone knew that this is the voice, this is the voice of Clive, and all of a sudden, all of the dialogue that I had translated or written up to then, I could hear it in that voice and we knew immediately that was the voice.
“So he came in auditioning for a part that has maybe like 10 lines and he ends up getting to be the hero. I think that was really exciting. It was one of those ‘Eureka’ types of moments where you hear it and immediately you know.”
Koji says after finding Starr, they let the Japanese team hear him as Clive and that team agreed he was the perfect voice for FFXVI’s protagonist. Even though CBUIII has cast a Japanese voice actor for Clive as well, FFXVI producer Naoki Yoshida still plays the game in English because of Starr’s performance, according to Koji.
We’ll all get to hear more of Joshua and Clive in less than a month when FFXVI hits PlayStation 5 on June 22.
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