On Saturday June 17th at Awesome Con, Nolan North spoke at his Q&A about his career as an actor and took questions from the audience. Nolan North is best known for his talent of bring animated and game characters to life. His most popular and well-known character is Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series but he also lent his voice to numerous other roles. Roles that include Desmond Miles from the Assassin’s Creed series, Ghost in Destiny, various characters on Rick and Morty, Penguin in Batman: Arkam, David in The Last of Us, Superboy in Young justice, and Deadpool in Deadpool the game. He has not only done voice acting but also some on screen acting. His on screen work includes Peter Hastings in Pretty Little Liars, a USS Vengeance bridge officer in Star Trek Into Darkness, and Jerry “Mocap King” Lansing in Con Man.
That list is only a sliver of his work. North has done many more voices and characters, which he mentioned in his enthusiastic talk. One of the more interesting characters was for Nickelodeon’s Breadwinners, a show about two ducks delivering bread to the citizens of Pongea. North voices a Viking beaver named Oonski in the show.
Though he has played many voices, one voice North says he prefers the most is his own. Two characters he plays with his own voice are Drake and LCpl Kojo “Romeo” Agu in Halo 3: ODST. The Halo character surprised some people as the character was African American but portrayed by Nolan North. He mentioned that there was a magazine that had Nathan Fillion as Gunnery Sergeant Reynolds, Alan Tudyk as a UNSC Marine, and Romeo as “unknown voice actor”.
This mention proceeded a short dialogue on how being a voice actor gives you the opportunity to play so many parts and characters while “on camera you are that guy” but voice acting you can “play any person, any thing, any color”. Though not brought up in his talk, another example of odd characters North has voiced was in the Rick and Morty episode “Something Ricked This Way Comes”. North voices Scroopy Noopers a Plutonian activist and son of the king trying to convince Jerry to say Pluto is not a planet in order to save Pluto.
Beginnings of a Career and On Screen Acting
Even though Nolan North today is a successful actor he didn’t start out that way. He originally went to school for journalism but came to realize after a year of reporting that it wasn’t for him. In college North did some acting and stand up comedy. While living in New York he did Theater and stand up again. It wasn’t until he moved out to California and got a role in Port Charles as Dr. Chris Ramsey that he was introduced to a voice over agent. From there his career changed and over the years has brought many great characters to life.
Beyond his roles as a voice actor, Nolan North still does on screen work. One show that he continues to be apart of is Pretty Little Liars as Peter Hastings. When he does get to appear in an episode North told us that he doesn’t know what has happened between the twenty episodes since the last Peter Hastings filming. The only script he gets is the one for that particular episode but he pulls it off and the episode works.
North also stars as Jerry “Mocap King” Lansing in Con Man with Alan Tudyk and Nathon Fillion. His character is a motion capture actor who does everything. The series is about a former sci-fi actor from the show “Spectrum”, Wray Nerely played by Alan Tudyk, who now attends cons and comicbook events. While his former co-star Jack Moore, played by Nathan Fillion, became a big star. Also appearing in the show are other celebrities from Sci-fi shows including Firefly. Season 1 and 2 of Con Man are now streaming on Comic-Con HQ. You can also download and play for free Con Man the game on Android and iPhone. In the game you get to manage your own Con.
From small screen to the big screen Nolan North also had a very small role as a bridge officer on the USS Vengeance in Star Trek Into Darkness. The role came to North as he was working on lines as radio chatter for the movie Super 8. At that time he didn’t know who JJ Abrams was because as North puts it “he is the most unassuming guy” but a nice guy. In turn JJ Abrams found out that Nolan North did Nathan Drake. Because JJ Abrams and his son were fans of Uncharted North got a role in Star Trek. It didn’t matter the size of the role he got to play on a spaceship.
Video Games and Voice Acting
Back to video games, one role that Nolan North is known for is as Ghost in Bungie’s Destiny. In fact he missed Friday because of a line reading for the game. When Destiny first debuted Peter Dinklage was the voice actor for Ghost. However, Nolan North replaced him and has continued to provide the voice for Destiny and Destiny 2. An audience member had a question regarding what it was like to take over for Peter Dinklage. First North didn’t know he was replacing an actor in the game just got a call to audition. He did eventually find out whom he was reading to replace and when The Taken King came out an update replaced Dinkladge with North. The reason this happened as Nolan North described it was because it’s a long game that will go on for years. Peter Dinkladge is a busy actor and scheduling to compete with projects like Game of Thrones and time change wasn’t working out for this type of commitment to a game. Therefore they found another voice actor for the role who could continue voicing Ghost as the game progressed. He was also surprised the switch happened in a live update.
On roles of game characters, a character is what the player makes them to be. Asked if Drake was a killer, North replied, “the game wouldn’t be as successful if it was called slap fight”. He went on to say the player makes Drake a killer, though you do have an option for stealth. Drake never really recognized a kill or headshot and as North says, “It’s a game, they are bad guys”. Though David from The Last of Us was different. So a takeaway from this is a game is what the player makes of it.
Nolan North also brought up a good point that you are Drake or any other game character while actors like North just provide the voices. After spending hours and hours in a game you own that experience. This is a reason why video game movies don’t do well because it’s not the same as your experience, not the way the player remembers how it played out. According to North one good thing the Assassin’s Creed movie did was use a story not seen in the games and fans of the game wouldn’t contend with there own versions of what happened. Making that one experience unique. This made a lot of sense the way Nolan North described how people see video games as our stories and experiences.
At the end of the Q&A he thanked the fans for watching the shows and playing the games. Without people playing and watching the game sand shows he and other actors wouldn’t be here. It was also one of the most entertaining talks I went to at Awesome Con as he gave he used many voices throughout his talk.
As much as the fans enjoy going to the Con, Nolan North and other guests also had fun. Nolan North talked about how the best thing about Cons is meeting people, like Stan Lee. Celebrities are just as much fans as everyone else. It is not only Cons but also in work, meeting other actors is a privilege.