An Interview With Patricia Summersett, Princess Zelda from BoTW
Earlier this spring, Breath of the Wild had its much anticipated debut for the Nintendo Switch and Wii U. With the new Legend of Zelda title, Nintendo brought gamers a much more immersive experience than ever before. Among the features that set this title apart from its predecessors was a greater depth of character for Princess Zelda, who had more voice acting in BoTW than in previous games.
The voice behind Zelda is Patricia Summersett, a classically trained actor with a background in stage, screen, and voiceover performances. She holds a Masters of Classical Acting from The Royal Central School in London, UK and a BFA in Theatre Performance from Concordia University in Montreal. Born and raised a Yooper in Upper Michigan, Patricia is currently a dual citizen between America and Canada. Gamers will most likely recognize her vocal performances as Hope Jensen and Galina Voronina from the Assassin's Creed games and as Ash from Rainbow Six Siege.
We got a chance to talk to Princess Zelda herself to get to know the voice behind the character and learn a little about what it was like to take part in the making of BoTW.
Credit: Andrea Hausmann
GameSkinny: As a classically trained actress, how did you get into doing voiceover work for video games?
Patricia: "I began pursuing voice work during my undergrad theatre degree, so had voiced several games by the time I studied for my Masters of Classical Acting. One of the main questions I asked myself obsessively during (and after) studying Shakespeare and other prose was “what makes this relevant?" Is this form dead or alive? How do I best communicate to an audience and breathe life into this story?
I’ve found that acting for, and collaborating in, the world of video games has those answers built into the work. It is such a dynamic industry, it’s popping at the seams with vitality. It’s a perfect fit for me."
GS: How does video game voiceover work differ from your live acting work? Does it pose different challenges?
P: "I think the challenges come as much from each project as they do the genre. There is a lot of crossover too. If it’s subtle, small work in front of a microphone, it’s similar to ADR or TV/film. If it’s video game barks, it’s more like live theatre. If it’s motion capture, it feels like a hybrid of TV and theatre. So it really depends on the project and the transformation required for the character."
GS: How did you prepare for a role like Zelda, where your character hasn't had this much of a voice before?
P: "Like any role that requires building a character, I start with the script and clues I’ve been given. I approach roles from my theatre training and the questions I’ve learned to ask through that process. In this particular case I also had the reference of a thirty year franchise at my disposal for research and imagery as well as the input and vision of the Nintendo team to guide me. So I was well supported in the process."
GS: Now that you've gotten your Switch and played some of the game, how does it feel to see how everything has come together?
P: "It’s fantastical. It’s immense. To be a part of this epic game and to be working in the presence of so many incredible artists who came together to create not just the game itself, but the longstanding series of games... talk about a humbling experience!"
GS: Did you expect the incredible reception that the game has received worldwide?
P: "I wasn’t sure what to expect. Of course I had a feeling it could be very big, but really, I’ve learned to approach all of my involvements with cautious optimism. Because until something is released, you really never know what can happen to it."
GS: What has been your favorite part about being the voice of Zelda
P: "Right now I suppose it’s either that I’m fulfilling a childhood dream of becoming a warrior princess, or that I actually get to see new parts of the world and meet amazing people by having done acting work that was already hugely enjoyable. I’m very appreciative of both of these things in the scheme of my life. They were/are both dreams of mine."
Credit: Andrea Hausmann
GS: If we want to follow your work, what performances can we look out for in the future?
P: "I have some film projects--Maz, Fareed, and a part in Mother!--and some TV roles that will release in the next year. I’ll be making announcements about some new games shortly. And hopefully releasing some new music in the next six months. I’ll be sharing those, as well as my convention adventures and lots of fan art etc. on my accounts! On Twitter and Instagram, I’m @Summersett_. You can find me on Facebook, and I also have a website."
*Header credit: Tristan Brand
For more Nintendo news, be sure to check out our upcoming coverage of Nintendo's E3 announcements as the date approaches!