PopGeeks.net recently had the chance to sit down and speak actress Patricia Summersett. Very recently, Summersett appeared as the voice for the iconic role of Princess Zelda for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. In the game, she provides the voice for the latest iteration of the legendary character for the game series that has withstood the test of time for three decades. Here is what Patricia had to say about her experience working on the such a classic gaming franchise and some of her other acting projects:
PopGeeks: I’m curious about what your audition process was like for Breath of the Wild? Was it a typical casting call or voice-over? Was it steeped in secrecy? Were their pseudonyms for the project to protect its identity?
Patricia Summersett: Yes. it was all these things. My experience auditioning for the project was straightforward in that I submitted my materials to casting directors in Los Angeles via my sister. My older sister had lived in Los Angeles for some time and helped me distribute my materials upon arriving. It led to an audition for a secret project. I had no idea what I was auditioning for and just was going by character descriptions. I actually didn’t discover what the role was until well after I had auditioned for it, had a call back several weeks later, eventually was notified that I’d landed a role and then, only several weeks after that, was I was told “You are Zelda”. So while an audition process shrouded in secrecy is pretty typical (pseudonyms — indeed there were those too, though I’ll refrain from saying what they are just in case they are still in use) I think suddenly finding out that you are Zelda is something pretty untypical! I hope to be flabbergasted like this more often!
PopGeeks: Getting to create an actual English voice for Princess Zelda in a mainline game for The Legend of Zelda series is pretty groundbreaking, profound and revolutionary. What does it mean for you to get to create a voice for such an iconic, classic character that’s near and dear to the hearts of many fans?
Patricia Summersett: It is so many things to me. It is truly a gift and forever a highlight in my career not just as a voice actor but as an actor in general. Certainly I felt the largeness of what I was doing while it was happening and I feel it now. I was aware of the hype around the game and have great respect for the franchise (I always have; I grew up with it and love it). I grew up with the love of the warrior princess fantasy and the desire to portray strong females in all mediums. Every day people reach out to me and send me messages, inspiring words, fan art and thoughts on the character. I welcome it and hope to connect with as many people as possible through it.
PopGeeks: Once you booked the part of Princess Zelda, did you feel any nerves or pressure in voicing a character for the game? Was it a nice relief to see how overwhelmingly acclaimed the game as become and people have taken to your performance of Zelda?
Patricia Summersett: Yes, it was a relief. Obviously there was hype around the game leading up to the release, but until a game is released, scored, played and people come to a consensus, gosh… you just really don’t know until then. Any number of things can happen to dismantle a project, regardless of the best efforts of any wonderful team. An easy inspiration from which to draw while recording in secret for a year was Zelda’s own theme of the Silent Princess. It made a lot of sense for me during this process. I felt I was mirroring (in some tiny way) a version of her journey. Though obviously the fate of the world was not at stake… haha!
PopGeeks: I’m curious about the recording process for a Nintendo project like this and how integrated the Japanese producers are in the process. Do they work with you and give you any direction? Is there a language barrier at all in making sure the English vocal performance is just as authentic? Or, do you strictly work with an American team of producers, and it’s very insulated?
Patricia Summersett: My experience recording was with the American team. And it’s definitely a team. Several people weigh in on the process and collaborate to approve everything. Jamie Mortellaro was a wonderful director to work with; I can’t speak highly enough about him: he’s positive, generous and concise. I often had members of the Nintendo team either in the room or online for the sessions. Everything is kept very secret of course. It was a special room to be in for every session.
PopGeeks: Breath of the Wild was the launch title for the new Nintendo Switch console. So when you sign on, were you able to tell your agent or manager, “Put it in the contract! I want my Nintendo Switch!” I mean I would. Getting a copy of the game wouldn’t be enough. Give me the console, the same, the extra accessories, all the Amiibo, so I can just go home and swim in a pile of Nintendo products. So, did they make sure to get you set up with the Switch after the game launch?
Patricia Summersett: In retrospect maybe I should have asked for this. I totally didn’t ask for it (my bad). I honestly don’t really care at this point. I don’t even have my amiibo yet, so can’t comment about it. But it’s coming! I actually really want the NES Classic edition… I’m sad they are discontinuing it!
PopGeeks: The Legend of Zelda series has withstood the test of time for over 30 years. What do you think it is about these games, stories and characters that they have endured this long?
Patricia Summersett: I love how the stories are universal and relatable. They have to be to stand the test of time, but I also particularly enjoy how the story of Princess Zelda has been refreshed, and she has been given thicker flesh, a nuanced through line. I think this iteration, or reinvention, of her is one of many examples of why Nintendo continues to endure. They always innovate and adapt with the years. They inject the classics with new blood, which is what any great story does.
PopGeeks: How did you get the acting and performance bug?
Patricia Summersett: I always had it. I began competitive figure skating at age 6, and I constantly performed music and dance with my three sisters. This eventually led to acting as an adult. But as children, we were big hams and grew from each others playful company. I’ll tell you… my ham-bug endures too.
PopGeeks: Now that you’ve gotten to play Zelda, you have like gaming and geek cred for life. Do you think you will be doing the convention circuit at all anytime soon? Will fans get the chance to meet you at E3, Comic-Con, or PAX anytime soon? I imagine fans would love the chance to meet and speak with you in person.
Patricia Summersett: One of my great joys will be to travel to conventions, meet fans, cosplayers, etc. I’m doing this interview from Kuwait! My first festival appearance is at the Kuwait City Comfest. The fact that I lept at the opportunity speaks for itself. Bring it on.
PopGeeks: I enjoyed your work on the sci-fi TV series Helix as Commander Winger, which you joined the cast for in season 2. What was your experience getting to work on such an intense show with a lot high stakes and thrills?
Patricia Summersett: My highlights of working on this show are:
1) Hanging out on set with Billy Campbell who is so great and, to me, will forever be “The Rocketeer” (I can’t help myself).
2) Running around the woods with a fake gun, barking orders to a group of soldiers.
3) Amazing prosthetics for my death scene.
PopGeeks: You are going to appear in a film for legendary filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, Mother! How did you like getting to work with such an accomplished auteur like Aronofsky?
Patricia Summersett: This was a fantastic experience. I obviously can’t speak of the content yet, but working with him was a dream come true. The other people I was able to work with and observe on set… it was a master class unto itself. I’m a huge fan of “Requiem for a Dream” and “The Fountain”, and his ability to create beautiful surreal imagery coupled with a raw, cutting truth. His work is full of emotion for me. Yeah… you are reminding me that I had a pretty incredible year!
PopGeeks: When will you be returning to play Princess Zelda again?
Patricia Summersett: If I did know that, it would probably be a secret! Right now I’m just really appreciating and celebrating what is right in front of me!
Thank you for Patricia Summersett for taking the time out of her schedule to speak with us. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, featuring Summersett as Princess Zelda is now available for the Nintendo Switch console.