“It was totally surreal.”
Head of the Gears of War franchise Rod Fergusson has confirmed that rapper Drake and actress Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting, The Riches) were both nearly voice actors for Jace Stratton and Samantha Byrne in Gears of War 3.
Initially revealed in a Twitter thread that revolved around memorable video game quotes, Tony Rowe, a tester on the game Jurassic Park: Trespasser, said he remembered a cut line in that game where Driver said “They should’ve sent a policeman or a ninja.” After Driver was tagged in the tweet, she came in to respond to Trespasser producer Seamus Blackley, asking why shy was fired from Gears of War. Fergusson and Cliff Bleszinski quickly hopped on the tread thereafter confirming she was, in fact, once involved with Gears 3.
I loved voicing that game. Do you know I was fires off Gears of War cause I couldn’t shout loud enough? Only job I was ever fired from … never liked the game tbh
— Minnie Driver (@driverminnie) January 11, 2019
IGN reached out to Fergusson and received more concrete info on the matter, including exactly why Driver wasn’t kept on the game. When describing the recording sessions with Driver, Fergusson said:
“It was totally surreal. Made worse by the fact that I was listening in from North Carolina while she recorded in LA. We were looking for an actress with an interesting accent to play Samantha Byrne. Our Casting Director, Chris Borders, was able to hire Minnie through her agent without an audition, because why would you audition an Academy Award nominated actress.
“I was shocked that she was willing to come in and I think it was because of a nephew or someone she knew that liked the game. Anyway, she was awesome on the normal dialogue but as we got to the in-combat heavily projected lines we realized that we couldn’t get her to yell loud enough to cut through. And as we recorded, my mind kept flashing forward to the 500-1000 combat chatter lines we’d need to do later (“Incoming!”) and it was clear that this was not the right role for her.
“So part way through the session we determined this wasn’t going to work and we didn’t want to waste any more of her time. Ultimately, this led to Claudia Black coming on as Sam.”
What’s more, IGN found out that Drake was originally cast as Jace Stratton prior to the role going to Michael B. Jordan.
“It’s happened the other way as well where an actor decides to quit after understanding what’s required to record a Gears of War game. For example, Drake (yes, that Drake) was cast as Jace Stratton in Gears 3. He was amazing! But after the first session of yelling in-combat dialog, his manager reached out the next day to say that Drake couldn’t continue in the role because of the demands on his voice. Totally made sense and ultimately this led to Michael B. Jordan being cast as Jace.”
For more on Gears of War, read about why Gears 5’s tone reminds us of God of War (in a great way) and check out how Gears Tactics is coming to PC.
Colin Stevens is a news writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.