Recently, we published an interview documenting a conversation that we had with a couple of Blizzard developers about Diablo IV. But those two individuals weren't the only people involved in the title that we had the chance to catch up with, as during our recent trip to London, we also sat down with voice actor Joseph Balderrama, the very individual who brought to life the game's male version of the Sorcerer, to chat about being part of such a storied game franchise, working in the games industry, and of course his very unusual inspiration for the role.
Gamereactor: What is it like to come into a franchise as storied and well loved as Diablo?
Balderrama: I think at first it's a little bit intimidating to be perfectly honest, but as I was playing this sorcerer I had to shake that off really fast. But you know, it was great, and it was a huge privilege. I went out of my way to try not to look at too much Diablo stuff, so as not to overwhelm myself with all the history and the success of the game, and I wanted to bring my own angle, my own energy to it without that weight of expectation. I intentionally avoided delving too deep into what came before it and tried to find something, hopefully, that is new and bringing something fresh and hopefully that people like about the game.
What did you look at for inspiration for the role?
This is going to sound really weird, but I looked at Arnold Schwarzenegger. I don't know why and it's all super left-field, but basically the Sorcerer, he's an ethereal being who can control the weather and is all-powerful and floats et cetera, so that's a really difficult thing to sink your teeth into because it can literally be anything, right? However, what we were trying to find was a character who was contained, all-powerful, but always in control and stuff like that, and so, I don't know why, in one of my early recording sessions I just had this picture of Schwarzenegger in the Terminator. I just had this image of how he walks through, always in control, unflappable even if he is being pelted with bullets. So, even though you'll be pleased to know I'm not doing an Arnold voice for this character, thank goodness, I sort of based his energy on that. Not sonically, but sort of more globally if you like. That was my inspiration randomly, so thank you Arnold.
What's the difference to working on a video game to say working in other parts of the entertainment world?
Well, there's much less sitting around and you don't have to learn your lines. So, that's all a bonus. But no, to be honest, if you asked me which one I prefer, I love working in video games, I love working on all kinds of animation and voice over, because it's so concentrated and all the time you spend at the location where you do your work, there is no off-time, there is no sitting around in your trailer looking at Instagram. You do the work all the time so it's really intense and really gratifying and challenging and you go and you finish and then you're done.
Also, one of the things I really, truly am blessed with and just love about voice acting is that it doesn't matter what you look like, where you come from, who people think you are. If you sound right for that part, you get the part. And that is something, coming from mixed-ethnic heritage, I find liberating, and I find it's been one of the luckiest things to happen to me as an actor that I found voice work early, and particularly in games because there was a lot of opportunities for people of my particular ethnic heritage to work in. I was lucky that a few of the outlets that cast games in the UK were generous with me and gave me work and Liquid Violet cast me in this game, and I'm so lucky that those people have put their trust in me.
So, the main difference is that there is a lot more freedom. It's limitless and it's not defined by your appearance or your perceived sort of... anything.
When Diablo IV actually launches, will you be playing as the Sorcerer or will you be choosing a different class?
I think I've heard enough of my own voice, but I'm dying to know what the female Sorcerer sounds like. We both had to say the same stuff and I have never heard her, I know what she looks like and that's about it. We passed, you know, ships in the night, so I really want to see what she did with it. I think that's who I would play as, the female Sorcerer.
What was one of the most fun scenes you had to record? What are you excited for people to see in Diablo IV?
Without being spoilery about it... It's a difficult one to choose from. What I really enjoyed about the character is that he is always unflappable. He had an air of almost consummate control, and so some of the scenes I enjoyed most were in increasingly crazier environments in terms of death and carnage and gore and madness, yet you have this character who slides in and is like "hmm... strange". So, not to be too specific about a favourite moment but I think as the game gets to a more heightened point, the cooler he was, I found the more fun it was to play with that contrast of having a sort of little icecube of calm in a whirlwind of death and devilry.
Thanks to both Joseph Balderrama and Blizzard for talking with us. You can check out Diablo IV for yourself on June 6, when the game debuts on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox consoles.