- Posted: 2:41 PM, November 15, 2012
She has one of the most recognizable voices on the planet, but who is Jen Taylor?
The Post Game Report had a chance to speak to the Seattle native and delve a little bit into the person behind the voice that has been with Halo players in the form of Cortana for the better part of the past 11 years.
In the interview posted below, Taylor dishes on what it’s like being such a gaming icon, how the role of Cortana has changed over the past eleven years and what may be in store for the future of the franchise.
[WARNING: Spoilers Below]
Post Game Report: So, would it be offensive right off the bat to ask you to perform as Cortana for the entirety of this interview?
Jen Taylor: Hahaha! I don’t think it would be offensive, I just think it would be a little difficult because I’m sick. Would that make you feel at home?
PGR: I was just kidding, but it would have been amazing. How often do you get asked to do the whole Cortana thing by strangers?
Taylor: You know that never happens to me [in public]. When I go to the conferences, E3 or something like that, people will ask me when I’m signing autographs, they might ask me to say something. I don’t get recognized. As a voice-over actor, you have that blessing I think. People don’t recognize you.
PGR: How is voice-acting for a video game different than the other types of acting you have done? Such as on-screen or on-stage?
Taylor: I’m mainly a theater actor. It depends on the voice gig in all honesty. Most times, you walk in that morning, they put the script in front of you, you spend an hour working on it and you’re done. It’s fast and furious whereas theater you rehearse for months before you are in front of anybody. You spend a lot more time with the characters which is why, with Halo, it’s different for me. We’ve been working on this for over a decade now, it’s rare for me to get to play a character in a video game that long. It’s a gift.
PGR: This is a much different Cortana than we have seen in the previous Halo games. How was that different for you?
Taylor: I get to have a much meatier part because she is the emotional heart of the story and she goes to a place that she’s never been. It was fun, different to delve into that.
PGR: We also may not get to see Cortana again, what was it like realizing that this may be the last time you play her?
Taylor: You may not. It’s so funny because we do it all out of order. It wasn’t honestly until we were finished and somebody forwarded me a review of somebody being so heartbroken over the fact that Cortana was gone, that I had the realization of “Oh right, Cortana is gone.” Because they do it so differently than how you see it, I had been carried along in the story and kind of put that out of my mind. All great things must come to an end, I guess is my response to that.
PGR: What is your relationship like with Steve [Downes], the voice behind Master Chief?
Taylor: We only met each other about a year ago. We had never met before. We worked on this game together for the first time ever. We were instantly sort of old friends it felt like to me. We click immediately, we both like to tease each other a lot so that’s what we do. Now, at this point, we call each other about once a week and talk about [Halo] because it feels like we’ve been through a battle together. We’ve shared this experience together and nobody else on the planet has been through it with us so we have a bond over that.
Invision for Xbox
PGR: What has it been like to see the outpouring of support and to see a character you play become such an icon?
Taylor: It’s a gift to be a part of something that affects people. You feel honored. It’s a blessing. I’m not confronted with that too much to be honest, but when I do read something like that, it’s lovely. There are thousands of people who have worked on this game so I feel like I’m just the stem of the cherry on top and I get noticed because it’s my voice. Of course it feels good, to think that you are impacting people who dig it. Even those who don’t, that’s interesting too, to see people get fired up about characters in a way that they wish they hadn’t. It’s interesting to see people when they are invested in something that you had a part in creating.
PGR: You’ve done a slew of other voice-acting jobs, including Princess Peach. That’s got to be a wild transition right?
Taylor: It’s a very different job. You come in and you’re there for four hours and they just want three different takes of these different sounds, whereas Halo is much more story driven, you’re paying attention to the arc of the story. In Mario Bros. you don’t have to do that as much.
PGR: Do you think that video game actors get overlooked? There are the Oscars, the Tonys, the Emmys, but there isn’t a video game version of that for actors?
Taylor: I guess there are Video Game Awards. I think that the fact that more and more people have asked to interview me because of this game, it speaks to the fact that people are becoming more aware of it. That’s really my barometer, that people are asking to interview me and people like Jennifer Hale, who’s a big star, are becoming household names. Voice-over actors, I think that would be a very strange award ceremony because we’re character actors, who don’t mind not being the star because we’re hard workers and are used to working without recognition. I think that would be a very funny award ceremony [laughs].