During Gamescon Middle East running this past weekend, I got the chance to sit down with Doug Cockle, the voice behind one of gaming’s most well-known characters, Geralt from CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher franchise. Cockle was nominated for Game Award for Best Performance and won Golden Joystick Award Best Gaming Performance for his voice acting on the critically acclaimed The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. One of the many things people praised about the game at the time was how the characters’ voices always added emotion to the situation and rarely sounded dull. I got the chance to ask Cockle a number of questions about his work on The Witcher franchise, what other roles he wants to play in the future, as well as his film and television background.
Mostafa: Hey, how are you doing?
Doug Cockle: I am fine, how are you?
Mostafa: I am good. Being the voice of Geralt, one of gaming’s biggest characters, starting from the first Witcher all the way to Witcher III. How do you think the character developed over the course of these three instalments?
Cockle: Over the course of the three games, Geralt changed quite a bit actually. He changed because I changed, and because the writers changed, and out of necessity I think. In Witcher 1, Geralt was more emotionless. He was more stoic. He had very little emotional life, and through the development of Witcher 2 and 3, writers found the opportunity to give Geralt more emotional connection to his world, and the people in his world in general. That was a really interesting and fun journey to go on, for me and him.
Mostafa: Considering Geralt is relatively your biggest achievement, and the one you won most awards for. How did it change change your work on other characters? Did it influence it in any way?
Cockle: I think it did. I think before I was cast as Geralt, I was often cast as the slightly gruff anti-hero character, and then Geralt was the kind of pinnacle or culmination of that in my career anyways. But since recording Geralt, what seems to happen now is they want me to do the same kind of voice, knowing people are going to recognise that voice. So now I am in the process of trying to convince people….
Mostafa: to get out of this mold.
Cockle: Exactly. I can do other things, you know?
Mostafa: Considering you want to get out of this mold, what is the character in other games you wished you could have played? what type of character you wish to play in the future as well?
Cockle: Do you know, I really don’t know if there is another character in any other game out there now that I like to play. The thing is they are already done. However, something I haven’t been able to do a lot of in games is comedy. In some ways, there isn’t a lot of comedy in video games so the opportunity isn’t really there. I have done a little bit though. It is always fun to walk into a studio into a studio that is just a bit silly.
Mostafa: and just let loose and be yourself.
Cockle: Yeah, exactly. so that’s something I hope I could do in the future.
Mostafa: I remember even Geralt had some little humorous snippets in between all the action and serious fighting with fire spells and enchanted swords.
Cockle: Yeah, for example when he is trying to herd up the pigs or talking to his horse after taking magic mushrooms.
Mostafa: Are the recording always spontaneous or do you sometimes improvise and add your own lines?
Cockle: Very occasionally, it is slightly spontaneous. But mostly it is scripted, especially in cutscenes and story-related dialogue. You can’t change or add to that of course.
Mostafa: Considering you worked in television and film as well earlier in your career, how is it different than video games?
Cockle: The way I always describe it is, because the actor doesn’t have the props, the set, other actors, and the costumes to help them get into character, it is a little harder doing video games. The voice actor in a booth has to rely much more on their imagination. I can’t really describe how that works, but it comes with experience and getting used to the work environment around you to pull out the voice for the character you are playing.
Mostafa: Thank you so much for taking the time and sitting down with Gameranx.
Cockle: No worries at all. Any time.