“One of my favourite things about doing these conventions is meeting all of you,” said Elias Toufexis to the audience that saw him during his panel on the Saturday of MCM Birmingham Comic Con.
Elias has appeared in sci-fi fantasy shows such as Alphas, Smallville, Supernatural and more recently in Bitten and The Expanse. He is also known for portraying Andriy Kobin in the video games Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist, as well as the protagonist Adam Jensen in Deus Ex: Human Revolution and its upcoming sequel, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
Asked if there was a favourite TV show he worked on that he’d love to revisit, he responded that he loved working on Supernatural, in which he played Ansem Weems. “That was really fun, particularly because the character was fun,” said Elias. He also mentioned the recent sci-fi show The Expanse, based on James S. A. Corey’s series of novels, in which he plays the spy Kenzo. “It’s character based stories where lots of characters grow,” said Elias of the show. “It’s really cool. It’s kind of like back to the roots of science fiction. I had a great time.” He then noted how he plays good guys in video games and bad guys in TV shows.
Talk then turned to Deus Ex: Human Revolution and the game’s multiple scenarios. “The best thing about playing Adam Jensen is that I have to justify every choice that the player would make,” said Elias. “I have to either record or performance capture every choice that the player could possibly make. Then I have to justify that as an actor. It doesn’t matter if I disagree or not.” As an example, he explained a moment in the game where a girl dies and her mother asks how she died. “You can choose to say, ‘You don’t want to know’, or you can choose to say, ‘I don’t know, nobody told me’, or you could choose to vividly describe exactly how she died. I was reading and I thought, ‘Why would anyone pick this choice? Who would make that choice?’ But you have to justify it anyway.”
Elias revealed that Deus Ex: Human Revolution took four years to make, in which he would work four hour sessions, two or three times a month. As a comparison, he noted that the upcoming sequel, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, took two years, but he would go in for weeks at a time. “There’s so much to record, so much to performance capture,” he said. “We’ve finished the game, for all intents and purposes, but I’m going back next week to do a trailer, probably do a few pick-ups.” He was hopeful that there would be more Deus Ex games in the future, describing how Adam Jensen was such a well loved character. He then added that Eidos Montreal initially weren’t going to bring Adam back for the sequel. “They were going to go a completely different way, but the fans loved him so much that the creators realised that and said, ‘We got to get him back, we got to make this series about him rather than just about that world.’”
When asked about fan reactions to his work, Elias recounted a touching story about meeting a fan of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. “This young guy was in a wheelchair, paralysed from the waist down. He says to me, ‘I played Deus Ex, and I forgot that I was paralysed.’ When I hear people say things like that, it has very little to do with me personally, it’s more to do with the game, but when I meet people like that who are excited to meet me, that’s what makes it all worth it.”
When asked about the success of Far Cry Primal, in which Elias voiced protagonist Takkar, he said that when recording for the game he wasn’t so sure if gamers would go for it. “This is kind of a caveman-esque survival game. But people seem to love it.” He added that he enjoyed working on the game because it was not in English. “I had to learn a whole new language. We sat around for a couple of days going to these classes and this language, it was made up, but they based it on this Proto-European language.”
Being the protagonist, Elias just had to voice his character in Far Cry Primal (since we don’t see Takkar), but everyone else had to go through performance capture and therefore remember their lines from the made up language. “One day I went in to the mo-cap stage and fed my dialogue to these actors,” recalled Elias. “I remember them all getting mad at me because they had to memorise it all and I was just reading it off of the page.”
Being a Batman fan, Elias was then asked how he would voice the Dark Knight. He began by saying that he was really looking forward to the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. “I like that all they did was modulate his voice it seems,” said Elias of Batman’s voice from the footage he has seen so far. “He’s talking normally and he has to modulate his voice. I like that. People complain about Christian Bale in The Dark Knight, but he has to change his voice, because people are going to recognise Bruce Wayne in that suit. If I were doing it, I’d probably do something similar, probably closer to Christian Bale.”
When asked if there were ever any moments where he messed up a line when recording a game, Elias said that if that happened, he would just redo it. But performance capture was a different thing. “When you have the tight suit on you, with the dots all over you and the camera on your face, you can’t stop, because a lot of times the camera is controlled by the player. So you can’t cut and redo it. I’m sure there’s footage of me screwing up, I’m sure there’s Jensen going, ‘Son of a bitch.’”
A question from the audience asked what the favourite part of making a game was. “When the game comes out, meeting people like you is one of my favourite parts, definitely.” said Elias. “In terms of making it, I would say the performance capture.” He described how he loves performance capture and that it’s “really a lot of fun.”
An attendee then asked Elias about having to keep secrets when it comes to working on massive gaming franchises. “All I do is keep secrets,” he responded. “I lied to my friends and family for three years about Deus Ex: [Mankind Divided].” He explained that he knew straight away that Adam Jensen would be back for the sequel, but he couldn’t say anything to fans, friends, family or press when questioned about whether or not he would be returning. Also, when the trailer for Far Cry Primal was released, he ignored people on Twitter asking him if he was in it. “I’m sure I’ve already lied to you all at least two or three times in this panel. That’s just the way it is, man. I sign one of the NDA’s.”
He was then asked if he were to have his own augmentation, what it would be? He explained that he would have the CASIE augmentation. “The one that sends out pheromones, so everybody does what you want them to do, or you can convince people to do things,” he said. “I think I’d do that. In the end, that’s the best super power. It’s like the bad guy in Jessica Jones. You just constantly tell people what you want. You don’t need to be able to jump out of a plane if you tell the pilot [to] land the plane.”
Talk turned to the show Alphas, in which he played Cornell Scipio, who is able to produce fire by rubbing his hands together. “Alphas was basically Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. came out,” said Elias of the show. “I loved that character. I did burn myself a couple of times, but I got to start fires!”
Elias was finally asked what he expects the players to get from the games he works on. “It depends on the game, right?” he responded, describing how Far Cry Primal was dumb fun, but Dues Ex: Human Revolution had a lot of social and political commentary. “Especially in this new one, Mankind Divided, it’s all about racism really. You’ll see when you play it, a lot of it has to do with racial issues.”