December 12, 2023

5 Min Read

assassins creed

Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR – Morena Baccarin on Bringing a Villain To Life

Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR offers players the chance to embody Master Assassins from across history in virtual reality, making full use of the parkour and combat abilities of Ezio Auditore, Connor, and Kassandra – but there’s a fourth character players inhabit as well: a nameless hacker who goes undercover at Abstergo, and answers to the company’s head of cybersecurity, Dominika Wilk. Dominika’s mix of corporate professionalism and ruthless ambition was brought to life by actress Morena Baccarin (Gotham, Deadpool), who performed facial capture and voice lines to the character. We spoke with Baccarin about her role as Dominika, and the experience of creating a character for VR.

What did you find interesting about the character of Dominika Wilk, and being able to portray her?

Morena Baccarin: I like the complexity of a character that sort of blurs the lines between good and bad. She has her agenda, and it's often against what the player was wanting. It was really interesting to try to be alluring, but then also rude and mean if I needed to be, and all the different options for all the different outcomes that could happen. So it was kind of fun to play a character where you have options for personality, and what part of her comes out.

How involved were you in the approvals for the character? Was there a point where you were like, “I wouldn't move like that?”

MB: I mean, not in the movement, but definitely in the look of things. We went through a lot of rounds of notes about, like, the placement of my eyes, or the size of my knees, which is such a weird thing! But when you look at it, you're like, “I don't look like that!” It's weird! [laughs] And it made me realize details about myself that I never paid attention to before, you know?

What was the actual work like for Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR? Was it facial capture or just voice-over?

MB: My part was face-capture and a voice-over; I didn't do the motion capture for the body.

Did you do something similar in your past videogame work?

MB: I did, but I don't remember having to wear that particular contraption. For that, I think they did photos and some motion-capture stuff, and then the voiceover separately. With this in particular, I think every line I was also wearing the camera-on-my-head thing.

[UN] [ACNVR] Morena Baccarin Interview - IMG 2

Did that take some getting used to?

MB: Definitely. It was a little heavy and a little cumbersome, and it did feel like a relief [to take it off] after having it on for a few hours. It's a little tiring, but considering what I typically do – films that have more action-driven things, where I have to do stunts and stuff, those are a lot more laborious than it is to wear an uncomfortable camera on your head and sit in a room and talk.

How does a VR project like this compare to your work in film and television? Is it something you’d like to do more of?

MB: I would say it's just different. It's really fun to do different kinds of things. For this particular thing, it was nice to explore vocally, you know, how you come across. But because they were also recording my face in order to be able to match expressions. It had a little bit of both elements to it, which was different than what I've done before. Usually with voice-over, you can show up in your sweatpants, and it doesn't matter what your face is doing, as long as your voice is portraying the emotion. With this, it was a sort of a combination, so that was definitely kind of fun to work on.

And because it's virtual reality and a game, there is an absence of that human eye connection. And so it was interesting, once I saw it finished, to see that you really do need to go pretty far in the emotion of it to connect with the player in a way that, when you're an actor live, you don't need to do as much work because it's you, it's your whole persona affecting an emotion and a story. Whereas with this, it almost felt like you were telling the story in a different way. You’re looking at a computerized version of yourself, so there isn't that eye-to-eye contact. It's really fascinating. It's very kind of, like, creepy, and … out-of-body experience.

[UN] [ACNVR] Morena Baccarin Interview - IMG 1

Do you find it more or less compelling to play this kind of role, as a villain?

MB: I definitely find them more compelling. I think it's fun to find ways to have people doubt themselves, you know. And I think it's that's much more an interesting struggle. I want them to almost want to follow her into darkness, you know? [laughs] To want to go, “Wait a minute, no, this is not what I'm fighting for!” I hope a little bit of that is in there.

Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR is available now for Meta Quest 2, Meta Quest 3, and Meta Quest Pro. For more on the game, check out our interview with Red Storm Managing Director Elizabeth Loverso and Creative Director David Votypka, and visit the official site.

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