Darren O'Hare Interview - Halo 4
Darren O'Hare is an actor and voice actor. He recently did the voice and motion capture for the character Thomas Lasky in Halo 4. We had the opportunity to speak with him right after the launch of Halo 4.
Jason: How did you come about the opportunity to do voice and motion capture for Tom Lasky in Halo 4?
Darren: It started with another voice actor I know who recommended me to the casting director that was doing it. He knew that I had a military background and might be right for this project.
Darren: He sent me the audition (just the voice audition) which I did in studio. I didn't know what it was for. He didn't even say what game it was, but as soon as I heard, "Master Chief"...
Darren: "Are you kidding me?!?"
Darren: It started with that. I did a voiceover audition at my home studio.
Darren: I sent that in. He wrote me back right away and said, "It sounds really good. You're one of my top picks." He told me to expect a callback in a month or two.
Darren: I had a callback then at Giant Studios where we did the full motion capture performance. I did that with the cinematic director, Brien Goodrich. It was the same scenes except running around with M16's, doing a little action with it.
Darren: A couple months later I found out that I booked it. We started shooting last October (2011).
Jason: What aspects of you being in the Army were brought to your character?
Darren: Having a military background really helps keep the dialog natural. I know how those guys talk. I was one of them. That really helps for that part of it. Also, knowing how to hold a weapon really helped. In the callback, when I was running around with an M16 they said, "You definitely know what you're doing." That helped.
Jason: What was the motion capture portion of it like?
Darren: It was great! It's the most fun job you can do as an actor. The shooting was easy. We just did one studio space. We were shooting all the scenes. We didn't have to worry about camera angles because there are 300 motion capture cameras that pick up everything. It's very natural acting in a very unnatural environment in the sense that you are not on a set. You just use your imagination. It's a lot of fun because you can really get into the interactions with the other actors.
Jason: Have you done any voice acting before this?
Darren: Yeah. I've done voice acting for a couple years now. Usually all commercials. This was the first video game I did.
Jason: Do you hope to do more work in the video game industry?
Jason: Have you seen the Forward Unto Dawn web series?
Darren: Oh yeah. Actually, I got to see it on the big screen. I went to a screening a couple weeks ago where we got to see the whole thing as one movie (in a movie theater out here). It was incredible seeing Master Chief on the big screen. They had me revoice the older Lasky so the voice matched the game. I had a small part in that. It was just a couple lines with the older Lasky. They wanted to match it with the in-game.
Jason: Have you played the Halo games?
Darren: I was actually a huge Halo fan. It was insane when I realized what game this was. I played the original, Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, but when we went to the Xbox 360 I took a little bit of a break. My wife wasn't a fan of me playing a little too much.
Darren: I got consoled out for a little bit. I've gotten back into it now. In the last year I've caught up and played all the games while we've been shooting this. It's good to be back.
Jason: What is your favorite Halo game?
Darren: The first three are great! I love all three of the Master Chief stories. I feel like I just recently played ODST. It had this lonely feeling through that game which I really dug. It's a toss up between 3 and ODST for me. I like them all, but I like those two the most for different reasons.
Jason: Do you play other First Person Shooters?
Darren: I don't. I really haven't had a console in a while. Now that I have a 360 in the house, that is probably going to be changing.
Jason: What is the challenge of being a character in such a popular franchise?
Darren: The challenge would be not wanting to mess it up. It's just a lot of fun to be part of the game. It's exciting and fun. There was nothing I was really worried about except just anticipating it coming out. I couldn't wait for it.
Jason: And then you had to keep quiet about it as well.
Darren: I did! I couldn't tell anybody for about a year. I finally got to talk about it when it came out a little early - when I got the credit on Forward Unto Dawn. My name got out there a little earlier than expected. It gave me a nice early window to start talking.
Jason: When did you first decide to get into acting?
Darren: When I was in the Army I was doing intel work and I started getting undercover work. I started studying acting for believability in undercover work. When my contract was up I decided to move to L.A. and pursue acting. I've been here for almost 10 years.
Jason: Are there any upcoming projects that you can talk about?
Darren: I just worked on a pilot of The Last Ship - Michael Bay's TNT Pilot. It's a pretty incredible show. I hope the show gets picked up and we start shooting next summer.
Darren: The ship that we shot on was called the USS Halsey - the name of the actual ship. It was a little tie-in with Halo.
Darren: I play Lt. Siegle. He's a tactical action officer (TAO) in charge of the combat information center on the ship.
Jason: What is some of your previous acting work?
Darren: I did a bunch of bits on TV shows here and there such as: How I Met Your Mother, The Unit, and a little bit on 24. I also worked on the movie, The Chaperone, with Triple H.
Jason: If you could pick any other game franchise to do voice acting for, what would that be?
Darren: I don't want to say. I don't want to jinx anything. (laughs)
Jason: On your IMDb page it says you were in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Darren: Yeah! I shot for a week down at Cape Canaveral. We shot a ton of funny stuff. It was me and Tyrese [Gibson] out on the launch pad by the space shuttle. Basically none of it made it into the movie.
Darren: (laughs) I ran into one of the editors and he said, "You had some really funny stuff!" None of it is in the movie.
Darren: I have a couple lines that you can somewhat hear, but it is far away. The fun of that job was shooting it! We had a great time!
Jason: Are you in any of the deleted scenes?
Darren: Not that I know of. It was all these funny things that we did with the Transformers so I don't think they would have edited them together.
Jason: What is one of the most memorable TV episodes that you have been in?
Darren: I really had a lot of fun doing How I Met Your Mother. It was a quick bit, but what a fun cast! It was a fun set to be on. Everyone was amazing and extremely professional and funny. It was a blast!
Jason: When was that?
Darren: That was a couple years ago.
Darren: I also did an episode of Melissa and Joey. That was a lot of fun because it had a live audience. That was the first time I did something in front of a studio audience. That was fun to have the laughs of the audience right when you are shooting.
Jason: Back to Halo 4... Was there any particular part that was challenging?
Darren: The whole job was just a lot of fun to do. I can't look back at anything that was challenging per se.
Jason: Have you been playing the new game [Halo 4]?
Darren: Yeah. I was up until seven in the morning playing it the day it came out. I played with a group of friends. We were at the midnight launch at the Microsoft store in L.A. I did some stuff there that night for the event. That was the first night I got to go home with a copy of the game. I've also definitely been putting some time in the last week.
Jason: How does that feel getting to actually play it now?
Darren: It's great because I only know certain parts of the story. I only knew the stuff that I worked on. Unless we were shooting other scenes on the days I was there, I didn't know the whole story. I intentionally didn't ask everything because I wanted it to be a surprise as I played through. It is really cool getting to see it unfold from what I know and what I don't know.
Jason: How was the launch event?
Darren: It was great! We had a great turnout of fans come out that night. They gave away an Xbox and a bunch of prizes all night long. It was a really exciting event!
Jason: Who all was there?
Darren: It was myself, then the two actors that did the performance capture for Cortana and Master Chief - Mackenzie Mason and Bruce Thomas.
Jason: When did you first start playing video games?
Darren: I started about when I was eight years old with the original Nintendo (NES). Even before that it was on a computer, Frogger, I think on the old Apple IIe. Back in the day!
Jason: Retro stuff, huh?
Jason: Do you have any favorite NES games?
Darren: Who doesn't love Super Mario? Classic. Contra was a fun one. Street Fighter... All those were great! Those are the ones that jump out at me. Super Mario was the big one... At least back then.
Jason: Have you played the Wii?
Darren: I have a Wii. Fun stuff there. I've definitely broke out the new Super Mario Bros. there.
Jason: Did you get your wife to play?
Darren: We did. She's not so much of a gamer, but I did get her to play some Halo at the E3 event this year. That was awesome.
Jason: Have you played mostly the campaign for Halo 4?
Darren: The Campaign, Spartan Ops, and the Multiplayer Online.
Darren: I've got a thing lined up to play with a bunch of guys I know from up in Seattle at 343.
Darren: They're gonna kick my ass because they've been playing for months. It is a little bit of an advantage on their part.
Jason: At least you still get to have some fun!
Darren: People can follow me on Twitter, @DarrenOHare
Jason: He also has a website, www.darrenohare.com
Jason: Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me!
Darren: You're welcome!