Doug Cockle: The voice of The Witcher
Naked Gaming Podcast presenters Chris Berrow and Leigh Milner catch up with voice of "The Witcher" video game series, Doug Cockle...
Chris Berrow - Now Netflix has released the Witcher, a new series running for eight episodes. Hugely popular and in fact because of the TV show as well as a reduction in the price for the actual game itself and the release of the game on Nintendo Switch... more people are playing the Witcher 3 now than when it was first launched. That's crazy, isn't it? That game that came out four or five years ago is more popular today.
Leigh - Do you think every company hopes that a film will come out shortly after?
Chris - I really do. This is the dream situation and this is the same company that's making Cyberpunk 2077. I actually sent them a message this month saying, you want to have a chat about the Witcher, and they said, we're so, so flat out making Cyberpunk... we just haven't got time. 92,000 people played the game on Steam when it first came out in 2015... the other day when the Witcher TV series was released, 94,000 players we playing at the same time! That's huge, isn't it? If you haven't seen the Witcher, or you haven't been aware of the game, this is a trailer for the game.
Chris - The company is also using hashtag "Switcher". That's really good, isn't it? And I've been speaking to the voice of the lead character who's called Geralt. He is the Witcher from the series. It's the fantastic Doug Cockle. So first of all, what did he make of the TV series and this new success for the game?
Doug - That's great. It's wonderful. I did think the Netflix TV series was really well done in my opinion. I absolutely loved it. And uh, the fact that it's leading people back to Witcher 3, the game, is just fantastic, because it's a great game. So, uh, you know, if people are discovering it via the Netflix series, that can only be a good thing.
Chris - What did you make of the series itself? Because, I mean, I absolutely loved it, and I agree with you, it was very well done and it took me a couple of episodes to realise that it wasn't necessarily all in chronological order. Did you find that as well?
Doug - Yeah, it took me a while to get into that. That was the one criticism I had of it; actually, I thought everything was done so well. It might've helped the audience a little bit more at the beginning to understand the time jumps. Once I clocked it, I got it. Cause I, I've read the books so, you know, I understood where we were jumping to and from and apparently... apparently if you look closely, there are clues, uh, at the end or the beginning of each time jump telling us where we're going and where we've arrived. Um, but I haven't gone back to look for those yet. I've only seen each episode once so far.
Chris - I mean I went back and played the Witcher again because of all this hype, you know, I completed it and played it all and I thought, hh, this series is great. I really want to play it. So I got it on the Switch, which I'd never had before. Uh, and that's opened up to a whole new audience as well because technologically now on a consol you can carry around...
Doug - It's kind of crazy. It's insane. I think it's great. As soon as I heard that it was out on Switch, I was just like, YES! 'Cause um, it does, it opens up a whole different audience because there are people who are just Nintendo, you know, that's all they want to know. That's all they know. Um, so all those people who may not have been able to play the Witcher, uh, or who never thought about it, now they can.
Chris - It's interesting because my favorite, um, voice actors, and I've listened to interviews with you before, my favorite voice actors that have very different voices from their speaking voice. In fact, on our last episode we spoke to the voice of Ash Ketchum, which is Veronica Taylor and she was a pregnant lady playing a 10 year old boy. Um, so it was very kind of different skill for her. Where did the voice develop for you? Because they must've had some ideas about what they liked. There was an audition process or did you just say, this is how I feel Geralt is.
Doug - Well, it kind of evolved a little bit over time. I think if you, if you go back too early, which are one stuff, and then listened to Blood and Wine Geralt... they're probably a little bit different. Yeah, I would, I would imagine they are partly because I quit smoking between Witcher 1 and Witcher 2. The whole quality of my voice shifted a tiny bit. So I had to audition for Witcher 1 And uh, when I went to the audition and understand, I'm really shortening, you know? But basically we got, you know, I was in the room for 15 or 20 minutes and Boris from CD Projekt was there and he was auditioning.
You know, the, you know, go ahead punk. Make my day kind of thing. And that's kind of where the inspiration that that pushed us in the direction that ended up being Geralt's voice.
Chris - As you get lower, there's hints of, there's definitely hints of Geralt that starts to come in. I notice...
Doug - Yeah, this is the thing is that in whichever one, when we were, when we were recording that it was a really difficult voice for me to achieve it.
My, my voice just didn't go down there. Um, but now, now it's just part of my voice, so it's not something I have to work terribly hard to achieve. Um, but, uh, and that's, that's I, I joke that I've damaged my voice so much that now my voice is like that, but it's actually more like with an athlete, you know, 'cause the voice is a muscle. So just like with an athlete, you know, they're trained to break muscle down to build it up again, stronger and more flexible. Um, so it's the same thing with the voice basically over over the years that I trained my voice to go to Geralt's voice without having to push.
Chris - I wanted to ask you about one of the most vocally difficult things to get, because I don't know how you do this and there's that, particularly with Geralt and, and I want to ask you about, you know, your, your feelings on Henry Cavill's attempt at the voice as well, but there's a lot of just him going like, hmmm, that's like one of the classic things he does as a character, just he goes, Hmm. But you've got to get that in his voice. How on earth can you hum and kind of just grunt, but in another voice. Like, I don't get that at all.
Doug - Well, it's just, it's just like doing it, you know, yourself, you know, you identify the qualities that your character has and then they just have to behave with those qualities, um, uh, in the situation that they're, that they're in.
Chris - And can I ask you about your feelings on a Henry Cavill's voice in the Witcher? Cause it should, I mean, it's so inspired by your performance. I, I personally feel, I mean, they, they obviously sort of thought, what do people know from the video game world as the Witcher? It's very similar to the one that you do, but obviously, you know, people do their own take and stuff, but, but how'd you feel about that?
Doug - Oh, it's great. I love it. And Henry actually, well, Henry told me himself, um, standing in front of me that he used my, uh, my performance as, um, inspiration for his own choices as far as the voice was concerned. Um, and he's gone on record as well. He's, I think it was, uh, uh, Forbes interview or something like that, uh, where he does say, you know, you know, Doug Cockle did the voice in the game and he did a fantastic job. And so I, I kinda, I kind of, um, you know, I, I use that as a starting place to find my own voice. I just think he does a marvelous job. He looks great. He sounds great. He moves great. I mean his fight scenes are fantastic. I know that that's, you know, the choreography is, is done by other people, but he performs them really, really well. Um, yeah, it's, it's just a nice feeling.
Chris - Yeah, I know. I'd love to hear you interviewing him and him interviewing you in character.
Doug - Yeah. I'd love to sit down over coffee or something and have this actually videoed and both of us just have a conversation in our Geralt voices.
Chris - I'll suggest it to somebody and that would be amazing!