Oz Comic-Con Interview: Mass Effect’s Mark Meer talks Improv, epic Cos-Playing skills and Shepherd’s favourite things

There are times in our lives we look back on certain things and reminisce, how much we would love to go back and do it all again, for me, other than visiting the (U.S.A and the U.K) that was the Mass Effect Trilogy and playing as the stubborn, stern, but lovable Commander Shepherd. If you’re like me and chose to play Shepherd as a male and not female (Jennifer Hale), you would have spent a very long time listening to the amazing voice work of Mark Meer!

Mark Meer in full Cos-Play on his own Mass Effect Trilogy Character of Commander Shepherd.

In fact, if you have played any Bioware video game in the past 20 years, you would have come across Mark Meer’s voice. Very Canadian, very funny and spends a lot of his waking hours making others laugh for a living while touring with his Improv Comedies Gordon’s Big Bald Head and Harold of Galactus. If you’re a bigger nut than I am you would have seen his Canadian Screen Award nominated series Tiny Plastic Men. But either way, stick with me as we talk to and ride through the mindset of one of Canada’s and the video game world’s greatest talents Mr Mark Meer.

We work on everything TV, Film and Video Games here at The Iris, so it’s really great to finally be able to speak to someone I spent, probably close to 120 hours listening to your character and playing as Commander Shepherd in Mass Effect.

Oh well, hey man, Bioware thanks you for your service!

Good to see you have arrived in Australia ok, have you been down under before and what are your plans here between Cons?

Actually, I get to see my cousin for the first time in about 20 years. He lives here now. Yeah, I think we’ll be doing a few touristy things. My wife has already been to the Botanical Gardens, and I’ve already popped into a comic shop, my standard operating procedure when visiting another city.

 Straight into the comic store, I love it! That’s good. You’re one of us.

Exactly.

You would have only just started to dry off from your Fringe Festival performance with your amazing Improv Comedy group ‘Gordon’s Big Bald Head’, how did that go?

Yes, that’s right and also my superior own improv show, ‘Harold of Galactus’. We did that there. I did the fringe festival in Edmonton, went straight to Dragon-Con in Atlanta, and the immediately following that I did a 50-hour long improv show at the Varscona Theatre in Edmonton. So yeah, I think the jet-lag was taken care of just by my own exhaustion. I was able to get a fair bit of sleep on the plane.

I absolutely love what I have seen and Improvisational comedy has got to be some of the hardest out there. If you’re not worn out from being asked Mass Effect questions yet, I’m going to try something a bit different for the interview here and hope you don’t mind?

Oh sure.

You can play Commander Shepard, and I’ll be a random NPC following you around on the Oz Comic Con show floor on the Citadel in the year 2183.

All right, sounds good.

You’re on your lunch-break, and I’m annoying the shit out of you. So, you can act as a paragon or renegade, it’s up to you. You’re the improv king here.
(In character) Oh my god, Commander Shepherd, hi are you having a nice lunch? Can I ask you something? If you could pick a favourite lunch snack from the year 2183 Commander, what would it be?

I should go.

So many tiny plastic men you can buy here Commander. Do you collect any random plastic men too?

Oh yes, as a matter of fact I do collect tiny plastic men. My basement is full of them.

What’s your favourite store here on the Citadel, I mean show floor?

Any store that gives me a discount.

Favourite film of the year 2183?

I would have to say it’s the latest Avengers movie. They’ve kind of moved down the roster somewhat now, so the line-up is Sasquatch, Moon Knight, Squirrel Girl, and Captain Ultra.

Thanks so much, that’s awesome. Back to normal now.
Your new starring video game The Long Dark’s out now, and it’s been well received. What have you got coming up for us next? Any other big projects coming up, video game, TV or film?

There is, of course, the further chapters of The Long Dark. We’ve just released the first two chapters in the narrative mode, and the subsequent chapters will be coming out. I believe you can look forward to hearing Elias Toufexis, plays Adam Jensen in Deus Ex, another fellow Canadian. The Long Dark is a very Canadian game, of course. In fact, it’s been described as “Player versus Canada.”

There’s also a number of projects I can’t talk about quite yet. But of course, I think I have been cleared to mention that I’m in some of the Mass Effect Andromeda DLC. I’ll be the Batarian in multi-player.

You had me going there. I thought somehow, they were going to bring you back after all those years?

The Shepherd’s V.I. is floating around somewhere out there, so …

So, after you’ve met your cousin, are you planning on anything else to do maybe when you come to Sydney?

Well yeah. They’ve got a number of events planned for us, and there’s a number of places that my wife and I wanted to visit. The Koala Sanctuary, I think it’s Lone Pine and I think we’re going to be visiting the Australia Zoo.
As for the Con itself (Oz Comic Con). I always enjoy walking the Con floor, and of course spending money on merchandise, which I tend to do. I am a collector, so…

Little plastic men? Sweet.

A collector of many tiny plastic men and also props and whatnot, because I do cosplay myself.

Yep, I’ve seen it. You surprised those people in the Commander Shepherd outfit a few years back.

That’s true, and I have it with me this time as a matter of fact.

Oh. Are we going to be seeing that at Oz Comic Con then?

I’ll have it with me, so I think if I’ve lugged it all this way I might as well put it on.

Hell yeah.

Yeah, also, I’m not, of course affiliated with Game of Thrones except as a fan, but I do have my Night King costume that I wore at Dragon-Con this year.

Wow, that’s awesome!

Yeah. I think I debuted that at Edmonton Expo. I hosted the cosplay contest there last year. Sadly, I have to miss my own hometown Con just to be with you guys, but I think it’s worth it. They’ll understand, I hope.

You’re going to have a big turnout, considering you haven’t been here before, so that’s good.

And who can say what I’ll be dressed as?

We’ll find out!

Mark Meer will be showing up in full cosplay get up at Oz Comic Con in Brisbane and Sydney.
23 – 24 September – Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
30 September – 1 October – ICC Sydney
For more information or to purchase tickets visit the Oz Comic Con website and get your geek on!