Supanova Interview: Gaming God Nolan North talks about his beginning, Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool and clowns

I shouldn’t have to say who Nolan North is, but for those few uninitiated, if you have ever played a video game in the last 25 years, there is a very big chance Nolan North voiced something or someone in that game. Nolan has been around the TV, Film and Gaming industry since 1997, first starring in General Hospital and Port Charles on TV and then lending his voice to his very first video game in Activision’s Interstate 82. Move forward over 20 years and now Nolan has become a video game icon and a gaming household name.

Nolan North

Most of us know him as Nathan Drake in the PlayStation exclusive Uncharted video games, Desmond Miles in the original Assassins Creed series of games, David in The Last Of Us and Edward Richtofen in the Call of Duty’s Zombie mode. I could go on for quite some time, just do an IMDB search, it is an incredible resume many would find hard to compare.

The most recent events in Nolan’s life consists of a new web series on YouTube called Retro Replay, on which he plays retro games that we all grew up with from the early 80’s with his best mate and fellow video game actor Troy Baker (also attending Supanova).

We also talk about his son Cooper North and how proud he is of his rising star status and who will also be traveling alongside his Dad when he visits Supanova Comic Con & Gaming in Sydney on Friday 15th of June to Sunday the 17th June 2018 and Perth on the 23rd and 24th of June 2018.
Let’s get on with the chat!

I am an absolutely massive fan Nolan, you are one of my gaming idols, I have been with you since Hinkley on Interstate 82 (video game from 1999). I was fifteen at the time.

No, you have not. Nobody’s been with me that long. My mother hasn’t been with me that long, mate. Come on? You know what’s funny about that? You know what’s funny about Hinkley ’82 is I’d never done voice acting, and that was Activision. I’ll never forget it. I had a manager at the time, he said, “They’re doing some kind of video game. They want you, you do that Christopher Walken kind of voice, don’t you?” I’m like, “Yeah.” “Yeah, they want you there on Saturday.”

He said, “Yeah, but it’s like a couple hundred bucks.” Or whatever it was, I don’t even remember what it was. The crazy thing is, I showed up at the Activision parking lot and there were no cars there. I thought to myself, “I’m about to be murdered. I’m going to be murdered.” I walk into the building, there’s no lights on, they brought me to this back room and I sat down and bang, I start doing my Christopher Walken’s Hinkley. Never heard anything about it again.

I don’t think I heard anything about that game until it was on my IMDb page long after I’d done a lot more stuff and the internet was something. It was crazy. It was a very, very funny thing. Now, I’ve done so much with Activision, but that was in its infancy. It’s nice to look back and go, ‘Wow’! I was really part of the beginning of all this and before it exploded. It’s pretty cool. I’ve never spoken to anyone who’s actually played that game. That’s brilliant!

I’ve got one of your signed copies of the Uncharted: Drake’s Journal. I remember seeing that photo of you leaning over all the books you’d signed, about 500 of them. Seriously, I don’t know how you do it?

I was in my living room, we’d signed that and I thought, “Well, it’s not a big deal. We can do it.” It’s funny how you forget to spell your name after a certain point. I had to stop and take a break. I was like, “Wow, this is crazy,” because we only had a limited number of those and I wanted to get those out to people. Yeah, well gosh, it was such a labour of love.

My goal in that was to show people what we do, and to give them a real insight into what this is, because so many people asked me questions about how does mocap work? What do you do? Even now, things have changed, but so many of the people who were with me at the beginning of all that are still with me in the technical side and I can’t tell you the conversations we have about, “Wow, isn’t it amazing how fast and how amazing things have changed?” It’s exciting.

Seeing how it worked behind the scenes was just fantastic at the time, especially for a guy that wears Drakes Uncharted SIC PARVIS MAGNA ring on his necklace still.

Do you? That may be a tattoo on my body someday. I’m trying to find a spot, that motto has been such a big part of my life and that making it (Uncharted series), turning it into a tattoo is probably an inevitability.

You’ve done much more than video games however, you’ve got Pretty Little Liars under your sleeve, you’ve also done Con Man. You’ve even got an upcoming film The Great Race coming out soon?

Yeah. The Great Race is very cool. Brian Presley is the Creative Director of that film. He played my brother on a soap opera, my first ever job, Port Charles, for ABC.

He called me (for The Great Race), and he said, “Hey, I need you to do this thing. Can you play this role?” It was just kind of an announcer and it was kind of a very artsy kind of thing he wanted to do. I said, “You know what? Yeah, man. I’ll do it,” because it’s fun.

Brian said, “We’re going to go to Colorado, we’re going to shoot it”. I said, “Hey, you know what? My son’s 17,” I said, “You remember Cooper? He wants to be an actor, could I bring him so he can watch everything and see how it works?”

He said, “Wait a minute, he’s an actor?” I said, “Yeah.” He goes, “Well, could he play a newsboy?” I said, “Yeah.”

How cool was it that I flew to Colorado with my son? But we flew there and I did all my scenes. He had a couple scenes he had to do and he did his first film and now he is pursuing it. Cooper has now done an episode of ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat. He did Young Sheldon here in the States.

He’s really pursuing it now, he just graduated high school and this is what he wants to do. It’s such a great feeling of honour that I got to be in his first truly professional thing. He always laughs. He goes, “Well, I didn’t really get it. You got it for me.” I’m like, “It doesn’t matter. This is a cool little thing that you did, because you were good.” It’s a small role. He did what he needed to do. He executed it well.

That’s what professional acting is. You don’t always have to be brilliant. He didn’t try to make a meal of it, he was great. It was such a great experience. Actually, Brian Presley, his production company, may be doing a new film, and I don’t want to speak out of turn, but he impressed him, my son impressed him so much that he may be doing a big role in Brian Presley’s next film and I have the small role. How’s that for a turn of the tables? By the way, just so you know, I couldn’t be happier with that.

Yeah, for sure, I’m a father of two little psychos at home as well. They’re both gamers in their own respect, but we all love you in the series Home: Adventures of Tip and Oh on Netflix and Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We love your Kraang. While you’re talking about your son Cooper, I remember when he was about eight years old, coming up with the now famous line, “Kitty got wet?”

Yes. That’s right. “Kitty got wet” was his. He pulled that out playing Wii Tennis with me. Cooper will be in Sydney and Perth with me, he comes along too. He travelled to Gold Coast and Melbourne with me last year. I said, “Well, Sydney, Perth next year.” He’s like, “I got to go. I got to go.” I’m like, “Yup, I’ll take you. We’ll go.

I want to say big thank you for coming back for Uncharted 4 as well, and congratulations on multiple game of the year awards including the BAFTA’s.

Multiple nominations, but next Monday, I’m receiving a special presentation BAFTA, as I’m sure you probably know. The day before I fly to Australia, BAFTA’s presenting me with this special achievement award. I told them, I said, “You better not call it a lifetime achievement. I’m not old enough to have a lifetime achievement.”

I was a little concerned. “Hey, are you pushing me out saying, ‘Hey, enough is enough. We’re done with you. Let some other people have a shot.?” Because I got a lot more to do. I’m working on a couple new projects that I cannot talk about, but I’m very excited about.

Is it with Naughty Dog?

I can’t say anything about anybody. There are so many great things. One of my favourite things about doing conventions like Sydney and Perth (Supanova) is I never get to meet the fans. I think every actor should have a healthy dose of self-loathing and going to these conventions always challenges that because you feel so much love. 

On a list of one to 10, how afraid are you of clowns?

Oh, well. It used to be a four, but I think it’s down to a two or three. It never gets better. The older I get, see the problem is, the older I get, the slower I get and I think the clowns can catch me. It used to be about a four. I’m going to go to about a 2.5, because I’ve lost a step, but I’m working out still. I’m going to work out. I’m going to keep my fitness level up because if those clowns come, I’m ready.

You played an amazing voice role as Deadpool in the 2013 game. Since that game, Deadpool has become a global sensation due in no small part to Ryan Reynolds. Did you watch the film and think how shit Ryan Reynolds was in the role and that you could’ve nailed it so much better?

You know it’s funny. I would love to make a joke to that question, but the truth is I’m a huge Ryan Reynolds fan.

I’ve read against him for a show called Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place, and I read for the network. He ended up getting it. Back in that day, that was the first show that I had ever tested at the network for, that I ended up seeing it actually got picked up and would be on the network’s schedule for the next year. I was immediately interested in seeing who they cast and how it looked. I watched that and I thought, “Oh, God. He’s phenomenal. He’s fantastic.” I remember watching him. I loved the way he did it. I love his takes. His little mannerisms. I think Ryan Reynolds’ comedic timing is impeccable. I would love to work with him in a comedy someday.

I’d play his brother in something; his older brother, whatever, his older, schlumpy brother. Maybe I look like the um, I’m like the after photo of the Ryan Reynolds before photo.

The funny thing about it is Jacksepticeye (famous YouTube video game streamer) who did a recent video where he played the Deadpool video game with Ryan Reynolds, and my son came jumping up to me going, “You’re not going to believe this!” I said, “What?” He goes, “Check this out! Check this out!” Ryan Reynolds was basically praising my performance in the Deadpool video game.

I’ve since direct messaged him on Twitter, and it turns out there’s a mutual admiration. People say, “Who’s the better Deadpool? Nolan North or Ryan Reynolds?” My vote’s Ryan Reynolds. I love him. He was made for that role. I think he’s great. You know what? He couldn’t do better. It couldn’t be better. I think the reason he’s such a good Deadpool is he’s such a big fan of the Deadpool series.

When an actor has an emotional investment into a character, that means the world. I mean, a lot of people don’t know, he has been trying to get a Deadpool movie done for over 10 years. He was a fan of the comics for years, and that means everything. That means he had this emotional investment to make this great. He did Green Lantern with the promise that they were going to let him do Deadpool. I have nothing but respect for him. He’s a good husband, a good father, good actor. Man, I just look forward to collaborating with him some day.

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Nolan North will be attending Supanova Comic Con & Gaming this year in Sydney on Friday 15th of June to Sunday the 17th June 2018 and Perth on the 23rd and 24th of June 2018. Check out all the details here!