ana Russo caught up with Charlie Saxton, a former high school classmate whose budding acting career has landed him on the sets of The Happening and Rock On — as well as inside the optics-bedecked studios of Rockstar Games, where Saxton portrayed Melvin for Bully.
Q: Did you only provide the voice the character of Melvin? It's funny how he kinda looks like you!
A: I did both the motion capture and voice for Melvin. Actually, my character was originally named "Mole" and looked completely different than me. But after I had auditioned and gotten the part, I came in for mocap and it looked exactly liked me! Down to the red glasses I used to wear. I don't know if I should be flattered or insulted. (laughs)
Q: Where did you do all of your voiceover and motion-capture work?
Charlie Saxton, candid.A: Most of the motion capture was done around Long Island, New York. And a lot of the voice-over work was done at the Rockstar headquarters in NYC, which was awesome!
Q: Just how involved was your job? Was it all just a lot of heavy technology, computers, microphones and green screens? Or was there more to it?
A: It was kind of cool! They had us in those skin-tight suits with the balls on almost every major part of the body. Then you would go in a room that was surrounded with cameras that picked up the light from the balls and transcribed them into a computer.
Q: So when we play Bully on our video game consoles, what we see is actually your actual movements?
A: Oh yes! If you pay attention to little details, all the characters have their own sort of actions such as walking and running.
Q: I seem to remember Melvin losing his Grottos and Gremlins character sheet in the game. Melvin seems like quite the needy nerdy. Are you anything like Melvin in person?
A: I never had Dungeons & Dragons but when I was seven, I was really into Pokemon and thought I was making a good trade when I gave my friend all the cards I had in exchange for his Charizard. I then said "Trade backs!" and got my binder back when I realized the mistake I made.
Q: But Charlie, Pokemon the trading card game is uh, a card game. Not into desktop roleplaying games I suppose, or any MMOs such as World of Warcraft?
A: Funny story. My friends are addicted to WoW and I had never played it, mainly because I couldn't afford it. But I slept over their house once and actually played it until five in the morning. I really now do see the horrors of the game. But I did get my dwarf to a level 10 within merely a few hours. I was pretty proud.
Q: How did you feel, working for such a large company that has brought us the Grand Theft Auto series?
A: They were super-awesome. They were chill, laid back, but really hard workers. The only thing I didn't like was the fact that it was a bunch of dudes sitting around in skin-tight wetsuits. Definitely awkward times. Working with Rockstar is probably a gamer's dream and I was so fortunate that I got to work with them.
Q: Have you tried the new Grand Theft Auto game for the 360?
In character: Melvin,
a very needy nerd.A: I'm probably going to get a lot of heat for this, but I'm way behind on my gaming. I don't even have a 360 — yet! Luckily, I have many friends who do, so I get to see a lot of the game and how it's played. I even get to play once and a while when they go to the bathroom. I played a lot of Rock Band and SKATE when I shot the movie Rock On.
Q: Did playing Rock Band actually help you prepare for your new role in the movie?
A: Well, we played a lot of Rock Band on the set. Whenever we weren't shooting, we would all run back to our trailers and play. Mostly everyone who played their instruments in the band in the movie played that instrument in the game. I like playing real music. If anything, Rock Band is hard if you're a real guitarist! Some of my friends are great musicians and are awful at the guitar in Rock Band. That's why I play the bass. It's probably the easiest. Oh! And there were many nights spent staying up in the wee hours of the morning playing Halo 3 and SKATE.
Q: Do you have any plans to work in the video game industry again?
A: Not as of right now, but I hope to do it all again in the future!