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Returnal voice actress discusses importance of having an older woman “kicking butt”

Fresh from winning the BAFTA Games award for Performer in a Leading Role, Returnal star Jane Perry discussed the importance of having an older woman “kicking butt”.

Speaking to Eurogamer, the actress behind Returnal main character Selene Vassos and Hitman’s Diana Burnwood discussed the tension between being a parent and having a career.

“I think that’s very unique, and kudos to Housemarque. I think they took a risk, they could have had a younger gal, or they could have had a man, but no,” she said.

“I was talking to [game director] Harry Krueger, who is so much a part of this game. And he said, ‘You know, when I was thinking about this character, I myself was a parent. And I felt this kind of tension’. I think we all feel this tension of being a parent and having a career, and what can come from that, it’s really profound.

“And I think [Housemarque] felt that having a middle-aged woman would best express that kind of tension. We talk a lot about diversity across the board and I don’t think in games we see so many older women kicking butt the way Selene does.”

Perry’s performance as Returnal’s only human character is central to the game, and required the recording of a huge number of voice lines. But that didn’t necessarily add to the pressure, Perry said.

“For me, when I’m recording it’s usually just me, so on some level it didn’t feel that different in that moment,” Perry explained. “But the number of hours we worked on it, because the story is all about Selene, was quite extensive. It was a challenge, but not as much as you might think, because of the way games are recorded.”

Perry also discussed having to “fill in all the blanks and really recruit your imagination in the process.

“And that’s part of what can make it super exciting, and also fatiguing because there’s no set, there’s no costume, there are no fellow actors to work with. There’s nothing except what’s going on in [the mind], and what people are telling you about what you’re seeing in the environment around you. So I think since I started acting in games my imagination has really blossomed because I have to use it a lot.”

Returnal was the big winner of the night, scooping up four awards including Best Game, Audio Achievement, Music, and Performer in a Leading Role.

Housemarque boss Ilari Kuittinen said he was hopeful the game would reach a new audience on Sony’s revamped PS Plus.

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