Interview: The Real-Life Nathan Drake...No, Really
Nolan North is the voice of Nathan Drake. But maybe the individual who most closely resembles the Uncharted protagonist is actor Ryan Culver who, for all intents and purposes, is Nathan Drake.
You saw Culver play Drake in that fantastic live action trailer for PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. At the time, a great many Sony fans went, "Wait, who's that...? It's kinda like Drake come to life!" And that's Ryan, who not only looks like Drake, he also exhibits many of the same personality traits. Hell, he even loves exploring, traveling, adventuring and thrills...perhaps he'd be the perfect fit for that Uncharted movie.
Check out this interview and see what you think. Ryan talks about his experience filming that trailer, and how he stepped into the shoes of one of the most popular and well-drawn characters of the generation.
PSXE: Nathan Drake is now a well-known and much-loved character in the gaming industry. What was it like stepping into those shoes?
Ryan: "‘laughs’ Daunting! It really was. I didn’t know a whole lot about the franchise going in, so it was like trial by fire. But I realized very quickly just what a big deal he is, and what a big deal the franchise is around the world. It’s interesting taking on a character like that; you get to have an outline in your head because there’s so much to look at and draw when you start such a project.
First of all, I got to know about the huge following the game has; the fan base behind [Uncharted] is just unbelievable and I quickly learned that. I realized from the very beginning that the process of jumping into Drake as a real-life person was going to be so very important because of the fans. As an actor, you say, ‘I’ll just bring a lot myself to this role’ and a lot of jobs are like that but that wasn’t the case here. It was important to go the other way, to learn as much I could about this guy, to get his personality and facial expressions."
PSXE: Were you given a lot of background information on Drake to help you prepare?
Ryan: "I did it myself. I called up a lot of people; I talked to my friends who were gamers and I talked to everybody in production. I talked to the people at PlayStation and said, ‘Look guys, I need advice on bringing Drake to life.' I took it all to heart because the last thing I wanted to do is step outside the boundary of who Nathan Drake is. I think if you take something from a game and bring it to life, sometimes people put their own spin on it and the idea gets lost. But they’ve already got an amazing character and storyline and they’ve done such an incredible job, so why add new elements? It’s already fully developed.
I just knew that I didn’t want to do this without knowing as much as I could about this guy. Because when you start and get going, you don’t really have time to think. You just have to feel that the character is inside. You can’t just wear his clothes; you have to move, act and react as you’d imagine Drake would."
PSXE: What do you have in common with the character of Nathan Drake?
Ryan: "Having learned so much about Nathan Drake, I came to realize that there are a lot of similarities in the way I lead my life and the things that I do. What was really funny was that my natural reaction to certain situations is to just say, “Oh, crap,” and then I laughed when I saw parts of these games, and saw that Drake uses that exact phrase a lot. It was really great because I could bring a lot of my own stuff to the role; I was already like him.
The guy is a world-traveling adventure-seeker and that’s kind of how I’ve grown up. I’ve been an adventurer and extreme sports athlete my whole life (rock-climbing, surfing, etc.). I’m also a pilot; I have a company that delivers small aircraft to people all over the world. So when I’m not acting, I end up going on all these adventures where I’m landing in all sorts of interesting and remote places all over the world, seeing amazing sights and people. So I’m constantly out and exploring and I’m a thrill-seeker, and that’s what I understand Drake to be. He and I are a lot alike, right down the line, in a lot of different ways.
I was probably born to play somebody like Nathan Drake."
12/8/2012 Ben Dutka