8:00am PT by Patrick Shanley
Zelda Williams Recalls Growing Up Playing the Video Game Her Father Named Her After
The Legend of Zelda is one of the most beloved and financially successful franchises in all of gaming. With a catalog of titles that extends back more than three decades and boasts nearly 30 entries, Zelda is perhaps the most well-known name in video games, second only to a certain Italian plumber.
Now, with the recent release of Breath of the Wild, the latest in the series and the official launch title for Nintendo's new Switch console, Heat Vision caught up with Zelda Williams, daughter of legendary actor Robin Williams, who named his second-born after the iconic Hyrulian princess.
Williams, an actor and writer herself, recently participated in a live stream marathon of Breath of the Wild to benefit the Brain and Behavior Institute, which has donated millions to researchers of better understanding, treatments and cures for mental illness. The actress opened up about her life as a Zelda fan, her take on the latest game and what she thinks about a possible film adaptation for the epic fantasy series.
You just played the game for eight hours straight. That's quite a long time. What goes into pulling something like that off?
It's not as much as people think; it's not like running an actual marathon. It's kind of just taking breaks every once in a while, but honestly eight hours pass faster than people think, and a lot of my friends are going to come and play with me, and it's not like I'm trying to beat the game because I'm not an expert. I'm just playing because people have asked and they want to watch, so you just live-stream it, and you joke around, and people can donate to charity and get incentives for doing that, and it just makes it fun. I mean, Twitch and all those kind of networks that allow that to happen are a really great way to raise money that didn't exist previously.
Streaming is getting a lot more popular. As you said, it's a new platform for so many things. Do you consider yourself a part of this burgeoning community?
I don't know, to be honest. I mean, I've always enjoyed gaming, but even as I got older and I started to get deeper into writing and all this stuff that is my grown-up job, I couldn't play as much as I used to. I've always loved the gaming community, but I don't know if I'm really part of this side of it as much as I'm kind of daytripping. (Laughs.) I know that a lot of people don't like gamers who come in and aren't very serious about it, and I am one of those. As serious as I am about being named after the game and loving video games and thinking that they're very interesting, at the same time I'm not an extreme gamer because I haven't had enough time as an adult as I used to when I was growing up.
Was Zelda a big part of your life growing up?
Whenever a new game would come out, of course. Once it was a new toy, we played it to death for like a week and then you beat it and then on to the next thing.
Do you have a favorite in the series?
Yeah, I've always stood by Majora's Mask. There's plenty of people who love it, but it's not the most popular one for people to say. I just really liked collecting the masks. (Laughs.) I'm kind of a completionist like that, I'm one of those who usually beat a game without doing all the side quests, but I preferred doing all the side quests in Majora's Mask. Little minor neurosis of mine, but it's fun. (Laughs.)
There have been talks for decades of making a film adaptation of the Zelda games. Is that anything you'd be interested in?
I mean, it's the same way that people have continued to treat me right now and say that they wanted me to voice Zelda in the game. I don't know how meta Nintendo would actually want to go. I love working with them in the sense that they send me the games and I get to be nerdy and tweet about them every once in a while, but it might be a little on the nose. I know they've had it in development at Netflix and places like that, but it's a very difficult thing to adapt because essentially an enormous amount of what was so great about it for people was that they got to inhabit and interpret Link the way that they wanted to because he didn't speak. He still doesn't. He never has dialogue, and I don't know how you're going to have a lead character who doesn't have a voice. As a writer, that's a fascinating challenge. I've never seen a movie where the lead of a fantasy epic is mute, but I don't know if my version of, "Wow, that seems like it would be a fun, difficult script to write" equals "This should be a television show or a movie." I have no idea.
Have you ever thought about writing a Zelda script or working on the games?
Again, I don't even know how I would approach them or vice versa. For the most part, my writing is almost separate entirely from acting right now. Will it cross paths? Yeah, soon. But I don't know. In the same way that people go, "You should be Princess Zelda in the game or whatever adaptation," and I go, "I'll get right on that." I'm not sure how much power I have in this circumstance. It's a bit like someone saying, you love Lord of the Rings, you should write the movie. (Laughs.) Sure, I would love to, but I don't think in any realm of reality that would happen just because I'm named after it.
Do you think we'll ever see a game or an adaptation that focuses more on Zelda than on Link?
I don't know if they'd ever have a whole Princess Zelda game because rescuing her, or certainly saving the world with her, has been the focus most of the time. I mean, there's been games that have switched it up a bit. I don't know. I honestly can't tell you. I think it would be great. They've approached differences in narrative on a bunch of the games, and even stylization. Some of the games have been completely different in style. They experiment with the franchise. I just don't know how far they'll go. Plus, people have been waiting for this game for years, so I'm sure there won't be another one for quite some time. They don't do what Xbox and Playstation do and just sort of pick up a game and release it very quickly and then immediately try to do a sequel even if they haven't really developed it that well. Nintendo is kind of fond of, especially with these tentpole franchises, taking their time.