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How do you bring an iconic character, best known from a game without voice actors, to life?
That was the challenge presented to the cast of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII Remake and star Cody Christian. Christian voices the role of protagonist Cloud Strife, a stoic former member of the elite SOLDIER program and now a sword-for-hire working with ecoterrorist organization Avalanche.
While Christian is not the first actor to voice the role of Cloud (the character has appeared in Square’s Final Fantasy-Disney hybrid series Kingdom Hearts and various spinoff films based on the original Final Fantasy VII game), stepping into the boots of the beloved character was still a tall order, particularly as the 1997 version of the role-playing game presented its script wholly through scrolling text boxes.
“I pulled a lot of inspiration from the original depiction of the character, from Steve Burton,” Christian tells Heat Vision Breakdown host Patrick Shanley in this week’s episode, referring to the actor who voiced Cloud in various games and films such as Kingdom Hearts and FFVII: Advent Children. “He really paved the way for bringing this character to life, so my reimagination of it pulls a lot of inspiration from him. So paying homage to the original and paving a new way, so to speak, for this character in the new generation.”
As is often the case for high-profile video game projects, Christian didn’t initially know what role he was up for when he first auditioned for Final Fantasy VII Remake.
“I auditioned for an unknown project and an unknown character at the end of 2018,” he says. “I didn’t hear back for a couple months, so I just thought I didn’t book it.”
A few months later, he got the call and learned he’d be voicing the lead role of Cloud in the highly anticipated title. From there, things picked up fast — though the project remained shrouded in secrecy. “We got the ball rolling in early 2019 and all year I was working on the game, but I couldn’t say anything at all,” says Christian.
Focusing on just the opening Midgar section of the original game, FFVII Remake places a microscope on the early portions of the epic story, expanding both the narrative as well as its characters’ backstories.
“My favorite parts of the original were the storytelling, the dialogue, but as everyone knows, in the original there were no voice actors so everything was kind of internalized and played in your own mind,” says Christian. “I think what we’ve done in the reimagination of Final Fantasy VII is we’ve brought so much life within the story, within the characters, and I’m really excited for fans to get to enjoy that.”
After years of clamoring for a remake of the classic game, fans can finally get their hands on FFVII Remake today as it launches on PlayStation 4. For Christian, he’s just excited to see reactions to the new take on the game.
“I think this reimagination of the game pays homage to OG fans but also opens this world up to an entirely new demographic to come in here, to fall in love with this world, to fall in love with these characters and this story,” he says. “This game, you’re in for one hell of a ride, so I hope you really enjoy it.”
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