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Actress Janina Gavankar, who plays skinwalker Luna Garza in the HBO TV series True Blood, logs a lot of time playing video games when she’s not on a Hollywood set. In particular, Gavankar has been hooked on Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed games since the original launched back in 2007. The actress traveled to Montreal, where the game franchise is made, to meet with the developers and check out the performance capture studio. Gavankar talks about Assassin’s Creed III, which launches Oct. 30, and what the American Revolutionary War setting adds to the gameplay experience in this exclusive interview.
The Hollywood Reporter: What do you like about Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise?
Janina Gavankar: I love so many things about Assassin’s Creed. Where do I start? I love the characters. I love the story behind how you even get to be able to go back in time. I love the side missions. I’m like the side mission queen, and I love just starting wars in the middle of a town and then running away. I remember when I first started free running in this game and it was the coolest thing I had ever done. Any other game that’s tried to do it has not been as good as Assassin’s Creed. With Assassin’s Creed, which I’ve played some, it’s just everything you love with a few tweaks, and the free running is a little different now. There’s this whole open world forest that you get to go through. There’s this whole side mission hunting, where you kill things like badgers and elks. I tussled with an elk. It was the coolest thing because I like fighting, in general, so now I’m fighting with an elk with horns and getting my butt kicked until I figured how to win over said elk. It was very cool.
THR: What’s your favorite Assassin’s Creed game, not including the new one?
Gavankar: I haven’t played all of Assassin’s Creed III yet, so I won’t even talk about that. I would say Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood because I loved rebuilding Rome. As soon as I finished that aqueduct, I ran around the whole thing. I loved it.
THR: What do you think that exploring the Revolutionary War brings to the table with Assassin’s Creed III?
Gavankar: The thing I love about this franchise is that it’s historically accurate. I think people are going to be really fascinated to play something that’s so realistic and true to what really happened during the Revolutionary War.
THR: What role do you see Assassin’s Creed III playing in getting kids interested in history?
Gavankar: I would love if kids got interested in history by playing this game in any capacity. You get to meet some of the founding fathers like Ben Franklin, Paul Revere and George Washington. And you really interact with them in this game, so for kids to be inspired by that and to take that back to their schoolwork, that’s potentially amazing.
THR: What are your thoughts on Assassin’s Creed III introducing a protagonist that’s half Native American?
Gavankar: I play a half Native American lady on True Blood, so I love that I’m going to be playing the boy version in this game. The thing that I like the most about Connor, who is the latest Assassin in Assassin’s Creed III, is that he’s half Native American and half English. Remember that this is the Revolutionary War, so that makes for one very complex character.
THR: The PlayStation Vita Assassin’s Creed: Liberation game introduces an African American protagonist and is set in New Orleans. What do you think about how these games are expanding the realm with their game characters?
Gavankar: I went to Montreal and visited the Ubisoft Headquarters and went to the motion capture studio and put on the suit and met the actress who was playing Avaline. That was so cool. I’m excited to play the first female assassin. I’m interested to see how she moves. I’m interested in all of it. Now that I’ve seen the actual studio where it’s shot, I’m fully fascinated. I got access to some of the coolest behind-the-scenes stuff that is every gamer’s dream, if you could only have been with me. I can’t even explain it. It was the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
THR: What else do you play for fun nowadays when you’re not playing Assassin’s Creed III?
Gavankar: I game all the time. If I have any time off, which is hardly ever, I’m definitely on my couch playing videogames. But here’s the thing. This game is coming out on October 30. So I’m not dressing up as anything for Halloween. Don’t even talk to me until next year. I need to explore every part of this game, every side mission. I need to be 100 percent synced on everything that needs to happen.
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