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The main delight of Resident Evil Village is Lady Dimitrescu, the gigantic vampire who has become extremely popular among cosplayers, fan artists are more. So it was interesting to see Maggie Robertson, the voice actor for the larger-than-life Lady Dimitrescu, win the award for outstanding achievement in character at the recent DICE Awards.
Last week I joined a group of journalists in the offstage winners’ room for the DICE Awards celebrating the best of video games in 2021 at the DICE Summit in Las Vegas. Each group of winners filed through our room and we collectively tossed a bunch of questions at the winners.
I asked the final questions, while other journalists asked the rest. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.
Question: What do you think, as an actor, you’re able to do now after working on these games that you weren’t able to do before?
Maggie Robertson: Well, I think a theater background is so important, especially in this kind of performance capture work, because it’s about the storytelling of your body. You don’t have sets or costumes or makeup to tell the story for you. You just have your body. I like to do a lot with animal work, animal studies. If you look at Lady Dimitrescu, she’s kind of cat-like. She’s going to be more sensual and curvy. She takes her time. Using that to create more of a distinct physicality for each character can also help you create really clear physical characters very quickly. You can use that as a jumping-off point.
Question: When your character was revealed, it set the internet on fire. What was that like for you as the person behind that performance?
Robertson: Oh, God, it was so strange. Especially strange because I was still under NDA. I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t tell my roommates. I couldn’t tell my mom. I was just freaking out in my room by myself. It was so surreal, and so much more than anything I could have imagined.
I’m incredibly grateful for it. It’s given me a platform to create a safe space for lots of different communities, like the LGBT+ community. I love that. That’s been the greatest honor and privilege, and a totally unexpected one. It means a lot to me to be able to give back and provide a safe space. I love that Lady D is loved.
Question: When you think back to when you were first getting to know your character, what stood out about her? Did you get a sense that she’d stand out in a series like Resident Evil?
Robertson: Well, she stands out anyway, but–I love the character design for Lady D. The very first time I saw her, she’s so physically distinctive. What I think Capcom has done such a wonderful job with is creating an image that already indicates so much character. You just look at her, and even before she opens her mouth, she slaps you across the face with her character. Again, they just make my job so easy. I looked at the image and thought, “Oh, great. I have 10,000 ideas now about what to do and who she is.” She tells a very clear visual story.
Question: Among all the reactions you’ve gotten from playing this character, have you ever been creeped out or harassed by people? How do you deal with that?
Robertson: Oh, totally. Listen, she was quite the phenomenon when she first came out. I was nervous about that going into it, before the release even came out. I was nervous that I was going to be getting that kind of thing as the majority of the interaction, because she is so fetishized. But I will say that the community’s been really amazing. There’s no escaping the fact that you’re a woman on the internet. That stuff exists. But the overwhelming reaction of the community has been positive.
The first things I received were people reaching out to talk about my work and how much they appreciate what I did in the game. And oddly I get a lot of strangers writing to tell me that they’re proud of me after I win these awards. They’re writing to say, “We’re so proud of you, genuinely so proud.” That’s touching, very moving. It’s been lovely, actually, the reactions.
Question: Has playing a character who’s gained so much maybe unexpected renown in video games–has that opened additional doors for you? Or, conversely, has it been a thing where people reach out to you saying, “We’d like you to play a character that’s like her, but a little different”?
Robertson: It’s so interesting. Time will tell, because I don’t know–this is my very first entry into the world of video games. I happened to get an agent a week before the game came out, so it’s hard for me to tell if my new auditions and new bookings are because I have this shiny new agent, or because I have this shiny new award. Either way I’m very happy about them. But I think time will tell. This is a very small industry. Relationships matter. I’m grateful to have worked on this game with other creators and collaborators that I want to work with again, who treat people well and are creative and always open to new ideas, always willing to work with you and not just at you, telling you what to do. I value those relationships, and I hope they continue to grow.
Question: Is it weird for you that the face of the character is someone different?
Robertson: I find it rather liberating, to be honest. It allows me to have that separation, so that I can now watch the game and experience the game as a fan myself, as an audience member. I’m not overly critiquing my own performance. Especially in terms of the fetishization and this reaction we’re having to her–I wonder how Helena Mankowska, the face model, feels about it. But I enjoy that degree of separation. It allows me to have that bit of space and the safety around it. I can just enjoy it.