2015 is a slow year for Troy Baker. But a slow year for Troy Baker includes appearances in three of the year’s biggest announced video games (and one delayed to 2016), as well as the continued promotion of his debut album.
So Troy Baker’s definition of slow might be a bit different from everyone else’s. And really, it only seems slow in comparison to last year, when Baker had over 15 credits in some of the year’s most beloved titles. What keeps Baker coming back to video games, as opposed to jumping into more live-action acting, is his love of the medium.
“Acting is acting is acting,” Baker tells EW. “But there’s something specifically about telling a story within this medium that I really, really dig. Probably because I’m a gamer.”
And his love for the medium shines through, whether talking about the projects he’s involved with or games he plays solely as a fan. Sometimes, that line blurs, as was the case with the Uncharted franchise. “I remember the first time I played Uncharted, and I was doing a really bad movie,” Baker recalls. “My [PlayStation 3] that a friend of mine let me borrow was about my only source of solace. “
The early Uncharted games grabbed Baker’s attention so much that he reached out to someone in developer Naughty Dog’s audio department to tell them what a fan of the franchise he had become. That eventually led to Baker’s award-winning role as Joel in 2013’s The Last of Us, and his latest partnership with the studio, as Nathan Drake’s older brother in Uncharted 4.
While that game’s development has included some public exits, Baker has full confidence in the game’s team to deliver a worthy conclusion to Drake’s story.
“[Directors] Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley have been with the Uncharted franchise since the beginning,” Baker said. “So this isn’t falling into new hands. These are people that truly understand the story, the characters and want to create something that is a game they want to play and something that does really good service to the Uncharted franchise.”
And Baker has fond memories of working on the game. He speaks like an excited fan about the chance to perform in motion capture sessions with the actors behind the game’s main characters. Particularly, he pointed out his friendship with one of gaming’s other most prolific voice actors, Nolan North.
“Nolan is a dear friend, and we laugh about the rivalry people think he and I have,” he said. “I’m sure this will put it to bed once people play this game”—as he plays Sam, the older brother to North’s Nathan Drake.
In addition to Uncharted, Baker is involved with a few more big 2015 games—including roles as Two-Face in Batman: Arkham Knight and Revolver Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Knight in particular has seen some lengthy delays, but Baker emphasizes what those delays do to developers.
“Only thing that it means is that the game is going to be better for it and that your experience is going to be better for it,” Baker explains, describing how developers may give up certain benefits promised to them by delaying their games and missing the original street dates. But they do it to make a product more worthy of its players.
No matter when the games arrive, though,, Baker is thrilled at the prospect of Metal Gear and Arkham Knight, both as a fan and as an actor. “Two of the biggest [games this year], this is my opinion,” he says. “In size of scope, I think that Metal Gear and Arkham Knight are going to make even Destiny look super small”—before joking that he realizes such a comment might incite some online fan rage.
But if Baker’s remarks ever sound boastful, it only comes from the obvious love he has for acting, video games, and being able to combine those two passions. “TV and film is great [at the moment],” he said. “But it’s still observational. What I love about games is that it creates an experience where you and I have agency in the story. And we’re actually helping to control it and we set the pace. Our decisions impact the world.”
And those decisions create conversations around Baker’s projects, from the major moments in The Last of Us to the choice-laden turns of Tales from the Borderlands. Baker loves involving himself in those discussions, or hearing about them from fans, not just about the game’s he’s in but the music he produces.
Baker released his debut album, Sitting in the Fire, late last year after several years of tinkering, and has been working on getting the word out since—including a show in New York this week to celebrate his birthday.
For Baker, the craft is only one aspect of what drives him. It’s the impassioned responses he gets—the love-or-hate moments that drive fans of a game wild, or the tracks from his album that find their way into a listener’s everyday life—that brings such meaning to his work.
“That becomes my art,” he said. “Not the thing I created. I don’t want that to ever serve me. I just want to serve it.”