just reposting this for the history books
HitmanForum interviews David Bateson (1/2)
Thursday, 18 September 2003 - Have you ever wondered what Agent 47 would be like if he was a real, living, breathing person? The suit, the red tie, the bald head, and the voice. Though all characteristics have their part in making 47 the character that he is, it is mainly the latter one, the voice , that lifts him up above the one-dimensional video-game characters we’ve all seen a thousand times. The voice of David Bateson.
David Bateson, is an artist, and actor who’s a local celebrity in Copenhagen, Denmark, and he is practically the soul of 47. He has done a lot of work in many different fields of acting (theatre, movies, voice acting) and he is responsible for the voice acting of the Agent 47 character in both “Hitman” video games. Some fans have even tipped him for the role of 47 in the upcoming Hitman motion picture.
We at HitmanForum have been playing with the thought of what it would be like to interview the star of our favourite video game. Unfortunately, he exists only in the virtual world of polygons, international intrigue, and death-on-demand. David is the next best thing. We decided to drop him an email, asking about the possibility of an interview, and against all our expectations, he actually said yes!
HitmanForum administrator ampburner has the privilege of speaking to David in an Internet chat, which resulted in an insightful interview about the world of Hitman, voice acting, and the upcoming titles, “Hitman 3 : Contracts” and the “Hitman” movie.
Hitmanforum.com is proud to present the first part (out of two) of our exclusive interview David Bateson. Don’t forget to check back next week for part II of the interview, when we will be asking some questions submitted by our forum members, and we will be discussing Hitman 3 and the upcoming “Hitman” movie.
HF : Hey David, how are you?
David : Got a call today from IO Interactive, nearly jumped out of my skin
HF : really? What did they have to say?
David : yeah. However, today it wasn’t about Hitman III but about Freedom Fighters.
HF : was it voice-acting related?
David : Sort of. They want me to present the launch of their new game - like a toastmaster
HF : like, at a release party or something?
David : Yeah. Big gala premiere thing in town at the end of the month. You should see some of the graphics!
HF : I’d love to, do you have any digital Pictures? I assume it’s in Copenhagen, am I right?
David : Yes it is. I don’t have material and they are keeping it very quiet. It’s about a military stand off in New York, if I remember rightly.
HF : Yes, it is. I’ve played the demo version of the game. It’s quite good.
David : OK. Good to hear it. So fire away. By the way, there’s some new film footage coming out on my site. Had it dropped in today. From an old film called “Den Enes Død” where I play a hitman.
HF : Ok, here’s my first question. (I’d like to talk about acting some more later on)
When I was looking at your site, I noticed that you have done a lot of voice acting, for example in the advertisements for companies like Nokia and Mercedes. Exactly how does one become a voice actor?
David : It’s a very “closed shop”. I’ve been doing it for twenty years. (Check out Carlsberg.com under location London Bar sports. My latest as a football commentator!) It’s simply about contacting sound studios with a demo. Sounds easy huh?
HF : well, that does sound easy. Is that how you got in touch with IOI in the first place?
David : No. You see, I am really well known in Copenhagen as an English actor but also as one of the major players in the V/O biz so they called me. However, I will say, the first Hitman was an experiment. The truth is - they didn’t know how big it was going to get. They were just some computer nerds from Frederiksberg (a suburb) with a good idea. They hoped that if it made money it would free them up to develop other games. Little did they realise…
HF : So, what made you decide to take them up on their offer?
David : I like the graphics - never seen anything that advanced before. And secondly, they treated Agent 47 like someone real. I liked that. They really cared - about it all. You know, the character AND the game. That impressed me.
HF : How did they initially describe the Agent 47 Character to you? What attracted you in him?
David : Like a guy who had a past. Someone tormented. It just seemed right. Also, they were open to some input. Finally, they were totally on top of the text. I mean, they could genuinely direct and actor and that definitely surprised me. Ultimately, I say yes to projects that interest me. It’s definitely not a financial decision initially.
HF : How much were you involved into the voice acting process when it comes to creating the character, writing and / or adjusting your lines, etcetera?
David : Well, more so with Hitman II. I guess they felt more confident about everything and that it included me. For instance, suggesting that his accent be toned down because he’d been in a monastery for five years. Though they of course know exactly what’s going to happen in a scene, I was allowed to suggest stuff like saying a line in a quiet thoughtful way as apposed to shouting it - I was also allowed to improvise - a little! Stuff that gets overlooked is the breathing. Looking through the keyhole, for instance, needs breathe real close to the microphone to feel like the face is close to the door.
HF : Besides the voice (obviously) do you see many similarities between 47 and yourself?
David : Good question: Many years ago I was told I would make action movies involving firearms and the like. My agent at that time said too, that when I grew “into my look” I would work in films as a villain with a heart". Ala “Leon”. I would like that too and in some strange way, it appears that that is coming true…
HF : so, aside from voice acting, how much did you get to see of the videogame development?
David : Not enough. I got to see some rough cut sequences on a lap top and also some more finished graphics and sound effects on a main frame computer.
HF : Do you like to play videogames yourself?
David : You know - in my next life! I don’t seem to have the time. Crap excuse, cos I love it. Only now getting into Hitman II God I am ashamed!
HF : Have you played Hitman 1 also? How did you like it? Do you have any other personal favourites?
David : In a way it blew me away even more - cos it was so detailed and advanced. Says me who knows diddly squat! But II is better. What about you?
HF : I love both, though I think that I and II have different qualities. Hitman I had a better overall atmosphere and levels, in my opinion, but II had better graphics and was a lot more polished. I’m hoping Hitman III will be combining the best of both.
David : Interesting. So Hitman I is better! I suspected it. I heard that it was considered too difficult - not enough mass interest. Actually, I like sport games like SSX Tricky and particularly, Surfing games. I am a surfer from way back Oh yeah, and Medal of Honour!
HF : A surfer?
David : Yeah, surfer - and I find myself living in Scandinavia! My local good wave spot is Hossegar in SW France - hardly, just round the corner
HF : I’ve got another question about the voice acting… did you meet the other actors that are featured in the game? Dr. Ortmeyer maybe? Or Diana from Agency?
David : A few of them. Diana from Agency is my theatre boss in Copenhagen. This will freak you al out: Check out one of my links: Londontoast.dk and all will be revealed.
Diana is Vivienne McKee. Bo and Tina Robinson Hansen are the stunt people/voice actors also credited. I know a couple of the others from the sound studios in Copenhagen. But there are so many…
HF [after visiting the site] : Ha-ha, somehow playing the game will never be the same after visiting that website! So, are all the voice actors Copenhagen locals?
David : Not sure. Don’t think so. The US voices in the beginning - they are also DK based American actors. But I think some voices are UK based
HF : That’s great though, that a project starting out in a small place like Copenhagen, Denmark can explode into a worldwide franchise - and it isn’t even that mainstream in terms of straightforward gameplay.
David : Yeah, tell me about it. Those guys just wanted to make enough to be able to develop other ideas. Now they own a building and have 100 employees and earn more money than they can count. Scary though.
This is the second part of the exclusive interview we had with David Bateson, the voice actor that plays Agent 47 in both “Hitman” videogames.
In Part I we discussed the process of voice acting and David’s input in the “Hitman : Codename 47” and “Hitman : Silent Assassin” videogames.
In part II we will look at the future - “Hitman 3” and the upcoming “Hitman” motion picture - aswell as aks David a number of questions submitted by our forum members.
HF : I have a couple of questions submitted by our forum members, would you mind answering a couple of those?
David : Go ahead
HF : a question from Shotgun Assassin: "Out of all the places 47 has been, which one would you most like to visit?
David : there’s something about St Petersburg that fascinates me. It’s those forbidding buildings and the crunch of the snow. It gives me a very weird sense of “Deja vu”. Can’t really explain it. Copenhagen mid winter does the same. Like I’ve been here before - feels like a childhood memory. Hope I don’t scare you?!
HF : I’ve been to Copenhagen, actually. Not in the wintertime, but still, it’s a beautiful city.
David : Yeah. You know, I moved to Denmark because of the place. I really like it. Moved around all my life - felt at home here from day one
HF : I thought you were Danish! Just the sound of the name…Bateson, it sounds so Scandinavian, like Larsson, Johansson, etc. So, you’re from England, then?
David : Born in South Africa - just to confuse you. British parents from the north of England. Useless fact - a Bait man was a falconer who trained the falcons for the local Landowner/Baron whatever. Very old English apparently. Stay awake…
HF : I’ve got a question from tetrakarbon. He asks: “What’s up with Help, I’m a fish?”
David : The guys at A Film call it the most expensive show-reel ever made. Cost 100 million Danish Kroner and though it sold well, Disney killed it in the States and it never recovered. Pixar didn’t help. Still, I got to act opposite Alan Rickman so I’m stoked!. I’m currently working on their next feature “The Ugly Duckling” Check out A Film’s site
HF : and for our readers: I suggest you check out David’s site (davidbateson.dk) as well, it has a lot of sound clips and movie clips, including a song from help I’m a fish
HF : Jardel asks: “Has anyone on the street or over the phone ever recognized your voice from the game?”
David : Good one. Actually, when they promoted II they had huge projections against buildings of the cover. I got “recognised” in the street twice - weird. And once on the phone when I got to speak to a friend of mine’s son on the phone. It freaked him out! I also had friends call me up quite a lot, you know, when they bought it and tried it out and recognised my voice.
HF : Hey, It would have freaked me out for sure! Here’s another one. KaptainKatana asks: “How do you respond to the controversy about the game?”
David : You mean about the colour of the turbans?! That kind of thing? Or about the general issue of Hitman from a moral point of view?
HF : I think he’s referring to the incident where Eidos changed certain aspects of the game after receiving complaints from the Sikh community, but if you could comment on both?
David : Oh, I see - I thought it was too hysterical. To be honest, Desert Storm is more offensive. Even Medal of Honour to some people. As for hitman as a profession - good pay - lousy hours!
HF : The fact that 47 is an assassin is an interesting topic. What do you think of 47 as a character and as a person? And of his profession?
David : I’d like to see him continue to develop and grow. By that I mean that he needs to feel regret, sadness, and anger too. Agent 47 has a very dry sense of humour. Too dry. To pick up. Without lightening the character I’d like to see him enjoy some moments. As for the profession, well I wouldn’t regard it as a career move - though there are some casting people and directors I’d like to whack!
HF : speaking of casting people and movie directors…you told me in your email that you were interested in the part of 47 in the supposedly upcoming Hitman Movie. Is there anything you can tell us yet?
David : Oh yeah. This is where you come in. As soon as my hitman footage is up and running and as soon as I have done this Freedom Fighter promo Gala launch, I am going to launch my own contract! On the powers that be, to convince them to give me a screen-test in LA When Sean Connery first played Bond one of the best PR lines was simply: Sean Connery is James Bond". The guy who directed my hitman movie suggested using something similar to the guys at IO Interactive. You know, carpet bomb them with such a slogan re: me as Agent 47.
HF : Do you mean literally rallying up support from the fans?
David : Oh yeah, so when the time is right I will give you the relevant e-mail addresses and a few (million) reminders to them re: me as Agent 47 and let’s see what happens.
HF : well, if I know the hitmanforum community, and I think I do, I’m sure we’ll find some members who will be willing to ‘chip in’, so to speak.
David : Just remember - when you’re doing 2 to 5yrs for cyberspace harassment, it wasn’t even my idea! Seriously, you never know in this business, what really makes a difference. The only thing I know for certain, is that “doing nothing” gets ya nowhere!
HF : so, is there news about the hitman movie at all, that you know of?
David : Only that it’s in development. I will find out more in the next few days.
HF : Is there anything you can tell us about Hitman 3?
David : the same (as Hitman: the Movie). I heard that it’s on hold cos they want to push a “back story” idea first. A prequel? Maybe it’s to stall for the release of Playstation 3 to coincide with a Hitman launch. I know they are interested in having Hitman be one of the first games to launch their next generation Playstation
HF : Interesting. But does that mean that you haven’t spoken to IOI about it yet?
David : No I haven’t. Their lawyer contacted me last November re: Hitman III and we’ve been arranging meetings ever since. No lie! Then the movie idea came up and after I spoke to the head of IOI Janos Flösser in the spring this year, where he said they’ll be in touch, I’ve heard nothing. However, I will contact them now - especially as I am about to work for them
HF : Final question, you’ve worked in film, theatre, television, and voice acting. Which is your favourite medium?
David : Got me there. Theatre because it’s immediate, voice cos it’s limitless, but film gets the nod as my favourite. I like the sheer attention to detail of film. Going for “that moment” and when it’s captured - it’s there forever. I love the life!
HF : Is there anything you’d like to say to the visitors of hitmanforum.com?
David : Thanks for the chat. It was fun. Anytime. I will keep you guys up to date on developments or inside news. I think you all have exceptionally good taste in gaming. Hitman rocks! See you in Hitman III. Hopefully. Bye for now. Agent 47.