Don’t let insecure boys on the internet or mean people on dating apps tell you different: it’s not that big of a gap between 5’11” and 6’1″. However, actor Elias Toufexis recently revealed that it may as well have been a yawning chasm during the making 2011’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Though Toufexis was eager to do both voice and motion capture work for Jensen, the 6’1″ character’s 5’11” voice actor was passed over for a different performer when doing Jensen’s mocap. Over email, Toufexis told me how the split performance came to be, and why he thinks it hurt Human Revolution’s presentation.
“On Human Revolution, it was two separate departments. The voiceover team and the cinematic team (using motion capture),” Toufexis explained, noting that he felt the cinematics side had already picked their man. He felt he was extended the audition opportunity as a courtesy.
“At the time, apparently, it was a lot of work to stretch me a couple of inches,” said Toufexis. “So they cast someone else. [Adam Jensen’s body performer] was a fine actor, but the choices that were made (likely more by the directing team than the actor) were choices I wouldn’t have made. So I can’t watch it without getting a little ticked off.”
Toufexis says he would have changed his vocal delivery in certain scenes had he known how Adam Jensen would move, and characterizes the end result as “fractured.” Toufexis points to Adam’s stiff response to a mid game plot twist involving newscaster Eliza Cassan as one example.
Splitting a character’s performance between two separate actors for voice and body is something Toufexis is generally critical of, though he notes location and budgetary concerns as being understandable hurdles.
Thankfully, technological advances have removed some impediments to full performance capture, or the practice of recording vocals, facial expressions, and bodily movement all at the same time, recently used to great effect in Baldur’s Gate 3.
“I came to find out at the time, around ’07-’08,” Toufexis recalls of an earlier iteration in the technology, “Actors needed to be a certain height to get captured on the volume [motion capture stage] properly. At least 5’10” I think it was.”
By 2016’s Mankind Divided, the height difference between Toufexis and Jensen was no longer as much of a technical burden, and the actor remains proud of how the unified performance improved on the original game:
“Jensen was all me, top to bottom… For me, it’s the little things. We especially got a grip on the whole thing by the DLCs. The opening of System Rift is some of my favorite fully performance captured work I’ve ever done. Go watch it. They capture every little smirk and head tilt. It’s really wonderful work by the animation team. I’m very proud of it.
“A Criminal Past DLC also. That smile and then walk away that has become a popular gif, that’s all me baby. I love that they let me do it.”