Pathfinder's voice actor on working Apex Legends, next Respawn game
Olivia R. July 26, 2019
Chris Edgerly is the voice of Pathfinder. He may not be that great at Apex Legends, but he's quite an impressive voice actor.
Edgerly has over 180 credits on IMDB, including movies, television shows, video games, and anime. And he often uses these voices while getting eliminated while live streaming Apex Legends with his brother.
For Edgerly, the worlds of Apex Legends and of competitive gaming are brand new, and he's still discovering just how big a role he has played in the esports and video game industries. He's even accepting challenges from fans, who can find him at TheEdgeVoice on Xbox.
WIN.gg sat down with the Los Angeles native to discuss Pathfinder's origin story, new Respawn Entertainment projects, and his other roles on such shows as The Simpsons.
How did you come up with the voice for Pathfinder? How did the voice form?
Chris Edgerly: It was a typical audition process, where they sent out copy to my agency. You look at the description of the character and how to approach it. And Pathfinder is this really meticulous, well-spoken robot. I did my version of a very proper, congenial robot that's deadly. It was a well educated and "happy to help" kind of voice.
They brought me in for a callback and they were really enthusiastic about what I'd tried. They kept steering me in that direction. So we did more and more of that. They liked my initial instinct for it. It was about trying to find the sound of a well educated sentient being that's ready to kill everyone.
What are Pathfinder's defining characteristics that shaped how he would sound?
He's very polite. He's very helpful. He's completely and utterly oblivious to a human's sense of humor or anything that might be construed as impolite. Even when he's won, and he's gloating, he's not aware that he's being mean. He's just stating a fact. They programmed him to be polite, but with no social awareness whatsoever, whch I think is endearing. He's like a kid.
How were you able to give him a full personality and get to know who he is, when Pathfinder's background is still an unknown?
The one thing they did tell me is that he wants to find his creator. That's enough for me, because you start with a voice based on these few personality traits they want him to have. If you keep in mind that he wants to desperately find this thing, it worms its way into your performance.
Every now and then, he will feel let down. He'll want a high five. But then he'll ask someone, "Are you my creator?" And sometimes he'll say, "I'm sorry, I'm just looking for my creator," while standing over the corpse of someone he just killed. It's enough for people to identify with.
Do you have any theories on his origin?
I think they left that more open-ended. Orson Welles once said to do enough to meet the audience halfway. If they're invested enough to fill in their own story, you got them. So I imagine some creator, maybe a Geppetto type guy, and then something happened. And he's gone. Or maybe it's like Wall-E. He's part of a huge conglomerate, they made millions, and left him. Both can be heartbreaking.
If there's no real creator, that's heartbreaking. Because he wants that connection. I don't want to get too heavy, but I'm a child of divorce who didn't get to see his dad a lot. Maybe, it's something like that.
How did you end up getting involved with Apex Legends in particular?
I've done over 100 games. But I didn't know anything about this world. Not Titanfall. Nothing about Respawn's games. I was busy raising kids with my wife. Now I understand this whole world. Kind of like how you're dropped onto the island, I've been dropped into this world and I'm looking for supply bins of information.
What were your initial thoughts about Pathfinder in the game?
I thought he'd be fun to play. I love the fact that he's not screaming. So many characters from games, you just scream your bloody head off. Your throat gets ravaged. Pathfinder, I can do him all day. I love that his voice is not that different from mine. Just happier and more polite. He's not that far away from me, either. I'm sort of like him. I'll say something sarcastic and say, "Oh, I didn't mean it like that."
Have you always wanted to be a voice actor? How did you get involved in the industry?
Throughout my childhood, I was always doing voices and entertaining. In college, where I was a drama minor, a friend said I should give stand-up a try. I would do it ocassionally at this local place. I wanted to do it professionally.
Once I had hit Los Angeles, I had some experience under my belt. It took a little time to get an agent, but once I did it was a really good fit. Stand-up is great training for voiceovers. I don't know if enough voice actors are aware of that, or actors in general. It's all about rhythm, timing, it's about thinking on your feet. I've never had to take much time looking at a script before I was ready to read. We have this switch we can instantly flip and perform.
One of your earlier works was as a guest voice on Drawn Together. What was that like for you?
That experience was a lot of fun. I was amazed at how gleefully offensive the show was. I would talk to the creators, Matt and Dave, and say, "There's no way you can say that!"
Everyone just expects them to be offensive. It was hysterical, but they couldn't wait to say and do something totally inappropriate. That's what the show was all about.
You were also a guest on Kenan & Kel, which was not animated. How was that?
I was in the pilot episode. I was the guy who sold them a stolen car. They felt they were using me too much after a while so they put me in disguises. The second time I was a surfer dude messenger. I had a funky red wig on. And a uniform. The third time they dressed me up as a superhero at a comic book convention, completely covered.
It was a lot of fun. It was really funny to watch how these two kids suddenly became these veteran performers. You watch it happen. Kenan Thompson is now the longest tenured cast member in Saturday Night Live history. And Kel does stuff for Nickelodeon to this day, doing some shows for them. It's great to see.
Do you prefer voice acting over performing?
I don't pursue on-camera work. The closest I get to that now is doing performance capture work for video games. I'm doing that now for another Respawn Entertainment game that's coming out, that I'm not allowed to dicuss. They'll announce it in September. To me, that's theater. Everywhere you turn, your performance is being recorded. You have to be very aware of your body.
You are now a cast member of The Simpsons. What's it been like working on such a big show?
I've been with them for 10 seasons. I do a bunch of random voices, whatever they need. I'm a swiss army knife. That's where I found my niche.
There's a character called the Detonator, who's a professional gamer. He's already appeared in one episode and he'll probably be in the next season. He's a dry monotone gamer who does walkthroughs. Even in the bathroom, he's still on his headset doing a walkthrough of his bathroom experience. He just basically mentors Bart and Millhouse and the others on getting together an esports team. I especially appreciate it now that I'm in this world more.
How does it feel to be on such an iconic show like the Simpsons?
It's just as cool as you would imagine. It's never stopped amazing me that I get to be on that show, surrounded by these wonderful, creative, funny people. I hope it just goes on forever. It's just awesome.
How do you so easily slip into these different characters, especially when they're on the same show?
You just use your imagination. You just play pretend. I don't have a special thought process. They give me a little info on them and I say, "Okay." I've always been a people watcher. I've always listened to how people sound and move. I'm constantly taking notes on human beings. Once somebody gives me an idea, I get it stored away and I use it. I mentally pull open that file and spit it out.
You've also done a lot of work in anime, mostly playing villains, like Hidan in Naruto: Shippuden. How is it playing a bad guy?
It's a lot of fun. I said the most outrageous things and have this amazingly maniacal laugh.
A lot of your recent work is with video games, like Tales of Symphonia and Ninja Blade. What led you to go from television work to video games?
It all happened at the same time. You audition for all kinds of things. Voiceover tends to be a volume business. You'll do five different things in one week. I've had weeks where Monday through Friday I've worked on three different projects. Animation for TV, ADR work for a movie, sometimes it's a video game. Could be anything.
What are some of the differences between doing voiceover work for a video game versus a TV show?
With TV and animation, it's nine months to a year before you see your work. Sometimes video games can be even longer. It depends on the scope of the game. When you're looping dialogue for a movie, you'll see it in a month or so.
I did this character, who is not that far removed from Pathfinder. I was the concierge AI in the film Passengers. That was not that long before the movie's release. I was one of the final stages. The movie had already been shot. I was interacting with Chris Pratt's character in the movie. But I was nowhere near where they were shooting that. I came in, walked into an air conditioned recording studio, and just watched him perform. I just recorded my lines and they synched it up.
What do you like about doing voice work for video games in particular?
The more it gets into the story, the more you get to know about the characters, the better. But sometimes it's nothing more complicated than whether you're going to like the game itself. Apex Legends is fun to record because it's not taxing on my voice, and Pathfinder's a fun character to play.
The people I record with, the game's developers, are super nice and a lot of fun. They're really enthusiastic about the game, too, which always helps. I just have a hell of a good time playing it, despite the fact that I'm horrible at it. And I'll probably never be any good. I'll consistently suck at it. But video games have gotten so immersive. It's like you're playing a movie. The more expansive the world they create is, the better.