Rockstar Universe Exclusive Interview with Roger Clark (a.k.a. Arthur Morgan) from RDR2
With the recent re-launch of Rockstar Universe, it’s great to be back in the community and engaging with other Rockstar Games fans and our followers. We, as many other fans, love to find out more about how Rockstar Games make their titles and about the people involved in making them so magical. With Red Dead Redemption 2 being their latest title which released almost 3 years ago, we were keen to find out more about the central character of one of the most gripping and detailed storylines we have ever experienced. Of course, we are talking about Roger Clark… or for those who don’t know who that is, Arthur Morgan – the main playable character in Red Dead Redemption 2.
We approached Mr Clark to ask him a handful of questions about his work and time playing Arthur in Red Dead Redemption 2. With the advance in technology used to create games in our day and age, it’s important to note that playing a character in a game is no longer just ‘voicing’ them, but actually being them. Everything you see Arthur do, whether it be running, jumping, climbing, rolling, shouting, moving etc, is entirely done by Roger Clark with Performance Capture. Read below some of the questions we asked Mr Clark and learn more about what he had to say about working with the Rockstar Studios development team to create a masterpiece title. We also forwarded some questions which our community asked which we have also included below. Enjoy! – And most of all, a HUGE thank you to Roger Clark for getting back to us and being a part of this interview, we are very grateful!
Question 1) First of all, for those who may not follow you or your work, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Roger: “Hey everyone! Thanks for your interest in little old me. I’m Roger Clark, an actor. I was born in New Jersey and spent the first half of my childhood in the US, second half in Ireland. Lived in Co. Sligo. I travelled around a lot, studied in the UK, began my career there. I started out in theatre and voice over, did a lot of touring all over the world. Eventually expanded to film, TV, voice acting and performance capture as well. I’m best known for performing Arthur Morgan in Red Dead Redemption II. I’m married with two kids and live in Connecticut now.”
Question 2) What inspired you to pursue a career in acting, and how did you become involved with Red Dead Redemption 2?
Roger: “I began in amateur dramatics, never thought I’d be able to make a living out of it. When I was in my second year at Uni doing computer studies decided to bite the bullet and change courses to Theatre, Media and Drama. Wasn’t easy but it turned out ok and I’m glad I didn’t stick with something that I wasn’t very good at and that didn’t make me as happy as my passion.”
Question 3) Red Dead Redemption 2 is a huge game with lots of advanced technology used, meaning your role as Arthur wasn’t just being the ‘voice actor’, but actually you WERE Arthur Morgan. – What did you think of Arthur as a character and how did you prepare for playing the role of him?
Roger: “Well, just the fact that he wasn’t John Marston was going to be a big challenge, I felt. I knew how loved he was from the first Red Dead Redemption (I’m a massive fan too) so that was always on my mind. I figured early on I was going to have to do my own thing. If I tried to recreate what Rob Wiethoff did with Marston I knew that was destined for failure. You can’t out-Marston John frigging Marston. I worked on his dialect, his physicality (a lot of people think all performances in gaming is voice acting, this is not really accurate anymore, performance capture is a massive part of it now too, I’ll get more into that later) I studied John Wayne and Toshiro Mifune when I was working on Arthur.”
Question 4) What similarities, if any would you say you have between yourself and Arthur, or would you say you’re very different people?
Roger: “Obviously there’s some of me in Arthur, but there’s not a lot. I feel I’m a little more pragmatic than Arthur, maybe wouldn’t be as loyal to a fault as he is. I probably talk a little more than him too. I try to be as stoic as him but I fail from time to time.”
Question 5) When rehearsing for each scene, what was your opinions on the script provided to you? Did you ask to add your own spin on some scenes, or did you completely follow what was written?
Roger: “I did my job. You work on the script you’re given. The writing was good enough where that didn’t really pose a problem. That and Dan Houser was one of the writers! He is one of the founders of Rockstar Games. That being said, I always knew that if I had any questions or wanted to give input on a certain scene or angle of a story, I was always listened to. The creative team at Rockstar Games are an extremely intelligent and talented bunch and it was a pleasure to work with them for the 5 years that I performed Arthur Morgan.”
Question 6) For those who have never experienced motion capture, voice recordings and acting roles, could you explain a little about what your average recording day would consist of? Would you shoot for long hours or take regular breaks?
Roger: “Our shooting schedule was not dissimilar to shooting a film or TV show except that we never had to go on location. Every environment you see in RDRII was done in a performance capture studio. The sets would be built with complete dimensional accuracy but it was the animators that showed the actors what the real environment was in game. We could be in the freezing cold of Ambarino in the morning and in twenty minutes we’d be doing a scene in the blazing humidity of a swamp outside Saint Denis. It required a lot of teamwork and understanding and imagination and attention to detail.”
Question 7) Red Dead Redemption was a huge hit for Rockstar Games back in 2010 with it being their first major hit on a wild west game (other than RD Revolver). How did you feel about being involved in Red Dead Redemption 2 knowing their fans had high expectations following the success of Grand Theft Auto V?
Roger: “I understood the pressure and I took it seriously, but it was still hard because we were working under NDA’s and obviously didn’t want any spoilers getting out so there was no public feedback with what we were working on. I played RDRI and GTAV a LOT as we were working on Red Dead. I was a big Rockstar games fan before but playing their games as I was working on another was very informative for me and helped me understand the way they like to tell a story as well as better understand all of the technical requirements the animators needed from us.”
Question 8) Have you played Red Dead Redemption 2 yourself, and what was your initial thoughts about the final game?
Roger: “I’m still on my second playthrough. Got to about 70% completion on my first. I loved it, i’m biased obviously. The craziest thing about playing it was seeing all of the other dept’s work come to fruition and how it synergised with our own. It’s a massive, massive, detail laden world and I meet people on their 7th and 8th playthroughs that are still discovering new things. 3 years out, that’s kind of crazy.”
Question 9) Apart from playing as Arthur Morgan, were there any other characters or parts in the game which you acted and/or voiced?
Roger: “I’ve got a few things in the pipeline now but the only other game I really worked on was Shellshock II. That was my first foray into p-cap. It was a FPS set in the Vietnam war with some zombies thrown in for good measure. Sgt. Griffin was my largest character from that one. Sounds a bit like Arthur, was even more of a bastard though! “
Question 10) Prior to being in Red Dead Redemption 2, did you know much about the series or Rockstar Games, and if so what other titles have you played and which is your favourite?
Roger: “I’ve been a fan of Rockstar games since about 1999. I played the first Grand Theft Auto in college and have played most of their games. Max Payne, GTA, Red Dead. I think my faves are both RDRs, GTAV, GTA San Andreas and GTA Vice City but there isn’t one game of theirs I don’t like and they’re the only gaming studio that I can say that about.”
Question 11) Did you have any idea how successful Red Dead Redemption 2 would become, and if Arthur was asked to return for a sequel/prequel, do you think you would agree to it?
Roger: “I was hoping that RDRII wasn’t going to be a disappointment for the fans who enjoyed the previous one. That’s what I was hoping for, I think we succeeded so I’m really pleased with that. Arthur’s story has been told, I think. I don’t know what Rockstar Games have planned and I enjoyed working with the creatives but as an actor you learn not to hold your breath waiting for that phone to ring.”
Question 12) What is next for you, Roger? Are you going to pursue acting in video games, continue with film/television or take a break for a while?
Roger: “I love working. As an actor to be able to work is a blessing, for the first dozen years of my career I struggled a lot. I worked regularly but not enough to support myself. Now, I’m blessed to be in a better position and I never stop pinching myself because of it. I’ve been busy, I narrate audiobooks, have done a few film projects since red dead and there are some gaming projects in the pipeline! I hope you guys enjoy the stuff I’ve got upcoming a smidgeon as much as most of you seemed to like Arthur. I’m genuinely a very lucky actor to be part of something that is appreciated by such a big audience. Thank you for enjoying the work of my colleagues and I, it took a village. “
We also posted on our Twitter page asking the community if they had any questions to ask Roger about his work and time on Red Dead Redemption 2. We forwarded the questions we felt were most appropriate, of which Roger also kindly obliged to answer.
Question 1 – From @TheGTABase) Roger, what was it like to work and be in the same game as the amazing John Marston (Rob Wiethoff)?
Roger: “I loved John Marston before I knew Rob Wiethoff so I was a little nervous when I met him on our first day working together. It was the mission at the beginning where you rescue him from the wolves with Javier. Anyway, as I mentioned before, we did the full performance capture so I really did lift Wiethoff up on my shoulder and put him on one of our set ‘horses’. He’s not a small guy! Anyway it was definitely an ice breaker. We worked together for 5 years and never once did he ever play the “listen, new guy” card with me. He’s an absolute gentleman, a dear friend and I love him very much.”
Question 2 – From @Yan2295) Did you expect RDR2 to be that big of a success, and for Arthur to be such a loved and praised character?
Roger: “I was just hoping that it didn’t disappoint fans of the previous RDR. I also hoped that they didn’t hate Arthur for not being John because lets face it, as great a character as Jack is, that epilogue in RDRI hurts. You miss John. I wanted Arthur to be engaging enough to keep that to a minimum. I hope I succeeded. I know I didn’t for some, but that’s ok. I’ll happily take second fiddle to the outlaw who came before.”
Question 3 – From @ItzSterg) Mr Clark, did you enjoy working with Rockstar Games. If yes, what kind of work did you mostly have fun doing?
Roger: “I did enjoy it. It was a long contract, 5 years. We probably did the same volume of work as a 5 or 6 season TV show so we became family after a while. The most fun was working with my familiar colleagues, the rapport and trust we (and our characters) built up over the years was a real privilege to experience.”
Question 4 – From @CyberBlacks) Clark, what other RDR2 characters would you like to voice?
Roger: “Well, as you hopefully may be aware by now almost none of the main characters were voiced. Full performance capture is not voice acting and voice acting isn’t p-cap. They’re two separate, yet equal mediums. I cant really say who else I would want to play. I can’t imagine anyone else doing them now apart from the talented actors who did.”
Question 5 – From @cdockum2416) Has the success of RDR2 and the reception of your performance as Arthur opened you up to other, bigger acting opportunities? I would love to see you in another big budget production, perhaps a big movie or TV show?
Roger: “Definitely has brought new opportunities but there still seems to be an invisible wall inbetween gaming and film opportunities. I had more on-camera auditions before Red Dead came out than I do now and I think that’s because a lot of the film and TV industry don’t understand what we actually did. A lot of them still think we were in a booth reading off of a script, and honestly why would you audition someone like that for TV? That’s why I try to raise awareness about performance capture. I love voice acting and I love doing it but when everybody thinks the biggest job of your career was something that it actually wasn’t, you try to inform as best you can. I love acting on-camera and I don’t want to stop! Always a good thing to resist being labeled or pigeon-holed. I’ve always tried to keep as much options open as an actor that I can.”
Question 6 – From @ohgoshemma) Hello Mr. Clark! Outside of RDR2, what other projects have you been a part of that have most challenged you/been the most meaningful?
Roger: “I’ve toured theatre all around the world. I’ve done a lot of classics and I’ve performed in close to 50 countries. Bringing the same show to different audiences and cultures really taught me how to tell a story and it taught me how to listen to the audience. I’ve done a lot of Shakespeare and I can say that most of my sensibilities as an actor come from on the stage. I’ve also enjoyed my audiobook narrations. My Dad used to read newspapers for the blind on cassette and I used to help him as a child. The thought of kind of following in his footsteps is pretty cool for me.”
Question 7 – From @MaxHaraldsson) I know you’re a gamer, so what are some of your favourite games of all time?
Roger: “As I said earlier, both Red Deads, GTAV, San Andreas, Vice City, I’m a resident evil fan, loved final fantasy. More recently I really enjoyed Skyrim, Uncharted series, TLOU series, Witcher III, Fallout 4, Spiderman, Arkham series and Ghosts of Tsushima.”
Question 8 – Form @JrabArt20) What was the first game made by rockstar you played?
Roger: “Grand Theft Auto.”
We hope that this interview has been an interesting read and that you have been able to learn more about Roger Clark, the actor behind Red Dead Redemption 2’s Arthur Morgan. We would like to say a massive thank you to Roger for participating in this and allowing us to ask him some questions, but also to answer some of the community questions too. Red Dead Redemption is a truly iconic game that is vast in detail with a gripping and action-packed storyline. If you haven’t bought it yet, head to our game page here where you can find out more information and media.