Mipha’s Grace: Amelia Gotham talks to Pause Resume

For those who have played any Zelda game, there are three characters that immediately stand out: Link, Ganon and Princess Zelda herself. Like so many other Zelda conventions though, Breath of the Wild made us think again, with a cast of characters as touching as they were memorable. Perhaps none more so than Princess Mipha.

She was part of a cast that will live long in the memory, but her relationship with Link, as well as her overall personality struck a chord with many players. So much so that we wanted to talk to the woman who brought her character to life with an engaging, and at times therapeutic voice, Amelia Gotham.

Amelia was gracious enough to lend us some of her time to talk through the role she played, what it was like working with Nintendo and her response to Mipha’s popularity after the game was released.

First off, let’s start with the process of actually winning the role of Mipha. Can you tell us a little bit about your audition and your immediate thoughts on landing the part?

I auditioned for the role at Formosa Interactive in Los Angeles, CA. They brought me in along with several others to read for multiple characters. I read for all the female parts and got a call back for Zelda but not Mipha. I would later find out that I did well enough in the first audition that they didn’t require me to read for her again. I got to read a couple different scenes of Mipha’s, one I particularly remember was the one where Mipha tearfully talks to herself as if to her father, wishing she could see him once more. I remember tearing up in the booth – truly touched by the tragedy of Mipha’s story. I wanted the part badly, but, as with everything in the acting world, you can’t get your hopes up. However, when I received the news that I did get it, I was absolutely ecstatic.

How familiar were you with the Zelda series at the time you landed the role? And did any of the past games influence how you played Mipha?

I had played old versions of Zelda as a child but was not familiar with how popular the series had become over the years. Since BOTW is the first voiced game in the Zelda franchise, past games did not influence my approach to her. This was great for me because I could invent her as I saw her and not try to copy someone else’s work.

Were you allowed to creatively explore the character much?

Yes and no. With the help of the director, Jamie Mortellaro, we were able to create Mipha -although Nintendo should be given all the credit for her traits. You have to understand that this game was originally recorded in Japanese and the English dialogue had to match the lips of the character. It was challenging to match the pacing of the character’s lips while also giving life to the scene and keeping the vocal tone (which is not the way I normally speak.) But, with the direction of Jamie Mortellaro, and the rest of the Nintendo team I believe we were successful in creating an intriguing character. Nintendo had a “style” in mind, of course, and wanted the characters to have slight British sounding accents but Jamie made it clear that it was to be a light and hardly regionalized accent to convey the fantastical element of the story.

Mipha has an unrivalled affection for Link that’s rarely seen in past games in the series. Was that always the case?

Yes. Mipha’s love for Link was finalized far before I came aboard. Nintendo did an excellent job of creating a loving and lovable character with a very sorrowful story.

Mipha, along with a couple of other new characters in Breath of the Wild have been extremely well received by the fanbase. Did you think this might be the case when you were exploring the character? Or has her popularity shocked you a little bit?

Totally shocked.

I was unsure of how Mipha would be received and hoped that the audience would fall in love with her shy, sweet manner as I had. I think that it’s not typical to have a strong female character that is also demure and soft spoken and I was worried that people wouldn’t understand her. Of course, there’s always going to be critics but I was pleased to see the positive response from the majority of players.

Breath of the Wild is set to receive some additional content towards the end of the year. Is this something yourself and Mipha are involved with? If so, are you able to share anything that we can look forward to?

At this time, there’s nothing I can share.

How does working on a video game compare to previous roles you’ve had outside of the games industry? Do you have to prepare for game voice-overs in a different way and do you find it easy to adjust to the different industries?

With VO (voice over) acting you can’t rely on your face to provide the audience with information on the character’s state of emotions. There’s no slight smile or “look of worry” that you can use. No camera or audience to cheat towards. Everything is in the voice. Of course, I’m still making the faces and hand gestures in the booth anyway. But there’s also no script given to you before you enter the booth. The day I recorded my lines was the first day I saw my lines and some of them had to be changed on the spot if the words weren’t matching the lip flaps of the character. As far as preparation, I made sure to warm up my voice and practice placing my voice in the same way as I did when I auditioned.

And finally, have you had a chance to play Breath of the Wild yet? If so, how are you getting on and what do you make of the finished game?

Do you want to know something kind of funny? I don’t own any kind of console and haven’t played a video game in years.

You can follow Amelia on Twitter @gotham_amelia and also check out her personal site and Gotham Studios Photography.

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