Although the early trailers for RESIDENT EVIL VILLAGE had us believe that Lady Dimitrescu was the main villain fans would have to defeat, once we played the game we quickly learned that there are actually a stack of boss fights. All of these characters add something special to the game, and without giving too much away if you haven’t played it yet, House Beneviento is possibly the most nightmare-inducing section of it all! It was a great pleasure, then, to actually get to speak to the actor responsible for bringing Donna Beneviento to life, ANDI NORRIS…
STARBURST: How did you first get involved with acting?
Andi Norris: Well, it all started when I was a child playing dress up. I kid, but also, it’s true. I knew from my first children’s theatre production when I was five that I wanted to be an actor for the rest of my life. I imagined myself in a number of other careers - and I have had a number of other careers along the way - but ultimately, I’ve always been an actor. Acting meant that I could have all of those careers for a moment in time, for a story. After children’s theatre, it was making up little plays with my friends at recess and performing them for the class - yes, I was definitely the coolest kid in school [laughs] - to auditioning and performing in the local community college plays, to being cast in every production in high school, to studying it in college, to moving to LA, and here we are!
Jumping forward a little bit, how did you then go on to get involved with Resident Evil Village?
My good friend Sara Coates - you may have heard of her? - brought me in. We knew each other when we both lived in Seattle. She was already working in the RE franchise, noticed from social media that I was working regularly in Motion Capture, and let me know about the audition. I didn’t have any clue what it was for until after the first table read!
How much did you know about Resident Evil before that audition? Were you a fan of the games at all?
Honestly, before the audition, all I knew was the movies. I hadn’t played any of the games and I wasn’t familiar with the lore past that.
When you found out you were playing Donna Beneviento, was there anything in particular that excited you the most about playing her?
Her loneliness and isolation. I’m often cast as really tough or really quirky characters, so this was a great, and challenging, exploration for me. I identify a lot with Donna. I’ve been through debilitating fear of being seen, being judged. I’ve gone through long periods of time in isolation, obsessively reading, building things, talking to myself… It can be a painful place to live, but it’s often also a kind of a reassuring pain. Like pressing on a bruise.
What do you remember the most about your first day on set?
How much fun it was to play with the rest of the cast. My first day on set was the big scene with all the lords. I’d only just met everyone at the table read; no one knew what anyone else’s character was like yet. It was just a fun day of play and exploration! But through all the fun and interesting things that happened that day, I will never ever, ever forget seeing Angie’s butt wiggle for the first time. Genius.
Let's talk Motion Capture. What was that like to do for Resident Evil Village, and is there a scene that stands out to you as being particularly rewarding to work on?
Well, I talked about the first scene with the lords. That was just such a rewarding day playing with everyone for the first time! But also the day we shot the cut scene for Chris’ Wolf Pack, and I played Tundra. That was a really fun day, too! My good friend Dove made a strong choice with his character to be kind of a bravado man, carrying his rifle over his shoulder all nonchalant like. He would swing around randomly and the rifle would be right in my face and I’d duck out of reflex. This happened All. Day. Long. By the end of the day, my quads were on fire! Obviously, none of that is in the game, it’s far too comedic, but it is a fun memory I have of that day.
Can you elaborate on what you think Motion Capture brings to a game like Resident Evil Village?
As opposed to keyframe animation for games? For the most part Motion Capture brings more realism, more relatability to the characters in a game like Resident Evil Village. We might not think about the person behind the movement of a character while we’re playing, and that’s a good thing really! The player should be so swept up in the game that it’s just real for them. That takes making the uncanny valley as small as possible. You can achieve some truly brilliant things through strictly keyframing, but capturing a human creating a character is always going to bring to life more realism.
Also, how would you say that this Motion Capture process compares to what you've done before in this style of work?
This is the first time I’ve also done the VO for a character in Motion Capture - for Tundra. In my experience working in this part of the industry, I’ve built the physicality of a character, performed the performance capture, sometimes some of the stunts as well, and then someone else comes in and does the voice acting. That’s really common in games, and I’m not sure that’s something a lot of people know. It can take a good handful of people to build a single character’s performance! And that’s not including all the animators, directors, technicians, and everyone else working behind the camera!
For many it seems that the Donna Beneviento section of the game was the scariest, however, for you, how would you say that part of the game compares to the rest of Resident Evil Village overall?
I’ve only just beaten the Beneviento house! No spoilers!!! BUT – shameless plug - you can find out my answer to this as you watch my gameplay over on my Twitch channel [twitch.tv/andiawesome]. End shameless plug [laughs].
For gamers that haven't played Resident Evil Village just yet, why should they check it out, and what can they expect?
They should check it out because it’s a stunningly beautiful game with a heart wrenching story, characters that will really stick with you on a deep level, and, ya know, a jump scare here and there.
What else can we expect to see from you in 2021?
Oh boy, I wish I could really dive in and answer this question, but everything I recently worked on and am currently working on is under NDA - I will say that there are some VERY squeeable projects coming up! Rest assured that you will certainly hear about them from me online as soon as I’m able to talk about them!
For more from ANDI NORRIS, check out her Twitter @Andi_Norris, Instagram @Andi_Norris, Twitch andiawesome, and Streamily AndiNorris. RESIDENT EVIL VILLAGE is available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, and PC.
For our interview with Maggie Robertson, the actor behind Lady Dimitrescu herself, visit our other RESIDENT EVIL VILLAGE feature here.