Doug Cockle, the voice behind The Witcher’s Geralt, recently described his experience working on the series, including how awkward it can be to record intimate lines when he’s the only one present.
An American actor who now resides in coastal English city of Bournemouth, Cockle told Eurogamer he more or less stumbled voicing CDProject Red’s now iconic witcher mostly by chance. After working on the first game in the trilogy, released back in 2007, Cockle almost missed out on returning for the sequel when the Polish developer decided to go with a different recording studio.
Fortunately, however, he learned that CDProject Red was casting for the role again when a friend of his who had tried out mentioned it in passing. Cockle followed up with his original contacts at the company and managed to cement himself as the definite Geralt. The one who calls every horse he meets “Roach” and has a sparkling wit that’s as dry as week old bread. Like David Hayter’s Snake or Jennifer Hale’s Shepard, Cockle’s voice has come to define the essence of the character in a way that makes it take on a life of its own.
By the time he was working on the most recent game, he felt like he had a special relationship with the character. “Going into Witcher 3 was like slipping into a comfortable bath,” Cockle told Eurogamer. His performance was more relaxed now and less affected, while still sounding contiguous with the earlier games, despite having quit smoking in-between the second and third.
Similar in theory to the ease with which his character, Geralt, was able to slip back into relationships with past lovers like Triss Merigold and Yennefer of Vengerberg. Cockle himself never met either of the voice actresses behind those characters, however. Instead, Jaimi Barbakoff’s Triss and Denise Gough’s Yennefer were confined to lines on a page.
So when recording Geralt and Yennefer having sex on a stuffed unicorn, for instance, Cockle was left to perform in a vacuum.
“It’s like the violence...the hit that the character takes, the damage that he or she takes,” he told Eurogamer.
“You have to do a reel of different intensities, different kinds of injuries, different kinds of screams, different kinds of dying - you have to die different ways. It’s the same for sex; you have to enjoy yourself in different ways. What is that other character doing to you? What noise does that make you make? It’s... interesting!”
On stage or on a set, two actors performing an intimate scene can negotiate the scene and their characters’ intimate relationship together naturally. But for Cockle, this intimacy and Geralt’s responses had to be imagined and simulated on his own. According to him, “When you’re doing it in the booth there’s a different kind of awkwardness, because it is a bit like masturbation, you’re being caught masturbating. Do you know what I mean?”
He went on to liken the dramatic work to “having a good old wank and in walks your mum.” And given the amount of sex scenes in The Witcher series, especially the most recent game, Cockle was getting walked in on a lot.