Giacomo Gianniotti is the voice actor behind Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, in Marvel's Avengers game. After sitting out the main campaign when the game launched last year, Clint will take centre stage this week, in a DLC chapter titled Operation Hawkeye: Future Imperfect that launches on 18th March.
Gianniotti, who you might know as Dr Andrew DeLuca on Grey's Anatomy, joined a Zoom call with RadioTimes.com last week to chat about his role in Marvel's Avengers game and how it came to be.
As well as telling us that he turned down a larger role in Marvel's Avengers game (because of his busy schedule on Grey's Anatomy), Gianniotti ended up talking about dogs, a very dark future, and Hawkeye's big bust-up with the Hulk.
Read on for our full interview with Giacomo Gianniotti.
RT: Were there any particular comics that you connected with for the role?
GG: Right here. [Holds up a copy of My Life as a Weapon, the 2013 comic by Matt Fraction, David Aja and Javier Pulido]. That was my little Bible, as an actor, to just sort of always study and have by my side as a reference. Yeah, it was amazing. It's such a cool comic book.
On the movie side, everyone associates Hawkeye with that iconic Jeremy Renner performance. Was there any kind of inspiration you took there, or was there anything specific you were trying to do differently?
I just, intentionally, didn't watch any of those movies. I didn't want to be influenced by Jeremy Renner. And I want him to own his own performance. And I didn't want to sort of steal or betray anything of his work. I wanted it to kind of exist in its own world. So for this, I wanted to just religiously read this comic book, and dive into this character and this sort of version of the character that they were wanting to lift from My Life as a Weapon.
And then, once I came into the booth with my idea of who this character was, and how he plays, and his humour and his charm... and he's sloppy, he's messy, his apartment's always a disaster. He's paying his bills late. His life is a mess, even romantically. He's always, you know, different women, nothing lasts, he can't keep a girlfriend. And Kate Bishop is this amazing, sort of younger sister, who's even younger, but is much wiser than him and maturer than him in many ways. And so I just, I fell in love with that dynamic. And I attached onto that. And once I got to the booth and talked to the directors and the game developers, we honed in on that even more and made it even more specific. And I think we found something that is really fun. I can't wait to share Hawkeye with everybody and I hope they have a lot of fun playing him the storyline.
How did the COVID pandemic intersect with the timeline of you getting this role and meeting everyone and recording everything?
Yeah, my first session was in a recording studio. Because it wasn't COVID yet. And then my sessions after were pretty much all at home. I had to create a little home recording studio, that I had to invest in, to make sure that it was broadcast quality and recorded properly. And we used Zoom, and a lot of different technology, to make sure the engineers could take over my computer in my home and change things to the sound and how it was being recorded. There was a lot of technological feats that we had to accomplish, but we did it. And I'm really proud of our team, who went to all the great lengths that they had to go to make a great game under these circumstances and get it out on time. And so, yeah, I'm really proud of the work that we did, with all the constraints that we were working under. And it wasn't just me, it was a lot of the other actors were all having to do the same thing. So we made it work.
Did you have a chance to meet Ashley Burch [the actress playing Clint's mentee, Kate Bishop] or were your bits recorded completely separately?
Completely separately, but I hope to meet her one day, and hopefully work together again one day. And yeah, that's kind of a funny thing in difference between [acting for live-action projects and acting for video games]. Acting in film and television, you're surrounded by your actors, you meet them, you work intensely with them for such a long time. And then in the voiceover world, you could work on a whole game together, and you could never meet once, which is strange. So yeah, that's a different part between video games and film.
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This DLC seems to be setting a whole new huge story event, about this dark version of the future. What would you say to try and explain what the story is?
When I came into my first recording studio, I was told, 'You're actually going to be playing old Hawkeye as well'. And I said, 'What?' And they're like, 'Yeah, your character is going to meet himself decades into the future. And he's a rugged, beat up, haggard version of Hawkeye, who's had a lot of his joy and humour stripped from him because of all the tragedy and the loss that he's witnessed. And so, go ahead and play that character now'. And I was like, 'Okay!' So, you know, it was a fun experience, the Square Enix team was was was so great with me, and we really took the time in the booth to find this character's voice and to differentiate him from the young Clint. And I also can't wait for everybody to meet that character as well.
He's such a huge part of this this storyline. Clint and Kate, go into the future and see what they call - you've seen, in the trailer - he says, 'Who's the murder hobo?' Not knowing, because he looks like this, homeless haggard guy who has a post apocalyptic world that he's been surviving in, and he's out-survived all of his friends who he's lost. And so there's a lot of bitterness and sadness within this older Hawkeye character. A large part of the storyline is the young Clint seeing where life could lead, if he does not make the necessary changes. And he has a chance to change the future, forever, if he acts quickly. So, as time travel undoubtedly always is, there's a lot of challenges and fun things that happen along the way, and new enemies to face. But it's it's a really thrilling ride and I can't wait for everybody to play it.
One fight that's teased in the trailer is yourself going up against this future version of the Hulk. What can you tease about that dynamic and how that fight goes down?
So it's the Hulk, who he knows very well. It's another person that he's meeting in the future. And in the past, Hulk is an ally. And so to meet your ally in the future, who's now your enemy, is very strange and very disheartening, and [it] turns your whole world upside down. So I think the combat and the fight is difficult, because you're having to hurt someone you love, dearly, but only because they're trying to kill you. But it doesn't make it easy, because you're you're having to inflict damage on someone that you have a great deal of love for. But given the circumstances, you have to do what you have to do to survive. So it makes that that challenge in that battle a little bit personal, and different from just sort of beating down the regular foe without a thought. Yeah, that's a challenge for all the characters involved in that one.
The developers have said this is a game that could, in theory, run for years and years. If Hawkeye is going to keep being involved, are there any particular Marvel characters that are favourites of yours? Ones that you'd like to team up with or go up against?
I really love Spider-Man. He's always been one of my favourite characters from the Marvel Universe. So fun. I think it's a lot of the characters that have that kind of charming, comedy, not taking life too seriously attitude, [those] are the ones that I was most drawn to. So yeah, Peter Parker always likes to have a good time. And he's funny.
And I see a lot of similarities between him and Hawkeye. And so yeah, I think Spider-Man would be a cool one. But I think what what Square Enix has done with this sort of system of continuing to roll out content, as opposed to just creating whole separate games that you have to buy over and over again, this is just a cool way to just keep the lifespan of the game open and longer, and I'm excited to see what they do over the years with all different kinds of characters, and maybe bringing back characters to tell other storylines.
I have to ask you about Lucky the Pizza Dog, who we've seen in the trailer, looking just as cute and lovable as he does in the comic. I guess the question is, are you a dog person, and how were those scenes to record?
I do have a dog. I got a little rescue in April, actually, almost almost a year ago now, which is crazy. So yes, definitely a dog person. And it was fun to record those scenes. And Lucky's got a pretty big part. He got a pretty big part in in the game. And for someone who doesn't really have a lot of family, as you know, Clint's parents were killed in a car crash and his brother was killed in some crime growing up. So the dog is a super important part in his life - he's like the most important person in his life, in a way, to Clint. He loves his dog so much. And so he goes through great lengths to to get him back when he's when he's taken.
I feel like I caught, in the trailer, a little glimpse of Lucky maybe popping up in combat for a couple of moments as well.
Yeah, well, you never know. You never know. He might be joining our side. The newest furry member of The Avengers! There you go.
That's what everyone wants to see. That's the next DLC chapter right there.
Yeah, yeah, just the dog. [Laughs]
Marvel's Avengers: Operation Hawkeye - Future Imperfect launches on 18th March.
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