Jason Isaacs on his "clearly insane" new game, The Last Worker
"All of it seemed, frankly, like the rantings of someone who's off their medication."
Jason Isaacs plays a malfunctioning Liverpudlian robot in The Last Worker, a new game that parodies massive companies like Amazon while focusing on the sole human employee. It's set in a grim fulfilment centre where packages are sorted and deranged machines run riot.
With the game launching on Thursday 30th March for PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, PC and VR, we caught up with Isaacs to talk about his unusual role in the project that he describes as "clearly insane".
Isaacs, of course, is a screen icon at this point, having appeared in the Harry Potter films (we couldn't help but ask him about those Cursed Child rumours) as well as Star Trek Discovery, The Death of Stalin and countless other memorable projects. But how did he end up attached to this particularly interesting one?
As you can see in the video above, Isaacs himself remembers it like so: "Jörg [Tittel], the creator and mad genius at the heart of it all, and I were going to do a movie and then the pandemic came.
"And then we are still going to do various other things, but he was just firing off in every direction when he told me about this clearly insane and unrealisable idea about a game, which didn't seem like any game I'd ever heard of."
Isaacs recalls: "He told me the rough story of it, and I thought, 'Well, you're clearly going at the richest man in the world, and that's not the boat I want to be in'. But he did. And you can buy it through all of the various tech companies that the game itself attacks."
He is well known for many of his villainous roles on screen, but was Isaacs pleased or surprised to be playing the smart-mouthed robot companion named Skew instead of the evil boss of the company?
As Isaacs puts it: "One of the joys of doing voice work is you can play all kinds of characters. It's a surprise to play this character, not because of who I am, but because of who he is. Who Skew is. First of all, he's a scouser. I don't know that there are any other Scouse characters in video games.
"I'm from Liverpool," he adds later. "It's an accent that I managed to hide for decades, professionally. And so it was releasing the inner Scouse in me but, you know, he's cynical and he's confused. And he's desperate for human connection, and all those things are as true of me as they are everybody else, and they were amplified during the pandemic."
As for the Amazon-skewering plot set-up, Isaacs says: "It certainly feels relevant, you know? And with the recent release of all the consumer-friendly chat bots and AI-generated text apps, surrounding it is the media saying, 'This is just the beginning of the end of employment as we know it.'
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"So although it's [set in] a fulfilment centre, it's really in some ways, railing against all of the kinds of tech encroaches into our world."
Isaacs describes the game as "an adventure that has at its heart activism and revolution", adding: "It did feel like it was brave in some strange way. And there's the paradox as well, the inherent contradiction – it's a commercial product.
"It's a game that will be sold through those outlets, through those portals that it's attacking. But you get to experience what it might be like to try and bring them down, to see them for what they are and to recognise and find and seek out human connection."
The Last Worker launches on Thursday 30th March for PC, PS5, Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series X/S. You can also play it in VR via PSVR 2 and Meta Quest 2. If you're particularly into irony, you can order your copy on Amazon.