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Voice Actor Reveal: Malachi of The Green!

it's finally here the voice actor reveal for Malachi and it's none other than Ellis Knight! This reveal has been such a long time coming. In fact, as I write this, it's long before the release of the game. But I wanted to get my "thoughts on paper" while they were still fresh; so here we are. First I feel like I should probably say I got a ton of auditions for Malachi. I believe it was 60-80. So there were a lot of great actors to choose from with all sorts of different takes on the character. It's been a while, but I do remember nearly everyone being within the same ballpark idea-wise when it came to how to tackle his voice which I think definitely made it more difficult. I went back and forth a lot on sort of how I was feeling about all the different auditions, one week I'd kind of be leaning one way another week a different way. A definite constant however was that Ellis was a top pick if not the top pick. In order to understand what I mean I gotta explain a little. Initially, I kind of thought Malachi would have a Swedish accent because his people reside in Sweden so anyone that did a Swedish accent I kind of placed just by default over everyone else. With the exception of a few whose performances were just so good I didn't care. And because of this I really started to ask myself should he sound Swedish? And if so, what are my justifications for that? Just because he lives there? In the end, I determined it didn't matter the accent because Malachi and his people lived in seclusion, so more likely they wouldn't sound like any people on Earth. I then thought well English would have more likely been his second language given his backstory. So then as you can imagine my rankings changed again and it was the reasoning I needed to justify hiring Ellis for the role beyond just, "he's a good actor." That being said. When I heard his take I did verbally say, "son of a b$%tch you did it. This is the character we've been waiting for." Or something to that effect. Because I've been trying to find a role for Ellis for a while now. So I'm sure that played a role in it too, I think it'd be disingenuous of me to claim otherwise, certainly wasn't consciously, but subconsciously I'm sure it at the very least nudged the needle. But I'm getting a little off-topic. I think the biggest element aside from just the general performance is Ellis' natural accent just sounds very foreign to my brain like it can't register what it is with certainty; so it just naturally grabs its attention. I don't know if you could consider that a compliment, but I just found especially after listening to his actual performance of the character it added this innate kind of depth. Malachi doesn't sound like any of the other students thus far and he certainly doesn't talk like any of them, so yeah- Ellis' natural accent brought the character to life more than my brain could have. Because how I imagined Malachi would say something would sound completely different just by the pronunciation of pretty mundane words. So for me it was cool, because I really got to discover this character for what felt like the first time. Additionally, I found Ellis' take on the material close to what I imagined, but different enough that there were times that if a word or wording was changed I just let it be. Normally I'm fairly specific with the dialogue, but in this case, I kind of rolled with what Ellis did in a couple of instances just to help further Malachi from the way I might naturally say something. And if I may go back to what I was saying earlier about Ellis being a good actor I think you need not look any further than the multitude of times he needed to say some sort of version of "hmm" in the script. Malachi is a thinker, he ponders. He has his ignorant thoughts on others to be sure, but he never stays married to them he's open to learning he wants to learn and it's up to the player if they want to teach. The game allows for that and thusly Malachi has a lot of "hmm-ing" to do. So just for that alone Ellis should be applauded. Ellis has also been a great supporter of the project checking in from time to time,seeing how it's going, auditioning for roles, he's been a pretty constant companion in all this. Giving advice when I need it he's been super helpful to the project outside just lending his voice talents and I wanted to touch on that as well. Malachi is a special role, character really. Because he directly confronts the way the player looks at the world. Malachi is a person Twitter would cancel, factually. They would cancel him and bury him into the ground with no opportunities to grow or change, no one would show him the love all these actors have. I say all these because I just want to illuminate that- it's not like someone getting to play a flawed character like, "oh they're kind of mean sometimes." This is different Malachi isn't particularly mean, he's charming, a gentleman, well educated, but also very ignorant too, he's not a bad partner, he's not even necessarily a bad person in my opinion. But that's kind of the thing you're asking an actor to look at this character whose morally flawed to quite a good degree and in a very human way and asking them to put themselves in their shoes for me that has just always seemed like a tall order to ask of someone. It's kind of like asking a liberal to empathize with a historically unlike alt-right president at least in my opinion, tho- Malachi I'd say is far more likable even still. But anyways you get my point. Malachi isn't evil, he's not one-dimensional, his actor had to play him with a lot of nuances covering a large gambit of emotions a fair chunk of the PSA characters just don't do that. Malachi has to be subtly disgusted to offended to humbled to amused. And Ellis does this all incredibly well.

Sitting down and laying out why Ellis did so well why he was the right choice has been difficult because it's just kind of hard to verbalize beyond a couple of paragraphs. It's hard to verbalize as a writer you sometimes have these complex and deep relationships with a character and then you then have to hire an actor to represent them to bring them to life it can be daunting and when it's done that character is no longer the same. I don't view Malachi as I once did, not truly. Because he's no longer a PNG on a computer screen or a collection of words in a Google document. He's a person, he has a voice when I play test his event after putting it together he no longer belongs to me anymore in this very weird and surreal way. It feels as though I have no control over him any longer. And none of this is my doing. None of this is my words or even the format. I know this because I used to play test his event in silence with just the dialogue and he still was just an image on a screen with words assigned to his being. It was Ellis who made him something, brought him to be. And it wasn't just his acting it was how he chose to play what was written, the natural subtleties of his own person bleeding in. Because how he speaks is not a way my brain is weird to pretend, his voice has a sound it can't really recreate. These are just things innate to Ellis if I had hired another actor, one who maybe actually did what I thought I wanted initially I don't know that I'd have the relationship I now have with the character, I don't know that the character would even have this weird almost innate depth now. This is how best I can describe Ellis' performance this weird feeling and it's the rawest praise I can really muster. Ellis works hard, he's passionate about what he does and he was- is? Passionate about the project and seeing it come to fruition sometimes I think more so than myself. And those are the people you want to work with because they just force you to keep going, keep taking one more step. It's been an honor getting to finally work with them. And that's about all I can say other than, "Ellis welcome to Pleasant Sparkle Academy."

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