Aidan Gillen is having quite a moment, both in the real world and the virtual. The Irish actor returns as Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish for Season 6 of Game of Thrones, but fans can also see him in Remedy Entertainment’s new video game, Quantum Break. Gillen voices Paul Serene, one of two playable characters in the Microsoft Xbox One game. We sat down with him to talk about VR’s impact on Hollywood and what it’s like going virtual in Quantum Break.
The Red Bulletin: A couple of years ago Oculus Rift released a Game of Thrones virtual reality experience called Ascend the Wall. Did you get a chance to try it?
Aidan Gillen: They had it set up at the Season 5 premiere in San Francisco. It was an earlier version and it was pretty stunning. I hadn’t used any kind of virtual reality since the very early days, and by that I mean the mid-80s. The headset actually looked similar to what Pierce Brosnan used in Lawnmower Man. But what you were looking at was completely different and extremely captivating.
They had another VR experience at this year’s premiere. It allowed you to walk around an office with tiny little people carrying things and working at desks. I could see people crawling around on the floor examining the carpet while I was waiting for my turn, and I was like, “What are they doing?” Then I tried it, and I found myself doing the same. I was trying to get up really close to these little office drones.
Hollywood is now experimenting with filming 360-degree content. Do you think this is the future?
When I tried out Ascend the Wall at the Game of Thrones premiere, I did think that this is part of the future. It’s very exciting to actually feel like you’re in the film, but I can’t see how it could work as a limitless open world. That VR office experience really surprised me. It felt very real walking around the room, but I wanted to interact with what I was experiencing. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to be possible. I suppose something could happen around you that provokes emotions like fear, or emotions that are hard to reach while sitting in a cinema. I got a real chill at one point during that experience.
What was your experience like working on Quantum Break?
It was the first time I’d worked on a game and I really enjoyed it. It’s essentially an acting job like any other. You’re still pretending to be someone else in a make-believe situation. It’s not a set or a theatre stage, but a grid room. It’s about using your imagination and trying to make it real. Kevin Spacey actually gave a very good interview about his work on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
What did he say?
He talked about how actors were concerned that these virtual avatars were going to take over their jobs, but you will always need actors. It takes longer for these productions to be made and there are actors acting out those roles, but Kevin saw it as a limitless world where you could bring your imagination to bare. There hasn’t been a huge addition of well-known actors in video games, but Ellen Page and Willem Defoe also worked on Beyond: Two Souls.
I haven’t played millions of games, but I really like Alan Wake and Max Payne, two other Remedy games. So when the call came for Quantum Break, I was intrigued and interested in a new discipline. The potential for games is interesting, but for me, I like working on camera and on stage. There are lots of different sides going on at the same time. It’s not like gaming is going to take over and knock the film and TV industries out of action.
Have you played Quantum Break yet?
I just got the game the other day, so I haven’t fully explored the finished product. But I’ve played through most of the first round. I’m intrigued to see where I’m going to go. I’ve been playing this other character, Jack Joyce, and I’ve been following my character around. I like checking out his clothes and his hair and reading emails. Quantum Break is also heavy on story, which is something I love in the games I play.
What else do you like about games?
I don’t always want to just shoot at people when I play video games. I like getting on my horse in Red Dead Redemption, and I just ride around and look over a canyon. Or I like buzzing around on a BMX bike in Grand Theft Auto V. I don’t always want to be robbing cars or hitting people with baseball bats.