An interview with the actors behind Rebecca Chambers and Leon S. Kennedy, Erin Cahill and Matthew Mercer, from Resident Evil: Vendetta
In case you didn’t know, Resident Evil: Vendetta is now available on digital. A must watch for fans of the franchise, horror/thriller enthusiasts, and fans of martial arts. I was lucky enough to get a chance to interview the actors, Erin Cahill and Matthew Mercer, who voiced Rebecca Chambers and Leon S. Kennedy. Erin and Matthew gave amazing performances, and I got to find out what that process entailed then we nerded out about zombies. You can check out the interview below:
Kevin: What are you looking forward to most at E3 this year?
Matt: I really like that new Spider-Man game. What they showed looked fantastic. I’ve been a Spider-Man fan my whole life. There’ve been a few games that had good web-swinging action, but the scale never quite felt right. But this legitimately looks like it has incredibly immersive web-swinging elements which I absolutely adore. And I’m excited to see more of the new Sony Spider-Man Universe.
Erin: I was up for Mary-Jane in the new one [Spider-Man PS4]. It was between me and one of my best girlfriends- I was her maid of honor- we were at the final call back together. And then, we think they offered it to a celebrity.
Matt: I don’t know at all what that feels like
Matt: (Executive voice) You’re so good for this role. Glad you did a great job! We’re gonna give it to this guy who has a TV show.
(Meek voice) Okay…
Erin: What was so infuriating was I didn’ t know [what the role was for]. I just thought it was a really fun role. Like, ‘Oh, this is a fun character!’ They were super secretive about what it was. Then we went in, and they were like, ‘So, did you figure out what this is?’
And I said, ‘No. I know it’s going to be a new video game, and I’m excited.’
And they were like, ‘Uhh, it’s for Mary-Jane in Spider-Man.’
And I was like, ‘Uuugh!’ (Vomiting noise)
But back to reality. I’ve never been to E3. I’m about all of it! I’ve also never been to San Diego Comic-Con, and we’re going to that in July. So, I’m like a kid in a candy store or a kid before Christmas. I’m like-
Matt: You’re just a kid.
Erin: I’m just excited!
Matt: I will say, one game I’m looking forward to also, is the Life is Strange Prequel.
Kevin: Oooh. I saw the trailer, but I never played the first one.
Matt: If you ever have the time, I highly recommend playing through it. It’s such a well-written narrative. I highly recommend it.
Kevin: I’ll put that on my list. So Erin, this is going to be your first E3 and Comic-Con this year?
Erin: I know, right Kevin? I think I’m too excited, so I got to play it cooler. Kind of like a girl on a date.
Matt: Prepare yourself for some chaos girl. These two events, you don’t get to slack too much. There’s a lot of chaos; a lot of events, a lot of lights, a lot of fans, a lot of people.
Erin: I love it already!
Kevin: What was your favorite part of being part of [Resident Evil] Vendetta?
Erin: Honestly, I’m just excited to be part of the franchise. I’m excited to be playing Rebecca Chambers. She has such a fan base and a great character with so many different sides to her. And I’m so excited to show the audience how’s she’s progressed from where they last saw her, like 20 years ago, to the woman they’re written her to become now. I’m excited about that. I’m really most excited about playing Rebecca Chambers but also just excited to be part of the world.
Matt: I’m excited too. I’m always stoked to have the opportunity to step back into Leon’s shoes. He’s such a beloved character for me, personally, and any opportunities to bring him out again I am extremely overjoyed for. I’m also excited to know, for me at least- when we had an opportunity to watch the film- that they’re finding a good balance between the action centerpiece moments and the survivor-horror sense of Isolation and terror. So I was really stoked to see they’re taking notes from the community and recent Resident Evil releases in past years and beginning to discover that balance people who’ve ventured the franchise since the beginning have been clamoring for this whole time. I think this is a good step in that direction.
Kevin: For Matt, how is playing Leon in the games different than playing him in Vendetta?
Matt: It’s less a difference between the actual format and more of a difference in where in the storyline it takes place. The games and the CG films are in canon and the same universe. They’re not mutually exclusive, timeline wise. So for me, it depends where in Leon’s life I’m getting the chance to portray him. Like in [Resident Evil] 6, Leon was in the process of dealing with the world and life crumbling around him a bit, and just starting to get more brow-beaten from the reality that he hasn’t made as much an impact as he previously thought. Damnation was the beginning of the arc to getting there. He started a little more cock-sure, a little more Resident Evil 4 Leon. Then by the end of it, he kind of really had his first real impactful loss and lack of impact. By the time Vendetta comes around, all of that is really coming to fruition and he’s taking it to heart and having a hard time to, essentially, getting out of bed in the morning to throw his hat into the ring to try and save the world one more time. So, not much of a difference in genre, it’s just really fun to play different moments in Leon’s life. This one, in particular, you get to see Leon in a very interesting place. He’s very angry and very drunk.
Erin: Kevin, have you seen the move yet?
Kevin: I’ve seen parts of it. With E3, it’s been kind of hectic and I haven’t gotten a chance to sit down and watch it all the way through.
Erin: Very understandable, don’t worry. You’re in for a treat, I’m excited for you.
Kevin: … I remember seeing some of the fight scenes, and it reminded me of Equilibrium. It’s just like martial arts integrated with shooting, and it looked really intense.
Matt: Yeah, it’s like very elevated gunkata. Like you said, Equilibrium style. The action sequences in this are almost like a dance. The choreography for it is visceral and intense and also beautiful in its own right. When we had the opportunity to see it, I found myself very much riding the edge of my seat through most of the latter half of the movie. I’m excited for you to watch the rest of it.
Erin: Yeah! I think our director, and everybody involved did such a beautiful job. From, like you said, the choreography, to the animation, to- I think our director Takanori- Taka-san!
Erin: Did such a beautiful [job]. Everybody really hit the mark with this one. I’m so impressed.
Kevin: …How do you mentally prepare to face zombies, in the sound booth?
Erin: To face them?
Kevin: Like, how do you bring out that emotion, that reaction, to seeing a zombie in the sound booth? Like what do you do to get yourself in that mindset?
Erin: You know? It’s funny. Matt and I were talking about this earlier. If you had the video tape – I think they may have some behind the scenes of us in the booth- we would look crazy people. Like, ‘Huh! Ah!’ I actually teared up in the booth. You actually get scared. You let your body feel the emotion. I guess you do amp yourself up in the booth to face a zombie or kill a zombie.
Matt: Yeah. So much of it is physicality, so you put yourself in that space. When it comes to fight scenes, you have to work yourself up into an out of breath circumstance. You have to chase the action sequence to get the natural sounding impacts, and roll sounds, and dodges. You kind of put yourself in that space and look ridiculous if anybody is looking on. Thankfully you’re usually by yourself in the booth, you think, there’s probably hidden cameras somewhere taking embarrassing footage. So, the physicality is a big part of it and mentally it’s understanding the state of the character. Rebecca has this sequence earlier in the film that’s as much an escape sequence as a combat sequence.
Erin: Haha, oh yeah!
Matt: And so it’s exertion but with a fear in it as well. A perpetual escalating fear. You [Erin] got to have scenes to play across an emotional spectrum. Leon has kind of been doing this for a long time, so he doesn’t really show fear. For him, preparation is more a shot of whiskey and a grumble.
Erin: We were talking about it this morning, but what Matt said is so true. I got to portray Rebecca with such a spectrum of emotions and intensity. It’s very very cool. I got to show her analytical scientific mind. I’ve gotten to show her vulnerability. I’ve gotten to show her fear. I’ve gotten to show her complete badassery when facing an enemy or a really big bad guy. It’s a very cool spectrum to play.
Kevin: That sounds intense, to mime all that in a sound booth sounds like a lot of work.
Matt: That’s kind of the interesting challenge of projects like this. You have to keep in mind those various emotional layers and be present there for the performance while maintaining the line of dialog. And probably uncomfortably sweating in a small booth surrounded by patent foam. It’s a nice little juggle, or dance if you will.
Kevin: Okay, these next questions are just zombie questions. What are your favorite zombie franchises?
Erin: I’m such a huge Walking Dead fan. I’ve seen every episode… I just think like, Darrel can save the world. I cried when Glen died- I cried like something had actually happened in my actual life.
Matt: I come from Walking Dead from the comics standpoint. I read the comic books before I watched the show. I like a lot of the aspects of the show but there are a lot of points where I’m like ‘AAARGH NO! They changed this! And this character!’
I had a hard time with The Governor.
Erin: The Governor!
Matt: The Governor is a very different character in the comics, and I didn’t necessarily agree with a lot of elements of that storyline. I kind of dropped off after that part, but I hear it got a lot better after that. So, I may have to give it a shot again.
Erin: Well what about you [Matt]? I love me some Walking Dead.
Matt: Well me, it sounds cheesy, but Resident Evil. I grew up with it.
Erin: It is kind of one of the originals, isn’t it? Resident Evil?
Matt: It is one of the first real franchises that kicked off the survivor horror genre. But if you want to be really cheesy, Plants vs. Zombies consumed a lot of my time when it first came out. It’s a different genre. Let’s see… There’s a lot of zombie stuff out there, and a lot of it seems derivative in some ways. So, the ones that find unique ways to push it are the ones I find interesting… Trying to remember the name of other zombie surivors… I Am Legend the book.
Erin: That’s a good one!
Matt: The movie was decent, they did change the ending, unfortunately. I think the original would have had a better impact. Any if the Call of Duty’s and time era specific are a lot of fun.
Erin: I’m with you. I had a couple in my head, but they all flew out. I big horror/thriller person. I like anything that makes me feel scared when I watch it.
Kevin: What would you prioritize in a zombie apocalypse: food, safety, or weaponry?
Erin: Oh, God! All of the above, in equal measure. Please and thank you!
Matt: I’ve had many conversations with friends because this is what you do nowadays. You sit with friends and spend 2 hours hashing out your zombie survival plans. I fully admit I’m gone in the first hour. I’m definitely not the survivor. I’m the guy who’s like ‘No, it’s fine! I’m gonna talk to them over the ridge and see if we can trade.’
Then a sniper bullet hits me and I’m gone. My fiancé is going to be the last one standing. She’ll gonna be on the top of the hill with dual machine guns, screaming as they swarm over her. She’s going to live until the very end, I’m gone in the first hour. My priority would be, knowing that, weapons. Because if I do plan to survive, I do have to fight off my intent to try and rationalize and help other people. If you’ve played any, Walking Dead is a good example or played any Day Z, it’s not the zombies you have to look out for, so much as it’s the people.
Erin: Yes! Yes!
Matt: When society crumbles, human beings become their own worst enemy. That’s where I falter, I have too much empathy and I trust people too openly.
Erin: Oh noo!
Matt: Weapons! I need guns.
Erin: Such a sweet person! At like every interview, I’ve gone on record saying how wonderful Matt Mercer is. I want to go on record! Such a gentlemen and so loving.
Matt: It’s all a façade! You’ll learn in time muahahaha (evil laugh).
Erin: It’s so funny. I’ve done the same thing. After watching Walking Dead, you put like one tequila in me and I’m like ‘Okay, here’s the plan.’
Erin: My friends and I have done the same thing, just sat around and came up with it. Two of our very best friends, me and my husband’s best friends, are Ellen Hollman and Stephen Dunlevy and they were both in Spartacus and both big stunt people and actors. They do a lot of weapon work, they train multiple hours a day. So, our big plan is to make it to their house, if a zombie apocalypse happens, because they have EVERYTHING we need. That’s our biggest plan. They actually gave me- I don’t know if I should say this on the air- I’m sure it’ll be fine. They gave me a giant- because they’re sponsored by this knives company, they gave me a giant machete that I keep in my car because they had a good point. They’re like, ‘Look at you. You’re not a big intimidating looking person and you’re way too sweet.’
So, I have a hoody and this machete under my seat. So, if something happens, like an earthquake or something. I can put the hoody on and at least look intimidating.
Matt: That’s pretty slick!
Erin: Right? I thought that was so clever!
Matt: What color is your car? So, I know to not like approach you at night or anything like that. Just in case.
Erin: I wouldn’t know what to do with it. I’d probably cut myself before I cut anybody else. It’s just so I look intimidating.
Kevin: If you could choose anyone in the Resident Evil universe to assist you in a zombie apocalypse?
Matt: Here’s my counter question: would they legitimately aid you?
Kevin: Assuming they would.
Matt: Assuming they would legitimately aid you, I’d say Wesker. He has an amazing power set and survival skills. So, assuming he doesn’t double cross and kill me, I could probably go pretty for with Wesker.
Erin: Oh, geez. Can I plead the fifth? Or can I go old school and say Milla Jovovich’s character from the original start of the movies?
Matt: That’s a really good one. Alice?
Erin: Yeah. Alice. Nothing could stop her. She’s just so bad ass. So, that’s who I’ll pick.
Matt: I’ll pick Ada as a backup.
Kevin: I’d probably go Alice too. She had like God Mode on or something.
Matt: Yeah, seriously!
Erin: God Mode! That’s such a good way to put it! I went and rewatched the original recently because my husband had never seen any of them.
Matt: Have you watched it with the commentary?
Matt: Her commentary is amazing! She’s up there with like Arnold Schwarzenegger as far as like actors that I just love their commentary on their own films. She’s adorable and just doesn’t give a S#!+. I love her
Kevin: Well that’s all the questions I have. Thank you so much for taking the time answer my questions and geek out a little bit!