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C&C4: Joe Kucan Q&A

EA’s special surprise guest to close off the first day of CommandCom was none other than Joe Kucan, the actor/director who portrays Kane in Command & Conquer’s Tiberium saga. Following a bit of opening banter in which Kucan basically told all in attendance that they’d be killing each other for a chance to play multiplayer tomorrow, he was opened up to questions from the fans in attendance, which we’ve helpfully transcribed for you here – but not before a pre-emptive apology…Questions, statements, or actions made by anyone other than Kucan are bolded. Everything Kucan says or does is in plaintext.
JOE KUCAN: Before whatever happens is going to happen, or whatever you expect to do, I wanna just apologise for all the things I’m going to say because I’m really, really tired. As you guys all know at these conventions, I haven’t slept in about 72 hours, so I’m operating on fumes – like, probably, most of you. So honestly, anything I say, I’m really, really sorry.[EA’s APOC opens Kucan up to questions from the audience]Do you like Belgian chocolates?Sorry?Do you like Belgian chocolates?Oh, right! Who doesn’t like Belgian chocolates?I have some for you.Ohhhh![Room breaks into applause as Kucan receives a beautiful box from a fan]I hope it’s full of Belgian chocolates. That’s perfect. Thank you very much. All your other questions had better be as good as this one! We’ve started this off really really well, so just for the record, the answer is yes, I like Belgian chocolates, but I also like Ferraris, I like Armani slacks, I like iPhones… I’m not saying nothing, I’m just saying!How’s the mime career going?The mime career? [Laughs] Since this is going to be the end of the Tiberium saga in Command &  Conquer, I will be going back to my work as a park mime. So I’ll shave the goatee, put on the white face, and lean against the wind [mimes], or I’ll be trapped in a box [mimes]. Yeah, I’ll probably starve to death. So mime career, not so good. Anybody else? And I’d like to point out that that question does not actually involve giving me anything, so, boo. Boo! No more questions? Excellent! Goodnight! Oh. Yes sir?What shampoo do you use for that illustrious long hair?My beautiful long locks? Look, you have not seen the hair on my back, which is – you wanna see it? [begins taking jacket off] – which is remarkably long, extraordinarily manageable, curly, and just lovely. My girlfriend just likes to walk barefoot through it.I use whatever’s on sale, my friend. And it’s true, I do use shampoo to shave my head. I do not care for shaving cream, it dries my skin. I use shampoo because there’s a little bit of oil in it, it’s pH balanced, it’s made for cleaning your scalp. Thank you. Oh, I’m sorry! I should’ve mentioned – Shampoo is a cleaning product that one uses in one’s hair. In America.Sorry! [Laughs] Like I said before, earlier, remember – I’m really, really sorry. There was a question over here?Coke or Pepsi?Pepsi. Duh.[Something is mumbled by the questioner]Oh my God, did you say? Okay, alright. The honest answer to that one is Pepsi One, and Coke Zero. I like them both equally. Honestly.{PAGE TITLE=Joe Kucan Q&A Page 2}I’ve always wanted to know how you got the role as Kane?Uh, okay. [Laughs] I make jokes about this a lot, I’ve never really given a serious answer to this. The honest truth is that I won the role of Kane in a poker game. It’s true. I had Jacks and Sixes, and the guy who actually had the role of Kane before me had three-of-a-kind. I stabbed my Jack on the river, I filled up with a full house, and that’s how I won the role of – this is funny. Why aren’t you guys laughing? I won the role of Kane in a poker game! That’s funny! Oh, you’re a tough crowd. A tough crowd.First time ever, since this is sort of the end and CommandCom. When we first started cramming videos into computer games – this was back in the day where floppies were just on their way out and we were transferring everything into CDs. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, Command & Conquer was the first game that we shipped that was printed first on CD. It was our first one. So at that stage we had lots of extra space, right? So we were working with compression technologies at the time, we weren’t sure which compression technology we were going to use, or if they would work, because we were all stupid at the time.[Ripple of laughter]No, about video, we absolutely were, so they brought me in thinking that I knew something about video. I was an actor and a director, how would I know anything about video or technology? So we needed to take some placeholder video, just to see if it would work, so we set up a camera in Brett Sperry’s office. Is that his name? Brett? Brett Speddy. Brett Speddy, I think was his name. You might’ve heard of him. Little guy, about this tall. [Motions at waist height][Laughter]I sat behind his big desk in his big leather chair, and we brought in a video camera which at that time was the size of a Volkswagen Touareg, and we stuck it on a tripod, and I sat behind the desk and we just started making up some lines. I looked in the camera and said “Oh, you need to go kill that guy, ‘coz I hate that guy!” and “Oh, you didn’t kill that guy very good so go kill that other guy, ‘coz that guy pissed me off, and he wouldn’t kill this guy for me, so you’d better kill that guy.”And that was our test footage for evil bald guys. And we took that footage, and we ran it through our compression technology at the time which – I don’t remember, I think was made by… Hasbro, I dunno. And we started cramming it into the game in between missions where we could. And once we had some of that footage in, we were running it by our playtesters who were testing the actual engine – you know, the important stuff in the game – and a few of them said “Hey that bald guy’s kinda scary,” and a couple more said “Hey, that bald guy’s kinda stupid, I like him, he’s kinda funny.” “Hey that bald guy, he scared the crap out of me!”And we had no money. We had no budget at all, and they were expecting me to hire actors, and at the end of the day I tested very well, I was in the room, and that is in fact how I came up with the role of Kane. It was also a matter of convenience because back in the day we didn’t have the sort of exclusivity contracts that I know for a fact EA has now. When we had a voice that needed to be recorded for an in-game unit, piece of dialogue, we didn’t have to go out and hire somebody from AFTRA in deference to an EA contract. We walked down the hallway and we knocked on Frank Klepacki’s door and we’d say “Frank, come here, we need you to do this voice,” and Frank would come over and he would do the voice. And then we’d need another voice, so we’d go down the hall, we’d knock on a door, and say “Hey, Dwight, come here, we need you to do this voice,” and Dwight [K. Okahara] would do the voice, and then we’d need another voice and we got Penina [Finger], we need another voice and we got […] any of a list of crazy-named people.[…]And so we could just use found objects and it seemed like a pretty good idea – since we’d been changing the missions of the game right up until the day that it shipped – to have video characters that could come in at a moment’s notice and do the work. So like I said, I was in the room, there I was! I got the role of Kane.Actually, that is the first time I’ve ever told that story. First time I’ve ever been honest about it, and it will never, ever happen again. The next time I tell it, I will have won it in a carnival; the next time I will have found it in a popped balloon; after that it will have been the role of Kane floating down the Colorado and I fished it out with an anchor chain.And that, barring a further gift of a Russian Matryoshka doll, was that. Be sure to check out our round-up of the CommandCom coverage, and keep an eye out for our Command & Conquer 4 hands-on later on today.


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