Since it’s release, Final Fantasy VII Remake has earned a litany of awards. Most recently, the BAFTA Games Awards recognized Cody Christian for his performance as Cloud Strife in the 2020 remake, nominating him for Best Performer in a Leading Role.
We sat down with Mr. Christian ahead of the March 25 awards ceremony to talk about his time as Cloud Strife, what this nomination has meant to him, and even a dream role he’d love to play one day in the future.
Cody, thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions and congratulations on your much-deserved BAFTA Games Awards nomination for Best Performer In A Lead Role for your role as Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy VII Remake. What was that moment like when you heard the news?
Hey, thank you so much! I was honestly floored. It came out of nowhere and was totally unexpected. My team shared the news with me and we all celebrated that day, as being nominated in the first place is a tremendous honor. I couldn’t be more proud to have contributed to such an iconic game/character. To see it being recognized in such a degree leaves me speechless.
You’re up against some stiff competition with the likes of The Last of Us Part II’s Ashley Johnson and Laura Bailey, Cyberpunk 2077’s Cherami Leigh, Ghost of Tsushima’s Daisuke Tsuji, and Marvel’s Spider-man Miles Morales’ Nadji Jeter. What does it mean to you to be considered in the same category as these actors and what would it mean to you to win?
I hate to repeat myself but being nominated amidst such a group of talent is honorable. Each one of these games are ground breaking and each of the performances are “award worthy”. For me to even be considered amongst the other nominees gives me a feeling of such accomplishment. I set out in the beginning to simply do my absolute best because I felt (and still do) the game and the character are much bigger than myself. Final Fantasy and Cloud have been apart of fan’s lives for years and years, so this win, as incredible as it would be for me, would be more important for the longtime fans.
Up until Final Fantasy VII Remake, the majority of your career was in TV and Film, what drew you to taking on what is arguably one of the most beloved characters in gaming history? How much of a difference was it going from the set to the studio?
Regardless of the medium, I’m a fan of telling a great story with very well rounded characters. Cloud and the world of Midgar is exactly that. I saw an opportunity to breath life into an already established character but with the challenge of not recreating, but reimagining him. The broad strokes had already been painted, it was my job to find the subtle details in order to enhance an already great composition. I was incredibly imitated at first, but that sort of pressure really pushed me to give my best, for myself, but as I’ve said before, for the fans. The authentic and raw delivery of emotions, understanding the character and their own circumstances, and portraying the development was similar to anything I would approach on set. The main differences came from the process in which it’s all captured. There were techniques I had to learn within the studio to ensure the highest quality was obtained. Additionally, I learned very quickly that in the studio, you don’t have this massive environment in which you get to play off of. Everything you’re doing is coming from an internal place. I had a lot of great mentorship and guidance from those involved and for that, I’m extremely grateful.
The gaming community can often be a very critical one. Did you ever feel the weight of living up to the fandom’s lofty expectations when you were recording? If so, what helped you push past any nerves?
Haha, most definitely! I think I still do. But that weight comes from an empathetic understanding of how much this game and this character mean to those “being critical”. It was with that perspective and lots of prep that helped me alleviate any lingering nerves. I told myself in the beginning that it would be damn near impossible to meet every single expectation, but at least I was going to try my hardest and leave it all out there.
As someone who grew up playing the Final Fantasy games, like many others, I thought Cloud was one of the most well-developed, badass characters in the entire series and I thought you captured his essence and personality perfectly. What was it like to portray a character as layered as Cloud and how were you able to find that character through voice alone, with presumably limited interaction from the other actors/characters?
I agree with you. Playing Cloud, a character who has so much going on at one time, such a vivid backstory, and can go from the badass hero to a vulnerable goof was a extremely fulfilling experience. There was so much to work with. I owe a lot of credit to Steve Burton for laying the ground work and foundation in which the character exists. With a lot of research and understanding (and a lot of playing around to find the specific tone and inflections) I was able to dial in the essence of who this guy was. Also a ton of questions. And although we didn’t have much interaction with the other actors, any time I had the opportunity, I would listen to everyone’s takes as much as I could. If I was lucky, some characters would have already recorded lines to a scene we were recording and I could use those takes to play off.
Of the countless hours of recording is there a favorite scene or line that sticks out to you the most? Conversely, is there a scene or line you think back on that you would’ve liked to have done differently.
“Not interested.” This line was one of the first we recorded and I believe it encapsulates so much of the Cloud persona. This was actually my line I would repeat if I ever felt I swayed from the tone and needed to get back to it, it was kind of like my anchor so to speak. In regards to doing anything differently, I’m pretty satisfied with everything we have. We did countless takes in order to find the perfect take on it, both for myself and everyone on the production side of things.
In speaking with Tom Kenny (SpongeBob, Spyro), he said that his biggest goal in every role he takes is for the viewer or player to not know it was him voicing the character(s). What would you say your biggest goal was in Final Fantasy VII Remake?
My biggest goal was to humanize this larger than life character. I wanted to bring out a side of Cloud that any audience member could relate to. I wanted to explore the vulnerability of the guy behind the broadsword. In addition to that, I wanted my portrayal to be both innovative yet classic. I found it important pay homage to the history of the character.
Without going into detail about the next part of Final Fantasy VII Remake (I’d hate to get you into trouble), is there a particular moment you look forward to or hope to voice in the next game? Has any work on the next chapter started for you yet?
To be very honest with you, almost zero information has been given to me about what’s next. Things are generally tight lipped in regards to what is being worked on. I haven’t started on any new work for the time being but I’m excited to continue on Cloud’s journey alongside the awesome cast mates I have.
After your experience with Cloud, are you eyeing any future roles in video games? If so, is there a character that you’d love to play one day?
This experience has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me. One particular character I’ve always been fond of is Master Chief from the Halo series. I grew up playing the game and it would be dream to depict such a character if the opportunity ever presented itself.
Once again, I’d like to thank you Cody for taking the time to answer these questions. Your portrayal of Cloud Strife made this Final Fantasy fan so proud and I can’t wait to experience more in the next game. Congratulations again for your BAFTA nomination. We’ll be rooting for you on March 25. Is there anyone you’d like to thank for making this nomination possible?
From the bottom of my heart, thank you and I appreciate you saying the very much. My biggest goal was to make any longtime fan proud. I would like thank each and every one of my castmates that worked just as hard to make this game what it is. Additionally, I would like to thank every individual I spent countless hours with in order to make this happen.
The BAFTA Games Awards kicks off a 7:00pm in the UK on March 25, 2021. You can stream the ceremony on all major social media and online platforms like Twitter, Twitch, Facebook, YouTube, Steam, and IGN. Best of luck to Cody and all the nominees!