It’s a windy day in Manchester but the sun is still beaming down, reflecting back on a group of Storm Troopers gossiping outside the Manchester Central Convention Centre. A gaggle of magical girls strike poses next to a Twilight Princess-era Ganondorf whilst Deadpool checks his Twitter notifications and swigs on an energy drink.
It’s early in the morning (for a Saturday) and it seems everyone in Manchester has donned their hero-and-villain fineries to queue up for the city’s iconic Manchester Comic Con. Luckily for me, I don’t need to join the queue with Kirby and Sonic because I’m here with GameByte, and we’re going straight to the press area to begin interviews and panels with some of the biggest names in gaming, including the one and only Nolan North.
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It’s a bit of a wait before we get time with Nolan. His name isn’t first on the list, and when his time does come, his queue of adoring fans in the convention centre downstairs has gotten so long that he doesn’t want to leave them. As a huge fan of the Uncharted series (two and four being my favourites), I start off the proceedings.
“The highlight for the Uncharted games for me is the communication between Drake and Sully. They are hilarious. What’s your favourite Drake and Sully moment in the series?” I ask.
It doesn’t take more than a few seconds for Nolan to pick his favourite interaction – it’s a personal favourite of mine, and probably one of the favourites of a lot of his fans.
“Undoubtedly, it has to be – I don’t even remember what game it was in – but there was a moment in the script where we were supposed to say ‘We gotta keep moving,'” Nolan replies.
“[Drake] says something like ‘It’s so hot,’ and instead Richard McGonagle just said ‘I’m sweating like a hooker in church,’ and I just looked at him and out of the blue just said ‘You brought a hooker to church?’ And he just looked at me and said ‘Why not?’
“It’s just one of those perfect moments that’s Sully and Drake but a little bit of Richard and Nolan.”
The interview segues as another journalist asks Nolan which is his favourite of the Uncharted games.
“The best answer I can give you…I kind of look at it like four years of high school. Freshman year was the first Uncharted, because there was no such thing as Uncharted 1 we didn’t know we’d get a 2. That’s your freshman year, nobody really knows you but it’s a good year. Then your second year, sophomore year. You become hip. You get straight A’s and you become the captain of the football team…
“Then you’re the valedictorian, and the smartest and you have the prettiest girlfriend. You are the belle of the ball. By the time [Uncharted] 3 came around, you’re that third year, it’s probably my most fun. Because we were already coming off the high of 2, and I knew there was gonna be 4. [Uncharted] 4 was great, but I knew it was the end. It was like ‘Gotta go to Uni or get a job.'”
Nolan’s very apt description of his views on the games gives away more than the question might have intended. Unable to answer with a single game title, Nolan shows that – to him – these are not just games, but more of a passage of time, a period of experience and growth. His words carry the weight of nostalgia for a character he has since said goodbye to. It’s an emotional answer in its evasion of the question.
We’re nearly at the end of our time slot and beside me, Brett jumps in with one final question: which is Nolan’s least favourite role?
“I did something for a video game years ago. A small role for something called Bratz? It’s early in your career and I’m reading these lines and you’re kind of going down, and there was one, and I was like different shop owners? I don’t know anything…but there’s one line and you’re saying it. You do two in a row and you’re just kind of piling through it and I had to say something like: ‘You know who doesn’t like cell phones? Haha, OLD PEOPLE!’ And you’re like…what? And I look at the director and he’s like ‘I know.’ This is for kids? It’s just so rude and disrespectful, what happened to respect your elders?…I don’t even know what [Bratz] is. They look like little prostitutes.”
The anecdote gets a laugh that doesn’t seem to transfer to the written word. Maybe it’s Nolan’s retelling, something in the way he speaks to us, or perhaps just his flawless comedic timing.
I was keen to delve more into Nolan’s experience of the iconic Naughty Dog series, and luckily I was given the opportunity.
On the second day of MCM Comic Con, GameByte was granted a much more intimate interview with Nolan, this time accompanied by his friend, co-star and fellow video game alumni, Troy Baker. Blessed with the opportunity, I ask Nolan what difficulty level he plays Uncharted on. The answer was a little surprising.
“Toddler. I like to be on toddler mode,” Nolan answers without missing a beat, but it’s a joke for the room of course. He adds, “Normally whatever the normal is. But if [Troy] wants to up it, I just go easier. Especially if I’m playing Nathan Drake, where I’m pretty much me. I don’t wanna kill myself so I like to put myself…impervious….I don’t like getting shot.”
Check out the video here:
Nolan wasn’t the only hero of the gaming world that we had the pleasure of speaking to – make sure to keep checking back the GameByte website for more interviews, and subscribe to the GameByte YouTube channel for even more content.