Resident Evil Village launched almost a year ago, and in that time it has seen quite the praise. Applauded for its survival horror mechanics blended with action gameplay, creative scenarios and colourful characters, Village quickly became one of critics’ favourite games of the year in 2021. And a big part of that hype was down to the popularity of a certain tall vampire lady.
In celebration of the one year anniversary, GameByte spoke to Maggie Robertson, the voice actress and motion performer of Lady Dimitrescu. She is Resident Evil Village’s fierce vampiric matriarch, who made quite the impression on fans when first revealed last year.
“What I love is that you can look at her and already she tells such a clear, visual story,” Robertson told GameByte. “The second I saw the character design for Lady D, I had so many ideas about who she was and what I could do with her.
“She’s very elegant and regal and composed. But then I brought in the potential for violence. She really needed to feel dangerous. So you have that regal exterior, but something different is pulsating underneath. She feels really volatile and dangerous, and you never know what she is capable of.”
MAGGIE ROBERTSON – Lady Dimitrescu INTERVIEW
Growing up, Robertson took part in high school theatre for fun, as a way to socialise with her friends and peers. Acting wouldn’t come as a passion for her until she attended college.
“In college, part of my problem was I couldn’t decide on what I wanted to do. Then I realised acting allowed me to do it all; it’s psychology, it’s history, philosophy, political science and sociology, and music and all of these things wrapped into one. That’s when I really fell in love with it.”
Complementing Dimitrescu’s theatrical energy when on-screen, Robertson first began her acting career on stage: “I started doing regional theatre in the DC area. Then I decided to go off to graduate school to really delve into training and got my MA in classical acting. So I studied a lot of Shakespeare and lived in the UK.”
In terms of landing the Lady Dimitrescu role, Robertson booked the gig not long after graduating in 2019 and moving to Los Angeles. Unrepresented by an agent at the time, she combed through casting breakdown sites looking for roles that she fit the specs for. That’s when she came across a job looking for a tall woman.
“So often, my height is the thing that rules me out of a job. So to have the opportunity for it to be the thing that actually gets me the part was really exciting,” Robertson told us. In reality, she is six feet tall, a little lower than the 9’6” frame of her digital counterpart, but she quickly found her background in Shakespearean acting also brought a lot to the role: “The game itself is very Shakespearean. It’s very heightened, the stakes are really high. And these characters are big and bold. So coming off of my Shakespeare degree, that all felt really familiar.
“I’d say auditions for motion capture feel to me a bit more like theatre, because you have more freedom to use your body and the space for your performance. So that all felt really familiar. I was able to go into that first audition, and I was like, ‘Oh, I know how to do this. I totally got this. Let’s just go in. Let’s have fun.’ And that’s what I did.”
‘my height rules me out of a job’
The callback process for auditions is a lengthy process, sometimes taking up to months to hear back about a role. When you’re an actor looking for work, and doing multiple auditions per week, you tend to forget about these auditions and move on with your life until you get a callback.
“Then I got the callback,” said Robertson. “This was a little more improv-based which, again, was super fun for me because it was just play time. So they had me work through a variety of different scenarios they gave me on the spot to investigate what her physical movement profile would be, and testing that out. It was just so fun.”
Working in her past experience with Shakespearean acting and performing on stage was crucial at evolving Dimitrescu. It isn’t just an actor’s job to read lines, but also use their skills and experiences to develop the character from script to screen. When it came to motion capture, however, Robertson found an equilibrium of both challenges and familiarity around the process. She found this interesting when adapting to this new form of performance.
“You’re telling a physical story, and you’re using your body to tell the story rather than all of these external cues like hair, makeup, costume set pieces. They can’t create the world for you, you have to create the world in your imagination, which is very familiar to theatre.
“On the other hand,” she continues. “You have the technical component, where there are certain parameters you have to work with. I had to learn all of that. That was completely new, you’re wearing these weird spacesuits with a helmet on your head that has a massive camera right in front of your face. So you’re trying to do scenes with people and there’s a massive fixture in front of your eyeballs which took some getting used to.”
tall lady memes
All of this eventually led to the character as we see her in the final product, and it goes without saying that she took the internet by storm upon her initial reveal back in early 2021. Memes and discussion quickly followed as everyone wanted to know more about the Tall Vampire Lady. She was well received by fans.
“‘Well received by fans’ is an understatement compared to what actually happened!” Robertson laughed. “It was so wild to watch that because I was still under NDA. I couldn’t say anything. I was just watching the internet freak out over Lady D, including my friends who are gamers. And I couldn’t tell them that it was me!”
“When it was finally announced I was playing her, I remember one friend of mine texted me and he was like: ‘I can’t believe this. I’ve been simping over Lady D for months. And now I find out that it’s you!’”
Going back to what she loves about Lady Dimitrescu, Robertson mentions one of the character’s best qualities isn’t her immense height, nor her regal outward appearance, but instead the main thing that humanises her as the plot of Resident Evil Village develops.
“I love the fact that she’s a mom. I think that’s genius because it really humanises her and adds a lot of dimension to her as a villain. She has intense loyalty and love for her daughters and once they’re killed, she loses sight of Mother Miranda’s endgame. She turns to grieving, seeking vengeance for this and I think it’s really powerful to witness somebody going through that.”
When we asked Robertson what her dream project would be, she replied with Lord of the Rings. She also names Horizon, God of War and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice as titles she’d love to work on: “Hellblade Senua’s Sacrifice was the most stunning game I’ve ever seen. I told myself I was only going to watch a few minutes of the cutscenes to get an idea of it. And then I sat down and watched the whole four hour YouTube video. I could not look away, it was so beautiful.
“The way that they built that character, the way they’ve talked about mental health and taking the players through that experience with her is so cool. I’d love to be part of projects like that, the ones that are really breaking down boundaries and showing life through different lenses in a really immediate way.”
Resident Evil Village is confirmed to be getting some DLC in the future at some point, and a return of Lady Dimitrescu could be a very real possibility. However, when asked about any upcoming projects she had going on, Robertson couldn’t reveal any details. So we’ll just have to wait and see.
Resident Evil Village is available to buy from the GameByte Shop from £32.95. It’s available to play on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and Stadia.
Featured Image Credit: Maggie Robertson / Capcom