For eight years and six games, Sam Fisher was synonymous with the microfilm-gargling baritone of Michael Ironside, the Canadian actor and Starship Troopers survivor. But he was ousted for last year’s (actually excellent) Splinter Cell entry, Blacklist. Asked about the publisher’s decision in a Reddit AMA yesterday, Ironside waxed entirely unbitterly about his time as the don of Third Echelon.
“I think it’s a great idea for Ubisoft,” he said. “They’ve gone to motion capture, and this spring I will be 65 years old. I don't think anyone wants to pay money seeing a 65 year old Sam Fisher bounce around on set, stumbling while he kills people.”
Ironside wished Ubisoft “all the luck”, and the series a “long and storied future”. But the actor recalled that when he first read the script for the original Splinter Cell, he “didn’t want to do it”.
“It was very stiff, very inflexible, and very bloody and violent,” he told Redditors. “I was going to give them back their money. They asked me what would it take to keep me on the project, and I said we would have to change the character, and give him some type of humanity.”
And so Ironside sat down with the staff at Ubisoft Montreal and talked out the Sam Fisher we know - a man sardonic and empathetic enough to offset the blood-curdling grimness of holding a knife to a stranger’s throat.
“And we got as much humanity, I think, that that format will allow,” said Ironside. “I think the proof is in the pudding, the game has had a pretty good set of legs on it.”
Once recording began, Ironside insisted that he read through the script with the cast, rather than alone in a booth.
“Working is like making love,” he reasoned. “If i do it by myself, it's just masturbation. I’d rather have the other cast around.”
I’m a fan of the physicality of Ironside’s replacement, Eric Johnson, but will always harbour fond memories of the age-related quips Ironside shared with handler Grim in Chaos Theory. How about you?