Sam Fisher voice actor initially turned down the role as a "two dimensional killing machine"

Splinter Cell Conviction

Sam Fisher of Splinter Cell fame is one of the more interesting videogame protagonists to turn up over the past decade or so. He's appropriately dangerous, but not a relentless, unstoppable killing machine; he's actually at his best when he gets the job done quietly. Some credit for that aspect of his character goes to Michael Ironside, who voiced Fisher through the first five games in the series, and who said in an AMA yesterday that he actually backed out of the job at first because it was too "bloody and violent."

Fisher said in the opening question of the AMA that while he's not a gamer, he was initially very enthusiastic about doing the game because it was "quite lucrative." But when he got the script and realized that Ubisoft's original vision for Sam Fisher was "very stiff, very inflexible, and very blood[y] and violent," he changed his mind.

"I didn't want to do it. And told them 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," Ironside said. "To their credit, they sat me down with the game creators, and we came up with the present Sam Fisher, who had an empathy and was not just a 2 dimensional killing machine. And we got as much humanity, I think that that format will allow."

His desire to soften the character was rooted in the fact that in spite of his long history of playing psychotic heavies in movies—"See you at the party, Richter," etc.—his real-life persona is completely different. "The truth for me is: I'm a pacifist," he said. "I believe that there's nothing on this planet worth killing for, but there's a lot worth dying for."

Ironside gave Ubisoft a "hats off" for giving him as much flexibility as it did with the character, and said that the decision to move to a new voice actor for last year's Splinter Cell: Blacklist was actually a good idea. "They've gone to motion capture, and this spring I will be 65 years old," he said. "I don't think anyone wants to pay money seeing a 65 year old Sam Fisher bounce around on set, killing and stumbling while he kills people."

Ironside talks more about Splinter Cell in the AMA, and also tells some great stories about Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Cronenberg, hitting an old woman with a shovel, and how a coked-up stunt double in Buenos Aires led to him doing his own stunt on the top of a subway car. Enjoy it all at Reddit.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.