Even if you don’t recognize Troy Baker’s name, active gamers will likely recognize the sound of his voice. Breathing life into disparate characters like Agent Jonesy in Fortnite to Joel Miller in The Last of Us, few people in the industry remain as booked and busy as Baker.
One of his breakthrough acting roles came in 2013 when Baker played Booker DeWitt in the beloved BioShock Infinite. A couple of other games that he appears in include: Batman: Arkham Origins, Far Cry 4, God of War, Mortal Kombat 11, Death Stranding, and The Last of Us Part II.
We spoke with Baker about his career, working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, what goes on behind the scenes, and his approach to the craft of acting.
As a child, Baker aspired to be a musician. Occasionally, his career path intersects with his music interests, but Baker appreciates not having the stress of relying on music as a primary source of income. “I love the fact that I get to do it recreationally; I don’t have to do it vocationally. It takes a lot of the pressure off. I can sit at my piano or pick up one of my guitars and play and there’s not a dollar figure attached to that,” Baker said.
Early in his career, Baker worked for FUNimation and dubbed an array of anime series including Dragon Ball Z. “I cut my teeth, and I learned what my voice was capable of,” he said. “It was like my theater.” Returning to his roots of English dubbing in 2018, Baker voiced the titular role of Baki in a Netflix reboot of the popular Japanese manga-turned-anime.
Already involved with the next generation of consoles, Baker voices the character of Simon Krieger in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, one of the first games available for the PlayStation 5, and he plays an entity called The Maw in The Medium, one of the first games available for the Xbox Series X|S.
Speaking about the logistical difficulties encountered by Bloober Team when developing The Medium, Baker said, “The thing that I love specifically about this industry, is that a bunch of video game nerds look at something like Covid and go, ‘Well, that’s just bad design. We’re used to squashing bugs, so how can we work around this?’ The purpose of iteration, the purpose of development is to find the obstacles and find ways to overcome them.”
He emphasized the necessity for close collaboration with game studios during the creation process, “You get in there, and you do it together. It’s collaborative. It’s not just about coming up with a cool voice on your own. It’s about working and partnering with some very talented people.”