Janina Gavankar, the face, voice and movements of Star Wars: Battlefront II's anti-hero Iden Versio, wasn’t on stage during Star Wars: Celebration when the game's first trailer hit.
But she was in the audience, sobbing. "I flew myself there because I wanted to feel the rumble of the seats while watching the trailer with the rest of the fans," she tells Glixel. "And when I saw it I was sobbing and sobbing and sobbing."
After the trailer premiered, someone on stage told the audience was there in the crowd with them.
“I was so embarrassed by how much I was weeping,” she says.
While Star War’s isn’t her first role in a video game (Gavankar was in both Halo 5 and Far Cry 4), and she's done quite a bit on television (True Blood, Arrow and Sleepy Hollow to name a few), this particular role was something special to Gavankar as both a gamer and a big Star Wars fan.
"I have built a career in television and film, and I really do love my experiences thus far, but there are many things about the game industry I prefer," she says. "I'm such a hardcore gamer."
So hardcore that when she went for a blind audition and discovered it was for a game that DICE was involved in, she guessed what it was immediately.
"They don't tell me what it was for, but they don't have to tell me," she says. "They said DICE and I read NeoGaf so of course I knew what it was. I was working on Sleepy Hollow in Atlanta at the time I had to send in a taped audition."
The audition had Gavankar assuming the role of a WWII pilot who is being reprimanded for something she did while in the plane. In another scene, the pilot is reminiscing about the past.
Despite typically taking a relaxed approach to landing rolls, Gavankar says she called her reps twice a day asking if they had heard yet on the job. Then she wrote a letter to developers Motive.
"It said, 'I figured it out and I would be perfect it,'" says Mark Thomson, game director with EA Motive. "'If you don’t cast me don't worry, I'll still pre-order.'"
It wasn't until much later, after she had been cast and they were scanning her face in preparation for starting work on the full capture for the game, that Gavankar heard how big her role would be.
"I would have been happy being someone in the background," she says. "When they were scanning my face I asked what they could tell me about the role or when I would get the script. And someone said, 'Oh, you're the girl.' I didn't know what that meant, so they said, 'You're the protagonist.'"
So far, beyond the trailers and, of course, acting out her significant role in the game, Gavankar hasn't seen any of it in action. "I won’t even watch the cut-scenes," she says. What she wants to do is experience the game just like everyone else who’s going to be playing it when it comes out. In fact, she wants to do a livestream of her playing through the game, if she can work out the details. Her hope is first experience the finished game with her "Star Wars friends" on a livestream.
She hopes that would include folks, such as Jet Lucas (George Lucas' son), Star Wars: Forces of Destiny writer Jennifer Muro, and others she becomes friends with through the process of helping to create the game. "Just a little posse of friends who met each other through Star Wars: Celebration in April," she says. "I'd like to make it a party experience."