INTERVIEW: Michael Antonakos Stars as Alexios in Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed® Odyssey
Born in Athens, Greece and raised in Lake Louise, Alberta, actor Michael Antonakos is the voice of Alexios in Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed® Odyssey, the latest game in the blockbuster series released last month. From theater, to film and television, to voice acting and motion capture– Michael has done it all! His voice can also be heard in Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, Dead Rising 4, Mass Effect Andromeda and many more. Read about his journey into acting below.
Hi Micheal, thank you for doing this interview with Defective Geeks! Tell us about Assassin’s Creed® Odyssey and your character, Alexios. What is it like being the voice of a video game franchise that so many people love?
You’re very welcome! Thank you for chatting with me.
Well, it’s a hell of a game to say the least. It all takes place in Ancient Greece around 431BCE, the beginning of Western Civilization, and the height of the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta. You (the player) get choose to be a male (Alexios) or female (Kasandra), a mercenary (Ancient Greek: misthios) who can fight for both sides, while on a quest to unite their family and uncover a malign cult called the Order of The Ancients.
It was pretty cool to be a part of this incredible franchise. It comes with a lot of weight to it, but I’ve been very honored to be a part of such a massive game.
How did you get into voice acting? What was it like for you to become involved in the world of motion capture and voices for games and animated series?
I booked my first audition for EA about 15 years ago for Lord of The Rings: The Third Age. I guess I was one of the few actors who came in and was able to play a dwarf convincingly! It was my first motion-capture audition, and that job became the beginning of a new career path I’d never imagined getting into. I’ve been fortunate that I was good at physical and vocal manipulation and people continued to hire me for more jobs. Voice work was another lucky moment, I booked my very first voice audition for a cartoon called Trollz, I had never even been in front of a microphone before, so I had a lot to learn very fast! After many years of working on my voice it has become a much more full time profession and passion of mine. I love all the sounds that your body can make and I’m always fascinated and learning more.
Do you have a favorite experience or memory working on a particular project as a voice?
The last game I got to work on was Mass Effect: Andromeda. Much like Odyssey it was a choose your own adventure game, with choice wheel options for every decision you make, as well you had the option to start the game as a male or female protagonist. I got to do the motion capture for about six of the characters in that game. It was one of my favorite experiences as a performer because you could really push yourself to become very wildly different characters. I played three different species of Aliens and three humans. They all had different voices, personalities and completely different physicality’s. It was like going to work and being a puppet all day. One of the most enjoyable and liberating experiences I have had as an actor.
How do you come up with a voice for a particular character? Do you have a favorite voice that you’ve done so far?
It all depends. Other roles I’ve done I sometimes get to look at an image of the character before hand and see what voice would suit that person by their clothing, body structure, age, and character description. You just have to be creative and make a decision. It might not always be the right one, but you keep exploring and expanding. I just love looking at someone and searching for their voice, their sound. It’s easy and hard all at the same time.
I played the voice of “Old Spice’s: Legendary man” advertising spots for a couple years. The actor they had was brilliant, but I guess his accent was a hair too thick for American audiences, so I came in to do his voice with a slightly lighter accent. I loved it. Those ads are still some of my favorite I have ever had to opportunity to do. They are so well done and hilariously funny. Just look up Old Spice Rocket Car and Old Spice Whale to get a taste.
Tell us about your creative journey. What inspired you to pursue acting? What has been the most rewarding, and also, the most challenging part of pursuing a creative career for you?
I have always wanted to be an actor. It was one of those things I feel like I didn’t necessarily choose, it kind of chose me. I just had to do it. There was always something about it, I loved to entertain people and make them laugh, but I also liked inspiring people. Stories can help unlock feelings, and emotions; they can guide people to moral ideologies, touching their hearts and if your lucky souls. I don’t think anything else would fulfill me the same way being an artist does. Art is a reflection of life, a mirror to our souls. We need it to expand as a species, and it ought not to be treated lightly or taken for granted. Also, because I don’t like doing the same thing for too long, and acting allows me to be different people and have different experiences all the time.
The most rewarding for me has always been the moments that were also the most challenging. When you have to step into a scene that is beyond your comfort levels or your insecurities. When you have to play a character that scares you and you don’t know if you can. But when you do, and you step into the vulnerability, you get connected to something… authentic, something real or honest within you that pushes you beyond your previous capabilities. There is no greater reward. You face your fear and you always come out of it stronger.
What would be a dream project for you in the future? Are you working on any other current projects you can talk to us about?
My dream project is one I’m working on actually. I have loved Greek Mythology since I was a little kid so I’ve been writing two Greek epics, one is an episodic series or mini series and the other is a three part feature film. I really want the world to see the Greek Myth’s and stories the way I see them. I feel like they’ve always been comical in a way, and I would love to see them with the honesty of The Lord of The Rings films; fantastical but grounded and believable. It would be a dream to see them come alive.
I am currently finishing my first short film, it’s a very special little project shot in Toronto, Canada. It’s call ART: An Unexpected Vocation, it is a passion project. Something to make people stop and look at the world around them, bringing awareness to mental health, and finding your authentic self in this crazy world. You can follow and support us on our Indiegogo campaign. Get involved in whatever way you can. It will be something special.
If you woke up one day with super powers, what kind of powers would you want and what will you use them for?
The power to heal. I would walk around clearing people of their issues and concerns, their ailments and diseases. It would be the most rewarding thing I could imagine doing. If I could just touch or look at a person and make them healed, vibrant and alive again, that would be an amazing power!
Assassin’s Creed® Odyssey is available now on Playstation 4, XBOX One and for PC.