Maggie Robertson interview — The surreal experience of playing Lady Dimitrescu

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The greatest joy of Resident Evil Village is Lady Dimitrescu, the giant vampire who has become hugely popular among cosplayers, fan artists are more. So it was interesting to watch Maggie Robertson, the voice actor of the larger-than-life Lady Dimitrescu, win the award for Outstanding Achievement in Character at the recent DICE Awards.

Last week, I joined a group of journalists in the offstage winners’ room for the DICE Awards to celebrate the best of video games in 2021 at the DICE Summit in Las Vegas. Each group of winners walked through our room and together we threw a number of questions at the winners.

I asked the final questions, while other journalists asked the rest. Here is an edited transcript of our interview.

Q: What do you think you can do now as an actor after working on these games that you couldn’t before?

Maggie Robertson: Well, I think a theater background is so important, especially with this kind of performance capture work, because it’s about telling your body. You have no sets or costumes or makeup to tell the story for you. You just have your body. I like to do a lot with animal work, animal studies. If you look at Lady Dimitrescu, she’s a bit feline. She becomes more sensual and rounder. She takes her time. By using that to create more of a distinct physical character for each character, you can also create very clear physical characters very quickly. You can use that as a starting point.

Q: When your character was revealed, it set the internet on fire. What was that like for you as the person behind that performance?

Robertson: Oh, God, it was so strange. Especially strange since I was still under NDA. I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t tell my roommates. I couldn’t tell my mother. I was just freaking out in my room on my own. It was so surreal and so much more than I could have imagined.

I am incredibly grateful for it. It has given me a platform to create a safe space for many different communities, such as the LGBT+ community. I love that. That was the greatest honor and privilege, and a totally unexpected one. It means a lot to me to be able to give something back and provide a safe space. I love that Lady D is loved.

Q: When you think back to when you first got to know your character, what did you notice about her? Did you feel she would stand out in a series like Resident Evil?

Robertson: Well, she stands out anyway, but I love the character design for Lady D. The very first time I saw her, she was so physically distinctive. What I think Capcom has done so wonderfully is to create an image that already indicates so much character. You just look at her, and before she even opens her mouth, she punches you in the face with her character. Again, they make my job so easy. I looked at the image and thought, “Oh, great. I now have 10,000 ideas of what to do and who she is.” She tells a very clear visual story.

Q: Among all the reactions you’ve gotten from playing this character, have you ever been scared or harassed by people? How do you deal with that?

Robertson: Oh, totally. Look, she was quite the phenomenon when she first came out. I was nervous to get into it, before the release even came out. I was nervous I’d get that sort of thing as the majority of the interaction because she’s so fetishised. But I will say the community has been really great. There is no escaping the fact that you are a woman on the Internet. That stuff exists. But the overwhelming response from the community was positive.

Maggie Robertson at the DICE Awards.

The first things I received were people contacting me to talk about my work and how much they appreciate what I did in the game. And strangely enough, I get a lot of strangers writing to me that they are proud of me after I win these awards. They write to say, “We are so proud of you, really so proud.” That is moving, very moving. It was lovely, actually, the responses.

Q: Perhaps playing a character who has won so much has unexpected fame in video games opened up extra doors for you? Or, conversely, has it been something where people contact you and say, “We want you to play a character who is similar to her, but a little different”?

Robertson: It’s so interesting. Time will tell, because I don’t know – this is my very first entry into the world of video games. I happened to get an agent a week before the game came out, so it’s hard for me to tell if my new auditions and new bookings are because I have this shiny new agent, or because I have this shiny new prize. Anyway, I’m very happy with them. But I think time will tell. This is a very small industry. Relationships are important. I am grateful to have worked on this game with other creators and collaborators that I want to work with again, who treat people well and are creative and always open to new ideas, always willing to work with you and not just against you, you what to do. I value those relationships and I hope they continue to grow.

Q: Do you find it weird that the character’s face is someone else?

Robertson: I honestly find it quite liberating. It allows me to have that separation so that I can watch the game now and experience the game myself as a fan, as a spectator. I don’t overly criticize my own performance. Especially in terms of the fetishization and this reaction we have to her – I wonder how Helena Mankowska, the face model, feels about it. But I enjoy that degree of separation. It gives me that little bit of space and the security around it. I can just enjoy it.

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