No doubt the names Chris Jones and Aaron Conners are the first that come to mind when thinking of the acclaimed Tex Murphy series. But behind the scenes (quite literally) there is no denying the impact of director Adrian Carr, whose filmmaking skills significantly raised the bar for Full Motion Video (FMV) in games. We already interviewed Jones and Conners during their successful Kickstarter campaign, but a year later with filming now complete on Tesla Effect, we decided it was high time to speak to Adrian to discuss all-things-Tex.
As it turns out, not only did he provide a wealth of wonderful insider knowledge, he brought a bonanza of never-before-seen images with him! Be sure not to miss the exclusive image gallery at the end of the interview.
Ingmar Böke: Adrian, it’s my honor and pleasure to welcome you to Adventure Gamers. Fifteen years after the release of Overseer, you've finished shooting the new Tex Murphy game. I imagine it’s been quite a trip after all these years. Can you express your state of mind right now?
Adrian Carr: RELIEF after delivering the locked edit of Tesla Effect. On July 19th I had my first decent night’s sleep in six months. The past few months have been spent editing over 2,200 shots all on green screen, most with multiple layers. We shot a second round of pick-ups with Chris Jones and a new character that will have a significant impact on one of the paths. I have been more involved than in my previous two Tex outings, particularly with editing, and over the next few months I will be involved in most aspects of post-production.
Ingmar: I guess you’re keeping the plot of Tesla Effect under the wraps at the moment, but we would love to get a basic idea, at least. What can you tease about the plot of the new game and to what extent does it continue where Overseer left off in 1998?
Adrian: Yes, we are keeping the Tesla Effect plot under wraps; however, as the title suggests it does involve Nikola Tesla and the trailer released in conjunction with the title announcement alludes to a greater story, one that links back to one of Tesla’s more esoteric experiments. This was the first of several planned teaser trailers that will lead up to the final full trailer prior to release.
The story picks up in 2050, seven years after Overseer’s infamous cliffhanger ending, followed by those prophetic words “to be continued…” Tex [you the player] wakes up with a new lump on his noggin and a fresh case to solve as well as the mystery of what happened to him and Chelsee on that fateful ride. Let me add here that it does not matter if you haven’t played the previous Tex Murphy games to understand the story, but it will be a richer experience if you do play The Pandora Directive and Overseer.
Ingmar: The actors involved in Tesla Effect can all be found on IMDb these days, but most of our readers probably don’t know about the cast yet. What can you tell us about the main actors involved?
Adrian: Steve Valentine: He plays Charles Johanssen and I cannot describe his character because it will give away too many spoilers, but I can tell you that Steve is best known for his role as Dr. Nigel Townsend on the series Crossing Jordan with over 30+ guest appearances on various series. His big screen roles include Spider-Man 3, A Christmas Carol, and Trojan War. As well as being an actor, Steve is a world-class magician.
June Lockhart: Ms. Lockhart plays Margaret Leonard and, like Steve, I will not describe her character as it will spoil too many elements in the story, but I will say she plays a significant role in Tex’s life. June Lockhart is an icon in Hollywood film and television history. She started her career in 1940 and continues acting today. She is best known for her roles as Ruth Martin on the classic series Lassie and as Maureen Robinson in the sci-fi series Lost in Space and has guested on practically every TV show since the 1950s
Richard Norton: Richard returns as Big Jim Slade but with a surprising twist. He is a world-class martial artist and actor with 60+ film credits and television credits, including several guest appearances on Walker: Texas Ranger and The New Adventures of Robin Hood. Richard recently wrapped Mad Max IV: Fury Road as co-fight choreographer and stunt performer. He is the only western actor to have co-starred in three Jackie Chan movies and his pairing with Cynthia Rothrock has earned them the reputation as the "Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of Martial Arts".
Big Jim Slade confronts Tex atop Coit Tower in Tesla Effect
Larry Thomas: Yes, Seinfeld’s ‘Soup Nazi’ is in Tesla Effect. Larry plays Lt. Danwicz, who takes over police duties from Mac Malden [the late Kevin Jones]. As Tex says: “Danwicz? Rhymes with Manwich. And manwiches are unforgettably delicious”. Larry can add Danwicz to his impressive roster of guest-starring roles on many series and movies.
Todd Bridges: He plays Mantus, a Morlock whose disfigurement is due to self-sacrifice but he does have a burning desire for revenge against one of the characters in the story. Most fans know Todd from his role as Willis Jackson on the hit series Diff'rent Strokes and as Monk on Everybody Hates Chris.
Jodi Russell: She plays Taylor Lamintz, Louie’s niece, an investigative reporter and one of the female characters vying for Tex's affections. Jodi is a TV vet with roles on Everwood, Touched by an Angel, Cover Me, Silk Stalkings, Models inc., and Murder, She Wrote, as well as roles in indie films like Three of a Kind, Precious Mettle and Little Big League.
Shannon Engemann: Shannon is Ariel Bauers and Taylor’s competition in the Tex romance stakes. Is she a woman to be trusted? You get to discover that as you make your choices. Shannon played Melahn Tode in Under a Killing Moon, who does not factor in Tesla Effect. Shannon has been on the series Charmed, is the host of Straight Eye for the Whipped Guy and had roles in the movies Poolhall Junkies, Three of a Kind, and Dragon Warriors.
Sewell Whitney: A wonderful character actor who has guest starred on numerous series like Dexter, Mad Men, In Plain Sight, Law & Order: SVU, CSI, and All My Children, plus roles on indie movies Dark Power, I am Singh, Beyond Reasonable Doubt, Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn. He plays Thompson Ault, a reclusive man who makes a startling revelation in the story to Tex.
Ingmar: You’re known as a man who has many great anecdotes to share, so please share some favorite anecdotes of working with the actors on Tesla Effect.
Adrian: I will give you a handful… but note there are a couple of spoilers
Emergency fill-in Shannon Engemann gets the upper hand on set with Chris Jones
* Cold sweat moments for a director: Change of actors at the last second. In our production we had two instances. Originally the role of Ariel was to be played by another actress, but when a serious illness befell her three days before filming was to commence, there was a mad scramble to recast. It was a weekend so contacting agents was all the more difficult. We had someone we liked but she fell out on the Monday morning and Ariel was scheduled to shoot Tuesday. Chris, I believe it was, suggested Shannon, who was flying in from Hawaii that evening so we waited after wrap for her to arrive. Nervously I asked her if she could read with an English accent. Her English accent was flawless.
Incident two was when an actor had to be replaced for not being prepared and Sewell Whitney stepped in with only a day's notice to fill the important role of Thompson Ault. I suggested Sewell to Catrine and she agreed he would be great for the role. Sewell is a gym buddy and keen to work with me, so when the opportunity came up it was a no-brainer for him. His nuanced performance brought tears to the eyes of several of the backers and the crew. I was lucky to have these two talented performers join the team.
A week before filming on a snowy winter night in Salt Lake, I was having dinner with the producer, Catrine McGregor, and Director of Photography, Greg Green, when Catrine’s cell phone rings. It is June Lockhart, an actress in her twilight years. I had not met or spoken to her and she had some questions. Catrine said, ”You should talk to Adrian Carr, the director, he’s right here. June, this is Adrian.” I asked Catrine: “Does June know she gets decapitated?” “No.” It was so noisy that I had to step outside to even hear myself think… it was still snowing. After 20 minutes of freezing my ass off and building rapport, I had to bring up the subject of having to be decapitated. ”Oh dear, will this be before…or after lunch?” We had a good laugh and I could not wait to meet this icon I had grown up watching on television in Australia.
* We have a local female impersonator in the game who named her boobs West & East Bountiful, and the gap between Centerville.
Imagine Louie Lamintz... losing his teeth!
* One can only imagine the stress and pressure on Chris during filming and he needed to release it at some point. It happened when Louie’s fake teeth came loose on a particular line – and Chris just lost it – hysterical laughter to the point of tears. He tried to compose himself and continue but within seconds he was slumped over the counter crying with laughter… for FOUR minutes non-stop [and we have it all on camera].
* Taylor [played by Jodi Russell] slaps Tex several times [it is interactive after all]. Chris took it on the cheek a few times, and I mean literally. I stood in for Tex the day Ariel [Shannon Engemann] had to slap Tex hard. Chris was absent to attend a personal matter and I have to say after a few whacks you sorta get to like it – is that weird?Continued on the next page...