Metal Gear Solid is one of the most iconic video game franchises of all time, and Stefanie Joosten’s Quiet stands as one of the most notable characters within it.
In an interview with IGN, Joosten sheds light on her experience working on the final mainline Metal Gear Solid, what it was like working with famed developer Hideo Kojima, and the controversy surrounding the sexualisation of Quiet.
Joosten also discussed the possibility of working with Konami and Kojima again, what her dream roles would be, and the threat of AI amid ongoing chatter around a video game voice actors strike. All this comes ahead of Joosten releasing her second studio album, Intermission, on November 10 in collaboration with Grammy and Academy Award winning recording artist Giorgio Moroder.
IGN: Giorgio Moroder was involved in your first album but has an even bigger role this time around. How did this collaboration with Giorgio come about?
Stephanie Joosten: I was working on a video game called Wanted Dead and I worked on a couple of cover songs for the soundtrack, and I came into contact with Raney Shockne, he’s a producer that works very closely with Giorgio. Raney was doing a lot of work on the soundtrack for Wanted Dead, and I don’t quite recall how it happened, but the songs I covered, one was Cat People by David Bowie. And I also sang the cover of She Works Hard for the Money, which were both tracks originally produced by Giorgio.
Later on I heard from Raney that Georgio was really interested in working with me for an album, which is still quite unbelievable to me because I was completely starstruck. He came aboard and became an executive producer on my previous album. That was an incredible ride already. It was such a fun project.
The previous album had a lot of nostalgic feelings to it. We really wanted them to sound almost like authentic songs from the eighties, which I think worked and it was just so much fun.
That was, to us, that was a great success. And then this year, early this year, we started working on Intermission, my next album. And this evolved to be even more interesting, and Giorgio actually wanted to be featured on a couple of tracks. So that’s really such an incredible development to me.
Your debut album was very eighties focused and sought to recreate the feeling and sound of that era, so what did you want to focus on and create this time with Intermission?
The last album was a very fun and happy album in a way. And the new one, there’s a little more, what would be the right word? It has a bit of an edge to it, so there’s more of a personal touch. And I mean, it has some bittersweet elements to it that makes it quite different from the previous one.
Switching gears a little, can you tell us about your experience working on Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain?
It’s quite a long way back. I started working on Metal Gear 5 about 10 years ago now, but it’s incredible, the legacy it’s left behind, and I’m incredibly happy that it left such an impression that people are still talking about the game to this day.
I feel incredibly honoured to have that in my career, something that left such an impact. It was one of the first big productions I’d worked on video game wise. At the time I was living in Japan and I was working there. In total, I’d stayed in Japan for about seven years, working in theater productions, commercials, film, and TV work. And I was open to, well do as much work as possible as an actor and really get as much experience as I could.
I auditioned for this part in a new video game. I was not told at the time that it was going to be a Metal Gear Solid, but it was for motion capture, which I was really curious about. It was quite new to me at the time, and there were not as many video games back then that actually had actors be 3D scanned and portrayed in motion capture and voice as well. That was quite unique at the time.
That was a really, really cool opportunity. I was so excited to get it. And yeah, it was an absolutely wonderful experience and I learned so much from it. It was quite a long span of development, so the motion capture process was quite long, actually. It was spread out over a couple of years, so there was a lot of work to be done, and I enjoyed it to the fullest. It was great working with Hideo Kojima.
How involved was Hideo Kojima in the day to day and what was he like to work with?
Well, just overall, it was just really cool to have someone actually be so devoted to a project. He would also attend most of the motion capture sessions, which was really helpful. He had a really clear vision for the project, but it was just so large in span that the actors, including me, would often ask for more input on the characters’ motivations and the world we were in. And he was incredibly helpful and always present to make sure we really got the characters. So that was just really impressive. And yeah, just a really incredible experience.
If Konami wanted to expand upon Quiet’s character with a spin-off or other entry, would you be up for playing the role again?
That’s an interesting question. From what I felt after finishing Metal Gear Solid 5, Quiet’s story arc felt like it had a really beautiful conclusion. When I went into the last motion capture sessions and also the voiceover sessions, I really felt, at the end, I was really saying goodbye to the character as well. So that really felt like closure, but who knows? It would be interesting to explore Quiet’s past, for instance.
Kojima has obviously departed from Konami now and has his own studio, so would you be up for working with him again too?
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
Quiet has been at the centre of debates surrounding the over sexualisation of women in video games and media overall, so how did you feel about her portrayal while creating Metal Gear Solid 5 and has your perspective changed at all since?
It’s been interesting to see the discussions about the character. Of course, I’ve seen them, and read a lot of different perspectives on the character at the time. And still, I respect the choices Kojima made and his team in designing the character.
And also, of course, there’s also just a choice of creating a character that’s visually appealing. I think video games are, in a way, still a sort of fantasy world you enter, so I definitely respect the choices regarding the Quiet appearance, for instance, being quite revealing.
But I also understand the perspective of the people that are not as happy with how she was portrayed. This game came out in 2015, and I think the video game landscape has changed quite a lot since then. People are looking for more representation, and I really get it.
Quiet’s outfit is not practical at all. Even with the explanation that was given of her breathing through her skin, of course there were so many other options you could have gone with. I do agree on that. I got to see the character artwork when we were starting motion capture, and of course my first reaction was, ‘that’s a very revealing costume’, but I respected it and accepted it. So that’s basically my stance. It’s fantasy, and I find that acceptable as well. But I do understand, having more of a diverse representation in video games for woman and all minorities is something I would encourage as well.
You mentioned working in film and TV, doing commercials, and obviously work in video games too. And now you’ve added a musical career to that. So how do you describe what you do to others?
It’s quite a diverse career for sure. And I’m actually really happy that it is that way. I’m able to express myself creatively on different platforms and through different media. I would say I’m foremost an actor, voiceover, and motion capture performer as well as a singer. And I intend to keep doing everything that falls under those titles.
Do you have any dream projects across any of these areas that you would love to work on?
Up until now, the roles I’ve played in video games have been so diverse. Every project brings something new, so I’m really for being in different genres and styles. Maybe something I would personally love is being involved in something Star Wars related. Role-playing games and something in a fantasy setting is something I’d really enjoy as well.
How do you feel about the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strikes in the United States and the chatter around a potential video game voice actor strike?
I’m not as personally affected by the strike since I’m based in the Netherlands, but I do understand the reasons for the strike. We’re in quite challenging times. I think it’s been the case worldwide for a lot of actors that they struggle financially, and I think it’s important that you are not exploited as a performer.
There’s also things like AI being talked about. It’s something very unsettling to people who do voiceover work and actors too. I think most performers believe that the human aspect is vital to create something authentic and new, and so it is very natural to be protective of it, not losing your voice.
I mean, it will be such a shame just to have, for instance, your voice being replaced by just coming in somewhere and speaking a couple of lines, and have your voice processed into some kind of AI form. And it would just lose so much of all the nuances and human influence you can have on each role that you play. It’s really something. It’s strange times. It’s strange to think about these things that are on the horizon.
Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelance reporter. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.