games / Columns

Daniel Roebuck On His Role in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Favorite Star Wars Film

November 25, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

The 411 Interview: Daniel Roebuck

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Daniel Roebuck is an actor, writer, and director who has been working in the entertainment world for over thirty years. He’s worked in movies, big budget (The Fugitive, U.S. Marshals, Agent Cody Banks) and low budget (Bubba Ho-Tep, Terror Eyes, John Dies at the End), all sorts of TV (Matlock, Lost, Glee, CSI, NCIS, and more), and has directed the terrific faith based movie Getting Grace (check out my review of the movie here). Roebuck’s latest project is the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, now available on X-Box One, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows (you can buy the game for whatever system you have here), where he plays the diminutive alien Greez Dritus. In this interview, Roebuck talks with this writer about playing Greez Dritus, being a part of the Star Wars universe, and more.

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Bryan Kristopowitz: How did you get involved with the new videogame Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order?

Daniel Roebuck: My journey into the Star Wars galaxy had an extremely mundane beginning. I went to an audition, just like any other audition, for a video game that unbeknownst to me was using a code name instead of the title. In the middle of the audition, the performance director, Tom Keegan, gave me an adjustment and suggested that I replace the term “Templar Knight” with the term “Jedi Knight.” That was the moment that I realized I had been given the opportunity to audition for Star Wars.

BK: How did you approach your character Greez Dritus? Did the character change at all while you were performing it?

DR: My initial reaction to the character, without knowing that he was a four-foot tall, four-armed alien, was that he was reminiscent of Ernie Borgnine, in all of those great 1970s movies. When I started actually performing the character, I soon realized that I had to think like a smaller person living in a bigger world, which not only informed Greez’s physicality but also his emotional state.

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BK: What sort of preparation do you have to do, as an actor/performer, before working on a video game like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order?

DR: The truth is, acting in a video game is one of the most freeing opportunities any actor could enjoy. To work without cameras, (of course there are cameras, but because of the sheer number of cameras filming, blocking is not the same issue it is on a movie set) the costumes, props, allows you to act simply, which is an enormous gift. One of Tom Keegan’s techniques to draw the best performances out of his cast is an extensive warm up performed every morning before shooting. I have always found that to be the perfect place to start the day when performing a very physical job like a video game.

BK: What was the hardest part of making Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order? The easiest? Is the motion capture process, for the lack of a better word, weird to do as an actor?

DR: The hardest part was keeping the project a secret for a year. The easiest part was getting to brag about it when I could finally tell people, because let’s be honest… it’s Star Wars. No, the motion capture process is acting, plain and simple. Although it may be weird from the standpoint of being a film actor, it’s completely organic to any actor who grew up in the theater as I have.

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BK: How is making a video game different from making a movie or TV show?

DR: On this game in particular, we had a great deal of rehearsal before shooting, which is not a luxury you are generally afforded on a movie or TV show. So that’s nice. But speaking personally, I’ve never been a guy who likes to over-rehearse because sometimes overthinking something kills spontaneity which is the energy in a performance which makes it seem authentic.

BK: How different was the process making Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order as opposed to Dead Rising 3?

DR: The main difference between the two projects was not physical, but more of a mental game. From an acting standpoint, the character of Gary Finkle was a large man living largely in an incredible situation. Because Greez was physically smaller we had to always be vigilant in tracking where his size would put him in any given situation. It’s hard to explain, really. But initially I tried to play him small and then had the epiphany that a guy like Joe Pesci doesn’t see himself as a small man, even though he is. So, I always had to use my mental powers to think of Greez’s space. The second part of that answer is probably more obvious, which is that being in Star Wars, you feel a responsibility not to let 200 million Star Wars fans down. So you definitely need to be on your A-game!

BK: Are you a fan, in general, of video games?

DR: I may just be a little too old to play video games well. And since I can’t play them well, I generally don’t play them at all.

BK: Are there any other video game franchises you hope to become a part of one day?

DR: Off the top of my head I can’t think of any, but if they ever do a Universal Studios Monsters video game, count me in!

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BK: Should there be a Greez Dritus video game?

DR: Of course! That goes without saying. There should be a Greez Dritus video game. A Greez Dritus bobble head. A Greez Dritus shower curtain, and a Greez Dritus pillow case. You should be able to wear Greez Dritus sneakers, slippers, pajamas, T-shirts and hoodies. There should be a Greez Dritus board game, commemorative wall plaque, life-size statue and wax figure. These are just the few things that come to the top of my head. I’m sure that I could come up with more if you are in the merchandising business.

BK: What’s your favorite Star Wars movie?

DR: My favorite Star Wars movie is Rogue One.

BK: Did Han shoot first?

DR: Yes, Han shot first, and that is why Tommy Lee Jones and I had to arrest him, in a little movie called The Fugitive. Despite his best efforts to create a new identity, our crack team of US Marshals still caught his ass.

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A very special thanks to Daniel Roebuck for agreeing to participate in this interview and to david j. moore for setting it up.

Check out the official Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order website here.
Check out Daniel Roebuck’s official website here, Facebook page here, and imdb page here.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order cover image from Amazon. Greez Dritus images courtesy of Electronic Arts and Daniel Roebuck. All other images courtesy of Daniel Roebuck.