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'The Walking Dead’: Melissa Hutchison on Clementine and the character's future

Scott Grill
Scott Grill
Michelle Hutchison (left) at Dragon Con meeting a Clementine fan.

Voice actress Melissa Hutchison got to experience a break out role with Clementine in Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead and it’s been a wild ride that included winning the Best Human Female award at the Spike VGAs and being nominated for a BAFTA, the British equivalent of the Oscars. got the opportunity to speak with the actress at Dragon Con which ended Monday about playing Clem, the decisions that gamers are put in and where she hopes the little girl goes next.

Hutchison also participated in two The Walking Dead panels at Dragon Con in downtown Atlanta, GA where she revealed how the ending to Episode 5 left her in a bad mood but it was still her favorite part from the game along with a train scene where Clementine and Lee had a bonding moment.

She was also already a fan of The Walking Dead TV show before getting the role in the game and went on to become a fan of the comic series as well.

Be sure to check out the companion interview with Dave Fennoy, the voice actor for Lee Everett, as well.

Warning: There is spoiler material below for those that have not completed the game.

So how are you enjoying Dragon Con so far?

Hutchison: I am, how do I put it? It’s like a “Wow” moment. Kind of every five minutes, I’m like “Whoa!” Well, that wasn’t a “Wow,” that was a “Whoa.”

I’m loving it. It’s kind of blowing my my mind. It’s really cool. I’ve only really been to a couple of small conventions before this. So this is huge.

I’m so psyched to see all the people dressed up and I met R2-D2 and that kind of made my life. I’m having a blast.

I’m thrilled to be here. I’m actually amazed that it’s taken me this long.

So you’ve only been to what two or three conventions?

Hutchison: Yeah, smaller ones like in San Francisco. Small, local ones.

I’m surprised you haven’t been to Comic-Con yet.

Hutchison: Yeah, what’s up with that? I actually tried to get the professional pass last year and there were so many hoops that I had to jump through that I kind of got overwhelmed and…I don’t know…I failed. Failed miserably.

But next year, I’m going to get on.

It’s been a little over a year since the first episode of The Walking Dead. In your wildest imagination, did you ever expect this kind of reaction?

Hutchison: No. Not at all. In fact, I’m so…I don’t know where I live in my sheltered little mind…I knew video games won awards but as an actor, winning awards and being nominated for awards, I was like, “Oh this happens?”

Like, Oh my god. Winning the VGAs was such a surreal moment for me and I still think about it. I’m still wrapping my head around it. It’s the most awesome experience ever basically. I feel so completely grateful to be on this project and still think I’m dreaming sometimes.

Has the success of The Walking Dead opened up more opportunities as a voice actor?

It has, definitely. I think my name has become more recognizable which as a little ole voice actress from San Francisco, it’s kind of hard to climb up that ladder. I don’t live in L.A. right now and the industry is definitely smaller up there.

It’s pretty cool to kind of put my flag pole in the mark of the voice over world and meet people who I admire that have actually heard of me. It’s pretty awesome.

The Walking Dead they have so many characters from the TV show and so many established characters from the book. Now there’s this whole new cast of characters for the game. Was there any concern about fan acceptance of this new cast?

Hutchison: Yeah, I was. In fact, I was interested in how it was going to be pulled off because when people love their characters, including myself when I watch shows,” sometimes when something new gets introduced you’re like, “I don’t know if I’m going to like that.”

I think the way the writers on this game are insanely talented and really created, right on par…it was The Walking Dead. So it wasn’t like some weird offshoot that they obviously didn’t screw up. They really nailed the characters and people really took to them and thank God.

It was also the situations that Telltale put in as a player. There was a scene in the barn of episode 2 where Lee had to choose between killing or letting one of the St. John brothers live. But he doesn’t know that Clementine is watching them. I choose to kill him thinking she wasn’t there but then that scene just made me feel horrible as a father.

Hutchison: Yeah, that’s the power and effect of this game. It’s kind of refreshing because it really made people make these personal decisions and be affected by the decisions they made. It wasn’t just “bang-bang”…I’m not trying to say that all the other video games are wrong but it’s really the first game of its kind that engaged people and brought their emotions into it and made them feel horrible. <laughter>

You’ve been in the industry since 2002 with Superman: Man of Steel. In that time, how have you seen the industry change for voice actors?

Hutchison: The scripts in general have gotten meatier for us. There’s a lot more cut-scenes and lots more dialogue. Before video games were just quick one-liners, or grunts and groans or death sounds. Now there’s actually thick plots and dialogue. It’s pretty cool because most of us who get into voice over, especially for animation and video games, that’s what we’re looking for. We really want to be able to act and have a lot to work with and grow with our emotions and grow with the character. Video games nowadays, their basically animated series especially with something like The Walking Dead.

Do you see games in general getting more mature and storywise getting up there with TV and movies?

Hutchison: Yeah, definitely. I think it’s already morphing that way. I’m not trying to say that The Walking Dead set the bar for that but I think people are seeing how effect that was and how much people enjoyed playing games with depth like that.

Obviously, you’re working on Season 2 and you can’t talk about that but, you personally, where do you hope to see Clementine goes as a character?

Hutchison: I hope they don’t kill her. <laughter> I want her to live. Truly, I’m not even joking. I don’t have any power of that but, you know, don’t kill her.

I would like to see her keep surviving and grow and become even tougher, gain her independence and become an awesome female character in a video game. Because how cool is that? There’s not a lot. There is a good handful but people already love her so much.

Outside of Clem, what has been your favorite role or game to work on so far?

Hutchison: I really liked working on Back to the Future with Telltale Games because I played Trixie Trotter and I was able to do a lot of singing because she was a nightclub singer.

A million years ago, I did Death Jr. 2 and I was the voice of Pandora. I say that and people are probably, “What? What game?” That was a really fun role since she was just a sarcastic little firecracker.

You’re currently working on an animated show called Space Racers. Can you tell a little about that show and what your role is?

Hutchison: Yes, I am in a couple of roles. I am Ava which is the voice of the computer that all the Space Racers rely on for information and I’m also Starling, the youngest Space Racer. I believe it’s going to be airing on PBS. It’s going to be for the younger crowd but at the same time it kind of reminds…the writers on it are amazing and super clever…it almost has a DuckTales vibe to it just with the humor that’s in it but it’s not DuckTales because it’s spaceships and totally different. But the actors on it are all so amazingly talented and it’s not going to be one of those shows that the parents are going to be wishing never existed because they hate it and can’t stand the sound of it. It’s going to be really really cool and I’m excited for it to come out.

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