Some of the best work in Hollywood is voice over work. Making sure the emotion is there without having a camera also making you act out the scene seems hard. Put that with the stress of World War II meets Call of Duty, and there is plenty of emotion to go around. We got to talk with actor Brett Zimmerman on his work with the game and other projects he has coming up. Check out what he had to say.
KRISTIN: Can you tell us how you got into entertainment and acting?
BRETT: Well let’s just say, I got a late start, but man did I hit the ground running. I had an appreciation for movies from an early age thanks to movie nights with Dad and my two brothers, or cutting up doing voices with my Mom, but never considered acting as a career until my years at college.
Growing up, I never truly knew what I wanted to be, and stepped into freshman year with that same uncertainty. I’m happy to say I graduated from Clemson University with a degree in Business Management (GO TIGERS!), but it’s the in-between where I found acting. Juggling majors and balancing jobs, I eventually started working with an agency out of Charlotte, NC to help pay my tuition.
I signed with Evolution Talent booking local and regional print jobs and commercial spots for TV. The more I was on set, the more my passion grew. I paid attention to everything, and had a desire to learn. Through Evolution, I booked my first ever TV series, One Tree Hill. I worked for a week as a featured extra, and that was the week that took away all doubt.
I drove home after filming, and expressed my interest in building a career as an actor. I found time whenever I could outside of my class or work load at Clemson to study and immerse myself into acting. As a developmental agent, Evolution gave me guidance and helped me create a timeline towards LA.
In February of 2010, I made the trek across country from South Carolina. Those two thousand plus miles out here seemed like forever, but I’ve now called LA home for close to 8 years. I’ll travel a hundred times that if it means telling the stories I want to tell. I’m paving my way, and continue to find new excitement in every turn.
KRISTIN: You are going to be voicing the lead in the new Call of Duty: WWII. How did you come across this project?
BRETT: I’ve worked extremely hard to build the right team around me, and thankfully they knocked on the right door. In an industry where it’s so much about who you know, that isn’t the entire equation. My team gets me in front of casting, but it’s up to me to validate my work and work ethic every time I audition. I had been given a fair amount of backstory into my character, so I prepared extensively, connecting with Daniels through parts of myself.
The initial audition for this “untitled” video game came to me close to 2 years ago, which is crazy looking back. I landed a call back months later around August of 2016. Receiving my audition sides, I remember thinking, “well this is different”. First scene, monologue…okay that’s pretty straight forward. The second scene was roughly 6 pages of combat, which was paced with minimal dialogue, expressive battle commands, and physically challenging all the way to the end.
I’ve had well over two hundred auditions for film and TV, but this was my first-ever video game audition, so the process was unfamiliar in comparison. Once I worked my way through the monologue, I decided to tackle the physical demands of scene two. I moved every piece of furniture in my living room, and created a simulation of the map layout in my audition sides. Nothing like diving over your lazy-boy sofa and dropping into the prone position while your roommate looks at you like a crazy person lol! I rehearsed movements, clearing buildings, grenade tosses, and most importantly giving my commands and dialogue with an authentic rural Texan accent. Preparation paid off, and I got the offer late last year.
KRISTIN: Who are you going to be voicing?
BRETT: I play Ronald “Red” Daniels, who was born into a farming family in rural Longview, Texas. Avid hunter from a young age, he’s young and idealistic, charismatic, and carries a sense of pride and ambition. When we first meet him, he’s one of the newest recruits joining the 1st Infantry Division as the primary playable character of our story. As a young soldier in a trial by fire, Daniels learns that being a hero comes at the heavy price of personal sacrifice. He would lay down his life for any one of the men or women fighting beside him, and quickly becomes the heart of the platoon. At his core, he values family. To him, there is nothing greater.
KRISTIN: This game is highly anticipated. What should fans of this series be looking forward to most?
BRETT: I would say the realism and authenticity in this story. It’s so much more than just a game. Call of Duty: World War II was written with a respect to history. At our table read it was expressed to our cast from the development team how important it was for the players to be able to connect to their squad while facing the many conflicts that arise. We want the players to have a sense of connection when playing CODWWII, and not just through my voice. Sledgehammer Games brought us back to boots on the ground in a story of conflict that is bigger than all of us.
KRISTIN: What was the best part of working on this project that had so much great talent involved from other voice actors to producers, etc?
BRETT: There is not one person involved that I’m not thankful for. I was blessed to work alongside an amazing cast and crew. The more we immersed ourselves into the story, the stronger our bond truly became. It’s great when you can have that bond in the breath of your work, but to wrap a project, and have friends for life, that’s such a gift.
KRISTIN: You are also starring in a VR film called Flesh and Bone. Tell us about that project?
BRETT: Yeah, we just wrapped the film, which was an incredible experience. For several weeks leading up to the film I trained with Fight Tips boxing coach, Shane Fazen. He crafted some amazing choreography for us, and had me looking like a pro in no time. Flesh and Bone was directed by Chateau Bezerra, and produced by JauntVR, Roy Arwas, Tiffany Kontoyiannis, Sarah Gross, and Karly Perez Arevalo.
I play the lead, Charlie, who is fueled by two loves; His childhood sweetheart Stella, played by actress Courtney B. Turk, and his unrelenting passion for boxing. With comparative conflicts to both Southpaw and Warrior, my character fights towards two goals, but in the end he may lose one to gain the other. Our film has hopes of competing at Sundance in 2018.
I connected with this project the second I picked up the script. I had always wanted to play a boxer, and for me, this story had all the right pieces. The challenge of shooting it in VR made it that much more appealing.
KRISTIN: What is the different between filming a regular film versus a VR film? How is the process different?
BRETT: Filming VR, you are completely immersed into the world around you. The camera is everywhere. Once the director calls action, you’re expected to live through the full life of that scene. There are no cuts in between takes, which calls for you to be committed to not just your character and dialogue, but the space in which you’re filming. Your spacing becomes so specific, and the more you can stay in it, the more organic each scene flows.
We filmed on a Jaunt ONE camera. That thing literally looks like an alien and it makes sure to capture every side, angle, or movement… it’s everywhere. The difficulty was that many of our scenes were shot inside of an authentic 12ft x 12ft ring, which meant we had to have a heightened awareness to our proximity and placement when circling the camera. Additionally, VR doesn’t allow playback, so we had to trust in our work, as did our director. Chateau was freeing to work with, and I have no doubt Flesh and Bone will land some solid hits upon its’ release.
KRISTIN: When is Flesh and Bone going to be out?
BRETT: Expected release is January 2018.
KRISTIN: Are there any other projects you are working on that we should be on the lookout for?
BRETT: With COD nearing completion and Flesh and Bone being wrapped, those are certainly the next to look for in the coming months. My schedules opening up, and I’m excited to find new opportunities. I just finished binging Stranger Things Season 2. Just when you think a show couldn’t top Season 1, the Duffer brothers delivered. Hats off to you Carolina boys for a job well done! I’ll be ready if you need me for season 3…
KRISTIN: Where can fans keep up with all your projects online?
Call of Duty: World War 2 is officially out as of November 3rd. Make sure to check it out and listen for Brett Zimmerman’s voice as you shoot your way through the game. Also make sure to follow Zimmerman online at all of his above listed social media sites and stay tuned for all of his future projects.