An interview with Cortana

To help celebrate the impending release of Halo 4 this year, I got chance to sit with one of the most influential personalities in the long standing FPS franchise – Jen Taylor.

They let me choose, you know... photo

Jen Taylor

They say that behind every great man is an even greater woman and this relationship is true with the Master Chief – consistently being helped, guided and supported by the AI construct Cortana. Cortana has been a pivotal character in the Halo series and Halo 4 promises to focus more on her.

I sat down with Jen Taylor, the voice actor who not only voiced Cortana but also several other key figures in the video gaming universe.

They let me choose, you know... photo

“Do what? I have the Index! You can just float and sputter!”

How did you originally get into voice acting in video games?
I began working with a company that produced kids’ educational computer games back in the day. I was playing all sorts of funny little animated kids and animals and inanimate objects. I studied theatre in school so it was right up my alley. Video games came after…

Would you say Halo 4 has been your favourite Halo game to work on so far?
I had a great time working on Halo 4. I worked with fantastic people, had a lot of fun and learned quite a bit. They’re all my favourites for different reasons.

They let me choose, you know... photo

Peachy!

To many Halo fans, you’re seen as the ‘official voice’ of Halo, you’re the voice in the Chief’s head at all times, how does it feel to be almost at the centre of this huge global franchise?
Very majestic. Very powerful. I suppose I should start ordering people around…

You’re not new to the video game voice over business, you’ve also done the voices for characters such as Princess Peach, Zoey from Left 4 Dead and even ‘Generic Half-Elf Enemy’ from Everquest II – would you say that Cortana is your most challenging video game character role so far?
Oh no, “Generic Half-Elf Enemy” was by far the most challenging… But, I’ve spent a lot of time with Cortana so I feel protective of her and I know her better than any character I’ve voiced.

They let me choose, you know... photo

“Do you think those are zombie crickets?”

Given what Cortana has been through in the previous Halo games, do you feel any empathy towards her? Do you find yourself imagining Cortana as a ‘real’ personality after playing her for so long?
What do you mean “imagining”? Are you implying that she isn’t real?

…erm…okay, are you much of a fan of video games yourself? If so, what’s your favourite game currently?
I’m not, which, I know, is a disappointment. I am a fan of a good story though so I’ll be attempting to play Halo 4 when it comes out. Look for me online…

I sure will! Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me today.
Thank you

They say that after five years of active duty, AI constructs are decommissioned for fear of them going rampant and losing their minds, I wonder if there is some kind of bleeding effect with their voice actors…

Halo 4 is due for release on November 6th on Xbox 360