With Far Cry 6 having had its release on October 7th, by now many players have had some solid time to experience the game’s fictional Caribbean setting. The island nation of Yara is ruled by the dictator Antón Castillo AKA “El Presidente,” and in the latest installment in the franchise, it’s the job of Dani Rojas (played by Sean Rey) to overthrow the dictatorship and end Castillo’s tyranny.
Sean Rey Prepares for his New Role as Dani
I had the opportunity to talk to Sean Rey who did the voice acting and motion capture work for the male Dani. He grew up in Canada spending a lot of time with his grandparents who immigrated from Spain before he was born. Having that early childhood exposure to the Spanish language certainly came in handy when working on Far Cry 6, which has a lot of code-switching between English and Spanish. Rey says, “the accent was pretty easy to fall into. I didn’t have to really work too hard. We did have a dialect coach. He was on set all the time. His name’s Carlos—great dude, funny guy. He would just tweak our pronunciations, and he would chime in if we were going too hard or too soft. You just need to find that balance”.
Rey was further primed for the role by his prior gaming experience with the Far Cry franchise. He played Far Cry 2, 3, and 4, which gave him a good understanding of where the games have been and how far they’ve come. Combine that with the YouTube research he did into the mo-cap work done for The Last of Us, and Rey had a good idea of what to expect from his new role even before he began filming way back in the Summer of 2019 at Ubisoft’s Toronto Headquarters.
Filming Far Cry 6
Rey described the mo-cap experience as being very technical as “you have all this gear on, and you have to imagine what your character has on. I remember I always forgot that Dani has a backpack during the whole game, so I would try to move like you would when you have a backpack on, but they always said ‘Don’t touch it or anything, just do the scene.’ I just remember like oh yeah, Dani has a backpack. People walk differently when they have a backpack on. Little things like that.”
The set would be marked off with tape delineating the boundaries of a given scene. Walk too far one way, and your character will fall off of a cliff. Go too far another way, and you might be strolling off the end of pier. It’s a job that requires a great deal of imagination and spatial awareness to pull off, but after a few days of getting the process down, the idiosyncrasies become second nature.
Rey relayed that they shot “up until  at some point. In-between then, I’ve just been in and out of the vocal booth. They’re always doing rewrites, and for all of that combat-dialogue. So, they’ll play it back and a few weeks later make changes.” Luckily, Rey is a Toronto native, so going back for additional sessions isn’t much of a challenge.
That’s more than can be said for the game’s headliner, Giancarlo Esposito, who lives almost 2,000 miles away in New Mexico. According to Rey, Esposito came onboard about halfway through shooting for the game. While in Toronto, Esposito worked in the same space as the other actors for about a week. In general, the actors filmed many parts separately with the exception of Rey and Nisa Gunduz (the female Dani) as they needed to work closely to make sure both versions of the character hit the same beats.
The Intersection of Film and Games
Whether it’s Kevin Spacey in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Keanu Reeves in Cyberpunk 2077, or Giancarlo Esposito in Far Cry 6, AAA games are increasingly featuring some of Hollywood’s finest actors. Sean Rey himself straddles both worlds. He had previously been working in television and doing films like 2020’s Rev (available on Amazon Prime), but Far Cry 6 marks his video game debut. I asked Rey if he thought the inclusion of big name actors was something that would become more and more essential to AAA games as we move forward.
According to Rey, having well known actors, “brings more tension to it and kind of legitimizes video games, because nowadays games are so cinematic. When I would try and explain what I’m doing to a non-gamer they’re kind like ‘Huh? what do you mean you’re acting in a video game?'”
I think Rey hit the nail right on the head about the cinematic nature of games, but it goes both ways. Not only are games becoming more like films, but films are becoming more like games. One only has to look at how The Mandalorian has replaced green screens with virtual sets powered by video game tech in the form of the powerful Unreal Engine, which allows for scenery to change in real time. The lines between video games and cinema are beginning to blur as the two begin to borrow elements from one another. As Rey said, it also has the added benefit of, “bringing more attention to the title and making people want to check it out.” I have no doubt about that being the cast as analysts predict that the industry will generate more than $260 billion in annual revenue by 2025. You certainly don’t get there without bringing droves of new gamers into the fold.
Sean Rey’s Far Cry 6 Gameplay Experience
Rey has been busy with projects since the game’s release even doing voice over work for an unannounced animated series on Netflix. However, he does have a copy of the game and has been able to experience some of the game’s early moments on Isla Santuario. He was in no rush to finish it and told me that he’s “kind of savoring it. I’ll definitely go back into it, but I’m taking my time.”
When films are in production, what’s been shot for the day is shown to the actors in the form of “dailies,” but nothing like that existed for the production of Far Cry 6. The only time he would see footage during production was when he would come back for subsequent shoots and would be shown what was filmed as much as six months ago in order to refresh the cast’s memory. But even then, it wasn’t the final scenes that you see in the game, just the raw footage.
It just takes so long for the scenes to be created in video games, unlike the instantaneous recording that goes on with film. Rey told me that he was even “debating peeking at some cutscenes” to get his first view of the footage. Even now, nearly a month after from the game’s release, he still has only seen some of his scenes and some of Nisa’s. His initial impressions have been very good so far stating that, “from what I’ve played, it looks amazing.” It would seem that the critics would agree with Metacritic giving the game an overall score of 75.
Of course, Rey decided to play as himself. For him, the experience was “kind of weird to hear my voice all the time. I think that’s why I also stopped. Maybe I might go start over and play as female Dani so I don’t have to hear myself. I thought it would be cool as a gamer, that it would be so meta, because it’s actually me in a game.” Rather than being the meta experience Rey had hoped for, he wound up just critiquing his performance and questioning the delivery of his lines. We’ve all heard of actors like Adam Driver who refuse to watch their own movies for this very reason, so even if the end product is incredible, I guess that still goes the same for some actors in video games as well.