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Interview with David Cage: “Having Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe on the same set was a fantastic experience”

Noel Phillips
willem defoe 300x168 Interview with David Cage: “Having Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe on the same set was a fantastic experience”

Behind the scenes: Cage enlisted a star-studded cast including Willem Dafoe and Ellen Page to work on 'Beyond: Two Souls'

He may be considered a new face to British gamers. But director David Cage is already a big hit with gaming fans far and wide. “I think making interactivity accessible to a wider audience by offering experiences that are not only based on violence, but instead interactive storytelling and putting people in the shoes of the subject matter is the way forward,” says Cage, Game Director of Beyond: Two Souls, Sony’s upcoming PlayStation-only video game.

It was an audacious move for the creative director, who spent a year writing the script for the highly anticipated “emotional action game” Beyond. The game features Academy Award nominated actress Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, in a narrative that surrounds Page’s character’s ability to communicate with a supernatural entity from a young age.

But the unseen spirit that follows her character Jodie lands her into danger, and soon she finds herself being examined by scientist Nathan Dawkins, played by Dafoe. Working with both Page and Dafoe, was a natural and well polished collaboration. “I had their names in mind from when I began writing the scripts. I had no guarantee that they would accept the roles, but luckily, they did and as you can imagine having Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe on the same set was a fantastic experience.”

Dafoe — who is well known for displaying his acting chops in box office hits, including Mississippi Burning, Inside Man, Platoon, The Hunter and achieving acclaim as super villain the Green Goblin in the Spider-Man franchise — says acting for motion capture was essential for his interactive debut. “In some ways, it was so technological and complicated in generating the material, but on the other hand, doing the scenes was very simple,” Defoe says with a grin.

“It was a very concentrated small group of people inside this room everyday. I mean, it was a beautiful concentration because what we were doing was so stripped down, and so well planned. He [David] seemed like he was playing with a new form which was exciting. I knew Ellen was going to be doing it, and I like the relationship that my character has with her.”

Beyond: Two Souls is bolder and more ground-breaking than his 2010 thriller, Heavy Rain, which told a sinister story, complete with four characters that could live or die depending on what players decided to do with them. But Cage didn’t play it straight with his identifiable cinematic approach, one so distinct that a certain edge was required. This, along with a prevailing creativeness, enhances the game’s chances of succeeding as a visual masterpiece.

“We’ve developed a specific interface where you can replace the controller of the PlayStation with your iPhone or iPad,” says Cage, sitting alongside Dafoe. “You can control it with just your finger – which means those who are not familiar with games can still enjoy the experience that is beyond.”

There is evidence of Cage’s relationship with Dafoe resulting in meaningful off-screen friendship, and a sense of profound loyalty. “Because the game contains so many different variations – it was always a little hard to keep the story straight, but that’s when David would constantly keep us on track. He was a fun to work with,” says Dafoe. This certainly marks an ever-evolving departure for Cage.

To be fair, the jury’s still out on how outstanding a director he really is but Beyond: Two Souls may just certify him as a crowd-puller.

Beyond: Two Souls is available on PlayStation 3 from October 11

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