Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – Naughty Dog Explains Why a Black Character Is Played by a White Actress
During a panel at PlayStation Experience, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Creative Director Neil Druckmann discussed why Laura Bailey, who is Caucasian, was cast to play Nadine Ross in the game, who is black, from South Africa.
“When we cast this character, we had no final look for the character. We just had kinda who she is and that she’s from South Africa, so we sent a big casting call to all the agents, including Laura’s agent.
So we brought into audition black actors, white actors, American actors, actors from South Africa, and they were all.. Well, not all, some of them were not so good, but a lot of them were really good.
And then Laura walks in and just kills it. And I’m there with the casting director and our co-writer Josh Scherr… We were just floored with how good she was. There was no question in our mind, that’s Nadine.
So then going back to the office, and looking at all these character designs, and we got this really awesome character concept artist who came up with the look of the character that’s very close to what you’re seeing in the game. I was like “this is awesome, how often you see a character of color like this… that’s ripped and all…”
Someone on the team said “well, we have a white actor, it’s a black character… You’re inviting controversy.” I said “well, you might be right, let’s hold off on changing it… Let’s get in the game and see it all together, and then make the call.”
“And then at some point we finally get to review a scene, and that’s like months later… We were capturing scenes meanwhile… We get to see it, and I no longer see Laura’s performance. I no longer see the character’s concept art. I don’t see thar hard work of all these animators, these modelers, anything that takes this scene to life… I see Nadine.”
That combination just felt so right, and we all fell in love with that character… You can’t change anything. This is who this character is. That to me is what’s so awesome about our medium is: their outward appearance doesn’t matter at all. If it did, Troy [Baker] couldn’t play Joel in The Last of Us. Ashley Jhonson couldn’t play Ellie. In the movie version they can’t play those roles, and they played them to perfection.”
Druckmann also mentioned that another really important character that he can’t disclose is white, but is played by a black actor. Lastly, he concluded that he stands by his choice.
“if we were to change these characters, we would be operating out of fear of something that is outside the game, and this is the best call for Uncharted 4. And I stand by that 110%. I wouldn’t change anything, and I’m so proud of Laura’s performance, and I hope none of this takes away from what she was able to accomplish.”
I honestly can’t see a problem here, even apparently some did. From what we’ve seen so far, Nadine looks absolutely badass. Laura Bailey accomplished this result with her hard work and talent, and this means that she was the right actress for the role.