It might not be immediately obvious from the reveal but Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has a new Captain Price in the shape of actor, Barry Sloane. Obviously he’s nailed the voice, replacing original actor, Eastenders and The Bill’s Billy Murray, but there’s more to his CV than just a good impression.
For starters Sloane isn’t really doing an impression, he’s doing his version of Price - rebooting the character, like the game, for a new generation. It’s a similar approach to recasting James Bond with a new actor, according to studio Infinity Ward. “Rather than trying to replicate [him], which actor looks like Price? Which actor sound like the old Price? It’s like, no, which actor has the sense of Price?” explains studio narrative director Taylor Kurosaki. “Which actor embodies the spirit of a guy who’s rogue, of a guy who bends the rules, of a guy who works in the shadows to get shit done?”
That guy, Barry Sloane, has previous Tier 1 experience as well, having previously played United States Navy SEAL Joe "Bear" Graves in the History Channel’s SIX. He’s also been in Revenge and Hollyoaks but it’s the Navy SEAL thing we really want to focus on here, because it means he’s actually had some of the relevant training. “So Barry Sloane has gone through an equivalent of BUD/S [Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training],” explains campaign gameplay director Jacob Minkoff, “a Navy SEAL training, which is just incredibly difficult. I would die. Literally, not figuratively.”
According to Kurosaki it “pushed [Sloane] past every boundary that he had,” however, he continues, “because he’s been through that training, [he’s] embodying this leadership role, this superior officer. When we had our other actors going through weapons training, he got to help mentor them, and teach them, so it immediately set up the dynamic of commanding officer and subordinate”.
He’s also played through all the previous Modern Warfares to research the character and create his own take on Price. “He’s not doing a Billy Murray impression,” says Kurosaki, relaying a conversation he had with Sloane: “It was important for him as a guy from the UK, ‘I want it to be authentic, and I want it to be authentic to the part of the UK that I come from. I want a hero that I would look up to as a kid’”.
Replacing Billy Murray shouldn't be a huge surprise given that he’s currently 77 and this new game makes extensive use of motion capture. It’s not dissimilar to God of War recasting Kratos. However, studio art director Joel Emslie, largely responsible for originally creating the character, has some very encouraging words on the actor while prepping for this new Modern Warfare story. “I did a photoshoot with him. I spent a day building his costume - I went to a prop house, ordered all the right shoes, found his hat size, it was hilarious. But the cool part was, he put everything on, got decked out with the mutton chops, and he walked out and he looked at me... and I kind of sat there. I had this weird look on my face I guess, and he said ‘what’s wrong?’ And I said ‘I’ve been working with this character for over a decade and it’s the first time I’ve ever met Captain Price’”.