Baldur's Gate 3 is here, and it is sexy, thanks in large part to the cast who brought its often-horny heroes to life. But I think we all know that it is, in fact, the villains and antiheroes who hold the real sex appeal most of the time, and this RPG is no exception. Which is why we needed to ask the performers behind the very villainous Orin the Red and the only slightly villainous Astarion what it takes to bring bad guys to life in a way that feels both real and alluring.
We spoke to Orin actor Maggie Robertson and Astarion actor Neil Newbon separately, but there are some notable connections in their experiences on Baldur's Gate 3, and the two actors had at least one big link in the past, too. They previously played two of Resident Evil Village's biggest bads in Lady Dimitrescu and Karl Heisenberg, so they know a thing or two about bringing captivating villains to life.
The freedom to be evil
While he's quick to note that he "didn't go around trying to suck people's blood," Newbon says he "really tried to understand [Astarion] on many different levels," in order to play these moments sincerely. "Even when he's trying to manipulate you and he gets caught, there's a certain fun to be had with that. It's not appropriate, it is immoral, but it's funny. I like this idea that because it's the first time he's had freedom in a century or two everything is delightful to him. Including when he's in trouble - especially when he's in trouble - because I think that also tickles him a lot."
The freedom that comes from being a little mischievous - or extremely evil - is a common theme for both actors. "Villains are fun in general, because they are not bound by the limits of morality and ethics and societal rules and regulations," Robertson says. "They operate outside of those rules and regulations. So that means that as an actor, you can really push and stretch them to the extremes of emotion and to the extremes of humanity, of what it means to be human - or not, as the case may be with some villains."
"For most people on the planet, we could say that we have all these systems in place to how we live our lives, how we pay taxes, how we have to do this, we have to do that," Newbon says. "We're told these things, then we discover a lot of them aren't true, or we discover that a lot of them don't work for us, or what have you. I think the sense of freedom, of being who you truly are, loving who you want to love, acting the way that you want to act, without being knocked down for that is not always that achievable. It's difficult for a lot of people. I think when you taste real freedom - happy, positive freedom for you - it's a hell of a drug."
Naked on stage
That sense of freedom is sexy, too, and when it comes to sex appeal, Baldur's Gate 3 is providing us a moment we haven't seen since, appropriately enough, Lady Dimitrescu gave the whole internet a giant woman fetish. With another sexy evil lady role under her belt, Robertson jokes, "I'm really kind of cornering that market, aren't I? It's very amusing to me. It certainly was not my intention, but it's just what seems to be happening and I'm very happy to be riding this wave."
While Lady D and Orin are both beloved by their respective fanbases, the fetishistic tinges of that love can certainly push the bounds of good taste. "At the end of the day, I am a woman on the internet, so I've seen it all," Robertson says. "But what I experienced in person is always incredibly respectful. I do really appreciate that fans, when they come up to me it's really to talk about my work as an actor. It's to thank me for what I'm giving to the game's community as a whole. That's really exciting. That's what you want as an actor, you want to talk about the work."
But while there might be a grudging acceptance of people being weird online, Larian was keen to ensure that nobody was uncomfortable in the process of shooting the game's most intimate scenes. "They employed intimacy directors, and they were there not only for a lot of the shoots, but also they're on call," Newbon says. "So if an actor really felt like this particular thing - which might not be about sex, it might be about torture or abuse or something - if they needed that extra person in the room who's trained specifically to deal with things like that, that was available to them. Huge credit to Larian, because not many game studios I know of are doing that. In fact I don't think I've ever been on a shoot with an intimacy director in a game."
Of course, Newbon himself is a veteran when it comes to, uh, putting himself out there as an actor. "I've been an actor for like 26 years now. I've done TV and film for years. I've been naked on stage at the Royal Court. I've done all of that before I even came to games. For me, personally, having done sex scenes in TV and film and theater. I didn't require that. However, I appreciated the sensibilities of always being asked that by the directors, or by Larian directly as well."
The sexiest tag team
So with all this talk of sexy villains and antiheroes, there's one important question: could Astarion and Heisenberg stand up to Orin and Lady Dimitrescu in a battle to determine the hottest villain duo? "I think Astarion probably could," Newbon says, affecting the vampire spawn's playful tone. "Not sure about the other guy. Heisenberg is a very acquired taste, I've found. But there's lots of really amazing people that have come up to me and give me lovely compliments about Heisenberg. Between the Heisenberg and Astarion duo and the Orin and Lady D duo, I kinda think the two sexy women would win over the two sexy guys."
Honestly, that verdict is no real surprise. But for Robertson, the world's attraction to evil women might be about more than just sex appeal. "Perhaps our attraction to these female villains specifically is showing conversations that we're having around the challenges that women face and the expectations of what it means to be a woman. It's exhausting, and then you have these villainesses who, even though their intentions are massively skewed, are standing in their power and showing up authentically as themselves and demanding their fair share and their worth. It's attractive. It's exciting. Even in their brokenness, it's incredibly attractive to see women stand in their power like that and be unafraid to take up space. Literally and figuratively, in the case of Lady D. "
It sounds like becoming larger than life is central to the appeal of the job, too. "Part of the fun of voiceover and motion capture in general is that you are not confined by how you look," Robertson says. "You are not confined by your type. You can be a wide array of different things. So I can be this sadistic, sexy villainess one day, and then I can be a dirty little toad the next day. Who doesn't want to be a dirty little toad?"
Looking for some more Baldur's Gate 3 romances? You can find our guide at that link.