I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with many different actors, authors and artists about their current and upcoming projects, but perhaps none of them has been cooler or more unique than actress Michal Sinnott. Let’s face it; it’s not every day you get the opportunity to talk to someone who’s played a role in what’s poised to become the best-selling video game of all time.
It was recently revealed that Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto 5 broke seven Guinness world records, including the highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours.
Michal’s role of Tracey De Santa in GTA 5 is truly one of a kind. It’s acting, but not something you’d see in a typical film or theatrical role. Michal actually describes the experience as a hybrid combination of the two. Working exactly like the actors in Avatar, each was rigged up to get their performances captured in 3-D and then have those recorded images digitally transferred into the game world.
In my interview with Michal, we discuss her role in GTA 5 as well as how she got her start and the projects she’s currently working on.
What attracted you to such a unique project?
It was Rockstar so I knew that it would be a quality project. It was a cool opportunity that turned out to be an amazing experience. Way more that I had anticipated.
Were you presented with an actual storyline or script – like one you’d get for a film?
Not exactly. They really tried to tell you as little about it as possible [laughs]. I knew it was a character, but I was only getting my material and not the whole picture. They really wanted to have everyone focus on their own part. There are thousands of pages of dialogue in this game and it takes hundreds of hours to complete, not to mention that there were so many people involved in working on the project. If you watch the credits, it takes about twenty minutes to go through them. It’s a massive amount of information. But once you know the character and know the world, you can focus on doing the best job possible. Then it all magically comes together.
How do you prepare for a project like this?
The research I had done on Grand Theft Auto couldn’t really prepare me for it. The cool thing about the series is that it’s always different with new characters and new worlds. My character, Tracey may not be the most complicated person in the world, but there’s a larger than life quality to her. She wants to be a celebrity but doesn’t have any talent. She’s one of those people who’s really focused on having everyone look at her. She’s got really big needs and thinks everything is so tragic. Tragic in a sense that she can’t find the right color nail polish [laughs]. The fun of it was being able to take it on fully and have those extreme emotions over something so petty and small. In reality, that kind of behavior could lead to an awful life, or at least alienate you from your friends. It was cool to go and explore and then still be able to walk away unscathed.
What was the filming process like?
We would usually shoot for a three-week period and then take a few months off. Then we’d start up again. The entire process took somewhere in the realm of three years to complete. Along the way, I would always be given clues about who Tracey is. I remember that every time I would come back for another shoot I’d get the script of new material and say “Oh cool! This is who this person is!”
How would you describe performance capture as it relates to typical acting mediums?
I think it lies somewhere in between the realms of film and theater. You wear the balls [the same technology that was used in Avatar] and you have a camera recording your facial gestures. The balls help process the movement so that they can be transformed into a 3D image of you. Your movements also have to be larger than life, so there has to be a sense of theatricality to it. When you’re angry, you really have to stomp! It’s almost like you’re a cartoon character. You also film on a sound stage and don’t really have a backdrop when you’re shooting. It’s acting without any stimulus. So you have to learn to fill that void with your imagination. To see that world and realize what all the technical people did to fill that world is amazing.
When did you realize you really wanted to pursue acting?
I went to a performing arts high school and had written a play that ended up winning a festival and I got to go to a playwright conference. Just being on the other side and having my work not be so personal really opened me up to how magical it is to really live out your dreams and pursue what you want. I remember being out in the audience watching this play and realized in that moment that I couldn’t deny myself this life. After that, I never looked back. I majored in theater in college, moved to New York and went full throttle. I’ve been at it ever since.
What other projects are you working on?
I’m an associate producer on a biopic about Rick James that I’ll also have a role in as well. Right now, we’re in talks with a production company and it’s coming along really well. It’s been exciting to get the opportunity to wear a lot of different hats and work the other side. It feeds your understanding of the business.
I also like to blog. It’s something that I started doing as a way to share with my friends, family and other actors the inner workings of what it’s like to be an actor growing on her path. It’s funny, quirky and a little bit spiritual.
For more info on Michal Sinnott be sure to check out her website by Clicking Here!