Before the reviews start rolling in Friday, Sloane spoke with Launcher about the work that went into his performance and why he’d be eager to reprise his role as Price in the years ahead.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Launcher: Have you ever played an established character like Captain Price before, where the audience has an expectation of what the character will be like?
Barry Sloane: No. I mean, I played a few Shakespeare roles in college and stuff like that. But this will be the first character of such size and stature that so many people are already in love with. It’s nice. It’s nice to get the opportunity to do that. You know, it’s nice to test yourself and to risk like that. You know, it’s exciting.
Launcher: You mentioned the risk. Was there any trepidation knowing you have to measure up to the existing standard?
Sloane: Well, I think pressure is something you put on yourself. I didn’t put that on myself and I wasn’t made to feel like that from anybody in the production team. And I guess I approached it in a way that, you know, myself and Billy Murray had two very different jobs in that Billy Murray did an incredible voice performance, which is an art form in itself. He was performing in the studio with no idea what was going on visually in the game. He was just pitching the soul of this guy, the energy of this guy. And he did a really beautiful job.
But I had to embody this character fully. [It’s] a lot more vulnerable in that it’s my body movements, it’s my face, it’s my synapses, it’s everything, you know? It was a completely different job. So I felt even though I was honoring an existing character, I really am the first human being as such to kind of move it around and make it work. And so it felt like a different thing.
Launcher: I’m sure to a number of players the thing they’ve probably most closely identify with Captain Price is his voice. How did you go about developing that?
Sloane: Well, I tried a few options because we knew it was a soft reboot. We knew that there was an opportunity to try something new. So I played around with my own accent, like a northern British accent, a Liverpool accent that I have ... tried some options on that and then we tried a few of the dialects, but I always wanted to bed it in, and tip my cap to, what Billy had done. I eventually settled on an area around where he initially set his dialect. But it’s not a mimic of that. There was some familiarity to it, but it should still sound new, you know what I mean?
Launcher: And then there’s the cigar, as well. Are you a cigar smoker? An aficionado?
Sloane: I mean, I’m not an aficionado, but I enjoy a cigar. Yeah. So, I mean, just, you know, getting to do that for the first time ... we’ve got it in a couple of scenes and it’s just it’s just a lovely f---ing moment. You know? When you see that, and it happens, it’s like, yeaaaaah. That and the boonie hat. It’s like, okay, there’s your two staples. And then we can mess around from there. But that’s the shaken-and-stirred-ness of it, that’s the Bond thing. That’s the calling card.
Launcher: How did you get into the mindset of Captain Price?
Sloane: Well, for me, fortunately, I had done a show called “Six” for the History Channel for two seasons. And I worked with members of SEAL Team Six in a ton of training over a two-year period. And so from a military standpoint, I had earned the right to not come in and play a big tough guy or come into play this [stereotypical] military man. I was very relaxed and I knew I had the skill set and I also had, which was very important in the filming process, I had mental imagery that I could draw upon. You know, I’ve been I’ve flown off in a Blackhawk helicopter ... we’ve done ship-boarding missions. I’ve gone through houses, breached doors in Afghanistan [on the show]. So, I mean, even though it was all pretend I got a visual that I can draw on. I had the basis of a military training, I then just had to ground this guy in some kind of reality.
I read up on a lot of books on the SAS. I watched a lot on a few older members of the SAS that you can kind of Google. I just watched interviews with them, some of their backstory, just anything I could get to kind of flesh out who this man was and then I was able to just play the story as it is because you’re coming into it with such high stakes that I just want to be this guy in the body and then I could I could go on the trip the writers wanted me to do.
Launcher: Did you ever sort of imagine Price in like a non-military setting, like, you know, it’s Saturday morning and you’re waking up, putting on a bathrobe and think of how he’s going about his routine?
Sloane: Absolutely. You know, I could I can see him with a cigar in the back[yard] with a pint of beer, you know, reading a Russian novel.
Launcher: How did making this game and sort of the consultations and training that went into it compare to some of the film and TV productions you’ve been a part of?
Sloane: Well, fortunately for me that we have the same military advisers on Call of Duty as I did on “Six.” Six Shooters is what their company is, and they’re fantastic. They’re incredibly immersive in what they can do. And so, you know, they work heavily with myself, with the rest of the cast. I was in a fortunate position that I had those two years before, so they could put their attention slightly elsewhere, which was helpful.
But some of the most interesting stuff that they did with us on this was making people comfortable handling weapons when not in a violent situation. That’s usually quite a big tell in these games, just what your relationship is to that weapon, how you just place it on the table, how it sits in your lap, how you hold it as you walk off to get a coffee. You know, it’s just an ease with which this world moves around you. And they just try to make sure that we were very much grounded in the body so none of us would put on faces and do, like I said before, a big tough guy routine.
Launcher: And I understand in the production process they would put you into the photogrammetry booth at Infinity Ward and basically scan you. What was that process like for you? Have you ever been a part of something like that before?
Sloane: No, it’s my first time. ... It’s just a body scan of your height, width, arms, legs, the shape of you, I guess, which surprisingly took about a minute and I was kind of in the machine, which was weird, just like a 3D holographic, almost like a 3D printer. Kind of interesting. And then I spent the best part of two days inside like a huge white, I mean ... it’s a big ball of light. It’s designed so that there’s actually no shadow on your face as [the flash] goes off so they can capture it from every angle. You go through a huge list of facial movements so they can register every muscle on the face.
And you do that with facial hair, with the beard. And then they added varied levels of distress to the face, levels of beat-up, you know, to full-on blood, bruising, and see how the light cuts on that. Then we did it completely clean shaven, same thing, same thing again, makeup and everything so that you’re stored in that machine and then they can take that off and make the digital version of your face. When I saw that for the first time, it was incredible. I mean, it’s so lifelike.
I mean, to think this is the level now, I shudder to think what is possible in 20 years. It’s so lifelike.
Launcher: And since the first trailer reveal have you had any interesting or memorable fan interactions? Has anyone come up to you with their cell phone and ask you, hey, can you do my voice mail message or something like that?
Sloane: I’ve had a lot of interaction on social media and it’s been a huge influx of stuff there. I’m currently in Memphis filming something, so I’ve kinda been hidden away from the general public for the last four and a half months.
Launcher: Did you study the previous Modern Warfare titles to see how the digitized Captain Price moved in those games? And did you draw any inspiration from that?
Sloane: A little bit, yeah. I made sure I had really quite heavy boots, which aided the walk a little bit. And I made sure that I had, even though I was in the mo-cap suit, I got a bullet-proof, weighted vest on, so I could feel physically the size of it.
I’m physically bigger than the former Captain Price model. I’m 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. So, I kind of got license to recreate it that way, because he was a lot shorter with a lower sense of gravity and kind of would move different. With my height, you can’t hide being that tall. So you’ve got to just to f---ing own it. It is a slightly different way he holds himself. It’s definitely just grounded in that he’s surefooted.
Launcher: Do you or did you play any of these games or were you new to the series when you got this role?
Sloane: I’ve played every version of Call of Duty. I’m not an avid player, you know, spend hours of my day on there. Especially since I’ve got two kids now, so, no chance. But I definitely used to play back in the day. And, you know, I have huge memories of the old ghillie suit and setting in Pripyat where you play as Price It always kind of stuck with me. I always really enjoyed that level.
And then when I booked the gig, I then kind of went back over and replayed that game and then watched all the play-throughs of Modern Warfare one, two, three. And it just gave me such great memories. I’m not immune to nostalgia myself. You know, I really enjoyed Captain Price when I went back there myself. ... But yeah, I played games a lot. I’ve always enjoyed them. It’s nice to be in the inner sanctum now.
Launcher: Judging by the sound of voice explaining this process, it sounds like you had fun making this. What was the most fun for you?
Sloane: Working with the cast we have on this and everybody on the crew, you know it feels like such a passion project. I’ve been embedded in the film and TV and theater industry for all of my career, since the late 90s. And, you know, to walk on a sound stage like this, with a project as huge as this, and for it to feel like a bunch of friends, you know, collaborating on a passion project is astounding. You know, it felt like a just small, intimate, independent film when it’s a multi-billion dollar machine, you know? They’ve managed to keep it artistic in a way that certain projects within the film and TV industry haven’t. I don’t know if it’s just that it’s a younger industry and it’s still in its infancy, in a growth term, for how long it’s been around comparatively. But it’s just a wonderful place to work.
It’s such a nice place for actors. And I can see a lot more actors, as this technology grows to what we’re seeing now, moving towards that genre to tell stories because you can tell stories in such a different way through this medium. It’s certainly something that I would jump at doing again, in different games, this game. Movie, TV done by mo-cap? Hundred percent. It’s something that’s really exciting to me, to be honest. Being part of this community and kind of being part of a different medium within the industry in which you work, in my mid 30s, is incredibly exciting. I love it.