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A conversation with Nolan North

Nolan North simply doesn’t stop. He arrived within the UK round lunchtime on Friday 21st October, and inside hours was in a basement bar in Soho giving a Q&A session which lasted properly over an hour. With no break, he spent another half an hour or so giving press interviews, and one other half hour, perhaps even more, meeting every single one that had come out to see him that evening. I was knackered, but was not going to complain as long as Nolan was on his ft.

“I never take breaks,” he tells me. “Unless I need to pee really badly, I don’t want to stop. If I stop, I can’t get back up. That’s how I am.”

Truthfully, I’ve been hoping to interview Nolan for a long time. As long as I’ve been writing and publishing words. As long as I have recognized and liked Nathan Drake. But this feels as removed from an ‘interview’ as you may get. He begins with an extended apology for mixing things up and not meeting with me when initially arranged. “I feel like a shit,” he tells me. “Don’t worry; I didn’t think you were a shit.” “But this isn’t about you, Bryony. I felt like a shit.”

Apologising is essential to Nolan, although there isn’t actually something to apologise for. Mistakes occur and anyway, we’re chatting now. We speak first of his incapability to slow down. Nevertheless, despite it, Nolan managed to find time for himself during his stay in London. “I’d never been to the Churchill War Rooms, and I did it this time. I stood in line, got my ticket and spent a couple of hours in there.” I requested him if he’d ever taken the chance to visit the duplicate Golden Hinde in London. “Absolutely I have. I did visit it with my oldest son, who is a lifelong Uncharted fan. We had an opportunity to come here with the family a year and half ago, and we went on it and did the tour. And it was pretty interesting, after living with the story and all the history. And what some people maybe don’t know is that although it is a replica, it actually did circumnavigate the globe, following Sir Francis Drake’s journey. A group of sailors went all the way around, and they must have been crazy because, my god, I don’t care what kind of modern day equipment you put on that boat – it’s TINY, and the ocean is really big.”

It’s comforting to know that, provided that Nathan Drake is Nolan’s biggest position so far, Nolan is within the background, as properly. Clearly that makes things extra fascinating for him whereas researching for the position, nevertheless it also feels essential for fans to know that he cares past the paycheck and the fame that comes with it. “Some people think it is just a game, but, when you live the character for this long, you want to read books about the character, about Drake, and about the different places we had gone. Just for my own edification and fun. I am a history buff.” None of that is affected. Nolan isn’t telling me what he thinks I need to hear. I have interviewed individuals prior to now, and also you get a really feel for many who are saying what their PR have informed them to say. Nolan shouldn’t be that guy.

Nolan meets with fans at #NatterWithNolan2k16

“Amy Hennig has stacks and stacks of research that she does, and she would always recommend books. I think I may actually still have her copy of Lawrence of Arabia. I still have that in my house, so I unfortunately need to return that to her.” “If she hasn’t asked for it back, I am sure she hasn’t missed it,” I try to reassure Nolan. “Oh, she has.” Nolan could be very positive of that. And now I’m imagining Amy Hennig getting increasingly irritated the longer it is before being reunited with that e-book. Though it’s arduous to imagine a world during which Amy Hennig and Nolan North might fall out, least of all over a guide.

“It’s something I like telling people; Amy ‘birthed’ Nathan Drake, and she let me raise him.” Within the Natter With Nolan occasion on that Friday evening Nolan advised how Amy had gotten so good at understanding Nathan by way of Nolan’s portrayal of him, that she began to write down for that ‘voice’. And Nolan, and the opposite forged members, would watch playthroughs of the game, and ad lib. It is how a few of the greatest moments have been shaped – my personal favorite being the little skit during which Nathan (actually Nolan in piss take mode) asks who the hell MacDuff is, and Graham McTavish hurling an insult about his ignorance. Amy once informed me that this isn’t Charlie Cutter sneering at Nathan Drake, however fairly Graham insulting Nolan. (In all probability) in jest.

Nathan is Nolan’s career defining position; one that he has spent the last 10 years attending to take pleasure in. On the one hand, you may anticipate him to be itching to move on, and perhaps he can be if Uncharted had been stretched to breaking level. I feel an fascinating and genuinely sudden connection between us, as a result of each of us (and all the other followers) have had to course of the fact that there shall be no more, for better or for worse. Naughty Canine (Neil Druckmann particularly) made it excruciatingly clear that there weren’t any plans, and neither would there be, for extra Uncharted video games.

“I’m not really sure I am through processing it,” Nolan tells me. “Fans will grieve that there isn’t going to be a new adventure. If you miss Drake, you just pop [the game] back in, and you play it again, and you have good times. What I grieve is the process of making the game; the auditions, and then putting on the suit, and seeing the geniuses behind the scenes making it happen.” He continues; “it’s like if you get together with a lot of friends to make a cake, and it’s the best cake, and ‘it’s too pretty to eat!’ you say. And then you slice into it and everyone eats it, and then it’s gone. And you get together and make another cake, until someone says ‘you know what? No more cake’. ‘Oh really? I really like the cake.’ So it’s… I don’t know. If you look up ‘bittersweet’ in the dictionary, there should be a picture of me in a mocap suit.”

And out of the blue I am sad.

But Nolan isn’t about to let the exit from “it all” spoil the decade of glad reminiscences being Nathan Drake gave him. This is good advice for all of us. Nathan, nevertheless, gave Nolan excess of loads of great reminiscences. “[Uncharted is] the thing that has set me up for so many things. Like – not only career things, but in other aspects of your life; the parts that matter. It freed me up to be a better actor, and that confidence from work carries over to the rest of your life. It eases some financial stress, and takes away tensions as a husband and a father. I have been afforded to travel places at someone else’s expense for publicity. Jordan, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Britain, Spain… I’ve been everywhere. It is the role that has changed me for the better.”

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I don’t assume any of us consider that Nolan will wrestle to seek out work, but Nolan is Nolan; we aren’t. It was immense expertise, and not simply ‘luck’ that obtained Nolan the job that launched him, however Nolan could be very conscious that these types of roles are few and much between. Many actors won’t ever have the privilege that he has had. “Harrison Ford got two [such roles] – Indiana Jones and Han Solo. I don’t know if I’ll ever get another character like that, that I am so known for. I’m sure I’ll play great characters in the future, and get to give them truth and life, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get one this special again, because it so rare that it ever happens. I just want to be grateful for what I have.”

There’s sincerity in his voice as Nolan tells me he doesn’t assume something could possibly be better. “I don’t say onward and upward, because that means anything I do from here could be better, and I don’t think it could be, so it is just ‘onward’. Because upward is seemingly impossible.” It does appear inconceivable that something might surpass Uncharted, however once more Nolan and I are coming at it from opposite angles. I tell him that, on this, the eve of his 46th birthday, there’s still time. “Graham McTavish got his role in The Hobbit in his fifties,” he concedes. “I have 4 more years to work on that. But I think I pulled a leg muscle sleeping. Kicking the covers off.”

It appears time to steer this away from the slight melancholy over the top of Uncharted, so I ask, because I virtually need to, concerning the movie. It’s one thing of a swearword amongst the Uncharted fan group; with some exceptions, few are actually enthralled on the prospect of bringing Nathan and friends to the large display. It is clearly one thing Nolan has been requested about many occasions, perhaps too many occasions in interviews. “The success of Assassin’s Creed will be very telling,” he muses. Nolan goes on speak about showbusiness (“it’s not showfriendship” he jogs my memory), and that folks don’t perceive the realities. “I appreciate people saying I could be Drake but the realities are you need a bona fide film star. Actors are actors are actors, but they want someone who has that value. They want a Chris Pine, or a Chris Pratt, or a Mark Wahlberg, even, because of the name. They want to secure their profit before the film is even made. But if there were a good role, which would be a nod to the fans; something that I think could be fun, or interesting, then there is the possibility of [me] doing something.”

Unexpectedly, at this point, Nolan talks a few totally different concept for the future of Uncharted; “I would like to look into the possibility of them securing the rights to an animated series, and having us do that. Continuing the stories, like Clone Wars. That would continue what people have come to know and love. Would that happen? I have no idea, but I think it is worth the conversation.”

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By now, we’re operating out of time. I am acutely aware of the truth that Nolan has a full day of Comedian Con forward of him, and I am taking his time. But I’m sorry I actually need to find out about Fairly Little Liars. “Peter Hastings will be back. I can confirm that. I don’t know if I should confirm that, though.” This is all I anticipate, however Nolan follows with some heartfelt admiration for the present’s leads. “I watched those four girls – they are great talents, but also it is a great testament to their friendship that it has survived all these years in this business. I look forward to seeing what each of them do. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be on that show.” I feel like by now we should have run out of time. However I didn’t even get around to asking about Con Man; the collection and cellular recreation that he’s actually in London to advertise.

Nolan needs to talk about Con Man, though, and I’m not about to cut him off. “And the big thing you should be looking forward to over here is Con Man, series 2. By the way, I started in comedy, but I’ve only done one sitcom, and I played the straight guy. But this thing came about because of Uncharted. Alan [Tudyk] was involved, and he saw this character I created just messing around having fun with everyone, and wanted it in his show. So he gave it a home, and now people love this character. Again, it is so rewarding that something I created… People loved it.”

Ultimately we begin to wrap up our chat; but the very last thing we speak about is his eldest son, Cooper. His delight in his son is touching. Earlier in our conversation Nolan had expressed jealousy at me with the ability to spend the rest of my Sunday with my family; clearly Nolan is lacking his.  Anyway, apparently Cooper is getting into the appearing business, and, in his father’s phrases is “painfully handsome, with big shoulders, and is as tall as me. But he is a sweetheart.” Just before we finish, Nolan mentions that he hopes to work collectively on a venture with Cooper soon. Wouldn’t that be superb?

Nolan is whisked off to the Con; (which he tells me is extremely nicely organised and nicely run), leaving me to my ideas, and with the hope that the interview recorded successfully. I doubt I ever imagined, when my husband and I introduced our first PlayStation residence, that I might at one point be speaking with one of many medium’s largest stars about life, family, jetlag, and work. Like I stated; I’ve needed to talk with Nolan like this for a very long time, and doing so now has brought all my love for Uncharted, for Nathan Drake, and for this group full circle. Nolan and I will speak once more in future, I do know that. However this? This was good.

Bryony Stewart-Seume

Bryony is the Senior Editor for All Things UNCHARTED and contributor for ThisIsMyJoystick.com. Uncharted can be her specialist Mastermind topic. She also enjoys gin.