At the recent PlayStation Experience, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End director Neil Druckmann explained his response to the new character of Nadine Ross.
For those not in the know, Nadine Ross is the recently announced new character for Uncharted 4. She is black but played by the white voice actor Laura Bailey. Druckmann said that Naughty Dog didn’t have the final design or appearance for her upon casting, and only determined character details and backstory. For example, Ross held some role in a mercenary organisation and was South African.
It was only after Bailey’s audition (where there was “no question in our mind” that Bailey was Nadine), one of the studio’s concept artists presented the character design of Nadine as she is now.
Druckmann said that there was concerns, with a team member suggesting he was “inviting controversy” by having a white actor play a black character, but he wanted to see Ross in-game before making any changes. Druckmann recalls that the whole team was so impressed that there was no way they’d change her whatsoever.
Druckmann followed up his underlying statement that “what’s so awesome about our medium is your outward appearance doesn’t matter at all” by revealing on-stage that Uncharted 4 also has the polar opposite of Nadine, with an as-yet-unknown white character being played by a black actor. Naughty Dog was firm in choosing the actors who played the roles the best, not those whose skin color matched that of the character they were playing.
You can see Neil Druckmann’s response below:
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End lands on PlayStation 4 this coming March.