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Jahanzeb Khan
08 Mar, 2010

Final Fantasy XIII: Georgia Van Cuylenburg Interview

PS3 Interview | We have a fun chat with one of the game's Australian voice actresses.
With the release of the English language version of Final Fantasy XIII now just a day away, PALGN decided to get in contact with Georgia Van Cuylenburg, who voices a character in the game. This fine young lady is a proud Australian and so, we too are proud to bring you this exclusive interview with her, for your reading pleasure.





PALGN: First off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your career? We understand that you are originally from Melbourne, so how did your career develop from there?

Georgia Van Cuylenburg: I was born in Melbourne and lived there until the day I left to Los Angeles. I love Melbourne for the cricket, the footy and the amazing theatre. But I always knew the US was where I needed to be to do what I wanted to do. I have a goal of enabling children around the world to be given every chance to realise their full potential and to believe in their own magic. And I knew that Hollywood is the best place to reach kids on a global scale. In Australia I worked as an actress and children's entertainer from the age of 17, touring theatre, doing little bits of TV and voice over. Voice over wise, I played Angelina Ballerina and Jakers the Pig. I have a wonderful family in Australia and a handsome puppy called Harry but I have found my own special family in the US, still no puppy though (frowns). I didn't know anyone when I arrived and now it really is home (sorry Melbs!). I now live on the top of a 19 story building in Beverly Hills. It’s a crazy building - Busta Rhymes lives below me - weird huh?? I spend my days developing TV ideas and film scripts - most geared towards kids. I spend lots of my time mentoring young kids. I shoot things and act in stuff I audition, do stand up at night and in my free time, run, hit baseballs at the batting cages, go to the driving range or shoot hoops. I do love my life a lot!!!

PALGN: Moving on to the main issue... Final Fantasy XIII! We understand that you are voicing Oerba Dia Vanille in the English language version of the game. Were you approached for the role, or did you audition for it?

Georgia: Yep, that is me. I auditioned for it. My agent handed me the script and said if there was anyone else that could play this girl better he would eat his hat (he is more a beanie guy but...) I remember the character description: Aussie accent, young, bubby, sunshine and rainbows, etc... I was so determined to be her! And two weeks later I got the call from my agent to say I had booked it but I didn't know really how big it was. He said I would probably have five or six recording sessions... cut to 6 months later I was still recording and loving every second!


"I remember the character description: Aussie accent, young, bubby, sunshine and rainbows, etc..."

"I remember the character description: Aussie accent, young, bubby, sunshine and rainbows, etc..."
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PALGN: Final Fantasy XIII is one of the most anticipated releases of the year and has already been hugely successful in Japan. How does it feel to have such an important role in such a major video game release?

Georgia: I am so honoured and so grateful to be introduced to this world in such a way! So far I love the fans they are so much fun and so passionate. I really couldn't be happier to be part of such a great game I was amazed the whole recording process - the game is so beautiful!

PALGN: What was it like voicing a video game character? Was this your first time doing voice work for a video game?

Georgia: This is my second video game but this one was so so much more fun. It is surreal to think people will be playing me - kinda. But so fun. Vanille isn't really a fighter but her battle sounds were so fun to record.

PALGN: Let’s talk about the character you voice, what can you tell us about her? Do you and Vanille have anything in common and do you find her relatable in any way?

Georgia: Vanille is a character so, so close to my heart it is almost uncanny. Her happy bubbly glass is half full persona is so very much my way of being. Despite everything that has happened to her she is determined to be positive and see the best in everything and wants everyone to be happy and positive like her. But underneath there is so much more to her, so much history and so much she knows that no one else does.

I remember all through the recording sessions the director would say "here is a Georgia line coming up" they would laugh at how easy it was for me to be her level of happy... but I am and I love to be that way.

Her darker moments were quite challenging but a challenge I welcomed. It is very seldom I get to express my inner feeling like she did and it was a great outlet. There is so much hidden behind Vanille's smile and I really think this is the part of her that makes her so compelling and interesting as a character. And besides all of this her sound effects are so fun to voice!!


"Her darker moments were quite challenging but a challenge I welcomed."

"Her darker moments were quite challenging but a challenge I welcomed."
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PALGN: Was it a challenge playing her role? Or, were you able to easily fit into her shoes?

Georgia: It was a total blast! I wish I could say I had to stretch but I really didn't. I think if there was an anime character made of me she would pretty much be it... I would love her legs too!! I am often accused by my comedian buddies of being too happy and one of the other actors described my character as being punched in the face with happiness... I like that!!

PALGN: You are most well known for your work in comedy, did that experience help when voicing her?

Georgia: My comedy experience helped with my sense of timing with my lines... you learn the value of pausing and phrasing as a comic. It also helped me just go with the flow of things... comedy is great for that!! I also do a lot of girly impressions on stage so I did channel a few of them when recording.

PALGN: When voicing her, did the developers ask you to create a particular accent/style/tone or were you given more freedom?

Georgia: The directors were amazing they did make suggestions and tweaks but I was also given a lot of freedom. Vanille's voice when she is looking back is my normal pitch but in live action it is a little higher so they helped me fit that. That was a choice they made to show her wisdom later on - I think it really works.

It was important for me to keep my Aussie accent to show that Vanille is from somewhere different so that was nice. If I sounded American, then the Aussie in the booth would correct me right away!


"It was important for me to keep my Aussie accent to show that Vanille is from somewhere different so that was nice."

"It was important for me to keep my Aussie accent to show that Vanille is from somewhere different so that was nice."
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PALGN: Have you had a chance to play Final Fantasy XIII for yourself? If so, what are your thoughts on the game?

Georgia: I am waiting for the English version to come out before I play but I can't wait!!

PALGN: The Final Fantasy series has been around for a very long time and continues to enjoy great success. Have you been a fan of the series? If so, what are your thoughts on it?

Georgia: I must admit I wasn't really a fan before this. I knew of it but had no idea of the scope of its world!!

PALGN: Do you play video games? What are your thoughts on this interactive medium, mainly in terms of what it has become in this day and age?

Georgia: I don't play video games very often. I am a bit of a workaholic so that doesn't quite fit into the picture... then again I don't watch much TV either.

The whole video game world fascinates me and as a closet geek, I am not sure why I don't have a secret Xbox setup at home!

I do have a problem with video games stopping kids from playing outside but that is because I am a huge player of sports and sunshine lover. But I think once you are a big kid the choice is yours.


"I must admit I wasn't really a fan before this. I knew of it but had no idea of the scope of its world!!"

"I must admit I wasn't really a fan before this. I knew of it but had no idea of the scope of its world!!"
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PALGN: Would you be interested in doing more voice work for video games in the future?

Georgia: Absolutely 100% I would jump at the opportunity! This job was one of my favourite ever and I would love to have such an experience again soon!!

PALGN: Getting back to your work, we know that you have done a lot of work as a children’s entertainer and have also worked with children through teaching acting and comedy. What are your thoughts on children and their interaction with video games? There is a fair bit of debate around the issue, about whether games can be helpful to a child's development or whether they can become an unhealthy hobby.

Georgia: I do spend a lot of time trying to be a good influence on kids and encourage them to live a healthy active lifestyle. I am all about balance. I don't think anyone should spend 24 hours in front of a screen regardless of whether it is a video game, computer or TV (sorry guys!) but then nor should they be outside hitting or kicking balls all day. Video games can be a great bonding thing for kids as long as it doesn't take over there lives and interfere with other social activities. I really don't want to sound like I am on a soap box, I don't want to tell anyone how to live their lives. I have just seen some kids who could do with more fresh air in their day (smiles). But they should all play Final Fantasy!!


"But they should all play Final Fantasy!!"

"But they should all play Final Fantasy!!"
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PALGN: Thank you for participating in this interview! Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

Georgia: My pleasure!! Well I would like to say thanks for their support. Occasionally I will take a second to read some of the comments on all the fan pages and it is fun to see what everyone writes - so thanks so much to all the nice people and for those that aren't so happy, I hope your mind changes once you play the game (smiles).

Related Final Fantasy XIII Content

Final Fantasy XIII Review
15 Mar, 2010 Lucky thirteen?
Vote for Australia's Biggest Final Fantasy Fan
08 Mar, 2010 Fulfilling fantasy.
Final Fantasy XIII Limited Collector's Edition
27 Jan, 2010 A generous package.
18 Comments
4 years ago
Interesting interview, after playing the Japanese version for 30~ hours I can say she definitely sounds Vanille-ish personality wise icon_biggrin.gif
I'm still a bit worried the Australian accent on both Vanille and Fang are going to be too strong and overpowering after seeing the trailer but hopefully the management of it was well done and the end product blends better.
4 years ago
Fantastic insight into a voice actor's world. I've been an avid follower of final fantasy for years, and I usually cringe at some of the english voice pairings with the characters to the point where I set the audio over to Japanese with subtitles if available... I hope you put a great voice to this character!
4 years ago
I love hearing Aussie accents in games icon_smile.gif Like Mass Effect 2, I think having a variety of accents lends better to fantasy worlds. Go Georgia!
4 years ago
i thought this article had already been posted
4 years ago
^We had to take it off because the producers hadn't authorised it at the time. Obviously, it has now.
4 years ago
Nice, an aussie accent in a game.

Really looking forward to it. Have avoided alot of media on the game - so the whole game should be a surprise of whats in store - apart from the standard Final Fantasy formula.
4 years ago
stick_theory wrote
I love hearing Aussie accents in games icon_smile.gif Like Mass Effect 2, I think having a variety of accents lends better to fantasy worlds. Go Georgia!
The best part about Miranda's accent, was that it wasn't embarassingly 'ocker' or the horrible syndrome of talking like everything is a question. Her voice sounds natural, educated and bonds well with the character. If it were anyone other than Bioware, I'd have expected a monumentally cringeworthy moment such as "put another barbie, on the shrimp!"

And her primary weapon to be boomerang nunchucks.

"GAME OVER.. MATE"
4 years ago
is it just me or are features being reorganised alot recently with older entries jumping to the top of the front page list in an apparent effort to keep them current or smething............
4 years ago
^

As Jeremy said, we had to take the interview down last month because the producers had not authorised it. There was an embargo, and they gave us permission to post it on 8th of March, now you see it! icon_smile.gif
4 years ago
I really enjoyed hearing Miranda's accent in Mass Effect 2, it was the most truly Australian performance I've heard in a videogame.

I've heard some particularly bad impressions of Cuylenburg's voicework in FFXIII though, which is probably largely down to Vanille's character. I suppose I'll be able to pass my own judgement tomorrow though.
4 years ago
I think the problem seems to be the actual script rather than the actors fault.

Pretty poor from the countless vids out there.

Reminds me of Star Wars Ep 1, 2 and 3: A bunch of good actors (except for Hayden Christensen) who sounded like D grade dropouts due to terrible scripts (and directing).
4 years ago
Vanille's voice is going to be a love/hate thing for gamers
4 years ago
Sounds like a bit of promotion tactics here then.
4 years ago
Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy XIII... I hope we hear more Aussie voice actresses in big budget games icon_biggrin.gif
4 years ago
your voice work is bad and you should feel bad!
4 years ago
"I have a goal of enabling children around the world to be given every chance to realise their full potential and to believe in their own magic."

I hope she knows it's all just special effects in FF13 and kids won't really be able to summon Shiva.
4 years ago
I had no idea Miranda's voice in ME2 was Australian (perfect voiceovers for the entire cast). Whereas I've already found Vanille's voice quite disappointing. Sazh is awesome enough to make up for it though, Square really nailed his character perfectly. Unfortunately ME2 set the bar pretty high for detailed characters.
4 years ago
Too bad Vanille is the most annoying character in the game.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  9/03/2010 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  UBI Soft
Genre:
  RPG
Year Made:
  2008
Players:
  1

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