Nan McNamara Interview – Anya in Gears of War 1-4

We finally have a tomorrow.
— Anya trying to convince Marcus that, despite all of the losses they have suffered, there is still something to look forward to.

Lieutenant Anya Stroud was a Gear officer in the Coalition of Ordered Governments army and the daughter of Major Helena Stroud. She joined the COG army to follow in her mother’s footsteps, but unlike her mother, she did not serve as a frontline Gear. Stroud instead became a communications officer and served in her mother’s unit during the Pendulum Wars. There she met Marcus Fenix and fell deeply in love with him and also became friends with Dominic Santiago.

She took part in the Battle of Aspho Fields, where she listened to her mother dying over the communications link. Anya continued to serve as a controller in the CIC during the Locust War, and was heartbroken when Marcus Fenix was tried as a deserter and sent to prison ten years after Emergence Day. When the Lightmass Offensive began, she was briefly reunited with him after Dom broke him out of jail. She operated as his squad’s controller during the Operation, helping them deploy the Lightmass Bomb.
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She reconnected with Marcus in the following months, and made sure she was always on duty when he was. During Operation: Hollow Storm, she again guided Delta through their battles and escaped the Sinking of Jacinto. As the COG began to rebuild after the apparent victory over the Locust, Anya and Marcus grew closer and she began to train to become a frontline Gear, while still serving as a controller. However, when the Lambent eme rged, Anya fully embraced being on the frontline and fought alongside Marcus in Delta Squad. She witnessed the death of Dom and fought in the Second Battle of Azura where she witnessed the deaths of Adam Fenix and Queen Myrrah as well as the final end of the Locust and the Lambent.
How did you get into voice-over work?

I had been encouraged by a couple of other actors to pursue voiceover because they thought I had a good voice, but I didn’t really know where to start.  Then, my on-camera commercial agent at the time asked me to audition for a radio commercial.  (It was for a power company in the northwest.) I auditioned and booked the job.  And I thought, this is probably a sign that I should pursue this.  So I started taking classes and focusing more of my energy on it, and here we are!

 

How did you get involved with Gears of War?

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The amazing Rod Ferguson heard my voice work on the animated feature “Ultimate Avengers” and as he tells the story, he thought I would be perfect for Anya.

What are some of your thoughts on Anya as a character?

Well, Anya holds a very special place in my heart.  It was one of my early experiences working in video games.  So I learned a lot.  But also, I loved the progression of Anya’s character and becoming a Gear.  I also loved the relationship between Anya and Marcus.

What are some of your fondest memories of your time recording for the games? 

There are a lot of great memories.  I didn’t get to work with “the guys” very often, but there was one session with John DiMaggio that I really enjoyed.  He’s just an amazing talent and I marvel at his abilities.  I also loved getting together with all the guys for the release party of Gears 3.  It was midnight at a store in Century City – and we had a blast meeting fans and signing memorabilia.

How does your time working on GOW compare to other projects you have worked on?

Well, Gears is really family.  When you return to a game over and over again, you get to know everyone working on the game.  So it makes the work environment that much more fun and playful.  When you are comfortable with everyone you are working with, it creates a wonderful playground in which to make the character come to life.

What are some of your favourite Anya moments?

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Anytime when I got to show Anya’s strength.  And yet, also show some vulnerability.  She’s more complex than you think.

What are some of your overall favourite moments from the game series?

Oh wow.  Well, I think the design of the game’s world is just fantastic.  And I do love some of other-world enemies we had to face.  It made the game so exciting.

Who are your favourite characters from the games and why?

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I have to say ANYA!  And if I say Anya, I have to include Marcus in that.   The creators gave both characters complexity and I love that.

When you first started working on the games, did you ever think they would be as huge as they are now?

I had NO idea!  The fact that people still ask about Anya and still talk about the games as much as they do is so lovely.  The Gears fans are THE BEST!

How would you describe the relationship between Anya & Marcus? 

I would describe it as complicated.  In the world of Anya and Marcus, you can’t really speak your feelings.  The life and death circumstances are at the forefront, but their personal relationship is always simmering.  And I love that.

Did you have much interaction with Rod Ferguson?

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Yes!  He is wonderful to work with.  I remember him being at my very first session and showing me the first rendering of what Anya looks like.  He is a kind, gentle, creative genius,  and very supportive.  He even came to see me in a play that I was doing here in Los Angeles.

What sort of things would you have to do during the creation of the games?

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Well, you don’t get to see much of the world when you are recording the dialogue because it’s still being created.  So the biggest thing a voiceover actor has to do in games is make sure that you understand where you are and what’s happening around you.  Rod Ferguson would describe the world to me and Chris Borders, who directed some of the sessions would help to make sure that the dialogue was ringing true for what the story required.  I will say, it is not an easy thing to do.  It’s not only vocally tiring, but you really have to have the ability to create with nothing there.  But that’s also what makes it so much fun.  Just like when you were a kid pretending to be a space ranger!

Anya is such a loveable character, what do you think makes her stand out?

I think where she began and how she grew into this formidable presence.  The fact that Anya could take on anyone or anything, just like the male Gears, I’m really proud to be able to portray a woman like that.

Be sure to check out all of Nan’s social media profiles and her website listed below:

Twitter:  @nanmcnamara
Instagram:  @nanmcnamara
Facebook:  @NanMcNamaraActress or https://www.facebook.com/NanMcNamaraActress/

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