We had the honor of talking with award winning actress, Danielle Bisutti, about her work with God of War, God of War Ragnarok, her work with comedy and her own production company. We had such a great conversation and Danielle was so thoughtful with her answers, without further ado:
Adam Moreno: Hello everybody and welcome to our “we interview” series. We have a special guest today, an award-winning actor, Danielle Bisutti. You’ve seen her before in some classic entertainment like Parks & Recreation, The LEGO Movie 2, Madden 21, Disney Dreamlight, and of course God of War. Both the first one and Ragnarok, as the lovely Freya. Danielle, how are you doing today?
Danielle Bisutti: Oh wow. What? An introduction. You even slipped Madden in there, which I’m super excited about.
Adam Moreno: I’m a huge Madden fan. I’ve played every Madden. That’s since 99 or so.
Danielle Bisutti: It’s such an incredible game and I got that right after wrapping up, I think it was 2019? 2019. Yes, right at the tail end. Yeah, just wrapping up, obviously, having wrapped up God of War 2018. God of War four, right. People say God of War, but God of War. It has been, for a while, so. I like to be respectful of the first three games.
But yeah, though that was an incredible one to be in and to play the star players agent Claudia Grimstone total, total nut job of the character. They ended up cutting her down a little bit because I think it was just a little too unhinged for the franchise. But it was such an honor to be a part of that one. And then, of course, Elsa and Dreamlight, which was amazing. And then of course, like you know. The piece de le resistance is Freya. Having Freya be a part of the God of War legacy has been an absolute dream come true.
Adam Moreno: Talking about legacy, you’ve done so many different kinds of acting jobs, from TV shows to movies to video games. How does your process maybe change depending on what avenue your acting journey might take you?
Danielle Bisutti: My process, that’s so interesting. Well, I think. I can. I can tell you what piece is ubiquitous throughout all the characters. It’s really understanding the backstory of that character, so it requires, obviously, these incredible writers that, I mean writing is so challenging, right? I mean and speaking of just like God of War, the masterful writing in this franchise Matt Sofos, Rich Gobert, Cory Barlog, the whole team at Sony Santa Monica. So you get the text, I get the text and everything that’s laid out there, which I know that I’m going to be playing the truth of in these circumstances within the fabric of that screenplay. But it also gives me clues as to who this person is, right? Because it’s not always like, for example, the mother of death in Insidious Chapter 2. Why is she so pissed off? Why is he slapping her son? It makes no logical sense. Obviously there’s been some trauma. If I back it up in this woman’s life. So. I can play it truthfully. You know, with conviction and emotion. So I have to go back.
This is my process. I go back and I create that story, not just in my head, but like physiologically, right? Because when childhood things happen, anything happens. We take it in with all of our senses as human beings. That’s what we do. We got these five senses. We’ve got this sixth sense about things. But these memories can be stored in our body, and so having done a lot of dance in my life. Lot of yoga, a lot of therapy, a lot of somatic work. I realize that if I’m understanding the life of this character, I can pull from parts of my own life and sort of bridge those gaps. I can make that connection so that I feel that they are living inside of me. I can feel those emotions. I can have those thoughts even when I’m not speaking. What this person’s going through. So, you know, if it’s a comedy, maybe it’s not as tortured, but having said that, a lot of the funniest characters are tortured characters. Like you were just talking about Dwight in Shining Armor, comedy. It was out on byutv.org and. Hexela, had a very mysterious back story, right? No one really knew from where she came and where she was going. And she was a little sensitive about things. So I had to sort of like, if it was on the page, it was on the page if it wasn’t, I had to sort of create like why that rubbed me the wrong way. And so I just approach it all like that. Like, where did this person come from, what was their upbringing? What do they want in the world? You know, given inside the context of the script.
Adam Moreno: That’s so awesome that you come up with that. The back story and all that kind of stuff. It really adds so much and going along with that, there are some deep conversations that are had between Freya, Kratos, Atreus, between the two games. How much freedom did the three of you have to play in the space? Did you and Christopher Judge and Sunny have opportunities to work together in the same space, or did you have to record the emotional scenes isolated and have to work those heavier moments, like in a singular point of view, how did you go about doing that?
Danielle Bisutti: That’s a really great, interesting question. I would, no, the answer is most of the emotional content was done together, acting them out on the stages in the volume. Thank God for the cinematic because. You know you can fabricate those things inside the dark void of a VO booth. And by the way, all the credit in the world to just doing the VO. There were moments where we had to do some emotional things VO because COVID came and kicked us in the, you know what? And and you know, we were racing to get this done because we wanted to get it to the fans. We had a deadline. So, I remembered feeling very sad about that kind of convicted, but at the same time, I had already laid so much groundwork and history with Chris and Sunny. Alastair as Mimir, Robert as Brok, you know. Cause Freya, he just annoys the hell out of Freya, right? And I got some really funny little jabs at him and some sarcastic one liners. So I felt them in the room with me, you know, and sometimes they would play their voice and I could hear that and I could feel what that was like, but nothing’s going to replace being on the stages with them looking in Chris’s eyes, both of us with tears looking at Sonny with tears and just that, you know we love each other as people. We’re feeling each other as these characters. We understand these characters so well. So I think that was the synergy that brought out the best in all of us was doing it together, you know, just like they did in Avatar. Just like they do and in any feature film we’re doing the exact same thing here. We’re acting out these scenes together.
Adam Moreno: I love that you guys were able to do motion capture for this and allow you guys cause I’ve seen Christopher Judge on screen. As a kid I watched Stargate Atlantis or Stargate. He was on Stargate and I remember seeing him. And when he was cast as Kratos, I was just like, “oh, it’s gonna be amazing. I just know it!” And then seeing the rest of the cast come on board and seeing them play off of that and I’m sure the motion capture was an experience all to itself, yes?
Danielle Bisutti: Oh yeah, it absolutely was. I mean, I was so intimidated, you know, because I was a fan of Stargate and Chris is just his booming voice. I always say, you know, just walking in. That room, and he’s just like a behemoth sized man. Yeah, like a skyscraper that walks in the room. And then his voice is down here. This is crazy. But yeah, no, it’s just absolute respect for him for the work that he’s done in that role and yeah. And doing it in motion capture. Really, the only difference between that and just being on a film set is… Well, it’s kind of like a hybrid between film and theatre because, you know, you sometimes go to a black box theatre and there’s not a lot of background. There are a lot there, maybe a few props and a couple chairs and a table? Imagine that. But all in white. You know, and then all the hardware which is which? Can be challenging, yeah. Gosh, Oh my God the most.
Adam Moreno: I’ve seen pictures. It’s intense. Like the amount of the stuff you guys have on.
Danielle Bisutti: Yeah, yeah. You know and then, but just like anything like you sit in the makeup chair and you get your makeup done as part of the process. So like, as you know, they’re putting the pack on me and the sound or the dots. Like I, I tend to be a bit method where you know, especially if it’s an emotional scene. Like if it’s a scene where it’s kind of light hearted I can just be like shooting the shit with people. But if it’s an emotional scene I really kind of take that preparation time like Freya is being put on me or they’re putting her on me. I’m on from the inside out bringing her to the room and after a while you get used to the helmet and the camera in front of you. And this little awkward technicality of, like, not getting what we would call it “locking horns” like Chris and I sometimes did because, you know, Freya and Kratos would get very close. And sometimes our cameras would lock and… But once you get around the technical aspect and it becomes like second nature, you know, just like riding a bike or like a glove. Then you can just be in the moment and I think it took a while to get there just because it was my first mocap experience, but obviously now it’s very much like second nature.
Adam Moreno: Sure, especially by the second game where you’ve had the whole experience, well, you were talking about the black box theater and as an actor myself, I’ve experienced the black box theater. I’ve seen that it’s very, you know, you don’t have a lot to work with, but most of us had those dream roles growing up. What was/Is a dream role that you still might.
Danielle Bisutti: Well always wanted to be Wonder Woman.
Adam Moreno: Hey, you achieved that one.
Danielle Bisutti: But listen, Gal’s doing great. I did get to voice her in the Lego Movie 2: Video Game, which was…
Adam Moreno: But you wanna be like the Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman.
Danielle Bisutti: Obviously, like, I grew up watching Lynda Carter and then, you know, obviously I’m like, obsessed with Gal Gadot. Like she’s like perfection in a human form and Lynda Carter at that. You know, who knows if in some weird universe I could have that opportunity? There’s lots of great roles. There’s as we know multiverses are happening as we speak.
Lady Macbeth is fun. Guenevere is fun, but also Morgan Lefay I might. Be more of a Morgan lefay with my witchy senses. That could be really cool. Love the Arthurian legends? My mom raised me on them and it’s kind of like our love language. That and Star Wars, are our love languages. If I could do anything in the Star Wars/Lucas universe. It would be, that would be like, I don’t even I. I don’t even know if I would know how to contain myself. But that would be an absolute gift like, dream come true.
Adam Moreno: That’s so wonderful. Well, before we get to our last question, I wanted to give you an opportunity to talk about Perfect Timing Productions. That’s something that you’ve got going on. Can you give us a little bit of understanding as to what you guys do and how people can hear more?
Danielle Bisutti: Thank you so much. That’s so kind of you. Yeah. Perfect Timing Productions on. Let’s see, we started, up in 2008. Interestingly enough, when I booked True Jackson VP and my stepdad Dennis, he’s fantastic. It was like time to incorporate myself, so I was like, well, this is kind of perfect timing. Isn’t it? And so I was like, oh, perfect timing productions. That’ll be my corporation name. But I didn’t even at that time know… Because I was a singer-songwriter always. Like forever. And then in my 20s I was playing out a lot. But I didn’t know I was gonna start transitioning to writing screenplays, TV shows, you know, pilots, things like that until a little later, it started around 2013, and then it was like, “oh, well, maybe I could start this production company with all these fantastic artists around me to start pulling my friends and put it together.” And I have to say I have an incredible, incredible team. I could not do any of my crazy ideas without them and including “Song of the Valkyrie” which we just released, which was inspired by Freya and Norse mythology. I call it a fantasy music film. It’s a music video. It’s a cover of Lana Del Rey’s: Video Games. And I went to one of my Co producers in my DP and my editor who’s just been my right hand man. Stefan Coulson. I was like, here’s the idea. What do you think? I thought he was going to laugh me out of the room. He’s like, let’s. Do it, you know, went to my partner, Amber.
Adam Moreno: Best feeling of all time? It’s just, yeah, let’s do it!
Danielle Bisutti: Let’s do it. He’s like, it’s what this is. Not crazier than any other thing that you’re thinking of… Cause it started off just as his little love letter. And then it turned into this fantasy film and clearly it was kind of for selfish reasons at that point because I was like… So like I wanted to be like in Clash with the Titans I wanted to be, you know, these Scottish Queens and and you know this, this fantasy world in my head growing up as a little girl. And so I was like, oh, well, I have the power to actually just create that on my own. If it’s not happening, you know, in other people’s projects, let’s just make them in my own. And so it was kind of like, necessity was the mother of invention in that moment.
And yeah, so we’ve got… So here’s something fun. Hee hee, hee, hee. So we shot the music video and it, you know, I think people really enjoyed it. We loved it and then we got in touch with someone on Instagram, this animator who was like this is really cool. What if we did some animation around it? We’re like, whoa, this is incredible. So this Sunday, the 19th (of March), we’re going to release just a little tidbit of this idea of *possibly* turning it into this animation and who knows where to lead. Maybe it’s a game, maybe it’s an animation, maybe it’s a live action, maybe it doesn’t, maybe nothing, but we’re just continuing to create.
Adam Moreno: Keep going down the rabbit hole.
Danielle Bisutti: We are definitely down the rabbit hole and then there’s two other projects actually. So that’s… three, actually. So there’s the music video with the animation Song of the Valkyrie, and we have one psychological thriller, horror fantasy, which has a graphic novel component to it, which I’m very excited about, called Wake Me. But before Wake Me, we’re gonna do a project called Osiris, which is a dystopian sci-fi horror thriller. Yeah, it’s when the AI starts to do things.
Adam Moreno: We really need to. Keep track of what you’re doing with that.
Danielle Bisutti: Exactly. Yeah, it’s like, “Who’s really running the AI around here?” And then a web series that I’ve been working on for several years. Actually it was the first project that I pretty much started with the company and it was called Late Bloomers. Then it became Still Single and now it’s called Damsels. And over the years, we’ve recorded all of this material. We have now about, maybe four more days of filming, and then we’re done, we’re done with season one and we’re going to get it out in the world. Definitely on my YouTube channel: Perfect timing productions. And then I’m going to look into Amazon. I have heard that some people independently can get a release with a web series on Amazon Prime. I don’t know. But it definitely will be on my YouTube.
Adam Moreno: We’ll definitely be linking your guys’ YouTube channel in the section below, so, you have so much stuff going on!
Danielle Bisutti: Thank you!
Adam Moreno: Our final question. Let’s talk about something I like to talk about with all of our guests at the end of our interviews. What is one memory in your work with video games that will live in your head forever. It could be a happy memory or funny memory, anything but just one thing that comes to your mind where it’s like, Oh my gosh, I will never forget this feeling.
Danielle Bisutti: I think that’s tough because. So my experience and my relationship with God of War and Freya is obviously very interconnected. And now we’re spanning almost 10 years back in 2014 when I began. So I will. I will choose God of War, which does not belittle my experience on any of the other sets of the video games I’ve done. But I will say it, that would also be hard because Freya has, her journey is so thorough and exquisite that the way it was written. Just from everything being taken away to finally reclaiming her power and I got to play that. I feel so lucky and it could make me cry because, you know, you go through this journey as an actor and you can only really say the words they give you. You ask me that question. We don’t improvise, because it’s very technical in God of War. But if we have thoughts and ideas, well, yes, of course. We’re going to talk to Corey or Eric Williams, who obviously was like the master director of Ragnarok, Matt Sofos. Rich, you know, “I’m just curious about this line” or “where is this coming from?” They want that collaboration obviously with the person bringing it to life, so. But there’s really no like… on a film or on a TV. Like when I was on Parks & Recreation, I’m improvising, you know, with Nick Offerman.That’s a different situation. But so. So if I were to choose one, it would be hard between Ragnarok and God of War 2018. But I will say. Well, damn, can I choose two? Okay, I’ll choose one.
Adam Moreno: We can let you do two!
Danielle Bisutti: Okay!
Adam Moreno: If it brings you joy, that’s the point!
Danielle Bisutti: There are a lot of emotional moments. Damn, there are a lot of emotional 2018, the speech right. “I will rain down every agony, every violation imaginable upon you.” And we did it three times.
Adam Moreno: Just three?
Danielle Bisutti: And every time. Yeah. Sometimes we do things 14 times, but that’s usually a lot of moving parts. It was basically me holding, you know, Baldur, Jeremy Davis in my arms and yeah, I remembered the first and the second were great takes. But there was something that, like, just turned on. I think it may have just been the third that they ended up using. If I remember correctly, I do remember at that moment. At the end of the scene. I mean like looking up right and I’m there and everybody had tears. It was Chris. It was me. It was Sunny. I think even Jeremy dead on the floor had tears like everybody in the sound, behind the plexiglass. It was just, we all just were feeling this agony and not just Freya’s agony. In that moment, the loss of Balder. And Baldur’s pain. We were feeling Kratos, finally telling Atreus like, listen boy, I’m from the land of Sparta. I killed my father like I’m just getting chills. It’s so, it was so poignant so that… Was a tough one to beat because that was very powerful.
Adam Moreno: That’s great. What was the? What’s the second one? Let’s get that second one.
Danielle Bisutti: OK. Right. So how do you choose in Ragnarok? Because there are so many great moments. Like definitely, tying with my favorite one from Ragnarok was the noose with Odin because it just felt so good to finally, you know, oh husband, you know, you have NO hold on me. And then my Valkyrie wings for the first time appear in the pantheon of God of War. So amazing but. It was a subtle moment. And this is a spoiler if you haven’t played the game because you cause these when you do on the journeys after the game. When you go into the realms. There’s a moment where we find these relics in Banahan and it was it. I’m sorry. Was it Asgard? I think it was Asgard, yes. Going back and finding the relics from the wedding. I’m forgetting what land it was and was pretty sure. It was Asgard. It was that, yeah.
Adam Moreno: That’s all. That’s all that matters.
Danielle Bisutti: She has to go in and she has to… She reclaims these relics which have this significant meaning of her past. Being rejected by her people. Being in a marriage that failed, her whole plan of bringing a peace between the Vanier and the Acier are demolished. Being stripped of everything, her crown, her wings, the leader of the banner – relegated to Midgard, so in that moment, it’s like it’s not just a sword, it represents so much of what she gave up. But also now she has this… So I’m like grabbing at it and I’m trying to force it out and reminding me a lot of King Arthur. With of course I was like, “oh, this is king. Arthur moment. I gotta pull the sword from the stone.” I was so excited and I remembered I was very much a part of this collaborative process on the effort of getting it out it when, when I was yanking on it with, with, with the rage and the anger and the emotion and the pain of the past forcing it, it wouldn’t come to me.
And I knew it had to be a moment of complete surrender and acceptance that that is a part of my story. And the more I hate it and push it away, it’s going to haunt me. It’s going to be the monster in my life. But if I can just accept and integrate with it with this beautiful release and surrender. Then that sword let go. It lets go into my hand and I become one with my past. In that moment, reclaiming my power and strength, and moving on with my life.
Adam Moreno: And you just went full circle because that was what you were talking about for the first question, yeah. Ah, such a cool concept. Yeah, you’re so kind to be a part of this interview with us here at Gaming Trend. Thank you so much to Danielle for giving us just the time and such amazing answers. You are just so clearly in love with this character. And it shows when you play the game. Thank you so much. We appreciate you. Thank you.
Danielle Bisutti: Thank you so much. This has been such a pleasure. I love talking with anybody who loves the pantheon of video games and that whole universe. It’s fantasy, it’s and these stories now, the depths of these stories, you know, just like the Last of Us are rocking a generation. They’re changing lives and I think it’s a really powerful medium and I’m so blessed to be a part of it. So thank you.
Adam Moreno: Thank you so much for your time!
Danielle Bisutti: Thank you!