The world of League of Legends Expands with Netflix Animated Series Esoteric. Set before the events of Riot Games’ multiplayer online battle arena, the show tells the origin stories of some of the game’s most memorable champions Jinx, Vi, Caitlyn, Jayce, and Viktor, and how the tension between Piltover and Zaun will fashion them into the warriors fans know and love.
Before the show arrived on Netflix, Screen cry spoke exclusively with Esoteric co-creators and executive producers Christian Linke and Alex Yee to discuss the input League of Legends to life on screen, expanding their gaming tradition, and more.
Screen review: Esoteric and the world of League of Legends is so vast at this point. What was it like exploring all of the source material to really bring the show to life?
Christian Linke: Well we’ve been with the game and the IP for so long, it was just a little bit of unboxing I think a lot of what happened between when the characters came out and also how they came to be. these icons for our players in the League Community. So I think it was really trying to listen to our audience and how they perceived the characters.
I remember when we released, for example, Viktor [Harry Lloyd] and some stories have been posted that there was kind of a uproar, we just made him a tropey villain or something. What kind of nuance there is in the perception of our audience. So I think it was really trying to get a good idea of ââwhat makes these characters special and you the eyes of our audience and trying to respect that and then find what we have to say.
Because I think the worst thing we can do is just a bunch of fan service, so working together to kind of go take that and say, “Okay, what do we actually have at say with this story that we are going to craft? “
Alex Yee: I mean in a lot of ways, it’s a very familiar position. We have spent so much time working on the world, for me there are so many different people that I have worked with and spent a lot of time with and as far as you see it in the game or on websites, in bios and color stories, there are so many other stories that we haven’t had the opportunities, or the right way to tell.
So in many ways it was an embarrassment of wealth, and then in some ways it was like, “My God, how can we shrink that down to just be the story we want to tell here and now?” But of course, I think figuring out how to translate the game to the screen has certainly taken a lot of learning, a lot of adaptation, but I think we feel pretty good about where it landed.
I think one thing we’ve done and hopefully that will take the show to a place that IP fans and newcomers can enjoy is that we’ve always tried to make sure whether the squad is made up of both longtime league players and core developers, and then also people who are new to Hollywood or just outside in general. I think it really helped us to give us both perspectives of the different audiences that might come and watch.
What do you think are the biggest creative challenges for you both to find the right tone and to find the right balance for long-time players and newcomers?
Christian Linke: In a game like League of Legends, you have to stay on the surface level with our characters, because there are 150 characters in League of Legends, so for you to get an idea of ââwho a character really is, you have five. , ten lines of voiceover that will really mark you. But you have to be very clear who they are, and when you create something like Arcane you have to go a lot further.
If you think you’re going to be with a character for six hours, you’re just going to keep watching them, you start asking a lot of different questions about what their day-to-day life is like, where do they sleep, what do they eat, like how nice they are. to go about their business? It’s something we never really explored, so I think it was just adding those layers that are actually needed to entertain even really real drama and real human elements and moments that in League you do. don’t really live with these characters.
But I think other than that, we talk about it sometimes, we did the first animation tests, we had seen and worked with these characters for so long that we had never even seen them speak because, in our game, we do not understand so close to the characters. So the casting process was very scary because a lot of the expectations of our players also come from the voices of the characters and the way they speak, so we just had to take some liberties, we kind of had to find the version which in our mind respects who the characters are, but also goes further.
Since the vocals were so important, who would you say was harder, and who would you say was easiest to find in the casting process?
Alex Yee: Count down from three and we would both say Jinx was the scariest one, I think. We knew from the start that this would be one of the hardest roles to play, you know, she’s so big and everything is externalized in the game. But of course, we knew we wanted in the show to be able to somehow. look under that layer and find some kind of subtlety and nuance for the character. I think Ella [Purnell] did a fantastic job of nailing this.
I guess we could also count down from three to the easiest cast, although it’s both easy and scary at the same time which I think would be Silco. Luckily, Silco was a new character, so he’s not as loaded with expectations as any of the champions, but I remember it vividly, I think it was like four or five in the morning, and I was just going through list of auditions for so long – well, it was late at night for me, early in the morning, for the others I guess [chuckles] – and I was going through and I just had that kind of stuffy feeling in the pit of my stomach as I listened to the auditions, where I was, like, “Oh, my God, that is going to be impossible. ”
Then Jason Spisak’s voice was like the clouds parting because from the first second of the first audition he was just Silco. In working with him, it was always a question of which of the options you gave us should we take. It was probably one or the other ending, but it’s hard to single out a cast member because everyone does a really good job, everyone is committed to their role so hard and nailed to it. both what we are looking for in the series, but also something that will live up to the expectations of the fans. So I think we’re so lucky to have found the people we have found.
What was it like then working with Netflix and realizing that they were going to be the perfect home to bring this series to life for both of you?
Christian Linke: We knew from our audience that they were already on Netflix and we have a very global game. I think a lot of us, especially when you grew up in a place like Europe, you’re kind of used to the experience of like, “Oh, my favorite show, movie, or game is coming out. first in the United States, and maybe someday I will have it too. “
I think it’s something the world has thankfully moved away from, but for us it’s still something very real, that even a slight delay has our audience in arms, and rightly so. So the reason for Netflix was that there was the ability to release this really at the same time, a quality bar that’s really high, location was very, very important to us, but – maybe also to be egotistical. here for a second – because I grew up with overdubs, I grew up in Germany watching my favorite German shows and movies, you can always tell if anyone has spent the time and effort to do something really awesome thing with a dub.
So that was really, really important to us, and working with Netflix was really helpful because we could really make sure of that. I watched the German, French, Spanish, Mandarin versions, okay in many cases I had no idea what I was listening to but at least making sure the lipsync is good, that we kind of put in the hours to make sure it’s good, that was really important and I think it was just a really strong partner to make sure that the experience of how it is. happening is good for our audience.
More: How Real Arcane Actors Compare To Video Game Characters
Esoteric Premieres on Netflix November 6 at 7:00 p.m. PST.
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