When Warner Bros. Pictures first began warming up the PR machine for Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming robots-versus-giant-monsters epic Pacific Rim, the company started things off slowly with a few short trailers. Gamers who watched these clips were understandably excited by the film’s premise, but they also quickly discovered that the movie features an AI character with very familiar voiceover work. In fact, it sounds so similar to the voice used by the GLaDOS AI in Valve Software’s Portal, that many people’s first reaction to seeing a Pacific Rim trailer is to ask why and how Warner Bros. convinced Valve to let it use GLaDOS in a blockbuster action movie that has absolutely no link to the Portal or Half-Life universes.
As it turns out, the secret to getting Valve to let you use their characters is to simply ask the company in a straightforward manner. A new interview with del Toro conducted by the Toronto Sun spells out exactly how GLaDOS got into Pacific Rim, and why this iteration of the character isn’t a perfect simulacrum of her Portal incarnation. “I wanted very much to have [GLaDOS], because I’m a big Portal fan,” del Toro told the Sun. “But just as a wink. She’s not cake-obsessed. She’s not out to destroy humanity.”
To achieve the desired effect, del Toro’s team of sound engineers recorded voiceover work from opera singer Ellen McLain, then altered it electronically to more accurately ape the vocal work found in Portal. Not wanting to directly swipe design cues from Valve, del Toro then had the engineers remodulate the voice to make it similar to, yet distinct from, its inspiration. “The filter we’re using is slightly less GLaDOS. Slightly,” del Toro states. “The one in the trailer I wanted to be full-on GlaDOS.” The result of all this effort is a purposeful homage that won’t have any real impact on mainstream audiences, but which has already proved an entertaining geeky reference for those who are in on the joke.
In what we’re currently viewing as unrelated news, del Toro’s chat with the Toronto Sun also revealed information on inSane, a gaming project from del Toro that was originally slated for production by THQ. Unfortunately, THQ has been hit with an avalanche of financial issues over the past few months, and was forced to cancel inSane in August of 2012. Happily though, del Toro claims that he’s been in contact with another gaming firm about the project. “We are in talks with a very, very big company. I can’t say who, but it’s one of the big ones. They really responded to the game, they responded to what we were trying,” del Toro states.
The proximity of that news to word that del Toro has had recent, positive contact with Valve Software has some fans believing that Valve will be the ultimate publisher of inSane, but there’s currently no real evidence of this. We’ll bring you more word on inSane as it emerges, but for now it’s still very much ethereal.