Wayward Strand – Interview with Voice Actor Nancy Curtis

Self-described as ‘a heartfelt story told in a curious way’, Wayward Strand follows fourteen-year-old Casey Beaumaris as she seeks to uncover the mysteries of an airborne hospital and the lives of those it’s home to. 

The latest title from Melbourne studio Ghost Pattern, the single-player game is as narrative-driven as it gets. As the developers explain, ‘Within the world of Wayward Strand, time passes for everyone – characters continue their lives without waiting for you to interact with them. In [our] unique narrative structure, the stories of over a dozen characters constantly unfold around you in real-time, as you roam freely throughout each day’.

Playing as Casey – the ‘intrepid teenage journalist’ for her school newspaper – we take notes in her journal as we eavesdrop, have conversations, and explore the wider world. As we become more attuned to the game, we soon realise Wayward Strand isn’t short on discoveries. As the team describe, ‘Every playthrough gives you the opportunity to discover something you didn’t see previously – what you missed the first time, you might see the second, third, or fifth time around’.

Giving voice to Casey is seventeen-year-old Nancy Curtis. In her first-ever acting credit. Not that you could tell – Curtis well and truly holds her own alongside industry vets such as Michael Caton (The Castle), Jenny Seedsman (Blue Heelers), and Anne Charleston (Neighbours).

Here we speak to Curtis about stepping into the gaming world and recording one hefty script.

TAHLIA: First of all, congratulations on such a beautiful breakout role! To start with the obvious question, how did this even come about? 

NANCY: I was really lucky. My drama teacher knows one of the creators [Goldie Bartlett]. Goldie emailed her and was like, ‘Do you have any students who’d want to audition?’. So I auditioned – I didn’t know what I was doing – I was asked to do an Aussie accent and say a few sentences. I sent it in and didn’t expect anything of it, but they contacted me soon after, and I guess it all happened from there.

TAHLIA: Wow. Was there anything in particular that interested you about the project?

NANCY: I found it so interesting because, first of all, it’s set in the seventies, so I’d be playing a young girl that doesn’t have the distractions of phones and stuff. [So], she has to find ways to entertain herself when she’s on the ship with her mum.

Interesting as well was the representation of the elderly. I’m not a big gamer, but my preconceived ideas of video games surrounded quite violent, Call of Duty kind of vibes. It’s so different from what I’ve seen. It deals with real, raw, everyday life issues.

TAHLIA: Ghost Pattern noted you recorded over 1,200 pages of dialogue in just ten studio sessions. That’s a demanding schedule for even the most experienced voice actor. How did you navigate these days? 

NANCY: Honestly, when I heard that it was that long, I didn’t know how I would get through it – especially because it was so new. It was challenging, but it was so much fun. 

There were so many times when I’d have to say a line over and over again and I’d forget its meaning. Or there were so many times I’d come straight from school and didn’t have time to have lunch, so my tummy would be rumbling, and they’d be like, ‘We’re going to have to do that scene again’. 

But they [Ghost Pattern] made it so easy to get used to. I’m definitely very grateful for them. They made me feel really comfortable.

TAHLIA: Given your extraordinary baptism by fire, is there any advice you’d offer to someone stepping into voice-over for the first time?

NANCY:  It was hard at first – switching into the character. So I would have little things I would do before starting to record. I would always say ‘Milo’, and it would get me into my Aussie accent. I would have things in my head [such as] the way she would hold her body, and I would try and embody that while I was recording, to help me get out of myself and become her.

TAHLIA: The characters in Wayward Strand are very nuanced and very specific. How much input did you have into shaping Casey?

NANCY: I reckon because they’d worked on it for so long, they definitely had a fully formed idea of who Casey was. When I talked to them about it, they said that I worked for the role because I brought to life what was already on the page. 

I guess I was just helping them bring her to life – maybe adding little bits and interesting characteristics.

TAHLIA: Can you recall your response to finding out you were leading a cast including Caton, Seedsman, and Charleston?

NANCY: They hadn’t told me who was in it when I was recording. I only found out with the cast reveal. But when I was watching it, I was like, ‘What the hell? This doesn’t seem right – me lined up with all these people!’.

Seeing snippets of Casey interacting with those characters was so interesting, because I’ve never met these people, but you can feel the chemistry and connection between the characters, which I found so cool. You can feel these tensions and relationships.

I’m super, super excited to be in a cast with them. It’s pretty crazy.

TAHLIA: What do you hope players take away from your character and the wider story?

NANCY: I’ve shown a few snippets to my grandma, and she was so intrigued – she couldn’t wrap her head around her age group being represented in a video game. I hope it changes – like it did for me – people’s ideas of what video games can be.

I think that people will be able to fall in love with the characters, and I hope a lot of people can relate to them as well. I mean, [the story] deals with issues of death and stuff, but in such a beautiful, raw way. I think there should be more content like this.

Wayward Strand drops September 15 and will be available on Windows via Steam, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch.

Special thanks to Nancy Curtis and Ghost Pattern for their time. If you’d like to join the Wayward Strand community, find them over on Discord, Twitter, or Facebook.

Tahlia Norrish
Tahlia Norrishhttps://www.dojoactors.com/tahlia/
Tahlia Norrish is an Aussie-Brit actor, writer, and founder of The Actor's Dojo. Currently, Tahlia is based in Meanjin (Brisbane, Australia) where she's an MPhil Candidate at the University of Queensland's School of Sport Sciences. Tahlia credits/blames an early obsession with Pokémon for her continued love of anime and gaming.

━ more like this

Razer Viper V3 Pro Review: The New Esports King?

The Razer Viper V3 Pro is an exceptional, lightweight gaming mouse with 8K polling and 35000dpi sensor but is the price too high?

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree Review (PS5)| One deadly dismount

Allow me to dispossess you of a notion that may be in your head. Even if you’ve played the band out of Elden Ring...

Gigabyte Aorus 16X Review: AI Hype Train

The Aorus 16X is marketed as an AI gaming laptop but that's a misnomer that doesn't diminish a great mid-range laptop

MSI MPG 271QRX 27″ 360Hz QD-OLED Review: A Smaller Powerhouse with a Steep Price

MSI's smaller QD-OLED is potentially its best with 1440p, 360Hz refresh, a wealth of connections and KVM switch but the price is high.

Logitech G Pro X 60 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Keyboard Review

The Logitech G Pro X 60 is a compact 60% wireless gaming keyboard designed for esports pros, but is it worth the $400 price tag?