White’s not a stranger to video games, though, having spent “1,000 hours at least” playing multiple characters in Final Fantasy XIV. She also has a YouTube and Twitch channel where she plays games, even going as far as playing through the original Final Fantasy 7 recently and voicing Aerith live for her viewers, with Lindbeck and John Bentley (voice of Barret in the upcoming remake) voicing their respective characters.Britt Baron, known for her work as Justine Biagi in Netflix’s GLOW, roles in The Thing About Harry and Into the Dark—as well as characters in Halo 5, Destiny 2, and Dishonored 2—will be lending her talents to Tifa. Baron doesn’t play games herself and wasn’t even sure who Tifa was when she got a call back from her agent for the role originally. But, after spending time voicing Tifa she “feels like [she’s] lived as Tifa for a point of [her] life.”
Erica Lindbeck, who will be voicing Jessie, is known for her previous voice work as Black Cat in Marvel’s Spider-Man, Futaba in Persona 5, and various League of Legends characters, just to name a few across her illustrious voice acting career that has spanned video games, film, television, and anime. I asked her about her connection to Final Fantasy 7 and she replied by saying, “I have a really odd emotional connection to Final Fantasy  because I never played it, but the story still ripped my heart out regardless.” Her first exposure to the story of Final Fantasy 7 was when she watched Final Fantasy VII:
Advent Children as a child. She became enamored with Aerith and Zach, and wondered what their connection was to the other characters. She quickly followed that up by digging up clips of Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core online (as she did not have a PSP).
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Gideon Emery on the other hand, known for playing Deucalion in Teen Wolf, is no stranger to working with Square-Enix. Having previously voiced characters in Final Fantasy XIV, he is known best for his role as Balthier in Final Fantasy XII. Emery’s gruff voice lends well to Biggs, and he feels this time it’s a “different kind of energy.” He also really appreciates “the banter back and forth” between characters like Wedge and Jessie. Lindbeck chimed in and said that “Jessie and Biggs and Wedge’s stories are going to be very much fleshed out” as they all had very minor roles in the original game, and will surely lend more weight to that moment early on.
This isn’t the first time we’re hearing voices for Cloud and company, though. They’ve had the same voice actors since the early 2000s when they appeared in the various Kingdom Hearts games, Advent Children, franchise spin-offs like Dissidia, and more. Although, for this project, Square-Enix decided to go with an all-new voice cast which has created quite a stir amongst fans. Baron reassured me that their Directors encouraged the new team that they were cast for a reason. “The fans are expecting so much…obviously we all want to deliver,” she said.
This is, however, the first time we will be hearing this specific story voiced, which is exciting. I asked the team if they felt a sense of pressure in delivering on fan expectations of these characters—many of which are some of the most iconic video game characters of all-time. Baron felt “it was really intimidating for [her] to start because the expectations are so high for this game.” White felt similarly, too. “Everything was just about honoring the characters,” she said.“The gaming community can be really toxic sometimes. It feels like [with Final Fantasy 7 Remake] the toxicity has been kept to a minimum,” Lindbeck said. “Everyone is so in love with what this is going to be and they are so excited and that is a beautiful thing.” Obviously, it’s hard to please everyone. There will always be someone who doesn’t like a specific decision that’s made, especially when it’s something they hold near to their heart. “Everyone has a picture of who Tifa is, or Aerith is, or Cloud is,” Baron said. “You might not please every fan ever, but all you can do is do your absolute best”
White felt a similar sense of pressure, especially because she “know[s] how loved Aerith is and want[s] to do it right.” She spent a lot of time studying Aerith’s Japanese voice actor Maaya Sakamoto, as well as listening back to countless takes during recording sessions to ensure it felt right. Ultimately, she said, “I know when people play [FF7] Remake they are going to fall in love with [Aerith] all over again.”To finish, I was curious which Final Fantasy game the cast would like to see remade next. For the most part, everyone agreed that Final Fantasy VIII seems like the obvious next choice. Emery, on the other hand, “wouldn’t mind a Final Fantasy XII remake,” which just seems like good job security to me. Although, White did pose an interesting final question to me. “When are they going to remake Final Fantasy 7 remake? If that’s an option, then I’m going to wait for that.”
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. Square-Enix still needs to finish this one first.
Looking for more PAX East coverage? We’ve got all our hands-on previews and features for you all nice and tidy in one place. Also, be sure to check out our most recent preview of Final Fantasy 7 Remake and take a look at every edition available for preorder.