Bonus Disc - By Insomniac By Choice
It's strange to think that only
ten short years ago the video game classic Super
Metroid was released for the Super Famicom. The masterpiece has become a
legend since then and now, thanks to Nintendo, it's being re-released as Super
Metroid: the 10th Anniversary Edition for the Gamecube and given
a second disc with extra material. We here at Samus.co.uk were lucky enough to
have to have the opportunity to participate in the Anniversary Edition,
and the interviews that were conducted can be seen on the bonus disc entitled Metroid:
With that said, we'd like to
give you a preview of sorts, though this is by no means inclusive of all of the
extra features and material that can be found on the second disc. As Metroid
fans we can say with a clear conscience that Metroid: Reflections is worth the sticker price of $39.99 on its own,
and getting a digitally re-mastered Gamecube version of Super Metroid along with it makes the package a steal.
My first trip was to Los Angeles to meet with Julia
Hawkins who has been playing the role of number one bounty hunter and galactic
savior Samus Aran since the original in 1986.
Samus.co.uk: Thank you for taking
the time away from your schedule to do an interview with us, Ms. Hawkins. I
really appreciate it. After all itís not every day a guy like me gets to talk
with a gaming icon of the caliber of Samus Aran.
Julia Hawkins: Well, I am contractually obligated.
SCU: Are you serious?
Hawkins: [Laughs] Yes,
actually, but believe me, it's no trouble at all. You're one of my favorite
fansites on the web and Iím just glad they picked someone else to do the
interview instead of the usual corporate stooge. Of course, Nintendo wouldn't
let me be interviewed by my favorite site, the Metroid Database at
classicgaming.com, but that's no surprise. After some of the MDB's watermarked
pictures were used without permission in a couple of Nintendo strategy guides
and the infamous Metroid II gold cartridge heistÖ Well, I guess my point
is it was foolish of me to get my hopes up in light of all that.
SCU: [Awkward silence]
Hawkins: That time I was
kidding, Mr. Mills. Sorry, you can thank some of your site admins for
suggesting the idea. I told them I wasn't going to go through with it but then
I just couldn't help myself. I do like the MDB but the place never updates
anymore, something I might say about a few other sites I frequent.
But I suppose we'd better get on with this interview before I run you off, eh?
SCU: Point taken about the updates
but I've been looking forward to this for a while now, so I don't know that
it's even possible for you to run me off. Anyway, looking back now, did you enjoy
working on Super Metroid?
Hawkins: Oh yes, it was definitely great, fun to just be a part of and help create. I mean, the cast was great and the timing
was perfect, but really it was the director that made it such a special project.
SCU: This interview isnít going so well. You beat me to my next question.
SCU: I was going to ask what you thought was the most important part of the game.
Hawkins: [Laughs] I apologize
then. For the second time, I see. Well, I suppose I should clarify my
statement. Yoshio [Sakamoto] was amazing but Gunpei [Yokoi] was involved quite a lot
as well. I guess I should say it was "the direction" that made it so special.
But donít get me wrong. To say that that was the only thing that made it great would
be a disservice to everyone else involved. The atmosphere, again the cast, and
of course the music, really all set the tone, but it was the direction that
pulled it all together, yet another case of the whole being greater than the
sum of its parts.
SCU: You mentioned the music. Do you have a favorite?
Hawkins: Not really. Mr.
[Kenji] Yamamoto and [Minako] Hamano are just geniuses when it comes to
composing and each song managed to have a distinctive feel for the area it was
intended. You have to remember, of course, that when we were shooting, I wasn't
actually listening to the music. When I saw the finished product later after it
came out and was all put together, that was the first time I heard any of it. I
liked it, but it's different when you're watching something that you were a
part of. The second Metroid project fell kind of flat as far as music was
concerned so this was more of the true spiritual sequel to Hip's [Hiro Tanaka]
work in the first. Not quite as simple, but certainly just as good, if not better.
SCU: You dodged that question like it was a fireball.
Hawkins: Well I suppose old
habits die hard. If you had to pin me down, I guess I'd have to say the music
that went with the Ruins of Norfair was my favorite just because of the sense
of power those pounding drums give. They're all great songs for capturing the
mood and the atmosphere, but in my opinion that one can stand on its own as the best.
SCU: Tell me about the other members of the cast.
Hawkins: Where to start? Where else but Ridley? Murray Scott's really just a magnificent actor, the consummate
professional. He can act any part required of him and itís sad that he's been typecast,
probably because of his great performance in Super Metroid. He always
had his lines down and was always on his marks so unfortunately it was almost
always my fault when we had to do a scene over again.
It's frightening how quickly he
can get into character, really. Sometimes we'd just be talking politics or how
Werthen was being an arrogant ass again, and Yoshio would yell "Action!" The
next thing I knew, Murray would be snarling at me and I'd nearly jump right out
of my suit. Then the scene would be over and he'd resume what he was talking
about, sometimes in mid-sentence. But he's really as gentle as can be. The only
time I ever saw him in real life act anything like what you see on-screen was
when we were all in a bar together following a long day of filming and he was
telling us a story about one of the projects he'd done early in his career.
Some drunk guy bumped into Murray and spilled his beer all over the two of
them. The guy tried to start a fight, and without even a change of expression
or pausing his story, Murray used his tail to toss the guy through a table,
then out the window.
SCU: But other than that he's harmless?
Hawkins: You say it
sarcastically but you missed my point. He's not harmless Ė physically he has
the capacity to be quite dangerous, but he's always gentle and tempered, like a
big scaly teddy bear, if a bit more reserved. He's also one of the most
intelligent actors Iíve ever had the privilege to work with. Murray knows the
business in and out and even though I know he longs for the days when he was
playing Othello and MacBeth on stage, Super Metroid just wouldn't have
been the same without him. Some people say he stole the scenes between the two
of us but between my under-acting and his natural talent, he carried them by
Ingo Kaizen Ė who played Torizo
- was almost the exact opposite. I don't mean anything against him as a person,
but he was really not what you look for in an actor. He was forgetful,
immature, and not committed to the role. It's really a credit to Yoshio that he
was able to get as good a performance out of Ingo as he did. I mean, Ingo's a
great guy, good natured, and fun to be around, just not work with, especially
on production schedules as strictly controlled as Nintendo's. We weren't
particularly close and I have no idea what happened to him after Super
Metroid, though I can't imagine that he went very far in the acting world.
If there's one good thing I can say about Ingo, it's that he suffered through
all that gold and silver paint without complaint. In most of the scenes we used
the prop but there were also a lot of shots with him just sitting there holding
something before he got up to move and that meant a lot of days covered in that
junk. We tried to shoot as many of his scenes as we could in one day, but there
were a lot of scenes and he caused more than his share of re-takes. His skin
was still tinted from the paint for a while after we wrapped production and he
was afraid heíd be stuck like that woman who played the witch in the Wizard
of Oz. If you're planning on interviewing him later, be sure to tell me if
he ever got it all off.
Werthen Abernathy played Kraid
and Werthen wasÖ well Werthen. I know you've probably heard some stories about
his erratic behavior and I'm here to tell you they was all true, plus some. He
was rather standoffish, malcontent, and a general pain in the ass, pardon the
expression. We'd be ready to shoot, and he'd still be in his trailer eating or
in make-up. I remember one day, it took three hours of coaxing just to get him
to do a simple roar. He kept demanding script changes and questioning his
"motivation." "Why am I roaring," he'd ask, "Am I frustrated with the world or
with myself." I still haven't figured out how he managed to get his picture on
the box art considering how small his part was. Either I underestimated the
star power he brought with him at the time or his agent really knows how to
negotiate a contract.
Of course once he actually gets
in there and starts into his role there's no denying his ability, but
he really put on some weight between the first and third projects. Some of the
staff was really upset, but Yoshio took it in stride and made it fit almost as
if it was planned. Werthen is just a really powerful actor but there was no
sense of camaraderie with him. Personally, I think his early success and
acclamations gave him too big of a head and he ate until the rest of him
SCU: What about Spore Spawn?
Hawkins: That was just a set piece.
Hawkins: Perhaps that will teach
you to do your research. [Chuckles] I guess that's a credit to the designers
that you couldn't tell him apart from the rest, but Spore Spawn was actually
SCU: And Botwoon?
Hawkins: Claymation. They added me in later.
Hawkins: I know. Anyway, Gunpei
called in a favor and managed to get Aster Schrangeneffnar to do a cameo as
Crocomire. They thought he'd be great because of his long history and
experience in the action genre, but he was a real jerk. Werthen was a jerk,
too, there's no denying that, but he kept to himself. Aster was a pig. He tried
to grope me on the set once, but I took care of the problem and he had trouble
walking for the next few days. The situation didn't repeat itself Ė with me at
least. But other women weren't so lucky. You would have thought he could have
just kept to his own species, but not even the extras were safe. I'm not
certain that you could tell, but when you saw me blasting away at him on
screen, I was wishing we were using real lasers and not blanks.
In a totally different vein, the
people who played Metroids were all fabulous at their jobs. They were beyond
professional. I mean they became their characters. I don't think I've ever seen
a finer troupe of method actors, and I doubt I ever will. Murray was always
just acting as Ridley. He's so talented that you almost think he's become his
role, but really he's just playing the part and always his same charming self
underneath. The Metroids lost themselves for days at a time, and even though
most of their time on-screen was short, I think we can all agree that each
moment they were there was filled with something special. The kind of thing
that makes you tingle just to watch. I really admire them for their dedication.
Personally, I never had a chance
to meet with them outside of the shooting but from what I hear, once they can
separate themselves from their characters, they're all quite pleasant guys. I'd
love to meet with them again and get to see them in a place where they weren't
swarming me for my life-energy and fluids. [Chuckles]
Lisa Mewes, who played Mother
Brain, and I were never very close, but I definitely respect her for all of the
time she had to spend getting to look her part. Make-up alone took several hours,
you know. She really carried our scene together and I felt like I was just
along for the ride. She's really quite pretty when she's just herself, but the
designers just made her look hideous for the part. It was necessary, but sadly
it's the role she's most identified with and how people will likely remember
her. I'd recommend checking out some of her earlier works with the smaller
studios or independents if you want to see some more phenomenal acting from
someone who really deserves to be a star.
Phantoon, played by Inrielan
Drung, was a real cut-up, on-set and off. You were never safe from one of his
practical jokes. I won't get into any here, for the protection of my own
reputation as well as others, but he got us all pretty good, and I'll just leave
it at that. If you can track Inrie down, Iím sure he'd be more than happy to
tell you about every detail of every joke heís ever pulled. Somehow he blessed
with a flawless memory about such things. His lines on the other handÖ
I won't slander Inrie while he's
not here to defend himself. He was a great guy and when it counted, he
delivered. I think he went into stand-up after Super Metroid, which he'd
probably be good at because he enjoys humor more than acting. He always said
that no matter what he did, it couldn't be as bad as his first job.
SCU: What job was that?
Hawkins: Kindergarten teacher.
Yes, I'm serious and apparently he was too. He had pictures. His stint didn't
last a month, but he had fun doing it, at least when his students weren't
screaming and running around the classroom afraid for their lives. It could
have been worse, he was almost a clown for disabled children. A great guy, but
really a face only a mother could love, and only then if she was Hellen Keller.
I've forgotten to mention the
extras up till now, and I apologize. As great as all of the main characters
were, Super Metroid couldn't have been done without the dozens of
dedicated professionals who made up the bulk of the film. Besides all of the
work done behind the camera, it was these guys that were the lifeblood of the
film. Most were friendly and well tempered fellows, and only the Kihunters ever
caused a problem on set. But they're not really to blame. I mean it's not their
fault that their digestive tract is a completely involuntary system. I feel
sorry for their janitor Juanita, though. I mean thatís above and beyond the
call of duty. Ugh.
Oh, and lastly, I'd just like to
make sure to mention that the actors who played the Zebesians are very classy
ladies, but when they start drinking they can get crazy.
Good girls, good actors, but bad, bad drinkers. Of course they only time they
ever got drunk was after shooting wrapped and Inrie, Murray, and myself took
everyone out to celebrate. As much as they were drinking, for a while there I
thought they were going to use up all my paycheck that night.
SCU: I've noticed that you missed a couple of characters. Mainly Draygon and the
Etecoons. I'm sure it was just a simple mistake. Would you care to comment on them?
Hawkins: Actually, no, it wasn't
a mistake but since youíve brought them up I suppose I'll say a word or two
about them. I enjoyed everyone on the set that did their job when it counted.
Even Werthen, for all of his failings, cared about the finished product and his
part in creating such a thing. As much as I didn't like him, I respected him as
an actor. Ingo had no talent and no business being in acting, but he always
gave his best and wanted the final product to turn out all right.
Rogra Url [Draygon] is probably
the one of the greatest pure, undeveloped talents I've seen in the acting
business. That's no exaggeration by any means. He had a bright, bright future
ahead of him, if onlyÖ Well, if only he'd done things differently. That said,
he hurt the project more than any other single person. He had problems,
personal problems, that he should have dealt with before he ever accepted the
role but instead he brought all of his baggage with him.
I understand some people have
substance addictions, but Rogra's went way beyond a normal addiction. He'd
stumble onto the lot a few hours late, strung out on any number of drugs, or
with a hangover. A couple of times he brought on some two-dollar floozies, but
Yoshio put a stop to that. He couldn't manage to get Rogra to stop using, and
if you look you can even see how bloodshot his eyes were on one of his good
days. In the end, [Yoshio] ended up cutting [Rogra's] part down by having him
get electrocuted and animating in the effects. It's sad really, thinking about
the potential performance he could have given and how much he could have
complemented the final product, if only he'd had a little more dedication to the craft.
The Etecoons were just pests.
I've never believed in child actors unless they're actually necessary, and in
my opinion they really weren't. Their scene took forever to film because of
their inability to do the simplest maneuver correctly and they were on the set
all of the time, being headaches. Inrie pulled a joke a time or two, but he
knew the time and place for them, and he knew the difference between something
good-natured and something cruel. The kids didn't. Rogra almost killed them
once, which was finally what got him kicked off the project for good. We'd shot
his part by then, luckily, but the ironic thing is that it wasn't really his
fault that time. The father threatened to sue, but after what those kids did,
I'm pretty sure they couldn't have won, and I'll leave it at that. That was
another problem. Their father kept trying to assert creative control and expand
their parts, which of course wasn't going to happen. Ever.
Ultimately I don't think they added anything and if they did it wasn't worth the pain they caused on the set.
But I've really said too much already. The past's the past.
SCU: Any words about the Dachora?
Hawkins: What's to say? She was great for a trained pet, but beyond that I can't really comment.
SCU: Hmm. Looking back ten years later, what do you think is Super Metroid's legacy?
Hawkins: Obviously it was a
great game in it's own right. It's been given award after award after award,
and deservedly so. But more than that, it completed a trilogy of solid games
and surpassed the first two in the process. It took the series to the next
level in a lot of people's opinions, including my own. It has continued to
generate interest and I think it's fair to say that Super Metroid is
solely responsible for the recent explosion of Metroid games that have come
out. Without it, I imagine Metroid would be thought of in the same class
of gaming as Kid Icarus, rather than the Mario Bros. and the Legend
SCU: If I'm not mistaken, you were able to work with some of the characters from both of
those series recently in Super Smash Bros. and in the sequel Super
Smash Bros. Melee. Could you tell us about that?
Hawkins: Well actually I first
met them on the set of Tetris way back in 1992 when we appeared for the ending
sequence. Just a one-day shoot, nothing major. Allen Flemming, who played Pit,
was also there, though without any new exposure I'm afraid he's more or less
fallen off of the radar since, which isn't really a shame. He wasn't that nice
a fellow. Now he's just another former child actor, probably out giving two
dollar blowjobs to support his heroin habit. Antonio [Mario] and Eric [Link]
are also really nothing like their characters. I don't mean that in a good way
either. I've met them from time to time since then and they haven't really
improved, in my opinion. Cho Watanabe [Bowser] is a hoot though, so he made the
Tetris experience bearable and discovering that he'd signed on for the project
really helped my decision to come back for the second Smash Brothers,
after the nightmare that the original was. The rat that plays Pikachu has only
been trained to say one name, and he says it all of the time. Can you imagine
how annoying that is on its own? Now add a couple of foul mouthed wops, a pink
fluff-ball addicted to bondage pornography, and seven other similar freaks who
all think they're Godís gift to video gaming, and you have a nightmare. I respect
Nintendo for all of their work and dedication, but they made a mistake thinking
they could fit that many bizarre characters and absurd egos together without
problems. Hellish problems.
But I suppose Gunpei spoiled me
early on by making me think that every game would be as good as the projects he
was in charge of. [Pauses] I miss him now not only as a producer, but as a
person as well. He was a good man. It was a shame that he was taken from us in
'97, but he died trying to help someone, and I suppose that's the noblest way a
person can go, if he has to. Mr. Yokoi left a hole that will never be filled by
anyone, as far as I'm concerned.
I've heard that the re-release will be dedicated to his memory, in part. After the way Nintendo treated him
following the release of the Virtual Boy, it's the least they could do.
SCU: Yes, I agree.
Hawkins: Okay, I've derailed this enough. We'll be lucky if it makes the cut at all. Go on, then.
SCU: How do you feel about your own career, in the ten years since you first became a star of this caliber?
Hawkins: Well my work outside
the series has been restricted mainly to cameos or playing the character people
have become familiar with, though I have done some non-union work under an
assumed name. It's mainly independent stuff, not blockbusters or chart-toppers,
but pet projects that are aesthetically pleasing to me. I won't reveal any of
them here, but thanks to my relatively unknown face, with some dye or a wig and
make-up, I'm unrecognizable when I want to be. That's also been nice, being
able to take off the suit and walk around without getting mobbed.
SCU: I imagine so. Well, there are probably a hundred other things I could ask you, but I understand that you have
other things to do, so I'll go ahead and let you go.
Hawkins: It was a pleasure. I'd love to give you a chance to ask at least a few of those hundred things
sometime in the future.
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