Elias Toufexis is a seasoned actor and performer who first broke into the video game industry as a voice actor in 2008 when he was cast as Gabriel Nowak in Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2.
For over a decade, Toufexis’ voice could be heard in many critically acclaimed franchises. He’s been cast in numerous Assassin’s Creed titles, dating back to Assassin’s Creed 2 and recently in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. He’s also worked in Fallout 4, Lego DC Super-Villains, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. To many fans, his most notable role in gaming is Adam Jensen in Deus Ex. With a presence in the industry that can’t be understated, Toufexis is prominently featured in Ubisoft Quebec’s latest title Immortal Fenyx Rising as Prometheus.
We had the chance to catch up with Elias Toufexis to talk about his beginnings in the industry, and the hurdles he’s experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We also touch on his experiences working with Ubisoft Quebec on the lighthearted and colourful Immortals Fenyx Rising.
Steve: For over a decade and a half, you’ve been a prominent actor, voice actor, producer, writer; the list goes on. What were those early days like for you as you began searching for those first few roles in the gaming industry?
Elias: I’ve always loved video games but I kinda stumbled into it, in the sense that when I was coming of age as an actor is when games started hiring a lot of actors. I was doing a lot of TV and a couple of movies, and it was right then when Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 was coming out.
I was in Vancouver and I was sending MP3s and emails to Montreal with characters as auditions. I started booking roles. Then I started building relationships with studios like Ubisoft, Eidos Montreal, and relationships down here like Bethesda. You end up working with the same people, especially in games. People leave companies and go to other companies. They remember you. I’m working with WB and people who worked on Deus Ex.
I was one of the first in Canada that were auditioning for video game roles. I don’t think a lot of people knew that this was a possibility. When Deus Ex became so popular, I ran with it. I started a Twitter account. I wanted people to know who played that character so I could get more recognition in the industry.
Steve: Has COVID and the pandemic affected your opportunity to work?
Elias: I haven’t done an on-camera gig in a year. But I’ve kept working on games and animation. My old little studio was just a closet I used for auditions. When I realized I wasn’t able to leave and have to be able to work from here, I spent some money and built an actual booth. We got the right equipment and paid extra for really fast internet. It’s a weird time.
Steve: More recently, you played Prometheus in Immortals Fenyx Rising. A lot of the dialogue of the game centers around the banter between you and Daniel Matmor, who plays Zeus. Being a more lighthearted, comedic game, what was that experience like? Were you able to improvise any aspect of the character?
Elias: If I felt something worked better or had an idea, Ubisoft would work with it. But we didn’t improvise the take. We could improvise when we were running what we’d do and decide if that was better here or there. None of that back-and-forth is improvised.
Also, I didn’t work with Daniel all that much. Prometheus is more of a straight man and would react to Zeus’ lines. More often than not, Ubisoft would record Daniel first and I would be able to hear it and bounce off of that. Occasionally, we got to work together.
Steve: Segueing off that, I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the wholesome video you shared on Twitter, where you broke out the Prometheus voice to poke fun at your son as he’s playing Immortals.
Steve: Is that a common experience, your family consuming content you were a part of? And in this case, what is your son’s reaction as he’s exploring the game with accompanying commentary from a character voiced by you?
Elias: Oh yeah! I won’t show him things like––actually that’s not true, he’s eight––but we’ll play Assassin’s Creed. You can turn blood off and stuff like that but you’re still stabbing people in the face. Even Blood of Zeus, the Netflix animated show, is really violent, but I wanted him to see it and he loves it. But I skipped over the parts that were exceptionally violent.
The great thing about Immortals and what not many people are talking about is that it’s the perfect father-son, mother-daughter, parent-kid game. The parents love it because it’s fun to play and there are those innuendos that kids won’t get. But my son will play it and play it with me. He’s really excited that there’s a Blood of Zeus crossover. If he can’t pass something, he’ll hand the controller off to me. How often do you get to voice your own character when you’re playing a game or watching something?
Steve: Given your Greek heritage, has it been a rewarding experience working on a sizable handful of properties revolving around Greek mythology?
Elias: When I auditioned for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Ubisoft didn’t tell me it was Assassin’s Creed. They gave me lines from Lord of the Rings and Godfather and said give these big speeches like Aragorn’s speech with a Greek accent. I kind of figured it out and put it together that it was Assassin’s Creed.
I think I was auditioning for Alexios, but they cast Michael Antonakos. I eventually got cast to voice Leonidas and Nikolaos. I was really excited and did an impression of my grandfather for the role.
When that just came out, I saw the audition for Blood of Zeus. I emailed my agent and was able to go in and book that role. As I was doing that, Ubisoft called me for Prometheus. I didn’t audition for that role as it was the same team that worked on Odyssey.
That was back in 2019 when it was called Gods and Monsters. It changed a lot. When I was doing it, there was another actor playing Zeus and it was more serious. It was funny and more family-friendly, but it wasn’t a straight-up comedy like it turned into. Luckily, I kept playing Prometheus.
Steve: One of your more renowned roles in games is arguably Deus Ex’s Adam Jensen. Given this recent resurgence of interest in the cyberpunk genre, are you hopeful we’ll see that character return? Or are you at peace with how Mankind Divided concluded?
Elias: I don’t know about arguably! (laughs) I’m definitely not at peace with how it concluded. [Eidos Montreal] made half a story with the intention of finishing the story. I don’t know the reasons behind it, but it’s been on indefinite hold.
There’s nothing that I get more than “When’s the next Adam Jensen story?” Literally every day. Once someone realizes I’m on social media, the first thing I get after “Did you ask for this?” is “Are we getting another Deus Ex game?” I really don’t know. I hope so. I would jump at the chance to. I love that character and that game. Cyberpunk is really popular again, but for some reason we’re on this indefinite hold and I hope they lift it and we get to finish the story. For the fans. When the game ended, the game said “more is coming.” But it hasn’t.
Steve: We’ve touched on Immortals and Blood of Zeus. Are there any other projects you’re able to talk about that readers can look forward to if they want to follow your work?
Elias: I can say I have three games coming out. One is a giant game. A massive, massive game where I play a massive part of it. But I can’t say what it is. There are a couple of others that are pretty big.
I can say that Blood of Zeus got picked up, so I get to do more of that. Animation is weird, where I can record next week for all I know and it doesn’t release for two years. I have no idea. TV has slowed down dramatically. Hopefully, it picks up again.
We would like to thank Elias Toufexis for taking the time to chat with us!