Fortnite's Massive Success Caught This Actor by Total Surprise
The world is still getting to know Adria Arjona, the 26-year-old actor who starred in NBC’s Emerald City, 2018’s Pacific Rim: Uprising, and will play a big role in Amazon’s upcoming supernatural fantasy-comedy, Good Omens. But millions of gamers around the world have definitely heard her, from her role as the player avatar “Ramirez” in Epic Games’ Fortnite.
At a roundtable interview to promote her latest film, Triple Frontier on Netflix, Arjona revealed to Inverse if she expected Fortnite to become the massive hit it’s become. Her answer: “Absolutely not.”
“It just felt like a fun project,” Arjona says. “The budget was low, the rooms weren’t that great. It felt like I was doing this independent video game.”
In Fortnite: Battle Royale, 100 players drop onto the game’s open world map from the sky. Upon landing, they must scour the environment for weapons and resources to survive as the last one standing. Developed and published by Epic Games, it is one of the most popular video games in the world, with 125 million registered players and about 78.3 million logging on every month.
To compare that to another gaming phenomenon, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft had an active player base of 12 million in its heyday.
Arjona’s character, “Ramirez,” is one of over a dozen playable characters among the game’s “Soldier” archetypes. While only loosely based on her appearance, Arjona provides her voice for the character, which players can hear when they’re not yelling into their own headset microphones.
The actor, who admits she’s not much of a gamer, says she was offered the role because the director of the game had watched Arjona in Emerald City. “I think the director had seen Emerald City and really liked my voice. Which is weird, I’ve never been that before.”
The offer to be in Fortnite came at a good time, as Arjona was in hiatus from her NBC show, which was eventually canceled. “I was in hiatus, and I’m a workaholic. I couldn’t imagine three weeks without working, so I thought, ‘How cool, i get to create a character.’ You don’t get to see my face but you get to hear my sound effects and stuff.
“We did it in about a month,” Arjona adds, “Really long sessions.”
Arjona’s description of a “scrambling” recording process echoes the game’s relatively humble beginnings.
Originating as an offshoot of another co-operative game now called Fortnite: Save the World (launched as a paid Early Access game in July 2017), the popularity of battle royale games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds encouraged Epic Games to retool their project. Fortnite: Battle Royale was released as a standalone game in September 2017. By January 2018, the game had a player base equal to Battlegrounds, and has only swelled ever since.
“To see the success its come with is amazing because the people who created it really care about this video game,” Arjona says. “So I’m really happy for them. I’m not huge into video games, I did do this for my six-year-old’s brother. He’s obsessed with it.”
Netflix’s Triple Frontier is streaming now.