Final Fantasy VII isn’t going anywhere. One year after its successful remake released, Square Enix is doubling down on the game. There’s a sequel, an expanded re-release, a battle royale game, and a definitive compilation in the works. That means we’ll be seeing much more Cloud over the next few years.
That’s great news for Cody Christian. The voice actor portrays Cloud in Final Fantasy VII Remake, perfectly straddling the line between badass and lovable doofus. The unabashedly delightful performance netted him a nomination for Best Performer in a Lead Role at this year’s BAFTAs. While Christian hasn’t gotten the call to reprise his role for the sequel or Intergrade yet, he says he’s ready for round two.
The funniest thing about Christian’s pitch-perfect performance is that the actor never actually played the original game.
“I was all of two years old when the original was released,” he tells Inverse. “I even played as Cloud in the most recent Super Smash Bros. for weeks to hear the variety of fight noises and understand a bit of the character’s movements and special abilities.”
The end result is a fresh take on Cloud that still feels entirely in line with over 20 years of history. Here’s what Cody Christian has to say about bringing one of gaming’s most iconic characters to life.
What's your history with the original Final Fantasy VII?
I had not played the original Final Fantasy VII prior to taking on this role as I was all of two years old when the original was released. However, my older brother is a longtime fan. When I first auditioned for the character, everything was pretty anonymous. When I discovered the magnitude of the character I’d be portraying, that’s when the real homework began.
Did you look through Cloud's other appearances in things like Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children to prepare for the role?
It was important to me to get as much information as possible in the “prep” phase to bring this character to life. I saw the opportunity to reinvent for a new generation’s first introduction to the character, but also kept in mind past depictions of the beloved character so many have grown with over the years.
Developing and fine-tuning the voice and the “Cloud range” was at the top of my list but before I even began, I wanted to become as well versed with the character’s life, relationships, and overall backstory to truly understand who this guy was from a human standpoint. I wanted to know his journey inside and out in order to depict the most natural sense of development throughout the game.
I started my prep with as much research and reading as I could from the abundance of resources online. I then watched a full playthrough of the original game on YouTube to see how the original story was told. From there, I watched Advent Children multiple times to study Burton’s depiction, which gave me an excellent understanding of Cloud’s tone, personality, and mannerisms.
I even played as Cloud in the most recent Super Smash Bros. for weeks to hear the variety of fight noises and understand a bit of the character's movements and special abilities, like the Limit Breaks.
How would you describe your version of Cloud?
He’s a delicately balanced mix of old and new. I have a lot of respect for Steve Burton and could never duplicate what he created. He really nailed who Cloud was. It was less recreating and more of a reimagining. I used him as a major source of inspiration.
One of my personal goals for Cloud in the remake was to humanize the character as much as possible and really tap into how both the past and the current events unfolding would affect his psyche. It was very beneficial that most of the recording for the game was done chronologically, as it aided in the organic development of the character’s mindset from the beginning to the end.
Cloud's both the coolest hero and kind of a lovable doofus. How do you balance those two aspects?
It’s funny — he can very easily go from this closed-off, “I’ll kick your ass and take no names!” hero to this soft, lovable, vulnerable guy. This dichotomy was very interesting to play and was always something we discussed in the process of recording. We didn’t want one overshadowing the other.
There were many meticulous decisions made by myself and the directors to pick and choose the moments in which side of Cloud was being shown, based on what was happening and who he was interacting with.
I was aided by my incredible castmates most of the time. John Bentley, Briana White, Britt Baron, Erica Lindbeck, Gideon Emery, Matt Jones, and Tyler Hoechlin all delivered in such a way that made it easy to play the reality of either the levity or the tension in whatever scene was at play.
Did Square Enix tell you about where Cloud’s story was headed and did that impact your performance?
I was only given information pertaining to Cloud for this part of the remake. I wasn’t given much outside of it to sway or impact my performance. Even throughout the game, since most of it was recorded chronologically, I would get chunks of story information, a chapter or two at a time so I never really had “what would happen” affect my “what was happening.”
Have you recorded any additional lines for Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade?
As of right now, I haven’t recorded any additional lines but I’m excited to get back in there and start playing as Cloud again.
FF7 Remake Part 2 is currently in development.