With Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath for the PC hitting stores today we caught up with fan favourite Joe Kucan to get an insight into the life of the man behind Kane. Kucan has played the series' villain since the first game set the RTS gaming world on fire back in 1995 and has become synonymous with the Command & Conquer series, but what does he think of the games and does he play on the Wii?
VideoGamer.com: Just for newcomers, could you explain a little about your character in the Command & Conquer series?
Joe Kucan: I play a character called Kane, who is the leader of a fanatical faction, what you would call the bad guys in the world of Command & Conquer. I don't talk much about Kane's history or background because I like to leave those sorts of decisions up to the player. I've sort of found that players like to create their own back-story for some of these things and for some of these games, so I tend to not be very specific about where he was from, how old he is, whether or not he is immortal... some of the questions which arise from the game. I enjoy the fact that there's a certain mystery behind those things. I think one of the fun elements of this new genre of storytelling, which is really what a computer is, just a different way to tell an involved story, is the questions that are left unanswered and left to the player's imagination. Each gamer's experience is different and unique because he's created so much back story in his own brain.
VideoGamer.com: Do you play the Command & Conquer games and do you have a favourite?
JK: The truth of it is that I don't play any of the games that frequently. On the project I look at the missions that they've got going, just to familiarise myself with the dramatic drive of them. To be quite honest I'm not much of a gamer. I live in the southwest of the United States and spend a lot of time with outdoor pursuits. I do a lot of kayaking and I'm a paraglider pilot... I do a lot of hiking and camping. Once in a while I'll stick on a computer game, but to tell you the truth I don't spend a lot of time playing games. I hate to admit that. The truth is I'm too old, slow and dumb to play these games. I think you really need to be a young, quick, smarter guy. I've watched these guys play and they're not to be believed. The way they move their mouse, it's amazing. I could not possibly compete with players of that calibre.
VideoGamer.com: You say you're not much of a gamer, but have you dabbled with any of the consoles? The Wii for example?
JK: To tell you the truth, I have looked at the Wii. As a social platform I really enjoyed it. Some friends and I sat and played tennis for literally six hours - I couldn't move the next day I was so sore. It was stupid but fun, and I really like the social aspect of that platform. My brother has an Xbox which I've looked at. To tell you the truth I was bored of Halo in the first 15 minutes. That was about it for me. What I think the real future of gaming can be, I really like the social aspect of the Wii. What I would like to think gaming to be is a bunch of friends getting together, playing tennis or bowling in the living room. I think that's great.
VideoGamer.com: If there was ever a Command & Conquer movie, would you want to play Kane?
JK: Are you kidding, I'd love to play the role. Well, let me take the standard Hollywood reply here, I'd have to see the script first, to make sure it's high enough quality. No, are you kidding me, I'd love to do it. There hasn't really been talk of a Command & Conquer movie since the very first Command & Conquer game, but to tell you the truth it would surprise me no end to find out such a thing is going forward. With that said, I'd be honoured and flattered to be involved in that project.
VideoGamer.com: Any current Hollywood celebs who you'd like to see play the role of Kane?
JK: Yeah, well, I think Tom Hanks has shown an interest, and Pauly Shore is a big favourite of mine - I liked him a lot. And now that Dane Cook (Good Luck Chuck) is doing some great acting work, I'd love to see him get involved. You know, quality actors (laughs). In so many ways I feel such a personal attachment to the character that when you ask that question it's very much like "Who would you like to see play you?" and that's a tough question.
VideoGamer.com: Do you see yourself coming back to the role of Kane over and over again, in years to come, or is there a point where you're going to give up Command & Conquer completely?
JK: I'll come back as long as they'll have me. It's tough because of my yo-yo diet. I weigh about 350 lbs right now, and for the next game, the Command & Conquer 4 game, should that ever come to fruition, I'm going to have to drop a couple of hundred. As far as my health goes it's kind of tough, but as long as they'll have me back I'll keep coming back.
VideoGamer.com: Something we've been dying to know is whether you're actually bald or if you just play a bald man in the game?
JK: Oh no, I actually have long curly blonde hair that cascades down my shoulders to mid-back level, so each time we do a game I have to chop it all off and shave it down. It's actually genuinely pretty traumatic. It's tough actually. It has a really good thick quality. It's my Greek heritage. My father has hair like you wouldn't believe. It's like a 35-year-old woman. It's what I've been blessed with - that and a remarkable body (laughs).
VideoGamer.com: Are you concerned that you're being typecast as a bald villain?
JK: Typecast into a very lucrative position as an icon within the gaming world. How could that possibly bother anybody? No, it doesn't bother me at all. It's actually quite flattering to think that there's a role for me in the world out there. Look at me. Am I going to play the head of the school choir? Am I going to be the first guy you think of when casting for that pre-school teacher? No, I don't think so. I'm a scary bald guy and I'll get the scary bald guy roles.
VideoGamer.com: Do you ever get recognised while out and about?
JK: It's funny I do. I get a lot of "Hey, you look like somebody, you look like that, erm, oh, you wouldn't know who he was, he's a video game character". I get a lot of people telling me that I wouldn't know who it was who I look like, because even after recognising me they understand the limited nature of my fame. I think that's kind of funny (laughs).
"You look like... oh you wouldn't know who he is, never mind." I get that a lot. I don't live in Hollywood, I live in Las Vegas, Nevada, and I don't think a lot of people expect to run into Joe Kucan the actor in Las Vegas. I think I catch people by surprise from time to time. I was once walking through JFK Airport, just walking along, and there was this guy walking in front of me. I'm looking at his T-Shirt and, I'll be damned, he's got my face on the back. It was kind of funny to be faced with your image.
VideoGamer.com For your fans who are anticipating Kane's Wrath, which is out today in the UK, why should they all be playing it this weekend?
JK: They absolutely should be looking forward to playing it. The gameplay itself looks like so much fun. From what I've played and what I can understand of it, the new units are very powerful and exciting. Also, it answers some of the questions that were created 12-15 years ago when we first started the storyline. The storyline in this expansion pack spans 20 years, from the end of the original Command & Conquer through Tiberian Sun. They've done a really interesting job of cramming a lot of story into over an hour of video.
VideoGamer.com: Thanks for you time Joe.
JK: Thanks very much.