Resident Evil is more than just games these days, so with the release of the anime film Resident Evil: Death Island just a few weeks away, we caught up with a voice actor who spans both mediums. Stephanie Panisello provides the voice of Claire Redfield in both Resident Evil 2 and the animated films Resident Evil Infinite Darkness and its sequel Death Island.
We chatted with Stephanie about what it’s like playing the same character in different pieces of media at different stages of their lives, her other video game credits, and where Resident Evil Code: That Veronica X remake.
Push Square: Since 2019’s Resident Evil 2 was the first time you played Claire Redfield, were you already familiar with the character or was that project your first exposure to the series?
Stephanie Panisello: I’m familiar with the game and Claire’s character because I played part of the original Resident Evil 2 when I was a kid at a neighbor’s house. I remember thinking how nice it was to see a female lead in this era where it was so rare.
Did you go back to the original PS1 game to get ideas for the story and Claire’s character?
Capcom and the director asked me to make him my own. So I chose to keep the essence of Claire and then added some extra layers that we didn’t see from the original. I’m happy to say he’s still a fan favorite, cussing and all — haha.
What are some of your favorite lines or moments in the game involving Claire?
I loved the parking garage scene with Chief Irons. I’m glad I was given the opportunity to help choreograph it and improvise a bit. That infamous last line “I’LL GET YOU, YOU F…” well you get the idea — just felt natural. Haha. So thanks to Capcom producer Mr. H for trusting me and performance capture director Tom Keegan and writer Brent Friedman for letting me play. Another favorite scene is with Eliza Pryor playing Sherry, the part where Annette Birkin leaves her in the trash compactor is a very emotional scene, and carrying her in my arms while avoiding the face cams is an art in itself. I’m happy to say one of my favorite lines and the simple reason why Claire does everything she does “Because I Care”, happened that day.
You always choose him over Leon as your first playthrough, right?!
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I chose to play Claire first — haha, to be honest, I’ve played it a few times and I don’t know if I played Leon first… might have to give it a try.
Now, where is the Resident Evil Code: Veronica X remake? Claire deserves that leading role herself now!
The age old question. I get asked this a lot. Sadly, it’s not up to me. I agree that this is a game that could use a lot of love. I would be honored if Capcom chose to remake it and cast me again. However, this is ultimately Capcom’s decision and I respect where remakes have taken the franchise, so we didn’t get this one.
How does Claire play in the games compared to her character in the animated movies? Did you get any differences in his character between the two mediums?
Claire in Resident Evil 2 is different Resident Evil Infinite Darkness and Death Island in the way he deals with issues. He’s more confident in his choices and who he trusts once we leave Raccoon City. In the game we get to know his origin story, we get to know him and what he fears. Every good heroine has their character arc and I kept that in mind when portraying her in the franchise. I try to keep all the parts that make him who he is and allow him to grow in his beliefs. He has some strong morals. I can’t wait for everyone to see where we’ve taken Claire Death Island.
What is it about playing Claire that you enjoy the most? Do you see yourself in his character and personality?
I love that Claire cares about people. He’s also a total badass and extremely resilient. I see some parts of him in my personality. I connect with her straightforward approach. What you see is what you get from him; I relate to that. He’s also funny and I like to think that I am.
Outside of Resident Evil, what are some of your favorite game projects to work on? We couldn’t help but notice that you were credited in The Evil Within 2 — a classic!
I love working on Genshin Impact as Adeptus god: Cloud Retainer. I like to think of her as Moira Rose (Schitt’s Creek) of Genshin. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and yet he still gets hung up on the little things in his over-the-top way. I also enjoyed playing Fearie in Trials of Mana and Vora in Paladins. All very different characters with different goals. That’s what I love about being an actor, whether I’m a hero or a villain I enjoy knowing what makes them tick. And good find, I did the facial capture for Esmeralda Torres towards the beginning of my career. Can’t forget Tomb Raider, Star Wars, and Military equipment… truly blessed to be a part of so many great game franchises!
Have you been able to keep up with the latest updates on Genshin Impact? Have you given Honkai: Star Rail a chance and could it become another obsession?
I wish I could say I had a chance but I only have enough time to play while I’m streaming on Twitch these days. I know it’s a huge and beautiful game with a loyal following. Maybe one day I’ll get a chance to play.
How are you finding the Resident Evil 4 remake so far?
I LOVE Resident Evil 4. They did a great job on the game and my friend Nick Apostolides who plays Leon crushed it! Very happy with it and excited to continue playing.
Are you into any other horror games outside of the Resident Evil series? What are your favorites?
I’m a big fan of The Last of Us and Limbo. Crazy to say but I still have Five Nights at Freddy’s and Silent Hill on my list. Tried to finish Alien Isolation but it kicked my ass, touchy subject — haha.
Can you say your motto and Twitch name “Because I Claire” outside of the Claire Redfield link? How are you using it to spread empowerment online?
I love puns and especially deep ones. When the pandemic happened, my name on Twitch really took on a new meaning. I don’t believe we need big elaborate reasons to help each other. I don’t think we need to define our purpose as something grand. It’s simple, I care so I do it. I use my voice and platforms to create a welcoming environment for everyone. It’s a place where you can laugh, sit, get inspired, and know you’re safe.
I spread empowerment by being an example, by being kind, and being “real” to people. I’m not sugarcoating it. I keep it honest. I also enjoy learning about people, what they like, and where their strengths lie. Then I use that to engage them with “real talk”. No matter where someone is on their journey, I encourage them to first accept themselves fully, find out what makes their soul sing, and then root for them! I definitely have some exciting empowerment opportunities coming up, everyone is welcome to follow me on Instagram and Twitch for updates.
We would like to thank Stephanie Panisello for taking the time to answer our questions, and Grace Topalian for making the interview possible. You can follow Stephanie’s work across Instagram and Twitch.
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