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Jessica Erin Martin (born October 29, 1986) is an American actress and film producer born in Seattle. She provided the English voice of Samus Aran in Metroid: Other M, which was her first starring role in a video game, and work in any games in general. (This was also the case with Samus's Japanese actress, Ai Kobayashi). She later voiced Natalie Bright and Violet in ReCore. Martin has appeared in the television series Grimm, Criminal Minds, Z Nation and NCIS: Los Angeles, as well as multiple short films and stage productions.

Biography[edit | edit source]

In kindergarten, Jessica Martin was enrolled in an after school drama class by her mother, where scenes from Little Red Riding Hood were improvised. This is where she fell in love with acting, but did not pursue it until high school. She had considered going into science before that. She successfully auditioned for a play, then studied at university, starting her career there.[1]

Martin has since branched into producing, starting with a short film called For Patrick. She has also narrated two audiobooks, and practices archery.

Metroid: Other M[edit | edit source]

Samus, as she appears in Other M.

Samus in Metroid: Other M was Martin's first role outside of university. She was asked to audition for the role of Samus, recording two scenes at her agent's office. Her agent called to tell her she got the part when she was in her Seattle apartment during a snowstorm. Shortly after that, Martin went in for her first session.[1]

Her knowledge and experience of the Metroid series was limited to non-existent before taking the role of Samus. She considered this an asset, as it allowed her to approach the character without any preconceived notions about who she was. Martin was not allowed to play any video games at home, save for educational titles like Carmen Sandiego and Reader Rabbit, but she knew who Mario and Luigi were. Martin said that she feels like she and Samus "got to discover each other together" when she recorded her lines, and an unspecified traumatic event she experienced prior to recording helped her identify with the character.[1]

She was not given the game's story before she began recording. Recording her lines took almost two years, beginning in January 2009. Sessions would take place a few days at a time, with breaks in between, and for a few hours a day. This was to ease the strain on Martin's voice when recording what she calls "effort sounds" (grunts of pain, breathing, screams and yells), usually at the end of a week. Snacks and water bottles were provided. Lines were often recorded for the scene that was to be animated next. Martin was particularly proud of her "lava death scream".[1]

Her role as Samus received criticism due to her tendency to have Samus deliver her monologues and dialogues in a monotone voice. This had been the result of Yoshio Sakamoto ordering her to deliver them in that manner in order to match Ai Kobayashi's delivery of the Japanese voice track. Responding to this criticism, Martin stood by her performance and the game.[1]

Martin also recorded voiceover for the live-action commercial for the game. Her parents walked by a game store in a Boston shopping mall one day and heard her voice in the commercial, playing on a screen in the store. They excitedly ran up to the store clerk and exclaimed "That's our daughter!" in the commercial.[1] Her parents also bought a copy of Other M and a Wii.

Collaborations with Shinesparkers[edit | edit source]

Martin has affiliated herself with fansite Shinesparkers on at least four occasions: for January 2011, she sent them a video consisting of her playing a guitar and singing with an onscreen message thanking the Metroid community.[1] In June 2011, she donated a personalized autograph from herself as the grand prize of a joint haiku contest between Shinesparkers and another fansite, Metroid Headquarters. In August 2011, she and other members of the Metroid community appeared in a Shinesparkers-created 25th anniversary video. [2] She also appeared in their video for the 30th anniversary in 2016.

She later gave an interview to Shinesparkers in an episode of their podcast, which was released on August 7, 2020. She appeared to sign off the podcast by saying "See you next mission" (the site's ending phrase, and a message in the endings of Metroid games) in Samus's voice. It can be listened to here: [3]

Interviews[edit | edit source]

Nate Bihldorf interview[edit | edit source]

Bitmob: Was it difficult figuring out who should voice Samus?

Nate Bihldorf: It was tough, certainly...but no tougher than with any of our other properties. We went through the same casting procedures like we usually do. We had a ton of auditions....

Martin recording her lines.

Bitmob: I mean, is there more pressure on you guys because this is a traditionally mute character?

NB: I think so. The beauty of it is, we listened to the auditions then sent them over to Sakamoto-san, who's "daddy" [laughs]. He's the father of the character. We let him listen to the voices and let him sync it up with what whatever voice he was hearing in his head for Samus.

Bitmob: Does he hear the original Samus in English in his head, then?

NB: For him it's more about the timbre in the voice and the way it sounds. Of course, we can say, "OK, this inflection sounds great" -- stuff that's more particular to the English voice that he may not pick up on. But what he's really listening for is something else. It's the quality of the voice...the method of delivery that matches what he hears when he's in Samus' head.

Page from a photo book made by Martin for the 10th anniversary of her acting career.

Having him run that process lets us sleep easy at night. We want to bring his vision to life, you know? Localizing the game is all about that -- all about bringing their vision over here and making sure it's true to how he sees it. Hopefully we've accomplished that.

Bitmob: Who is the voice actress? Someone we should know?

NB: I don't think she's worked in video games before. Her name is Jessica Martin. She's done a lot of dramatic work...a lot of stage work. She's a local actress up in Seattle. She did an amazing job and was great in the studio.

After the game launches, we may make her available to you [media], but I don't think we're allowing any contact before that, just because we don't want her dropping plot points....

Bitmob: Yeah, sometimes those actors don't know what they can or can't say, which is good for us.

NB: [Laughs] Yeah, we talked to her about it, but obviously, we don't want her to give up any choice bits of info about any lines that she's recorded.

But she was amazing. It's been a very long recording project -- we've been doing this for over a year. I mean, in bits and pieces -- I don't mean recording for a year straight. That'd be the longest game of all time. [Laughs]

Like I said, she didn't have any video game experience, so it wasn't like she was coming in, hanging her coat up on a hook, and banging out the lines. It was something new for her, and she was great.

GameTrailers[edit | edit source]

Martin being interviewed by GameTrailers.

Do you play a lot of video games?
"We did have an NES and a Super Nintendo at my grandma's house. When my parents heard that I was doing this game, the first thing they did was buy a Wii, so I got really good at Duck Hunt.
Did you feel any pressure in being the first true voice of Samus Aran?
"I'm actually really glad that I had no previous contact with Metroid, because this way I was a clean slate. I got to come in and just tell the story that Sakamoto-san wanted to tell and just have the words in front of me without any preconceptions or notions about who Samus was or who I thought she was, and I would definitely have been intimidated."
Samus the warrior vs. Samus the narrator
"There's definitely the inner monologue voice, which is detached and I've heard it described as emotionless.
[In-game line] "It was the first joint mission I'd been a part of since becoming a freelance bounty hunter, and of course it was the first time since my Federation days that I was following the orders of a commanding officer."
"It was definitely, you know, planned on sounding like that, and she's just looking back at past events and so she is very much detached and you know, there is a little bit of remorse in some things, and then there's her kind of real-time action voice where she's very much engaged and things are very much more urgent for her."
[In-game lines]:"Adam, I can reach him! Give me the order, please!"
"Lock and secure the shilling doors now."
"Adam, wait! There's still time, I can make it! Please, let me go! I mean, that's Ian! That's your little brother out there!"
How does stage acting differ from voice-over work?
"I'm very thankful for my experience on stage because even though acting is acting whatever medium you're working in, the technical points and technical aspects of the different mediums are very different and have their own demands. So those those skills from the theater [theater pronounced in a British accent] were very, very useful."
Is narration in games and theater similar in any way?
"Yes, yes, her soliloquies are very kind of Hamlet-esque. Unfortunately, you know that's not really a role I get to play as a you know, female actress, but yes aspects of this game are very theatrical, which I think is just thrilling and the kind of melding of the mediums and the writing style I think is really exciting."
How helpful was it to have the creators there?
"I am so grateful that the creators of the game were there for almost every recording session, and even though unfortunately, you know there's a language barrier. But just watching, you know, Sakamoto-san and the team describing and visualizing what they wanted, you know that was that was enough. I could totally understand what they were going for. It was great having them there."
What intrigues you about Samus Aran?
"I'm just intrigued all over by Samus. I think she's really an incredible and exciting character, and I just love that she doesn't apologize for who she is. She says, 'Look, here I am, you can take it or leave it and I'm gonna do what I'm gonna do regardless of what you say.' So I just really was attracted to her strength, but she's also I think a very real person, and she's a young woman dealing with problems and she's trying to do the right thing and so she's also very complex and she's really you know conflicted about certain things, but she has certain, you know objectives and she really works to achieve them, and she's really driven, which I really really liked."
How does Samus' character resonate with you?
"I think from the very first lines that I read I had a good grasp of who she was and what she stood for, and what really resonated with me is that she is not always acknowledged by her peers and her colleagues, but she tries to do the right thing anyway. I think these are things that resonate with everyone who's a fan of Metroid, and here's this really strong figure that's kind of a rebel and still tries to do what's right for her in the given circumstances, and I think that's just really powerful."
How long did the recording process take?
"I guess we finished about in January, February of this year [2010] and we started in January of last year [2009] and so over the course of that year, we'd have sessions of a few days here and there, maybe a pick-up day. So it'd be, you know every couple of months, they would bring in new lines or any changes they wanted made, which was exciting because as we went on I got to see the storyboards and then I got to see the motion capture videos, and then I got to see the actual videos from the game, so it was really cool to to work with the new material each time and then revisit some of the old material as well."
What was the impact of the game's development on the recording process?
"Especially at the beginning of the recording process, I would just have the lines on the page, and they would describe to me what's happening. But when you actually get to see it, it's much more exciting and much more urgent. You realize that you're telling a real story, real things are happening, and it made it that much more urgent, especially when I, you know, had the videos to watch, and I would record them on a loop, and actually, I believe it's one of the last scenes, that they just kind of said 'Okay, here's the scene in its entirety, just go for it,' which I think was one of my favorite moments in the recording process."
Did you get a chance to work directly with any of the other voice actors?
"Yes, I did get a chance to work with some of the actors last summer, which was amazing because it's fun, you know, just being in the booth by yourself and really getting to connect with a character, but whenever you have the other actors there to play off of, it's so much more fun. Yeah, I had a blast with them."
Samus and Adam in the recording booth - what was that like?
"It wasn't weird at all, you know, meeting the actor who plays Adam for the first time, because so often - I mean in stage, you'll meet someone one day, and the next day you're choreographing a fight scene or a love scene. So it just kind of goes with the job, and as actors you just kind of come with this readiness to support the other person, and so kind of having that unspoken agreement between us, it was just fun to play off of each other, and then I think the characters really got to grow and blossom and that relationship really developed."
What was it like working with the game's creator, Yoshio Sakamoto?
"Sakamoto-san is totally zen [laughs] From the moment I walked in the studio, he was so open and welcoming and really, you know, I just felt like he embraced me as part of this project, and I think that really gave me a sense of confidence. It really made all the difference, that he, you know, embraced me and said, you know, this is my Samus, this is the voice I've heard, and I just think he's wonderful."

Go For Rainbow![edit | edit source]

That was all the direction I was given. I was very specifically directed on that game. The Nintendo team had a very specific vision for what they wanted, and how they wanted Samus to sound. Usually it would be like every take, they would tell me to do a little bit less, a little bit less, a little bit less, until we got that kind of signature Samus inner monologue sound.

I think they did a really great job with the visuals, so you could see her experiencing those emotions without needing to hear it in her voice.

A friend of mine, a very kind friend of mine, I had him sit in my living room, and he beat the game so I could see it. I've seen all the cutscenes.

I never had any contact with them. [Team Ninja] It was Nintendo America, and the Japanese team would come over and be at the sessions. Yeah, it was released here in the U.S., and they also had a Japanese voice actress do it for the Japanese game.

Maybe I should do that [cosplay as Samus], when things are getting really rough, I'll just dress up. I'll just wear like a tiny little Morph Ball sitting outside PAX.

I would love to, but like I said, it's not up to me. [on playing Samus in a live-action commercial like for Other M]

—Jessica Martin

Trivia[edit | edit source]

Instagram post commemorating the tenth anniversary of Other M, holding Samus Aran's Arm Cannon from ThinkGeek.[2]

  • As a child, she was a Girl Scout and a cellist.[1]
  • Martin was influenced by a chapter in Steven Pressfield's book Do the Work, called "Stay Stupid", which means to continue learning.[1]
  • Her dream roles have included Ophelia in Hamlet and Kyra in the rarely produced Skylight, both of which she has now played. Her next dream role is King George III in Hamilton, a traditionally male role. As a child, she wrote a letter to J.K. Rowling, but never sent it, saying she should play Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series.[1]
  • Martin said she does not consider herself skilled at video games, and she could not complete Other M. She called herself the "Samwell Tarly of video games."[3] She had to have a friend play through the game gradually for her while she watched, and remembered sequences as she observed them.[1]
  • Martin wore the same boots to every recording session for Other M, and has kept them for more than a decade.[1]
  • Martin did not return to voice Samus in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, which instead retained the voice clips recorded by Alésia Glidewell for Super Smash Bros. Brawl.[4]
  • Martin was approached by DoctorM64 to reprise her role as Samus in the ending of AM2R, in which she would have spoken the famous line from Super Metroid, "The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace." She declined due to legal issues preventing her from voicing Samus in any unofficial media.[5] Another voice actress recorded the line instead.
  • Martin got her roles in ReCore through a referral by a colleague. Her being ill at the time helped with recording coughs for Natalie Bright - a character who is dying of a sickness in her audio logs - and she came up with gibberish, "guttural" vocalizations for Violet. She based those on the Dothraki from Game of Thrones. Recording her lines for Natalie and Violet took two hours since they were smaller roles.[1]
  • Martin said that if she had control over her portrayal of Samus in another Metroid game, she would hope that Samus reflects women in the modern world.[1]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m https://shinesparkers.net/podcast/episode-08-jessica-martin/
  2. ^ "Today is the 10th anniversary of the release of Metroid: Other M, a project I am so proud to have been a part of. Thanks to the amazing Metroid community for all the support over the years including @shinesparkers and @metroidhq - y’all are the best. Happy ten years, Samus. Love you, girl. Keep kicking ass. 👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻❤️ #metroidotherm #metroid #samus" August 31, 2020. Instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/CEkHsagAUqg/
  3. ^ Comments at 1:01:23 https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jessica-martin-on-acting-in-games-directing-speaking/id643359086?i=1000195221719
  4. ^ Martin, Jessica Erin (jessicaemartin). "I've been getting a lot of questions lately, and no, I will not be voicing Samus in the new Smash Bros." 13 June 2014 12:29 p.m. Tweet. https://twitter.com/jessicaemartin/status/477472850773696512
  5. ^ http://shoutengine.com/World11/am2r-in-the-house-28431 Referenced at 35:20
  6. ^ "Now I can listen to myself WHENEVER I WANT" (October 6, 2012) https://www.instagram.com/p/QdBtrXQ7N_
  7. ^ "Favorite part of my job? Signing fan mail. #anyobjections #metroid" (December 1, 2014) https://www.instagram.com/p/wEy4qdw7MK/"
  8. ^ "Love the fans. Another autograph request in the mail." (February 24, 2015) https://www.instagram.com/p/zgAsx_w7Fp/


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