Eidos Montreal says the voice actor portraying Garrett in the Thief reboot needs to be able to perform his own stunts.
The Thief trailer released on April 1 looked not entirely bad but the absence of Stephen Russell, the man who so effectively portrayed the lead character of Garrett in the first three games, made fans of the franchise somewhat less than happy. And now, despite hope that the voice in the trailer was just a placeholder, Eidos Montreal has confirmed that Russell is in fact out.
Russell was considered "quite heavily" and was actually brought in for some early voice recordings, but the studio eventually decided to record voice and movement at the same time with a "full performance capture technique," and that left the veteran voice actor out in the cold.
"The actor playing Garrett needed to be able to perform his own stunts," Audio Director Jean-Christophe Verbert explained. "Garrett's a really athletic guy. We could have pasted Stephen's voice on top of the actions and stunts of someone else, but this wouldn't appear natural. It really wouldn't make any sense to capture the full performance for our other characters, but not for our star."
"We're absolutely huge fans of Stephen's work on the classic Thief games. But when it came down to it, we ultimately realized that holding onto Steven as the voice of Garrett just for the sake of our nostalgia would be like wanting to cast Sean Connery again in the new 007 movies," Narrative Director Steven Gallagher added. "It's a nice thought, but honestly, it wouldn't make sense for anything else other than nostalgia."
It's arguable that nostalgia is the entire basis for making Thief 4 - it's a new game in a 15-year-old franchise, after all - but if you wanted to be argumentative you could simply point out the rather large body of work that already exists in which professional voice acting is effectively laid over animated characters, or ask why it's even relevant in what is, as far as I know, a first-person game. That's not to dismiss Eidos' explanation outright, but it is a tricky position to argue; regardless of what you think of it, however, the bottom line is that Russell is out, new guy is in and, aside from slapping your name on the inevitable petition, there's not a thing you can do about it.
Source: Eidos Montreal