Niko Bellic actor Michael Hollick has said he was "almost more ready for [critical] backlash than for anything else" in the run up to Grand Theft Auto IV release.
He was speaking on the Big O & Dukes radio show on WJFK-FM (spotted by Kotaku), and talked about the huge secrecy surrounding the project; apparently he only found out the name of his character two weeks after signing lengthy confidentiality agreements.
"When I first auditioned for [the game] I didn't even know what I was auditioning for. They said it was a game called Frozen," explained Hollick using his regular American accent in case you're wondering. "I forget what the character name was, but it wasn't Niko."
Hollick originally auditioned to do the motion-capture work for Niko, but having heard him speaking the lines, Rockstar decided to let him do the voice for the character as well.
In total, Hollick reckons it took around 18 months to record all of his speaking and movement for Niko. The game was tackled in chunks, with scripts sometimes hundreds of pages long per section.
The motion capture was be recorded first and with the other actors around. And then, sometimes months later, he went to a studio on his own to do facial animations and voice work.
The worst days were when he faced "50 pages of screaming", apparently, doing things like "Niko falling off a motorcycle into the ocean [and] drowning".
"I knew enough about videogames that [GTA IV] was different off the bat. There was a great sense while we were doing it that this was something special," added Hollick.
Apparently Hollick was never much of a gamer and so found it "thrilling and fascinating" to see how much went into GTA IV. He likes videogames now, but says he's rubbish at them and gets Niko killed fairly quickly when playing.
His popularity has increased, too - now that his name is correctly listed on IMDB.
"I'm getting crazy hits on my MySpace page," said Hollick, before adding that he and his wife - also an actor for the game - did some "interesting role-playing" when he got home from work.
He has few plans for Niko Bellic going forward, but one his friend has suggested doing a Christmas album in the style of the Serbian gangster, which should be interesting.