During a PlayStation Experience panel, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Creative Director Neil Druckmann addressed the Laura Bailey casting as Nadine Ross, saying they auditioned “black actors, white actors, American actors, actors from South Africa,” but when Bailey came in, she killed it, and “there was no question in our mind, that’s Nadine.”
Asked about the casting decision on Twitter, Bailey sent out a lengthy response:
I think more than anything, I just want to clear up how the casting happened. I went in person to audition for the role of Nadine. The character breakdown I received had no picture or physical description at all. The reason for the being, there was no character design yet. Nadine was described as a strong willed, intelligent, powerful woman with a south african dialect. So I trained with my dialect coach multiple times before the audition. I obsessed over the scenes in my head. I went and auditioned alongside several other actresses of several different ethnicities. I was incredible nervous.
Adding that she was thrilled to be cast as an amazing female character, and that she’s an enormous Naughty Dog fan, Bailey continued:
It wasn’t until we had rehearsed and arrived for our first day of filming that I saw the concept art for Nadine. One of the very talented artists at Naughty Dog had come up with a beautiful design for her, and it happened to look… very different than me. And that was difficult. Not because it changed anything about my performance. Nadine was the same woman. She had the same background, the same personality, the same strength. But suddenly, because she had a different skin color than I did, there was a chance some would deem my portrayal unacceptable.
But at that point, what’s worse? Choose that beautiful design the artist created knowing there could be backlash because they had already cast a non-black actress? Or change the design entirely out of fear and lose the opportunity to have a strong character of color in the game? I guess I don’t know if there’s a right answer to that. All I can say is, I think she’s one of the most badass people I’ve ever had the honor to play and I’m so proud to have worked on Uncharted 4.
Also on Twitter, Lead Animator Jeremy Yates showed off a picture of him in the Drake suit one last time:
— Jeremy Yates (@Jeremy_Yates) February 8, 2016
[Source: Laura Bailey (Twitter)]