“I Don’t Feel Like A Fraud Anymore”
29 mins read

“I Don’t Feel Like A Fraud Anymore”

The following article contains spoilers for Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth.




  • Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth
    expands Cloud’s character, allowing for more development and interaction with others.
  • Cody Christian’s voice acting debut adds new life to Cloud Strife, requiring a delicate balance of subtlety and emotion.
  • The game’s success is celebrated, with attention to detail noted, despite some minor criticisms from fans.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth finally arrived at the end of last month, taking the protagonists beyond Midgar to continue the journey started in Remake. The second entry in the planned trilogy, Rebirth allows for an extended retelling of the original 1997 game. Actor Cody Christian, known for roles in shows like Teen Wolf and Pretty Little Liars, made his voice acting debut as protagonist Cloud Strife in the title, bringing new life to the character.

One of the main goals of the trilogy project is to reimagine and expand upon the world fans know, and a key component of that lies with Cloud, and in turn, Christian’s performance. Famously a stoic character known for repressing his emotions, the past two games have given Strife room to grow. Much of Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth‘s story has changed from the original, opening up new opportunities for the protagonist to interact with other characters and experience more overall development – no small undertaking for any performer, but particularly for a first-time voice actor.


Every FF7 Rebirth Character Able To Interact With Timelines (& Why)

Alternate timelines play an important role in FF7 Rebirth, and certain characters are able to interact with and influence those timelines.

Screen Rant interviewed Cody Christian to talk about his history with gaming, jumping into the world of voice acting, and the biggest Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth recording memories.

Cody Christian On Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

The actor reflects on the voice acting process

Screen Rant: First, I’m curious about your own personal history with video games. Have you been into them for a while? Have you been into Final Fantasy for a while?

Cody Christian: I’m not going to lie and say I’ve been a massive fan of this genre. Of video games, yes, but not Final Fantasy, not really RPGs, not JRPGs. I didn’t really grow up playing them, my older brother did. My older brother is very heavily into not only that genre, but just a lot of Japanese culture, a lot of manga, a lot of anime. My brother actually was in a foreign exchange because he was learning Japanese in high school.

He actually went out to Japan for a student trip for two weeks. But, long story short, I’m a big fan of video games. When I say that, I mean, I really grew up playing because my circumstances were a bit different. I was homeschooled from a very young age because I was working in this industry. So I never really had a normal kid schedule. So I would go to work, I would be doing schoolwork at ungodly hours. And then because of that, I didn’t really have a lot of real life friends. So video games were something that I resorted to for connection, for competition. I played a lot of first person shooters.

Yeah, I was curious what kind of game you gravitate towards.

Cody Christian: So my first game that I really grew up with, I grew up playing Halo. That was my first game ever. Grew up playing Halo and then all of the Call of Duties, and then I stepped away from gaming for a little bit, but I’m back in it. I’m playing a game called Overwatch on PC. It’s the first game I’ve ever played on PC.

But I do know what it’s like to have a very special, intimate connection with video games and the stories being told in them. A lot of people don’t understand that when you are gaming, one, it’s accessible for everybody regardless of what you are, who you are, what circumstances have happened in your life – gaming is always accessible.

But the more important part of that is gaming is accessible to people in a way that is so intimate and is so vulnerable because, think about it, most of the time you’re there by yourself connecting with this game. Or you’re sharing it with friends. So I do know what it’s like to have a very, very special connection with video games. So to have this opportunity to play this part, both in Remake and Rebirth, to be something for somebody of this caliber is quite special. It’s not lost on me.

And you mentioned your brother is a big fan of the JRPG genre and stuff. What was his reaction when you told him that you were going to be Cloud Strife?

Cody Christian: He lost it, because I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation at first. I’ve shared this story before, but when I originally got cast, there was no information. It was all like – I forget the word that they use for this, when they put a script out and it’s bogus. There was no information.

So I did the audition, and a month and some change goes by. They call us up and they say, “Hey, this is what it is, and this is the project, this is the role.” And at the time I had heard of Final Fantasy, I knew what it was, but I didn’t really know Cloud like that. So the first person I called was my brother; I was in California, he was East Coast.

So I called him up, I’m like, “Hey, I got this thing. I don’t even know where to start in regards to my research. Can you point me in the right direction?” And he was like, “Yeah, of course. What is it?” I was like, “I’m doing this guy named Cloud, this Cloud Strife dude.” And he was like, “What?” I was like, “Yeah, this guy named Cloud in this game, Final Fantasy.” And he just went quiet for a second and then just lost it.

But he’s been such a huge support system for me. I always find myself leaning towards him in regards of finding the essence of authenticity in this material, and this story, and this character, because my brother is an exemplification of a real true fan. Not only with this, but just the genre in and of itself. I’m happy that he’s on my side.

And what was it like transitioning from – obviously you have a lot of experience with regular on-camera acting, but going to video games, voice acting, what are the unique challenges and differences that come along with that than what you’re used to?

Cody Christian: Well, there should be the major one, which is something I never really thought about until I was in that environment, being I don’t have a camera to play in front of. So now all of a sudden these little things of just existing, these human mannerisms that I’m able to communicate with and emote with, they’re not being picked up anymore. The only thing that’s in that room with me is a microphone. So now when you cut visual aid and have to tell a story that captivates people, and because you’ve got to keep in mind during the recording process, I would say 80% of the stuff, we don’t have visuals.

So that was the most apparent and most drastic change was understanding that all of these little micro expressions, there has to be a technicality behind them now. There has to be an effort. They’re all little moments. Me getting up and shifting in this chair right now on camera is telling you a story, but without that, how do you create that same sort of reality that the audience member can attach themselves to?

But now you’ve got to do it like here. And it was daunting at first, I’m not going to lie, but I had an incredible team of people around me. Everyone is so passionate about Final Fantasy and creating this world for the fans, not just for themselves, but for the people that have been involved for decades and hopefully future fans. Everyone wants everyone to succeed.

So I had my director in there, Kirk [Thornton], who – he’s been like my anchor from the very beginning, the first session. He made me feel comfortable. He taught me the tricks of the trade about the things that I didn’t know. There is a lot of technicality behind voice acting that I think people just don’t understand because it’s not always spoken about. But yeah, transitioning from – most of my career is on camera work. This is the first time really I have the opportunity to tell a story with just my voice, which is cool. But it was challenging at first.

The first game, I think just with all the expectations and the pressure, inevitably I couldn’t enjoy it as much. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, I had an amazing time. But this second go around, now that I’ve learned, I feel like I actually know what I’m doing. And to be quite frank with you, I don’t feel like a fraud anymore. I think the first game and leading up into it, and I let myself listen to a lot of chatter outside what was important at that time, so I think it filled my head with this imposter syndrome. I was like, “Oh, you’re an actor, but you’re not a voice actor. What are you doing?”

I think that was something that I had to grow out of, and thankfully I have, and I’ve only done that with the support of everybody involved in Final Fantasy and a Square, and also my amazing cast, too. I got some big dogs, some real big players involved in this with extensive resumes. So to have their support and to have them on my side with all of it, I think it’s made this game especially so much easier and much more enjoyable. And I think people are going to see it when they play it, I think it’s a different feel. It just feels a little bit more grown and a little bit more mature, a little bit more settled into.

Cloud blocking an attack from the Titan in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

And you mentioned how there are these difficulties because we can’t see you when you’re recording. And this was an especially hard character to start out with, I feel like, because Cloud is a character who sometimes doesn’t talk that much and is trying to repress his emotions. I feel like it must’ve been really hard to still add so much personality and nuance when you don’t necessarily always have that much actual dialogue to work with.

Cody Christian: Yeah, it was difficult at times, but I think in those moments it was important to remind ourselves not to get caught up in this trap of trying to always do too much. To the point you just made, we know this character. This character has been around. We’ve established him. We know his personality, so the stoicism and this guardedness, it’s justified. So I think just playing the reality of all of that and knowing that, okay, we don’t have to do too much. A little is going to say a lot, just being able to stay comfortable in that.

So I’m not going to lie, there were some sessions where we would go in there and for four hours straight, I would be doing the most subtle, the most micro sighs and grunts and looks and moans and groans to the point where I was going crazy. I’d be in there and I would celebrate if I got to say a word, do you understand? [Laughs] Four hours of that is crazy.

It was a fun time though. I’m incredibly grateful that the second game, we get to dive in a little bit more, and this guy, he becomes a little chatty catty and wants to share everything about his life. I’ve enjoyed it. It gives me so much more to play around with.

What has it been like evolving this character in these games that give more room for the character to breathe than in the original?

Cody Christian: It’s splendid. I think it’s what everybody has always wanted, even if they didn’t know it at the time. We fell in love with these characters from – when did Final Fantasy 7 come out, in 1997?

Yeah, I believe so.

Cody Christian: 2024. It’s a long-*** time. And it’s crazy because when you grow up with something or you have a connection to something that would be dated at this point, to the current generation, it may seem antiquated. It may seem like it’s aged out of grace, but you have a special connection to it. There’s a sentiment there. And I can only imagine how many people for decades were like, “Oh my gosh, I would love to reimagine or re-explore. Or what if they said this?”

Or just the fact that the original was not voiced is crazy. Everyone had such an intimate connection with that game, and there weren’t even voice actors attached to it is baffling. To go back and to have the space, have the ability to do so creatively that the director, that the producers, that the ones that are really having their hands on this story understand the importance and the opportunity they have here to continue to flesh these characters out. To take something that’s already made such an immense impact and say, “Okay, let’s reimagine and let’s re-explore.” Not recreate, but just flesh out even more. I think that’s a very beautiful thing to be a part of.

You mentioned how, in the beginning, with the audition process, first there was just a dummy script; it was fairly secretive. I’m curious, once you were cast and stuff, was there still a lot of secrecy surrounding it? Did you get to see the whole script at once for the two games?

Cody Christian: No, not at all. And I don’t know necessarily if it was a confidentiality issue or they felt the need to protect it, because I don’t necessarily – every time I asked for anything that was available, it would be provided. But the issue is that there’s so much work to be done.

There’s so much work being done in Japan. There’s scripts being written, there’s MOCAP being done, there’s animation being built, there’s the recordings and everything has to be done there, and then translated in a new script with the same interpretation, but for it to make sense in the western world has to be created.

So I think it’s just this giant machine that’s doing the best that it can to keep up because it’s such an intense process. So with that, we don’t necessarily always have access to the material to prep it, which is weird for me because I come from the film and TV world where it’s like, “Give me my script and allow me to dive in.” The first game was tough because I’m literally reading lines for the first time, rehearsing them before I record them.

It was a lot of just, and I guess even in the second game, staying inquisitive. I just had to ask a ton of questions just so I know: what is going on here? Who am I with? What happened before? Because we jump around so much and record what’s available to be recorded, so nothing really follows anything chronologically. So just staying super, super informed is imperative. Now it’s a breeze because I feel like I got a bit of the Cloud essence.

I have two button lines, actually. It’s crazy, I think in the first couple sessions that I had, there were lines that just never left me. And whenever I go to say them, they bring me right back to not only the tone and the register that I need to be in, but also just the mindset. It’s the, “Not interested,” line and then there was, in the first chapter of Remake, when they link up for the first time, he has a line where he says, “Different core, different reactor, depends on when it was built.”

And I don’t know why, but those two lines – I think it’s because it’s within the first couple sessions that I recorded. We really drilled that because it was part of the trailer stuff in the very, very beginning. But those became my little anchor lines, so if I ever feel lost in the recording process or if I’m ever unsure about something in the script or I feel myself start to slip away, I’ll always throw those two back in my mind.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Cloud using Buster Sword to perform a Synergy Attack with Aerith

And you talked a little bit about the recording process with the director. Were you ever recording with other castmates, or was it always just you?

Cody Christian: It was always just me. And that’s something that – I didn’t think that this process would be what it was. When I booked this and I thought about the recording and voiceover, I thought, “Oh, all of us are going to be in the studio at the same time. We’re going to be able to go back and forth and banter.” But this process, especially a JRPG, is very different than if you were doing an animated movie or animation because everything has to be so precise.

There’s not a lot of room to allow the actors to go back and forth off of each other. Thankfully, there were some moments where, based on the schedule, other people’s lines would be recorded. So if we were doing a scene, I would sometimes have what they did and vice versa. I would record a bunch so some of the other actors got to listen to what I did and play off of that. But more times than not, you’re just solo dolo. It was tough, but at a certain point, once you get to know everybody, you hear their voice enough times, it’s almost like you can imagine how it’s going to play out. You can hear it – what they’re going to say, how they’re going to say it, wnd almost build that fake scenario in your mind to play off of and play with.

And are there any scenes from recording that really stand out to you as either being especially difficult or emotional to record? We can put a spoiler warning on this so you don’t have to worry about what scene you’re talking about.

Cody Christian: I feel like the question is guided to the answer that I’m going to give you, so well done. [Laughs] It [Aerith’s final scene] was a very powerful, emotional scene. It’s a scene that rocked the scene, if you will, of just video game culture, honestly. It was such a devastating reveal in the first, so obviously we stay true to that, and that moment plays out.

However, with the re-imagining there was an extra bit of importance put into: this is current and this is 2024, and this movie – I say “movie.” [Laughs] This game feels like a movie, where it’s in a cinematic way. So with that, there needs to be a delicate approach with how this scene plays out. And I remember the recording process of it. I treated it just as I treat most of these performances, but especially that one, I treated it as if I was on a film set, as if I was closing my eyes and holding her in my arms and really living that moment. And I even feel stuff coming up in me now talking about it.

It’s crazy. As an actor, I’ve had so many different performances in my career so far, and so many of them still live in me. I really felt those things, truthfully, authentically, and very powerfully charged emotions. And as human beings, you’re, in a way, a supercomputer saving a little highlight of something that has charged in your life, so that scene is no different. I can speak to you about it now as if I was there recording it. And I remember we were talking about it, I remember taking a good five, 10 minutes just to get into a head space to go and record everything, because we did it all in one shot.

There was just a lot of attention. It was a lot of focus. The mood shifted. Usually it’s very light, we’re joking around, we’re having a good time, or we’re getting great work done. But that one, everyone that day – myself, our translator, Ben [Sabin], was in the session, our engineer, Justin [Kozonis], and my director, Kirk – everyone just felt the shift in tone. It was a somber mood. And everyone approached it as such and treated it with the respect and professionalism it deserved. So I hope, even though it’s rattling to most, I hope that it’s well-received, because it wasn’t something that was just skimmed through or skimmed over.

Talking about the game being received by players now, have you been keeping tabs on public reactions and reviews at all since the game officially launched?

Cody Christian: A little bit. I’ll be honest with you, I try to do my best to not be so engrossed in the reception, because for me, the beautiful part of this journey was the act of doing it. I live and take all of my joy and fulfillment out of the creation process. And then when everything is said and done, I try to just give it away and leave it to the audience. But having said all of that, in the day and age that we live in, it’s hard for me not to see everything on my phone. So yeah, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the public reception. I’ve actually been paying a lot of attention to the people that are streaming the game.

Everyone seems very thrilled about it, and that to me is a job well done. There’s some people that aren’t going to like it, there’s some people that are going to have negative things to say, and I still see it. I still see the crazy nitpicking, the stuff that I’m like, “Really?” The hundreds of thousands of hours and resources and all of this went into it and you’re going to talk about – listen, I don’t even want to blast it, but I saw something the other day that just blew my mind. It was about a little detail in the game, and someone was just throwing the biggest fit. And I had to sit back and go like, “You’re going to let this tiny…”

I’m very, very happy that it’s being received well, and I hope it continues to do so. And not only just for my sake, but for everyone’s sake. For everyone that was involved in this game, for every one of my castmates, for every single person, because there’s an extensive amount of work that goes into this. I’m talking people dedicated their lives.

I remember our translator, Ben, for two years this man ate, slept, drank nothing but this. So to see the success, it makes my heart warm, because I think about every single person involved, and I go, “Damn, they deserve it. They really deserve it.” And who deserves it the most? The fans deserve it. So to see them winning, Ws in the chat, you know what I mean?

After what sounds like a really glowing experience that you had with this, is voice acting something that you definitely want to pursue more of, either video game-wise or elsewhere?

Cody Christian: Long, long answer: yes. I’ve always been a fan of animation. Even now, I’m about to be 29 years old, I think what I watch most is cartoons. I grew up with it. I think the storytelling and how it can be done in animation is just unparalleled. So yes, animated series I would absolutely love to do.

SpongeBob was my favorite thing ever. Rick and Morty is one of my favorite shows ever. So existing and creating something in that space would be a dream come true for me. And also video game-wise. If there’s ever a re-imagining of Halo, even a new hero in Overwatch, there’s so many amazing opportunities.

And I think before this experience, I didn’t really think that they could or would exist for me, and I was okay with that. I was at peace with it. But now that I’ve done this and I feel I’ve gained a little bit of confidence and some assurance of like, “Okay, I may not be the best, but I know what I’m doing to a little extent. Let’s see what else is out there.” So if something were to come up, and if it was right and I could tell a cool story and be a part of something special, I’m all for it. And I’m glad that this game has given me the opportunity to have those future opportunities.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth New Poster-2

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

Final Fantasy 7

February 29, 2024

Square Enix Business Division 1

Action RPG , Adventure

Unreal Engine 4


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