Die-Hardman actor Tommie Earl Jenkins spoke about shooting one of Death Stranding’s most emotional moments: the scene in which he confesses to Sam Bridges.
This monologue was Jenkins’ favorite moment from the game, and is often cited by gamers as one of its best scenes, in no small part due to Tommie Earl Jenkins’ performance. “Without kind of spoiling anything, I think that was a memorable moment, because of what transpired during the process of doing that,” Jenkins said in a recent interview with Crashing Game Night. “And then having the crew around us during that, and how it affected them. […] Everyone was so emotionally taken on this journey with me, that at the end it was a very somber atmosphere.”
In an earlier interview on the Spawn On Me Podcast, Jenkins explained that when he first saw this scene in the script and on the storyboard, he though to himself: ‘this is a scene that has to be driven home.’ “I need to pace it, I need to think about where it’s going,” he continued. “But at the same time I had to live in the moment of it.” He also revealed that the scene was done in a single take (although they did record the entire scene twice), and while he was acting it out, it all felt very real, as he really managed to get into the moment.
“I looked into Norman’s eyes, and Norman was brilliant. Norman was absolutely brilliant. Because it was like he stared into my soul during this,” Jenkins continued. “And all I could do was to stay glued to his eyes from all that time. And I remember this sort of rush kind of coming up into my body, and I was thinking ‘this is it’. And I just felt like this moment was something that was happening for real. I literally felt that it was happening for real.”
Jenkins added that this was one of the hardest scenes he’d ever had to do in his career, and one of the most emotional. After the shoot, he was literally shaking, and the experience left him drained when the work was done.
He is not really a gamer himself, but he is playing through Death Stranding, and is currently at chapter 7. “From the moment it popped up on the screen, I was absolutely blown away by the visuals of it, and what you’re able to do.” he said. “I think it’s absolutely stunning, and I think the message within the game is really so current, and it’s what people really need without even knowing that’s what they need.”
Jenkins did voice work before, but Death Stranding was different because it was the first project that required him to do mocap as well. His theater background was very advantageous here. The nature of the performance capture required a lot of imagination during acting, since you have no set around you, just a stage with primitive looking props.
Despite the language barrier, Jenkins said that Kojima was very easy to work with, and he would ‘a 100%’ work on future Kojima projects if he were asked. “Because of who he is and what he does. And for me, I love how polarized reviews were for the game. Because here’s a guy who had a story to tell, and as complex as it was, to be able to tell this story and know exactly and how clear it was in his head, for us to be able to take that on board, and to be able to translate that and tell that story that he wanted, was an amazing challenge. […] We had to believe in the story and what we had to deliver.”