The Rooster Teeth anime-style animated series gen: LOCK is set 50 years in the future and tells the story of a diverse team of daring young pilot recruits that Earth’s last free society enlists to control the next generation of giant weaponized robot mecha, in an effort to save the world. This team includes Julian Chase (voiced by Michael B. Jordan), expert mech pilot and Chase’s love interest, Miranda Worth (voiced by Dakota Fanning), Scottish hacker Cammie MacCloud (voiced by Maisie Williams), new recruit Kazu Iida (voiced by Kōichi Yamadera), and lead scientist and gen: LOCK technology inventor Dr. Rufus Weller (voiced by David Tennant).
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Dakota Fanning talked about the appeal of this project, why it’s easy to love voice-over acting, not actually getting to work with any of her co-stars, what she likes about her character, balancing an epic story with human emotions, and what she hopes viewers take from the experience of watching the series. She also talked about Season 2 of the TNT series The Alienist, known as The Angel of Darkness, what she’s most looking forward to exploring with her character, and when they’ll start shooting again, as well as the incredible experience she had working with Quentin Tarantino on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, in which she playing a member of the Manson family.
Collider: I’ve spoken to you a few times, over the last couple of years and, each time, the projects have been so interesting and different, as is gen: LOCK.
DAKOTA FANNING: Definitely, yeah. I try to keep it interesting.
Is that something you feel is getting easier, or is it something you feel is always a fight, trying to find really stand-out projects?
FANNING: I like to just live my life and figure out my career based on my instincts. I’m somebody that believes everything happens for a reason and that it works out the way it’s supposed to. For me, I don’t think about it too much, but I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. I trust that it’s gonna work out. Of course, I like to look for things that are different than I’ve ever done before, or something that’s going to be challenging. I just want to keep pushing myself, in different ways. That’s how I do it.
How exactly was this project presented to you? Did you know what Rooster Teeth was, at the time?
FANNING: They sent me the first two or three scripts, and the general aim for the guys at Rooster Teeth, and a description of the series and what they had in mind. It sounded like a really fun, cool, new opportunity. The thing about voice-over acting, that a lot of people love, is that you don’t have to be in any particular state or place, and you don’t have to look a certain way. You can just show up, do your session, and leave because it’s just your voice. I was really in, from the moment it was mentioned, and I actually had a really great time doing it. It was really great working with the guys and getting to see the characters come to life in the story, for the whole experience.
It seems like the downside for getting to do voice work from anywhere also usually means that you don’t get to work with your co-stars.
FANNING: Well, that is the problem. That’s the only problem with it.
Is it ever weird to have to do all of it alone, in a booth?
FANNING: I didn’t really know any of the cast members, in person. I’ve met Michael [B. Jordan] a few times. I saw him recently and we were like, “Yep, I’ve been hearing your voice,” ‘cause we don’t really know each other. It’s a surreal experience, but I hope that maybe down the road, in some way, we’ll all get to meet. I don’t know. I know it would be so hard to work out, but it would be so much fun to actually record things in the booth together. It would be fun, if it could work out, timing and scheduling wise. I would like to do that, one day.
What do you most enjoy about this story and character, and how she fits into this world?
FANNING: I love that she’s such a bad-ass character. That’s pretty clear, from the start. I totally appreciate that, and I liked playing that aspect of her. Then, I also think Miranda and Chase’s relationship is so powerful. Even though it’s set in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, those emotions are really relatable and understandable. I also like that the show, in general, and the premise of the story, even though it’s about all of these wild, crazy, almost otherworldly, technologically advanced things, it’s also just about people, and relationships between the characters. That’s always important. It’s not just about all of the craziness. It’s about humans, too.
Did you know ahead of time that it would have that balance between this epic story, but really human emotions and relationships, or is that something that’s really surprised you, as far as how well that’s worked?
FANNING: When everything was plotted out for me, my first question, going into the booth, in terms of my voice acting, was how big and over the top they wanted it, or did they want it to be as close to a live-action series as possible. They really wanted it to be more on the spectrum of, if it were a live-action series, in terms of what was more realistic and natural, at least in the dialogue between the characters. There are always the sounds and grunts that have to be recorded, but it was refreshing to get to do that type of dialogue. I liked doing that. There’s something very realistic about the style of the animation. It’s not like, “Oh, it’s just a cartoon.” It’s very human.