For a character who never appeared in the first entry of the Borderlands franchise, Handsome Jack has become an integral part to the world of Pandora. Most of that is thanks to his iconic voice, which wouldn’t be the same without the actor behind him, Dameon Clarke.
But while separating Jack from his voice would sound blasphemous to any Borderlands fan, Clarke actually happened on the role by chance.
“I was recording a job already in a studio, and the folks from Gearbox [Software] happened to be there,” Clarke explained. He was asked to do secondary character voices for the game, but then they asked him to audition for a certain handsome villain.
“I did, and they had a little meeting,” Clarke said. “I was standing in the booth watching them through the Glass. Then, somebody pressed the microphone, they said ‘Do you want to do this character?’ I said ‘Cool, what the hell is it?’” he added with a laugh.
“It” became the villainous Handsome Jack, who fans took to so quickly after the release of Borderlands 2 that in many ways Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel came about to keep the character front and center. And if there’s any doubt of the character’s popularity, having a Borderlands collection named for him should give some indication of how synonymous Jack has become with the franchise.
Jack has lived on, despite (spoilers for Borderlands 2) meeting his death, through Telltale Games’ Tales from the Borderlands which has seen Jack bonded to one of the two main characters. Though it’s a new version of the character, it’s still the same “asshole personality” fans have come to love.
“The writers at [Telltale] have done an amazing job of continuing on with our established Handsome Jack,” Clarke said. “They’ve really been writing him flawlessly in the vein of how we’ve established him already.”
The Telltale model has been a bit of a change from Clarke’s previous outings as the Borderlands baddie. Because Telltale’s games allow players to choose the flow of conversation, there can be multiple variations on the same scene that end up in the game.
“Typically you’ve got a line of dialogue in a certain situation and we’ll give a number of different takes on that,” Clarke said of previous voice work. “But working with somebody like Telltale, you’ve got all these different choices. You’ve got many more renditions, many more takes, many more possibilities.”
Those possibilities allow the player to forge a deeper connection with the character, who was part of a major decision at the end of Tales from the Borderlands’ second episode. Choosing between Jack and Fiona, players could drastically change how episode 3 plays out. And if you didn’t choose Jack, you may want to circle back and replay with a different choice.
But if you’re looking to find out where either choice will lead Jack after season 3, that will remain a mystery for now.
“You know they’re not telling me that stuff,” Clarke said, laughing. “They are good about that. I have no idea what I’m doing until I’m in that room.”
That hasn’t stopped Clarke from considering where Jack and the world of Pandora could go, though, after seeing where Telltale has brought the series.
“You know what I would love to see is some kind of Adult Swim cartoon with [Borderlands],” Clarke said. “That’s just such a fantastic world, and again Telltale has done such a great job continuing with that. I’d love to see some ongoing animated series with this.”
Whether a Borderlands cartoon ever appears (sadly there is no word about anything along those lines being in production, so don’t get your hopes up too much), Tales from the Borderlands still has two episodes to debut in its first season. And with how incredible the season has been so far, Pandora’s and Handsome Jack’s stories are hopefully far from over.
You can find Dameon Clarke on Twitter @dameonclarke. Tales from the Borderlands episodes 1 through 3 are now available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows PC, Android, and iOS devices. Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is available for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.