Critical Role’s Laura Bailey: Twinning The Game

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Is it Thursday yet? Yes, it is! That means another Critical Role interview before tonight’s new episode. This week, we’re picking Laura “Vex’ahlia” Bailey’s brain to find out what makes her tick (spoiler: it’s gold). Laura’s vocal credits include Black Widow in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Fiona in Tales From the Borderlands, and  Jaina Proudmoore in World of Warcraft.

Photo credit: Pamela Joy Photography

Tell us a little bit about yourself and who you play?

I play Vex’ahlia, the half-elf Ranger. She pretends to be strict and no nonsense, but really she’s just a big softy who wants to find her place in the world.

Did you have the idea for Vex first, or did you build her around the ranger class?

Well originally I wanted to be a half-elf rogue, but Liam claimed that before I could. Punk. But he and I share a birthday in real life, so we decided to go with it and make our characters twins. Once that was established, I decided I HAD to have a companion animal. We started our original campaign in Pathfinder, and in that system, both the druid class and ranger class can have a battle pet. But inevitably, ranger won because… arrows. As we rolled for stats, I put most of my points in things like charisma and dexterity because I wanted to play her as someone who could talk her way out of most situations. I figured that with her brother being the sneaky thief that he is, she’s grown up needing to distract people while he snagged their coin purses or snuck into rooms he wasn’t supposed to, so she’s a pretty persuasive talker. But she still tends to feel uncomfortable when in big groups; she definitely is more accustomed to being alone. Since she and Vax got used to hiding out in their teenage years and barely scraping by, she tends to hold onto money when she finds it. She’s never fully convinced she won’t find herself alone and stranded again.

How did you develop Vex’ahlia’s backstory?

Liam and I developed it together over coffee. I think it was a two hour meet up where we reverted back to our five year-old selves and very seriously just made a bunch of stuff up. It’s actually pretty funny how in sync we were with what we decided for our mom and dad. Outside of that, other bits and pieces started sorting themselves out in my mind the more we played. I remember the game I decided where my wonderful Trinket came from. All I had originally said is that Vax was always stealing little trinkets for himself and Vex named her bear that as a joke, because she wanted a trinket of her own. But as I grew more attached in the game, it seemed so wrong to not have a backstory for him. So I spent an evening writing down exactly how I had acquired him, and sent the short story to Matt. Only just recently did I let anyone else even read it… it just felt so personal.

Is it awkward playing on camera?

Honestly, most of the time now I forget the cameras are even there. Which can be dangerous, because sometimes I catch myself making a really stupid face or picking at my teeth or flaring my nostrils. During the first couple episodes, I felt really self-conscious anytime I would think about it, but now I’ve pretty much just given up on trying to control my expressions. It’s so impossible to not get wrapped up in Matt’s story telling.

Image credit: Geek and Sundry

All of you do voices for your characters. Do you do this because you’re voice actors or do you think you would do them anyway? Do they get you into character?

It’s just something that happened the first time we started playing. I’m not sure if it’s because of our background in voice acting or not, but the first time I opened my mouth to speak in the game, Vex’s voice just came out. I remember Liam and Travis both looking at me with these comical expressions because none of us had decided to speak in character and I was the first one to strike up a dialogue with an NPC. And then Matt leaned forward and started talking (I think he was a mercenary in a bar) and we were all hooked.

Who’s your favorite NPC or enemy you’ve encountered?

I really love the creepy hag lady who Tiberius traded his luck to. My idiot brother traded a favor as well. She showed up in our game before we started filming the show. She was in this underground hideaway all covered in rags seeming like this weird old woman… and then she stood to her full height and we realized she was so much more than we bargained for. We almost had to fight her, and I’m so glad we didn’t because, even though it freaks me out and I’m sure no good will come of it, I really want to see what her influence will do to the party.

What’s the greatest move you think you’ve made in the game?

Oh man, I think I’m gonna have to go with the double crits I got during our showdown with the Briarwoods. I was prepared to die to defend Vax (and almost did, I later realized) and it was just so crazy that those two powerful blows happened when they did in relation to what was going on story wise. I’m really excited about Trinket’s cannonball move too. Hoping I’ll be able to put that to good use in the future.

How does the game leak into your daily life?

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about the game. Obsess is probably the right term, yeah. I stress so much when someone in the group is in trouble, or if I think our characters are fighting. When Tiberius freaked out during our fight with Ka’Vaarn, I lost sleep. When we spent that whole week thinking Vax was a goner? Oh man, I was a wreck. And now?? We have the city council thinking we’re criminals and I literally lay in bed wondering what I can say to persuade Uriel to listen to reason. It’s so ridiculous.

There was a… moment during Grog’s rematch. You surprised everyone by flashing and screaming “I love you, Grog!” This feels very un-Vex like. Is there subtext here? Inquiring minds want to know!

Haha! You know what’s funny, I kinda surprised myself with that one. Look at it this way: Vex. Loves. Money. It’s no secret. So when that much gold was on the line, Vex became very passionate about winning. And I love that as the battle went on, she just got more and more invested. She was kinda gold raging.

Photo credit: Geek & Sundry

If Trinket could talk, what do you think he would say about your adventures? About your party?

Well, there are spells that allow him to have a voice. I almost took the spell speak with animals recently because then I’d be able to have conversations with him whenever I wanted. But, in the end that felt kinda selfish. We don’t have a healer in the group right now, so it seemed more necessary to take cure wounds. Keyleth might have spells that can turn him human and that can make him smarter though. How crazy would that be? It’s like if your dog or cat could suddenly speak. They’ve seen some pretty intimate moments in your life, ya know? Eep. Hopefully he’d say nice things. He might have a few choice words for Scanlan though.

How has Critical Role changed since inception?

You know, it’s so weird… when Matt first told us that Geek & Sundry was interested in having our campaign on the Twitch channel, I was a little apprehensive. I thought it might change the way we play, or that I’d be really uncomfortable having the cameras on us the entire time. But outside of our seating arrangements, it’s all pretty much the same. We still goof off as much as we used to: we still have Burt Reynolds popping up to save the day, and Tiberius bumbling his way into precarious situations, and Grog being… Grog. I guess the biggest difference is being able to share what was inside our brains for so long with so many awesome people. It still blows me away after every show when I log onto Twitter and scroll through the hundreds of #CriticalRole tweets and see the amazing fan art. It’s just so crazy how so many people can picture these scenarios exactly the same way. It’s like this world we’re creating actually exists and everyone watching has this special pass to see through a portal to it.

Tune in to Critical Role tonight at 7pm PST on Geek & Sundry’s Twitch Channel, or catch it on our website next Monday.

Feature image credit: Geek & Sundry

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