If you’ve played a Gears of War game, you’re already familiar with the likes of Kait Diaz, J.D. Fenix, Marcus Fenix, and the rest of the Gears. But Gears 5 will introduce a brand new character into the mix when it launches this fall. Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed this hulking soldier and recognized his dulcet tones during the game’s announcement trailer at E3 2018, but today Nerdist can exclusively reveal that the character of Fahz Chutani will be played by Rahul Kohli (iZombie).
Microsoft and Gears 5 developers The Coalition announced that Kohli joined the cast on stage at the E3 Coliseum on Tuesday morning. Kohli joins a star-studded cast including Laura Bailey as Kait Diaz, Liam McIntyre as JD Fenix, Eugene Byrd as Del Walker, and John DiMaggio as Marcus Fenix. Speaking exclusively with Kohli and The Coalition studio head Rod Fergusson, Nerdist has the inside scoop on who Fahz is, how he fits into the Gears 5 storyline, and what you should expect from the highly anticipated sequel.
While Fahz is a new addition to the franchise, he has a history with some of the other Gears. “He adds a new dynamic to the group,” Kohli said. “He isn’t the sweetest guy in the world and he shares a kind of checkered past with Del and JD, which you learn more about as the game goes on. But, yeah, he’s a bit of a dick in the most cool and fun way to play.”
Fergusson quipped, “It’s king of typecasting. We figured we didn’t want to stretch Rahul too far.”
This time around, though, Kait Diaz is front-and-center, continuing a narrative thread that began in Gears of War 4. But while Fahz knows the other members of the gang fairly well, this is the first time he has crossed paths with Kait, who seems to be increasingly paranoid that her allies are plotting against her.
“One of the things when we look back at Gears 4 [we felt like we wanted] is to have a little bit more tension within the group itself,” Fergusson explained. “And so when we came to Gears 5, we realized we wanted to have another character who’s a bit more of a foil and not just another buddy to get involved with.”
As the game unfolds, we’ll learn more about Fahz and his relationship with the likes of Marcus and JD. Through Fahz, Fergusson said, The Coalition was able to provide a unique insight into events that happened before Kait joined the team.
“He’s a sort of a nemesis in a way to JD,” Fergusson teased. “Fahz is sort of true to the [Coalition of Ordered Governments]. He’s one of those people, he’s a true believer, he likes the system. A lot of people look at the COG, the outsiders look at the COG as being a fascist organization where you potentially trade away your freedom for security and Fahz is totally fine with that. And I think it gives Fahz some freedom of power that I think he enjoys as being part of the COG.”
“He’s younger like the others, he didn’t live through the same events,” Fergusson elaborated. “He didn’t have the 75 years of Pendulum War and he didn’t have the 15 years of Locust War, so you have a soldier who’s looking for a fight. A lot of the times we talk about how when the war ended Marcus became a warrior without a war. I think this is the opposite, it’s what you see, just young soldiers who want to prove themselves and actually want the fight and that’s where Fahz is, he’s looking for a fight.”
As for Kohli, he wasn’t looking for a fight. He didn’t even realize he was about to audition for one of the most anticipated games of the year. While Kohli has been a staple of the CW’s iZombie for the past 5 years and spends much of his spare time playing video games, he hadn’t managed to merge his two passions until now.
“I didn’t even know it was an audition,” Kohli revealed. “I hadn’t done one before for voiceovers. It was like a five-minute walk from my apartment in Vancouver, which was cool. I got there and [they] gave me the sheets and a picture of Fahz, and it was a whole new experience for me like, ‘Oh this dude, what does he sound like?’ And then just sort of swing for the fences in the booth. You guys test my vocal cords with a few shouting lines…”
“Yeah, that’s Gears of War, right? You have to be able to yell,” Fergusson added. “We’ve had Minnie Driver, she put it on Twitter that we had to let her go because she couldn’t yell. It’s one of the things that’s not part of auditions; we have to get people to yell.”
What struck Kohli most about the process was how different it was compared to acting in the theater or on TV. “Obviously [in TV and theater] you get scripts, you’re able to piece together what’s going on fairly early on and plan your journey, but with the video game world it doesn’t necessarily work out like that,” Kohli explained. “The scripts are so huge you have to get the character nailed down quickly because the choices you make are happening in the booth real-time. Rod will take you through the scenarios that you’re in. You kind of just have to suspend yourself, be the character in the booth, know exactly where their head space is at, how their delivery would be and then just react within the situations that have been fed to you. And that was definitely a new experience, especially for me.”
“To have him come in and immediately make interesting choices, and he wasn’t just doing the same thing three times, he was experimenting creatively and he was giving different options to me,…It all clicked usably into place and so there really wasn’t anyone else in mind for Fahz,” Fergusson said. “Once Rahul read we knew we had found Fahz and we’re going to go forward.”
The toughest part for Kohli, by far, was the simple act of keeping this a secret until now.
“I am a big gamer. Before anything I was playing video games and I’ve always had the, in the back of my mind, that gaming could that be a destination for me in terms of performance,” Kohli explained. “And then I land Gears, which is like landing a fricking Avengers movie for your first movie. Do you know what I mean? It was like, ‘Holy crap, I’m in a AAA title straight away.’ And when the trailer went out last year, I got messaged so much about it. And then Rod will put up really cool artwork and stuff, I can’t like it, I won’t touch it, I won’t go near Rod’s account. I don’t go near the Gears account. So that’s been tricky, I’ve been waiting for this day.”
While Fahz won’t be a playable character in the game’s main campaign, he will be a playable character in multiplayer. “In fact, he’s a much beloved character on the team in multiplayer because of his lines,” Fergusson revealed.
Gears 5 launches with Xbox Game Pass on PC Xbox One on September 10.