Rob Kazinsky is known to Comic Con fans for his work in movies like Pacific Rim and shows like True Blood. The actor is unrecognizable in Legendary Pictures’ Warcraft, having entered the performance capture arena to bring the orc, Orgrim Doomhammer, to life. Kazinsky is a lifelong gamer and a dedicated World of Warcraft player. He actually lobbied hard to get a role in the Warcraft big screen adaptation. With Warcraft now available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD, we caught up with the actor in this exclusive interview.
What’s a favorite video game memory from World of Warcraft?
My proudest moment was when we took down Lich King 25. That was game, competitively, very much a team sport. We dedicated to that and I promised I would never dedicate to anything else ever again. I remember I was shaking whilst we were getting set up to fight him because it was such a big moment. We were in such a race, and when he finally went down it was one of the most joyous and celebratory moments of my entire life spent in a game. I was playing with 24 other people, and all the other members of my guild who were on Battle.net listening in and all trying to work it out. We had this struggle together for so many years to try and become a top guild, and to try and get this guy down. This character was so steeped in lore and history and it felt like such a big moment of not only my gaming life, but it was a very large part of my life. It was a huge sense of achievement for me to actually be a part of that. When I booked my first role in a movie it was a similar feeling to when we got that guy down.
Do you play other Blizzard games like Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone?
There’s nothing from Blizzard I haven’t played. They create such amazing games, whether it is Diablo or StarCraft or Overwatch -- which is my “game of the year.” I’ve been playing that nonstop since it came out. Blizzard games have always been very steeped in lore and very story-driven and very engaging. They’re also very different because Warcraft is a fantasy epic and then Diablo has a horror theme and StarCraft is science fiction. But good stories are good stories.
How did your own knowledge about World of Warcraft help with adapting this video game -- something which Hollywood, in general, hasn’t always done a great job at?
Our mission was to make the greatest video game movie ever, and we definitely did that. However, saying that, it was quite a low bar. Video game movie adaptations have been pretty terrible in the past mainly because there’s not been that story. There’s been Sonic the Hedgehog collects rings or we’re going to get a plumber to save the princess. But with games like Assassin’s Creed, where the movie is coming out in December, and Mass Effect and Warcraft, the story was there. And it was there in such great depth that it allows us to translate as much as we possibly can from the game directly. A great story is a great story, whether it comes from Shakespeare or the Bible or a computer game. People want those great stories. And it’s up to film to catch up to the games.
What was it like to meet with the developers behind this game on set?
They were great. We had Rob Pardo, Nick Carpenter and Chris Metzen out there quite a lot, and they’re really great guys. Having Chris Metzen out there was always really useful because he’s the guy who created it. For me, personally, as one of the gamers, I really enjoyed being able to brief them and essentially get them to fix the game and make my life a little bit easier.
The first time I met Chris I wasn’t working that day. I just went in to see if I could say hi to him and the producers took me over and introduced me to him, and it was like an hour-and-a-half of the two of us talking backwards and forwards about story beats and the history and the characters. We talked about the game and what worked in Wrath and what didn’t work in Cataclysm. I’m an active WoW forum member so it was great to talk about things that you like and you don’t like with the man, himself. That for me, was an incredibly satisfying gaming experience.
Was there anything from those conversations that will impact the game?
No. If they’re listening to me, they’re doing something very wrong. They know what they’re doing. Mainly, it’s about how we are going to affect the next movies if we can possibly do that. And that’s what important.
There was a lot of lore to cover in the first film. How does that help when it comes to continuing the franchise?
We were tasked with making the biggest video game movie ever, and we did that. Did we make the greatest movie ever? Absolutely not. We made a film we’re very proud of, but it’s very much a world builder. A New Hope is not the best Star Wars movie, and Star Trek: The Movie is not the best Star Trek movie. We have to build a world first, and that’s what we did with the first movie. We introduced a world and cities and magic and a type of people, and there was so much to go through in just two hours. It was impossible. We were unable to involve Mannoroth or the Legion or Sedaris. We had to streamline some of the characters and their histories and who they were -- like making Orgrim a Frostwolf – to make a great movie. Now that we’ve set that foundation, if we get to go make the second and third movies we get to make our Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. If Warcraft is a 7 out of 10 movie and the next one’s an 8 out of 10 and the one after is a 9 out of 10, we get to really go and take these characters that have been introduced and actually run away and do stories.
Do you feel in the future if there is a second or third movie that there could be more connectivity between what’s going on in the game world and the movie world?
It’s a tough question because the more you go that way by moving the movie to the game realm, then the more that alienates people that don’t play the game. I like game rewards to play in the game. And the film has to stand on its own merit and sell DVDs and Blu-rays because it’s good, rather than because you get a Murloc pet. However, at the same time maybe there is a separate version of the Blu-ray that comes with all the gaming elements.