Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Taliesin Jaffe, Laura Bailey, And Liam O'Brien Turn Critical Role Into The Legend Of Vox Machina - Exclusive Interview

It's been seven years since "Critical Role" first hit the scene. The streaming tabletop series featuring a cast of popular voice actors has grown in leaps and bounds since its debut, enlisting scads of guest stars and multiple campaigns. However, arguably the biggest sign of the series' success came after the team decided to spin the TTRPG into an animated short.

The Kickstarter had a simple aim" raise $750,000 in order to craft a twenty minute short film. What happened next was nothing short of astonishing. Not only did "Critical Role" blow past its original goal, they wound up raising a mind-blowing $11.3 million. Long story short, rather than a short film, there is now a potentially ongoing animated series called "The Legend of Vox Machina," which is now streaming on Prime Video.

Looper had the chance to speak with cast members Taliesin Jaffe, Laura Bailey, and Liam O'Brien about how they adapted their TTRPG characters to a new format, the NPCs they were excited to see fully realized, and the dangers of a locked door.

The defining traits of the Vox Machina clan

Adapting "Critical Role" to a new medium means change. I wanted to start by asking what it is about each of your characters that is so core to them that it has to stay? And what is one way in which you feel like you had an opportunity to evolve them for this animated series? Taliesin, can I start with you?

Taliesin Jaffe: Guilt, denial, a desperate attempt to control all situations in a belief that they are the only adult in the room, kind of is the core of Percy. And I feel like we held onto that pretty well. I feel like that gets communicated very nicely. I can't think of anything we had to really shift about him.

Liam O'Brien: Vax has loyalty to a fault, most of all, and his twin sister Vex. That's always got to be there. I think, generally speaking for the whole show and all the characters, I don't think we lost specific elements to our character. There was a challenge, a fun challenge, and I think [we were] successful, to boil down so many hundreds of hours and crystallize them into moments. There were 17 shopping trips in the campaign [and] we represented that with one. We got in all the major beats. The challenge about adaptation ... there wasn't a bad challenge, it was a thrilling one.

Laura Bailey: Core to Vex: hot, flirty. She's got a very tough exterior hiding some vulnerability that she doesn't want people to know about. I think we were able to show that and explore that very well within this series. I think all of us were adamant about the things that were important to us as our characters, their personalities. There're moments that happened within the campaign that felt important or resonated with us. We really made sure they were included. Everybody involved in the project knew those were the moments that we had to honor, and we did. That's what's so great about it being creatively controlled by us, we get to include everything that is important.

NPCs and the guest cast who play them

Speaking of people that are involved, there are a lot of people involved that are new. David Tennant, Tony Hale, Stephanie Beatriz, Tom McMahan, Gina Torres all provide guest voices. What was that like having those folks come in?

Bailey: We were so excited to work with a lot of new people. A lot of times, it was instances where we had worked with somebody in the past, and had a voice in mind as we were coming up with, who is... Who can play these NPCs that have been loved by us for hundreds and hundreds of hours and many, many years. How do we bring that to life? We got some amazing, amazing people that came in and really did that.

O'Brien: I can still remember Matt [Mercer]'s version of every character, male or female and creature in between. And some part of me is like, "That's the character," because the memories from the table game are so ingrained, but then to get to see people come to life even more was pretty cool.

Can you each name an NPC that you especially loved that has gotten to show up without spoiling who played them?

O'Brien: The Briarwoods. I was waiting for that from day one.

Bailey: Gilmore.

The Briarwoods story is the first one you chose to tell. Why was that the one that made the most sense to use as an introduction for new fans of this world?

O'Brien: I think it's where everything really gelled and started firing on all cylinders for us around the table. Not that we didn't have huge ... We have amazing memories and thrills and scares at our home game. We were still finding our sea legs in the earliest days of Critical Role. It was when we got into the Briarwood arc that all these inner party relationships really started to crystallize and become distinct. The stakes were raised and the themes became darker.

Bailey: That was the first time that Matt within the campaign had brought in a character backstory elements that we had created, and brought it into the story. And the realization that he could do that because none of us... I mean, maybe Taliesin you had, but I didn't even think about that as an option.

Jaffe: Travis [Willingham] panicked at me after he was like, "That can be a thing? Oh no, what did I ... I wrote that? Oh no, I wrote some things I don't want to see."

Bailey: It's going to come back to haunt us. I think all of us in that moment leaned forward in the table and we're like, "Oh gosh, what's happening? And I'm sure the audience at home saw that recognition within us. And it just, I don't know, it just felt like the right moment to dive in.

Famous characters who should join Vox Machina

You've all done a lot of voice work over the years, is there is a character from your repertoire who you would like to see in this world if you could?

Bailey: There's so many characters that I'd want to see, if we could.

Jaffe: I can be purely technical from a tabletop gaming standpoint. I'm a superhero nerd. I know that the math never works for these. You have to squish them down so hard, but I'd love to see ... I love the Flash and I'd love to see some version of a speedster character done for a fantasy setting of what that would look like. Oh man, superpowers are so hard.

O'Brien: I feel like Dr. Strange could walk into the world and not break the story at all. He would be right at home.

Bailey: I feel like in-world — okay, one that works in-world would be somebody like Jaina Proudmoore coming in and busting out with amazing spells. Just for my own sake, I think that I'd rather have somebody like Tohru Honda or something, come in and... If it's going to be a NAT 20, it's going to succeed. I would love for somebody completely random to come in and just say, "What? How did that happen?"

Vox Machina's comfort movies and locked doors

The last two years have just been a lot of searching for moments of comfort. Do you have any movies or shows that you love and gone back to for comfort in the last two years?

Jaffe: I re-watched "Pushing Daisies" and "Twin Peaks" with friends over Zoom.

That's a really good mix.

Jaffe: Oh, It was a hug.

Bailey: "Fleabag."

O'Brien: "Ted Lasso" makes me feel better.

Is there anything that you can think of in this world that you have created, that is more dangerous, more deadly than a locked door?

O'Brien: Is there anything more dangerous and deadly than a locked door?

Truly is there anything that you can name that you would rather go up against or that you go like, "Nah, that's worse, worse than a locked door." What's... Dragon worse than the locked door or is the locked door worse than the dragon?

O'Brien: A locked door's worse.

Bailey: The locked door has the shame involved with it. You know what I mean?

O'Brien: Thank you.

Bailey: It's the self-loathing that comes with the inability.

The first three episodes of "The Legend of Vox Machina" are now streaming on Prime Video, with batches of new episodes premiering every Friday.