The long-awaited Death Stranding is only a week away now, launching on November 8 for PlayStation 4. Before then, however, star Norman Reedus has been talking about what it’s like working with enigmatic director Hideo Kojima, how he got involved with the cancelled Silent Hills, and whether he knows just what Death Stranding is all about.
“I’ve been in several video games with Walking Dead, and they just kind of came with the territory of the juggernaut that is the Walking Dead, but nothing like this. I never dreamed that I would be wearing a motion capture suit with Velcro all over me. It was a blast, I have to admit,” Reedus told The Hollywood Reporter.
The actor–best known for playing Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead–then elaborated on what it’s like being directed by Kojima, and delved into how the Metal Gear Solid creator is open to collaboration. “Sometimes the other actors were there. A lot of times it was just me and Hideo,” he explained. “He would have a plastic baby doll on the ground and want me to cradle it and act like it’s dead, then act like it’s alive. Then freak out because there’s handprints everywhere. You stand up and he goes, ‘Imagine there’s a thousand dead whales in front of you,’ and you’re like, ‘What?!’ His mind is on another level. He’s a genius’ genius.
“A lot of times a director will say, in this scene I think you should do it this way, and they’ve rehearsed it in their head so much that when you throw something new at them they sort of short-circuit. There’s not room for interpretation. Hideo is the opposite. You’ll say, ‘Maybe I should do this,’ and he’ll say, ‘Yes! And then do this on top of that!’ He’s a collaborative mind. He wants to hear your input. If you don’t say anything, he’ll think there’s probably something wrong with you. He’s a lot of fun to work with. If he ever did a movie or anything else, I would be there in a heartbeat.”
As far as Death Stranding’s story is concerned, Reedus says it gradually came into focus and started to make sense after half a year. “[Kojima] revealed it in bits and pieces, and I’ll admit that some of those bits and pieces I was like, what are you talking about? As we worked on the game, it began to make more sense to me, and now I know what the game’s about, but I’ll admit there was a good half a year in the beginning where I was just like, I trust him, I’m going to do whatever he says.”
Of course, Reedus and Kojima’s relationship began when they worked on P.T., the playable teaser that was eventually going to lead to Silent Hills until Konami cancelled the project. “I first met Hideo when Guillermo del Toro called me and said, ‘Hey, there’s a guy who’s going to call you and wants to do a video game with you. Just say yes.’ I said, ‘Who is he?’ And he said, ‘Trust me, just say yes,’ Reedus recalls. “Guillermo gave me my SAG card and my first acting job, and I trust him with everything. I knew this guy would be good if Guillermo was saying this. So Hideo, Guillermo and I were going to do another game, a Silent Hills game, but Konami and Kojima had a falling out, so it went radio silence for a minute.”
Reedus admits he doesn’t play video games himself, but his friends let him know what a cult hit P.T. was. “I have never played it,” he says. “I’ve seen it! I know I’m the surprise at the end. I’ve seen it played, and it’s terrifying. It’s a horror film.” While many were disappointed by Silent Hills cancellation, Reedus is ultimately glad things didn’t work out with the horror series. “Silent Hills had the backstory and people knew that game, knew what it was about and what it would look like. When that went away, I was bummed, but when Hideo described what we were doing next, I completely forgot about it. I was like, thank god that didn’t work, because this is way better.
“I’ve really gotten to know the mind of Hideo a little bit. I like the fact that Silent Hills didn’t happen, to be honest, because I’ve gotten such a peek into the way he works and the way he thinks, and I’m completely blown away by this guy.”
Kallie Plagge praised Kojima’s latest in GameSpot’s Death Stranding review, saying “It’s positive without ignoring pain; in fact, it argues in both its story and its gameplay that adversity itself is what makes things worth doing and life worth living. It’s a game that requires patience, compassion, and love, and it’s also one we really need right now.” You can also check out our review roundup to see what the other critics are saying about the divisive title.