Hannah Telle: Involvement in Life Is Strange is the ‘Greatest Honor’

Okay, we’ve really wanted to ask this for a while: having seen some of your music renditions on your YouTube channel, we’re curious as to whether or not Dontnod pitched the idea of doing some singing for Max? Or better yet, if you asked if you could do some singing during the segments where Max plays her guitar?

This is such a cool question! Thank you. They haven’t pitched any ideas about me singing in the game, but that would be a dream come true. Singing and writing music are my favorite things in the world and I keep them very close to my heart. Music has carried me through a lot of darkness and to have you bring it up here means the world to me.

Dontnod hasn’t been shy in addressing hot-topic issues like depression, social media, bullying and drugs in Life Is Strange. What’s your take on how these themes have been portrayed? Do you think video games often overlook or poorly present real-life issues in a respectful manner?

I think Dontnod is doing an outstanding job. The more awareness of these issues that are raised, the less alone the victims feel. Sometimes shifting your perspective from isolation can make all the difference. Not only does the game present real problems, but it also uses Max to maneuver the player through making decisions themselves on how they feel towards these topics. Then, the player gets to experience the actual repercussions of their opinions and actions. I really believe this game has the power to make a difference. Maybe it sounds naive, but if someone can physically see the outcomes of their choices negatively affecting the world of the game, then there is a chance that they will adjust their attitudes and decisions in real life to create a better, more positive result.

Life Is Strange Episode 4: Dark Room
Life Is Strange Episode 2: Out of Time has several difficult decisions to make, but there’s one that really resonated for people — resulting in some rather intriguing debates as well — so we have to ask for your opinion on which one you’d pick: bacon omelette or Belgian waffle?

Such a tough call! I would go with the Belgian waffle and some strawberries on the side.

While there’s an excruciating wait for the release of Episode 5: Polarized, we’re really interested to hear what your favorite episode in Life Is Strange has been so far? Do any scenes really stand out from the voice-over recording sessions that you did?

The most monumental experience in my entire acting career has been the scene on the roof where Max tries to convince Kate Marsh not to commit suicide. I’m going to speak candidly here because I feel like there are girls out there who need to hear this. When I was 17, I took too many prescription pills and got terribly drugged. I got myself into a situation where I didn’t know what I was doing and when I woke up I discovered I had lost my virginity to someone that meant nothing to me. I had barely even kissed a boy before that night. Everyone at my high school heard about it. It was a complete nightmare. It felt like my peers considered me a drug-addicted slut and I wanted to die.

Depression was a serious problem for me since puberty and I have had moments in my life where I was very ready to do whatever it took to not feel pain and sadness anymore. Being able to play Max and experience what it felt like to fight against someone to save his or her own life was intensely surreal and almost metaphysical for me. It’s something I can’t fully put into words, but it definitely changed my life. I want people to know that there is a plan for their lives. Sometimes we lose sight of it in the storm, but it’s always there. I feel like if my life can make such a drastic turnaround, then anything is possible. I hope people remember that.

Life Is Strange
What can we expect to see from Max’s story in Episode 5: Polarized? If you could describe it in one word, what would you pick and why?

Transformation. This is the episode where Max truly comes into her own. She’s operating from a place of strength, power and self-trust.

Have you been surprised at the commercial success of Life Is Strange? Considering that it’s a digital-only title and it surpassed one million sales earlier this year, the rise of its fandom, cosplay and stunning artwork has been overwhelming. Were you expecting anything along the lines of this?

This has definitely exceeded all of my expectations. The online community for Life Is Strange is phenomenal. It has truly been the greatest honor to be a part of this game. Every day, I have at least one moment where the success of the game blindsides me and I have to remind myself that this is real!

Outside of all of the Life Is Strange-themed questions that we’ve asked, are there any tips or advice that you could share for any up-and-coming voice actors/actresses trying to break into the industry?

Yes! Persistence is everything in the acting business. Sometimes it takes a long time for your ship to come in and many people quit during that wait. The ones who stick around, stay positive and operate from a place of gratitude are the ones who reap the rewards. I wish I would have maintained a more upbeat and thankful attitude during the more difficult times of my career, but I’m definitely trying my best to do that now and I would encourage other actors to do the same.

Life Is Strange is currently available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. For more on Dontnod Entertainment’s story-driven episodic series, check out Hardcore Gamer’s reviews of Episode 1: Chrysalis, Episode 2: Out of Time, Episode 3: Chaos Theory and Episode 4: Dark Room.