Star Wars Jedi: Survivor was released on April 28, and with an expansive variety of new characters and species, it’s no surprise that every fan who played this game has a handful of new names to add to their favorite Star Wars character lists. It was no surprise to me with the growing popularity of bounty hunters in the franchise in recent years that the newly-introduced Caij Vanda was a name that I started seeing repeatedly. The mysterious Nautolan you encounter on Koboh becomes a staple in Pyloon’s Saloon, much as she has become a staple in peoples’ hearts.
Voicing Caij is a familiar name to the Star Wars universe, Verona Blue, who we had the chance to talk to recently about her work for the franchise, specifically as Caij, her career, and Turgle supremacy.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity. This interview does not contain spoilers for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.
Nerds & Beyond: Tell me about your love for Star Wars … what made you a fan of the franchise? Is it like a lifelong thing for you?
Verona Blue: My love of Star Wars is definitely lifelong. I have made so many friends because of Star Wars. I really love the costuming community and lining up for Star Wars community always to join the lineup at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles and help raise money for the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
I just can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a Star Wars fan. So maybe she’s born with it.
Nerds & Beyond: Do you remember which movie you saw in the theaters first?
Verona Blue: In the theaters, I would have seen the re-release in the late 90s. My earliest Star Wars memory is the Ewok movie, and not understanding why Han Solo had two blonde kids. If you’ve seen the Ewok movie, that’s not the plot of the Ewok movie. So I obviously had some context, but I was too young to actually put it together … and I just don’t know how I knew of Han Solo necessarily, or why I was putting those puzzle pieces together. He was just there. It was just always there.
Nerds & Beyond: Part of who you are! You’ve actually done quite a bit for Star Wars, from voicing the first female stormtrooper, to the antenna to beam the Death Star plans to the rebels in Rogue One, and now you’ve obviously been in Jedi: Survivor as Caij, with a few project between. Is there a type of character in the Star Wars universe that you’d be particularly interested in taking on next?
Verona Blue: I think doing a Nightsister or an Inquisitor type would be very cool. But I really really, really, really, really, really, really want to play Aurra Sing in a live-action series. Like … desperately want to play Aurra Sing.
And with Caij, what I got to play is such a little slice, and I feel like there’s so much more to Caij … so if they wanted to bring her into another medium, or another game, I 100% would be thrilled to do Caij again.
Nerds & Beyond: You know I’m all about Caij, Aurra Sing would also be perfect for you. Have you gotten to play the game yet?
Verona Blue: I haven’t played the game yet, but I’ll tell you why! My Xbox is not hooked up, and I can’t figure it out properly, because I don’t use a TV, I have a projector in my house. So I just need somebody to look it up.
Then the other thing is … I’m really not good at these kinds of games. There’s too many buttons, I’m a mash the keypad kind of person. I prefer rhythm games, puzzle games … like Tetris, Portal. Those are the ones that I can wrap my brain around. But if I’m like running somewhere, and then I have to jump, I would never make it. I’m not good at it. It’s gonna be sad.
Nerds & Beyond: Play it on “Story” mode! There is no shame in that.
Verona Blue: Is there a “Beginner’s” mode? “Story” Mode?
Nerds & Beyond: “Story” mode, definitely. The mechanics for this game are also great, and you have the option of on-screen cues that are really helpful. It might not be so bad.
Verona Blue: That makes me feel a little bit better.
Nerds & Beyond: How did you get involved with Jedi: Survivor? When did Caij come to you?
Verona Blue: I auditioned for an “unnamed science fiction fantasy game” for a bounty hunter character … and I was pretty sure it was a Star Wars game, just based on the vibe … it was under a code name and had fake character names. I worked on that audition for like, three days, and because I was pretty confident it was a Star Wars, I was like, “I’m gonna do a Star Wars bounty hunter.” So I filmed myself probably 50 times and watched it back, so I could like really figure out what I thought her movement would look like because it’s performance capture, so it’s your whole body. It’s not like a voiceover where you just have to come up with a voice, it’s as if you’re doing a movie.
I had auditioned for this casting director before for another Star Wars game for Squadrons, and I actually got to the final round for one of the primary characters on there. I didn’t book it, but as a result of that the casting director didn’t make me do a pre-read. She just brought me straight to the director for this because she’d already sort of seen me go through the rounds before. And so I auditioned for the director over Zoom, and the casting director. And then the next day, they asked me to send a tape of a different version of the scene. So I recorded it at home and sent it in. And then I just didn’t hear anything for like a whole month.
So I just assumed, “I didn’t get this”, and I was bummed out, and then I got another callback. So I did another Zoom audition with the director and then didn’t hear anything again for a whole month. Two months after my first audition I found out that I actually got the role. And that was in the beginning of 2021.
Nerds & Beyond: What was that feeling like when you were officially offered the role?
Verona Blue: It was pretty exciting. But also weird, because I still didn’t know what the game was or what the story was, and no one would tell me. I had a little like, “Yay, I think I got the Star Wars game”, but it didn’t really feel real because I didn’t have any details and I didn’t know when I was gonna start working.
I’m telling you, I didn’t even know. No one even officially told me what game I was in until I think the very first day I actually stepped on set at the mocap stage. I had a full body scan, and I was like, “What game is this for?” And they’re like, “Oh, they didn’t tell you?” And I said, “No, they didn’t tell me.” She was like, Oh.” And that was the end! I mean, officially, I can’t even remember if somebody on the first day was like, “Welcome to Survivor!” I’m pretty sure no one ever told me what game I was in to this day. No one has officially written down being like, “By the way … this is what you’re doing.”
Nerds & Beyond: Did you get to help build a backstory for Caij, or was that something you were provided? If you were able to contribute to her characterization, what is one of your favorite attributes of hers?
Verona Blue: I was told very little about Caij because it was told very little about the game in general. I am accustomed to this with Star Wars, because they just never tell you anything, whether it’s the movies or anything else. The thing that’s interesting about doing a loop group, which is what I do for the movies, which is when you have a group of people and you provide the background voices and aliens. Usually with a movie with a loop group, they tell you what movie it is, and sort of what you’re getting into, so you can prepare. With Star Wars, they don’t tell you anything, so to work on a Star Wars movie, and I bet a Lord of the Rings or a Marvel Studios project’s probably similar — you have to be a mega fan, because you have to be able to come into a room totally blind and be able to pull Star Wars language, voices, aliens, everything out of your memory and create them on the fly.
So I am accustomed to not being told anything about Star Wars, but the writers did give me some insight to the kind of character they had in mind. Her swagger and her attitude, and what they were sort of basing her on. But her mannerisms, her voice — they’re all mine. We did the performance capture before most of the voice work, so I didn’t really have a lot of opportunities to warm into the character. I showed up on the first day on the mocap stage and just had to dive into this world with most of these actors who had done a whole other game and had been working for months and knew their characters really well.
So I did contribute a lot to her because she really only existed on paper and in sort of one concept sketch that I was shown … illicitly. I would have to ask the writers to know for sure, but I think that I really made her a lot more mean than they wanted her to be. I think some of her lines in the cantina are really just supposed to be kind of dismissive, and I think I just made them a little bit meaner.
Nerds & Beyond: I think she’s very clever, and I can’t say enough how much I love what you did with the script. What has been your favorite part of seeing the fan reaction to the game now that we’re almost three weeks out?
Verona Blue: I can’t believe how incredible the reaction has been. This is the biggest video game role that I’ve ever had, and people have been really cool. A lot of people want Caij to be gay, and I think that’s really rad, so I’m pretty excited about that. I think bringing more pan, bi, gay characters into this universe is really fun.
I have seen in the past, especially on Twitter, a lot of really vitriolic video game feedback about other games and people, and I haven’t really seen that with this, which is a huge relief for me personally. I think it’s very good vibes all the way around, and that feels really nice.
Nerds & Beyond: This game definitely seems to have an overwhelmingly great community surrounding it overall. Several of the cast and people who have worked on the game have been really active on social media, engaging the fandom which is always fun to watch and learn something new. And who doesn’t love looking at game photography for hours on end?
Verona Blue: It’s so cool. The work the team did on this game is unbelievable. I just don’t play these kinds of narrative games very often, like I said, because I find it too hard. But every time I see pictures from this game, it’s incredible. Every thing I see can be blown up and just printed on a wall. It’s gorgeous.
Nerds & Beyond: What’s your favorite piece of advice you’ve received in your career?
Verona Blue: I learned a lot from a woman called Bonnie Gillespie, she is a casting director. She used to teach a class in LA that was business for actors, and it was primarily people who had just moved to LA who didn’t really know how the industry worked, or how to approach Hollywood as a business. She taught me that the best shot that most people will ever have to get cast is to get very good at the thing that people want to see you doing. Instead of trying to be this chameleon who always shows up to every audition as a totally different person, we should lean into our personal uniqueness and play to our strengths, and then do the character how you would do it, and not necessarily what you think the casting director wants to see. Because if they like your choices, even if it’s not “right”, they’ll give you adjustments to see if you can do it the way that they had in mind.
But consistently presenting the most polished version of what makes you the most worthy of being cast is what’s going to get you work. And as somebody who’s very heavily tattooed, has a lot of piercings in my face and always has weird colored hair … I’m very specific, especially when it comes to television and film. So trying to pretend that I can walk into a room with a bunch of beautiful, Margot Robbie types and do that better than them is bonkers. I have to go and do me. If I auditioned for Barbie, or Harley Quinn or whatever, I had to do it in the way that makes sense for what I’m working with. And I think that’s the best advice I ever got. Embrace who you are, and use that to your advantage.
Nerds & Beyond: What’s the part of your job that you look forward to the most?
Verona Blue: I really love rehearsal. I love being able to playfully tweak a performance and collaborate with the other actors and the director and sometimes even the writers to see what feels best. And maybe it’s because I have a background in theatre, and that’s a lot of how you get something good. The process is a lot lower pressure than when you’re actually shooting because you have more time, so you can try things out that are a little bit more goofy or “out there” and unexpected because sometimes you might find something that really does work. In theater, often they make you do it huge and then you do it tiny, and then you find something that feels really comfortable somewhere in there or you find unexpected moments.
That’s something that when you’re actually shooting, you’re on a schedule and money. Time is money, especially with video games. There’s a dozen people in that room, sitting behind computers burning hard drives, and memory or whatever else needs to be going to get things going, just recording all of this data constantly. You can’t dick around — really, it’s rude. So having an opportunity to really rehearse is the thing I love the most.
Nerds & Beyond: Do you have any projects that you know of in the future that you’re allowed to share?
Verona Blue: I have a very small part in a horror movie, actually, that I’m shooting sometime this summer. But that’s literally all I can say about it. I’ve just been under NDA for like the last 10 years, I guess. Between Disney, and video games, and anything that’s motion capture, forget about it. I just don’t even post on my socials. I maybe I post a picture in the mocap suit or whatever like, six months later, but it’s not even worth putting it out there because people immediately ask “What were you working on? What are you shooting?” It’s like, “Oh, I can’t tell you for like three years. So this was a waste of everybody’s time.”
Nerds & Beyond: Horror is one of my deepest loves, so I’m excited for whatever it is. I know you did V/H/S/99 last year, and I regularly rewatch 1000 Ways to Die.
Verona Blue: Really!?
Nerds & Beyond: Yes, I just love that show. I’ve always loved that show, and sometimes it’s my bedtime thing … I’ll just put on 1000 Ways to Die.
Verona Blue: That was one of the very first things I did when I came to LA. It was a million years ago. It’s really not scripted. It’s non-union, and they pay like 150 bucks or whatever, and it was weird. The characters don’t have names. It was just such a weird, fun time on that series, because you could do whatever you wanted. What a weird show.
Nerds & Beyond: It is a very unique, bizarre show, I think that’s why I love it so much — it’s truly one of a kind.
Verona Blue: It’s all fake. Like, no … those things didn’t happen.
Nerds & Beyond: There’s something so comforting about something that is so consistently outrageous that every time you watch it you find yourself going “This is wild.”
Verona Blue: I agree with that.
Nerds & Beyond: We’ve wrapped up the serious questions, and now I like to do a lightning round. They’re very straightforward questions with the intent for you to answer with whatever comes to mind first.
Verona Blue: Oh no.
Nerds & Beyond: It’s not a test, there’s no wrong answers! Would you rather have a lightsaber or blaster?
Verona Blue: I think lightsaber because it doesn’t exist like in the real world and the same way that a pew-pew does.
Nerds & Beyond: We can sort of understand blasters, but lightsabers are hard to wrap our heads around. There are a lot of questions with lightsabers. Someone really just needs to write a book that is just straight up cover to cover “The Physics of a Lightsaber.”
Verona Blue: I’d bet there is a manifesto about it somewhere on Tumblr.
Nerds & Beyond: What is your favorite Star Wars movie?
Verona Blue: Return of the Jedi.
Nerds & Beyond: Turgle or Skoova?
Verona Blue: Turgle. Turgle supremacy.
Nerds & Beyond: Truth. Favorite childhood cartoon?
Verona Blue: The Snorks.
Nerds & Beyond: Valid.
Verona Blue: Is that a real answer?
Nerds & Beyond: It is! Thoughts on the Star Wars Holiday Special?
Verona Blue: So … painful to watch. Just so uncomfortable to watch. The epitome of cringe, truly. It’s not even fun to watch in like an ironic way, it makes me feel a little bit like I’m watching the Star Wars version of Curb Your Enthusiasm. You’re like “Oh, no, just stop leaving voicemails, man. Hang up.”
Nerds & Beyond: If you’ve watched the American The Office, the “Scott’s Tots” episode. Same vibes.
Verona Blue: Totally same vibes. It’s like the beginning of that movie Swingers, when he keeps calling the girl, the voicemail keeps hanging up, and he keeps calling back. It’s all of that.
Nerds & Beyond: Would you eat Greez’s food?
Verona Blue: No, but I don’t like anything, honestly, so I don’t need anybody’s food.
Nerds & Beyond: You can have dinner with any three Star Wars characters. Who are you choosing?
Verona Blue: Oh … that’s tough. Lobot. Lando. And I think Leia.
Nerds & Beyond: That’s a respectable group. Lando knows how to throw a party, so it’s gonna be a great dinner no matter what when you put him in the mix.
Verona Blue: It’s also probably the only way I’m going to get to learn more about Lobot!
Nerds & Beyond: We all have that background Star Wars character that we’re just desperately waiting for more information on, and you just have to keep hoping. If it can happen for Maul, it can happen for anyone! There’s always hope.
I really appreciate you talking to me, it was great to nerd out for a while!
Verona Blue: Thank you!
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, is available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series XIS, and PC. Our spoiler-free review for the game can be found here.