Exclusive Interview: Tim Downie on Making Magic With Gale of Waterdeep in ‘Baldur’s Gate 3’, Folktales and Cryptids, and More!


If you’re ever given the honor of holding a conversation with Tim Downie, a love for entertainment and story-telling that he has carried with him since childhood will continue to showcase itself throughout, his varying interests and expertise lending to well-rounded conversation. Since training at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts (formerly Mountview Theatre School), Tim has provided beloved performances across film, stage, and television in titles like The King’s Speech, Paddington, Taste of London, Upstart Crow, Outlander, and so many more.

In 2023, Tim’s versatility as a creative continued to be shown through releases like Haunting of the Queen Mary, Good Omens season 2, and more. Plus, years of work culminated and finally released with his performance as Gale Dekarios in the current title holder of Game of the Year, Baldur’s Gate 3.

Currently, while Tim continues to be celebrated for his ongoing contributions to entertainment for his talent and commitment to his craft, he’s also taken some time to embrace one of his passions in exploring English folklore through the FolkLands podcast alongside Justin Chubb. In addition to his entertainment career, Tim is also an ambassador for The Flying Seagull Project, Blue Sky Autism Project, and The Sick Children’s Trust.

Nerds & Beyond had the pleasure of speaking with Tim about the incredibly nuanced Gale of Waterdeep, sprinkled with plenty of dives into Tim’s love of folklore and what shaped it, additional career moments, and more.

Note: This interview has been edited for clarity, and does contain spoilers for Baldur’s Gate 3.

Nerds & Beyond: I want to open this interview up with the opening of Baldur’s Gate 3 for Gale! When we first meet him he’s stuck in a portal, of course, and I’ve always found it funny that there’s an option to say you don’t trust him, because as soon as he popped out I was like, “Oh, this is the warmest character that we’ve met so far, he’s got to come with.” So that was my first impression of Gale, what was your first impression of him when you started working on the game? 

Tim Downie: My first impression was exactly the same. And, “This is tremendous, and only I could play him.” No, I’m kidding. 

It’s been an interesting journey, ‘cause when we first started, which is now five years ago since, Gale was different in the Early Access. He looked different, the way he would interact with the other characters and with the Tavs was different. As an actor you go, “Okay, great, this is the character, I’ll sort of mold and manipulate it so that I can sit comfortably within the avatar, and we’ll go with that.” What was quite interesting was after that initial release, with all the feedback that everyone gets and the adjustments they make on animation and story and every other aspect, the character began to be then written with your own personal cadence and your own rhythms, and you could definitely notice the touch of different writers and the care and attention that they would take. They would sit and they would watch you do your thing — which you’ve got to say “Hats off to you,” anyone who will watch hours and hours of raw data of someone just kind of shouting into a void is absolutely extraordinary. And honestly, they deserve medals. 

But they would take that footage and audio and they would take those nuances and those things that you do and those little ways you say things or how you approach a line, and they might not think this line is particularly funny or particularly emotional or anything like that and it might just be the way that you suddenly approach it they think, “Oh, okay. This…we’ll pull all these in and then we will create it as a whole.” And they did it for all of us to try to create these rounded characters.

I always say “No evil character is evil all the time, a serial killer can tell a really good knock knock joke.” It’s those kinds of things that round a character, and someone generally nice like Gale can absolutely have dark sides and menace, moments of strife and worry and all of those wonderful nuances. I think they really captured that with Baldur’s Gate 3

Nerds & Beyond: I like that you mentioned that the game is full of rounded characters because they are, they all have different aspects that make them feel real. I adore that Gale specifically is so serious and studious, but at the same time he has this really playful side — he often jokes about how he was a mischievous youth, he encourages other people like Arabella to do so, he understands when The Dark Urge first mentions their violent thoughts. There is a lot of nuance and depth there.

But the quality that I love with Gale most is that obviously he is very ill when we first meet him – not that we know immediately – and he’s dealing with a lot of chronic pain. I find him incredibly selfless because he takes that day-to-day head on to help the party, which is an aspect I feel continues to show throughout the three acts. What’s your favorite quality of Gale’s, or what did you take away from him?

Tim Downie: It’s so interesting hearing you say that, because I had so many different feedbacks about what people take from the character and sometimes things really surprise you. It’s interesting hearing that such and such has taken that particular aspect, because there are broad things like “He’s funny,” and that’s quite nice, that’s a nice trait, though not one you necessarily get to see that much. It’s so interesting hearing other people’s views about what they take from Gale. 

The idea of dealing with chronic pain I found really interesting and an interesting subplot to play, and that was the great thing about doing something like this is that it is so unbelievably nuanced. You have so many layers that just keep going and going and going, as much as we all contain multitudes within ourselves. We all deal with these things, but only certain things pop up to the surface at any given point. 

What did I take from Gale, though? I liked his studiousness. I would imagine that he was probably bullied as a kid for it, and he was probably a bit of a joker because he was bullied, and he uses that as a defense. But an even bigger defense for him is “I now know stuff that I didn’t before,” and that’s a power. It’s very similar to when you are being bullied and you’re the funny one – that’s your power, that’s your thing. “I may not be able to hurt you in a traditional sense, but I can say things that will make you feel pain,” which is a very different thing because you physically can’t go after them. 

That’s the wonderful thing about acting and this character as well is being able to explore all these things that you might not have, that you might have gone, “I’m not gonna look at that again, I don’t want to deal with that,” and then it brings it up again and it’s like, “Oh, this is actually quite cathartic,” to re-explore these these moments of sorrow and loss and how you deal with grief and things like that and heartbreak and how you get over that. 

It’s not all just tears, you do try and make a joke of it.

Nerds & Beyond: When you’re talking about those different layers in the humanity building, I think one of the most important aspects in this game is the more “background” or passive dialogue, so dialogue that is prompted in the world and not in the cut scenes. 

For instance — the first time I made Gale sneak he immediately complained about his knees, and it was such a real moment where he was just like, “Oh, don’t make me do this. This is not what I’m here for, I’ve got bad knees and I’m not made for this.” Did you have any of those background lines or moments that stick out as being particularly fun to craft? 

Tim Downie: I remember the first time I ever had to do waiting, I found it infinitely interesting in so many ways. The idea that I did actually just have to wait and just actually, “Hmm…” Those little things I find really funny because they’re probably the closest to me that the character ever gets. His waiting mannerisms are kind of very English – slightly annoyed and I’m not going to show it to you though because we’re all being very nice, but I’ll do it with a huff and a slightly sarcastic, “Well, that’s great. Another 20 minutes. That’s great.” Those kinds of sentiments I found wonderful and incredibly fun, and funny, to do. 

And I think that’s great in a computer game. I don’t play computer games, I’m not a gamer so I don’t know what is a common thing to pop up or what isn’t a common thing to pop up. All I was doing when I approached this was, “Well, this is how I would approach a character if it was on film, or TV, or stage,” and I’m just gonna infuse it with the stuff I would just usually do with technical tweaks because it isn’t any of those things, it’s a thing in and of itself.

But at the end of the day, you’re still trying to make human connections and you’re still trying to create a drama and a dialogue and kinship with the audience or with the player, however you do it. So I found that infinitely interesting and of course, you’re on it for such a long time that it in and of itself becomes a real thing.

Nerds & Beyond: Gale is the most popular origin character to play as. What is it about him that you think allows so many different players to connect with him to the depths the fandom has?

Tim Downie: I really don’t know. I think you’d have to ask the players that, ‘cause I don’t know, to be quite honest with you. He’s a wizard, and who wouldn’t want to be a wizard at the end of the day? I always say the difference between wizards and sorcerers is that sorcerers just pretend – they just assume they know what they’re doing, but a wizard has really learned this trade. And so there’s that kind of weight of knowledge and learning, which I would love to play as and be for a length of time. 

I think it’s also the frailties. I like characters, and a lot of people do I’m assuming, that have flaws, otherwise you’ve made them completely unapproachable. To be completely superhuman or completely extraordinary at something then removes the humanity from it because it becomes like, “Well, that’s never gonna happen.” But when there’s a flaw, when there’s, “Oh, I’ve got that wrong, too,” or like, “My knees hurt” as you say, or “I’ve got a bit of a headache. I really don’t want to do this,” “You’re really annoying me, this is very annoying, could you please hurry up?” or “Stop licking the damn thing,” it’s always those moments that are fun because it shows what we’re all thinking at that point, it removes it from almost archetype and stereotype and it becomes human in a way.

Nerds & Beyond: I’m really glad that you brought up that line — you know which one — because I had it written down specifically in regards to ask you if there were any lines that stuck out to you as funny while you were reading them.

Tim Downie: Well, that line – when it came up, we did it a couple of different ways. I remember doing it a couple of different ways, we did it quite straight, just a normal way of saying it. And then I just had a moment of thinking, “Well, if I was doing this for real, then I would get slightly annoyed and I would get a bit snappy.” That kind of snappy that creates a “Sorry, yep. Yep, I did that. Sorry, that was me.” So we just threw it in and the director at the time went, “We’ll put it in, they’ll probably say no and scrub that out.” But it stayed, and so it was equally as much of a surprise to me as anybody else when it became a very popular line. But it was good fun to do. Because I come from a comic background, you do sometimes play to the crowd and you think, “Okay, well, if our little team here are all finding this amusing, then maybe we’re onto something.”

There were a couple of other lines as well that I just think are amusing. The whole hologram sequence I really enjoyed just because I could just pull it out and archetype it and be quite proper. Almost like if you were to draw an Englishman, it would kind of be that sort of like, “This is lovely, I’m now gonna kill you all.” It’s that idea of just no feelings, “Oh, is that a biscuit? That’s lovely. No, you’re all going to die. I’m very sorry. But I really enjoyed that.” I thought that was great to be able to kind of have a chance to do that as well.

Nerds & Beyond: I think one of the moments that really stuck out to me with Gale like, “Oh, he is proper English right now” is if he dies in your party, the instructions that he leaves you to resurrect him — and I mean that in the best way possible, I absolutely loved that sequence. I was not expecting it the first time it popped up for me. 

Was there a scene in particular that you were really looking forward players seeing? 

Tim Downie: I was really fascinated the day they told me about Owlbears. I was fascinated by that. I was like, “What on earth is that? Show me a picture of it in this instant.” And I was like, “Wow, that’s an interesting thing.” And then I got really fascinated by Myconids. Mind reading mushrooms? Amazing, can’t wait. I found all the sequences in the Underdark really, really fascinating, just because that would be my natural go-to, that kind of realm. It’s quite cool and dark and a bit mysterious and visceral and things like that. Those sequences were really fun to do. 

And also when he gets possessed by the murder demon Orin, I really enjoyed that. Again, because I’ve spent three and a half years playing Gale, to get a chance to be like, “Oh, now you’re a version of yourself…so it’s not like the hologram, but you are a version of yourself, and you are taken over by this murderous entity.” And so that I really looked forward to. Whenever those bits came out, I was like, “Ha ha ha. Yeah, I like these bits. These are gonna be good.”

Nerds & Beyond: You do tend to like a little bit of the more spooky and dark things, so it doesn’t surprise me to hear you say that you like the darker aspects.

Tim Downie: Of course, there you go. You see, there you go.

Nerds & Beyond: It all fits together, very on brand. I know there are thousands of variations of the endings, but what broad picture ending is your favorite for Gale? 

Tim Downie: My immediate knee jerk was absolutely godhood. Absolutely. Why would you not do that? You get the chance of being a god? That means you could do literally anything you wanted to. Why would you not want to do that? Surely that’s what it’s all been going towards.  And there is, I’d like to think, maybe a tiny part of Gale like I was saying earlier about a bullied kid, like “Oh, yes, yes, look at me. What do you think about that? I’ve won.” 

While it’s that way when that happens, there’s always that sense of simmering revenge once you get there where you go, “Oh, hang on. Maybe this wasn’t as good as I thought.” But the invitation to do it I think would just be too much to decline, and he would have to accept regardless and then regret it later. The hours are bad, there’s no one really to talk to and everyone’s a bit arrogant, everyone’s driving Audis, it’s really a whole thing with the lines. 

Nerds & Beyond: “Oh, here’s this guy again.”

Tim Downie: Oh, not behind you in the queue. “Hey, Ron, how are you? No, looking great.” Gale would just go, “I wanna go back and just teach,” after a while.

Nerds & Beyond: That was actually my first ending for Gale – godhood. 

Tim Downie: Really?!

Nerds & Beyond: As soon as he presented it as an option, I was like, “Well, yeah, of course, let him become a god, why not?” There were a lot of people that thought, and I was very surprised by this, when he promised his romance partner in that scene that he’ll bring you with him later, he’s not being genuine. And I was insistent, “No, he is.” So when they added the epilogue, I was very happy to see that he honors his promise.

Tim Downie: And he definitely would. His partner would definitely go with him, no question about it. Or at least he would ask.

Nerds & Beyond: I know you’re not a gamer, but would you play as Gale if you did ever sit down with the game?

Tim Downie: Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, it’s very difficult when you work on something for that long, there are moments that are gonna come up where you’ll go, “I have no idea what this is, I have completely forgotten.” And also we record out of sync, so while in the beginning you would record in-sync and then there would be times where you would flip between literally like the second scene in the entire game, to the end, then you would jump between the two or you would jump around all over the place. So there are certainly moments that I would just completely forget and wouldn’t even remember. So I think it would be great to just see it and then I’ll probably get horribly addicted to it and then go, “Right….we’re now gonna play as Karlach, and let’s work this out.”

Nerds & Beyond: She’s on my list, but I haven’t gotten there yet. If you do ever get around to playing, you should definitely stream.

Do you ever get earworms from your work – lines that will just randomly pop into your head months or years after you’ve done a project?

Tim Downie: Oh, God. All the time, all the time. They become so common that sometimes you think, “That’s just been me for years!” and it hasn’t, you’ve actually taken it from something. So, like, for instance, I did a show called, This Is Jinsy with Justin [Chubb], who I present FolkLands with, and whenever I see a puddle I will say, “Ah, the mystery pond,” just because that was a line from the show, and I just really enjoyed the mystery pond. In fact, I even wrote it on my daughter’s first birthday cake – “This way to the mystery pond.” I just really like the idea of a mystery pond — just think about it. Like, what’s so mysterious about this? I loved it and still do.

But then there are others that just follow you around. Like, “Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango,” follows me around all the time. Or being “a malnourished pimp with World War I facial hair in my sister’s clothes,” that follows me around quite a lot as well. There’s a lot, but all that I’m enormously proud of. “Oh my goodly godlingtons” my kids say, which is from Upstart Crow, and was just the kind of swearing that we would use. So they often say, “Oh my goodly godlingtons,” which makes them sound so unbelievably English. To those that don’t know – it’s quite painful. 

So yeah, there are definitely a few, but it’s lovely to have to have those little reminders.

Nerds & Beyond: What was your favorite folk tale as a child?

Tim Downie: My favorite folk tale as a kid? That’s really interesting.

I used to have these little – in fact, do I still? I do, I do have them somewhere and I will find them and I’ll show you them later. They’re these little Labybird Books that we used to have as a kid in the late ’80s, and they would be things like Dracula and The Hounds of Baskerville and things like that. I was terrified of them, so I had to hide them at the bottom of the bed, because there’s a picture of Dracula on the front of it that now you would look at it and go, “Okay…” but it used to absolutely terrify me so much so that I thought it knew my fear in the room that I had to keep it hidden away. That strength of story never leaves you. 

There were a lot of stories that I really liked. Ghost stories were my thing as a kid, I used to really love a good ghost story — Borley Rectory to phantom hounds and things like that. So I naturally found haunted houses. In my village where we grew up there was a disused house in the center that everyone said was haunted and not to go into it. Now, there were a lot of strange goings on in that house anyway, which only lent more fuel to a young fire. So I grew up around either old or made up folklore that I just put on the landscape myself, as a kid does, to make it more interesting. 

Then there are those strange little things that do happen, like the haunted house that was there in the village had a flooded basement that you had to creep in on because it was on the way to school. So you’d creep into this overgrown, broken down house, you’d have to walk in over the planks and there was a flooded basement – if you fell, that’s it, you’re gone. Then walk up the stairs and then around the stairs and then down this corridor at the end were jars, and you had to take a jar and then come back out, and that was all about ghosts and things like that. If you take the jar, the thing’s gonna find you and haunt you, so you just put it in the bin or something. That was the kind of general thing that we did. 

And then as I got slightly older, the actual folklore of where I’m from became very prevalent and very, very interesting, and this quite dull, boring English village that you just desperately wanted to leave suddenly became a bit more interesting because it suddenly had barrows, ancient burial grounds of Saxon Knights just up the road. It had tales of buried treasure, it had these ancient walkways where Neolithic man would walk, where they would traverse the country and they would fall in line with stone circles that were further along and beacons that they would set on fire and things like that. Suddenly the land becomes interesting and you become part of it – this is part of your story, you are from this place. So then no matter where you go, you carry those little wisps and ghosts of the place you are from with you, and no matter what they become real in a way because you carry them. 

It was an amalgamation. I don’t know that that quite answers your question, but it was a build up of certain pieces that became a whole. But it was always the love of the mysterious and unknown — the otherness, the liminal space, the space in between space, those kind of things that you walk past like a train station, you get those barren areas of land where it’s just weeds and trees and things like that, and you think, “Well, why is that there? What is that? It’s a piece of land but why is it fenced off? What’s happened?” Then you begin to throw story into it. 

Haruki M- – I’m drifting now – but Haruki Murakami, the Japanese writer, writes about these things, which I found fascinating: those “dead zone” areas where nothing really happens and yet something did once happen. And what is that? And where’s the mystery? And that’s what I find so fascinating. So, yeah, I’ve rambled but I think that’s hopefully in the right area.

Nerds & Beyond: It all comes full circle because you were talking about the mystery pond a moment ago and saying, “I don’t know why I’m so fascinated with the idea of a mystery pond,” but then you bring it full circle with stories from your childhood. Is there a particular haunted location in the world that you haven’t yet gotten to visit that you would really like to?

Tim Downie: Oh, there are so many. There are so, so many. I was introduced the other day to Belgian folklore. Now, most people when they think of folklore do not think of Belgium. “Oh, yes, Belgium folklore. That sounds fascinating.” But they have an enormous amount of cryptids, things that drag people into rivers and things like that. It’s such a tiny country that to have such a profusion of these things is quite unusual. So there are huge amounts of places that I would love to see.

To pick out places is quite fun for me, like I say to my family. When I die, one of the things that is written into my will is my family will have to spend a night in a haunted house. So there is an established M.O. there with just haunted houses in general. Anything that’s got a history or got something about it. Stone circles I’m fascinated with, but not big ones like Stonehenge. It’s the smaller ones that just, again, live on the edge of things that people forget. It’s the forgetting that I think I have the most fascination with. 

There’s a great story in Leicester about the one called Black Annis, which is a witch with iron fingers that skins children and lambs and then hangs the skins on this oak tree outside of her bower to dry and then wears them as a skirt. This is a piece of English folklore, it sounds like Japanese manga. It’s quite extraordinary. You can go to the area, which is mapped, you can work out where it is, but it’s now someone’s back garden. There’s that part of folklore which I really, really love. It’s those things that have been forgotten that maybe shouldn’t have been and that you could knock on that person’s door and say, you know, “Where you’ve got your kids paddling pool and swing set, that was the opening of a skin eating witch. You have a lovely house, by the way.” 

I find that really, really fascinating – the fact that it’s forgotten and the question of if it should have been forgotten, or is there something there to offer? For instance, there was a very interesting poltergeist story which happened in Hull, a seaside town but not that seaside, quite industrial. There was a house that was so badly haunted that people couldn’t live in it, and it was found out that it was the edge of an old priory of Black monks. But that was completely seized by Cromwell’s men and reduced to rubble, but then they took the rubble as they often did and rebuilt the houses with the rubble from the abbey into these houses. So now these houses are haunted by the months. 

Things have been forgotten that shouldn’t have been. There’s plenty of places that I would adore to go and see. Iceland I’d like to go, I’d find that fascinating. And Mexico, Central America – maybe that’s the Indiana Jones part of me that would just love to go and have an explore there.

Nerds & Beyond: Could always pop over to Ireland, which also has a very deep cryptid history as well. Banshees, leprechauns, dobhar-chú, so on…

Tim Downie: And let’s not forget the Salmon of Knowledge! The first time I heard that I went, “That’s just…that’s wonderful. That is a wonderful, wonderful thing.”

Nerds & Beyond: I wish I could track the number of Google searches for “Salmon of Knowledge” prompted by this interview. 

What is the best advice that you have been given in your career?

Tim Downie: The best career advice…there’s been a few, but I think one of the most prevailing is the power of saying no, the power of not doing something. As an actor, your natural inclination is just to say yes to everything because it’s just such an up and down career, the natural inclination is to say yes to everything. 

This job is a vocation and it’s part of you whether you like it or not. It’s an expressive medium as much as a painter or a musician. But I think actors have a tendency, and I’m as guilty of this as anybody else, of just saying yes just to say yes, and we’ll worry about it later if we don’t like it. But I don’t know of an artist that will deliberately set out to paint a picture and they’ll go, “Yeah, it’s okay.” They’re gonna go, “No, no, I’ve spent hours on this and I wanted to make it as good as I possibly can and really put my mark on it.” Even if you’re just painting like a dog for someone as a commission or you’re painting Guernica, you really have to put yourself into it. 

The most important advice is remembering the power to say, “No, actually, I don’t wanna do that.” Yeah, I might need the money and I might need this and I might need that. And there might be people in it where you go, “Well, these are wonderful people, but I just don’t like it.” There’s real weight in just going, “It’s just not for me.”

Nerds & Beyond: It is important to be able to set those boundaries, I think for any profession, but especially for actors and other creatives. Like you touched on, there is the tendency as a creative to go, “Yes, I want to create, of course I do.” But knowing when to go, “But this isn’t for me – this specific thing I don’t need to create,” that is so important.

Tim Downie: Absolutely. There are certain things that you will drift towards as a creative and there are certain things that you will have kinship with, and that’s when you do your best work. If you’re in something that you kind of go, “Oh, God, this is awful,” and that spark has just gone, you may as well work a desk job, which is such a shame because you sacrifice so much to do a creative job. It’s such a shame to do that. So, I think there’s power in the saying no and doing the things that you think are a good fit.

I think that’s infectious and that infuses and makes work better and makes whatever you’re doing, hopefully bigger than the sum of its parts in that sense, ‘cause you’re investing it with just that little bit more.

Nerds & Beyond: It protects your passion for your craft as well when you’re only saying yes to projects that you actually want to be creating. 

I’ve been trying to not look too much at the books behind you – what’s a book or poem you think applies to your mindset going into this year?

Tim Downie: Ooooooh, that’s tricky. What have I got? What am I, what am I? Well, what am I reading at the moment? Let’s have a quick little tour, a quick look.

I’ve just got some Montague Rhodes James, who I’m a huge fan of – the father of the modern ghost story. So that’s what I’ll be diving into first. There’s some Hannah Sullivan, who I think is an extraordinary poet, she won the T.S. Elliot Award two years ago. I’ve just started her second book of poetry, so that’s awesome and I’ll be all over that. 

What else? There’s some Ted Hughes, always in the market for some Ted Hughes. I think when you’re talking about poetry, I always go to Ted Hughes. There’s something about his poetry — and a poet called Kathleen Raine as well — that I just think there’s something about those two writers that is just intangible. I can’t tell you really, but there’s just a kind of solid quality. I think it’s like there’s something invoked and evoked of the land and of a place that they just seem to be able to tap into and draw out within a few lines. I can almost open them up and be lost almost instantly, like time stops. So, they’re the writers I would go to. 

Woodwoses is probably what I will delve into a bit as a topic, which is a wild man, the woodwose from Old English. That’s probably what I would jump into at the moment. Then basically any piece of folklore that just grabs me and makes me go, “That’s really interesting.” I bought a book on prehistoric London the other day about the stone circles and how they dragged them from the Portland Peninsula to get that tone of London, that gray style that you come to London and go, “Oh, yeah, this is London, this is London stone.” It’s because of where they mined this particular stone, and they made a lot of tombs out of this particular stuff because it was quite expensive at the time. So the Tower of London has a very fascinating, apart from just being the Tower of London, story of the head of a giant being buried in the White Mound, which I find fascinating. It faces France and it’s the head of the giant Brân the Blessed, who’s a Welsh giant, and the story says that if that head is ever removed, London will fall.

Hence why it then gets mutated into being the ravens – “If the ravens ever leave London, then London will fall.” Which of course was very interesting during COVID – I’m drifting again because the ravens – the ravens did start to leave. So as you can imagine in London, it was very much like, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. This is it, the end of days.” And what I love is it was nothing. It’s very folkloric in that it’s nothing grand, it’s not like this monster coming at you or any huge thing. It’s malaise – the ravens were leaving because they were so used to people and now there were no people, and so they were bored because they’re highly intelligent and they wanted interaction.

I find that so, so interesting — there’s so much folklore in that, in that gentle drift of forgetting and memory and just the way nothing really comes with a massive bang. Very few things come with a huge, “Oh, this is world shattering.”

Nerds & Beyond: Now you’ve had your official introduction to Dungeons and Dragons [D&D], which we all got to see in video, if you were to play again what would you choose for your class?

Tim Downie: Well, Wizard. I think that would probably be good.

But then, you know, I quite like the idea of a Bard, but you can’t really do anything really as a Bard. You’re just kind of like [mimes playing violin]. You know, since I do that anyway on a daily basis, you wanna kind of get away from that. The one that keeps coming up is Paladin, so maybe I would play as a Paladin just to see what all the fuss is about.

Nerds & Beyond: You can multi-class too, so you could be Wizard and Bard. Just throwing it out there.

Tim Downie: What – I didn’t know that! You’re just blowing my mind now, Hannah — just blowing my mind! Too much, too much!

Nerds & Beyond: I’m opening up your world view right now. Now, you’re gonna be looking up multi-classing in D&D.

When we talk about your projects that released last year it’s a great list with titles like season 2 of Good Omens, Haunting of the Queen Mary, and Baldur’s Gate 3. If your characters from last year’s projects had lunch, how do you think they’d get along?

Tim Downie: This is gonna be good.

I think there would be a lot of small talk. I can imagine Mr. Brown would have organized it, he definitely would have hired the room. I think they would all get along. I think they’d all be very English and probably wish it would just hurry up and maybe an hour was too long, but they would all get along. They would all share. There would be a sense of just fun though. I think I try to infuse my characters with, whatever they are, a sense of fun. 

Most importantly, which I think is a lot of times overlooked when it comes to big emotional drivers like love or hate or jealousy, and the one I really have a personal kinship to is hope. I think if you can hope, it is so incredibly important. Hope is the driver of so many things. What is the point of carrying on without the hope of either a better tomorrow or the hope that this life isn’t it, that something else will happen? It’s quite the basis of of tragic comedy. “Oh, well, never mind. Hey, we’ll try again,” and it’s that, but will it or won’t it? It might not, but it could, and that’s the thing. So I think they would all share in that eternal optimism, with a slight edge of probably won’t work out, but you never know.

Nerds & Beyond: You’ve said growing up you were outside a lot – we just talked about you exploring haunted locations, and you’ve certainly carried that sense of adventure into adulthood. You mentioned jealousy for me being able to see the mountains before we jumped in officially, so I know you love being outside. What’s your favorite and least favorite part of the outdoors?

Tim Downie: There is a song by The Lemonheads, it’s a cover, it’s from Car Button Cloth — a brilliant album, if you’ve never heard it, fabulous — and there’s a song there called “The Outdoor Type.” It’s basically saying “I lied to this girl about being the outdoor type – I can’t run, can’t chug a beer, I can’t put up a tent. What if something’s on TV, and then it’s never shown again?” There’s a great huge part of me that is that. When I first met my wife and I said, “You gotta listen to this album,” she said, “That song is very much you.” 

I love the idea of the outdoors, but I would still quite like a shower and a hotel. As a kid, I used to go out camping and you could just bounce back. We used to take a sheet from a bed and hang it over a tree and then just set a fire. You could just wander off into the woods or wander off onto your friend’s farm land and your parents might wander past, going, “What are you doing? Oh, fine,” and then just drive off and leave you there. But that was very different. Now, I like the idea of exploration with a sense of home comfort. For instance, when I first heard about Bothy – do you know about Bothy? 

Nerds & Beyond: I do. 

Tim Downie: When I first heard about Bothy I thought it was fabulous because it combines so many different things. One, the highlands. Fantastic. Two, it’s like a shelter, like a proper thing, you can start a fire and it’d be warm. And three, they’re probably haunted. And so all of those things together and I was like, “This is thrilling.” And then I heard they have their own versions in Iceland as well, they have little huts along the volcanic walks and ridges that you can do, which just sounds like walking into Mordor – it sounds amazing. But you also get a little sort of running water, a little bit of warmth, a bit away from the outside. 

So I think that it’s a combination of both. I love the whole thrill of adventure of being outside, of going somewhere that you don’t know, of getting lost a little bit. I’m actually a very good oriente for some unknown reason. I have a very good sense of direction. I don’t know, maybe it’s being like a Boy Scout for a long time, so I can kind of work out where I am and I’m pretty good at that. So just that sense of freedom in the country. But then there is an element that goes, “I’d quite like room service…now, if that’s okay. So thanks, thanks very much.”

Nerds & Beyond: We’re of very like mind here. If you find yourself in Colorado at any point, you have the Stanley Hotel in the Rockies, which of course inspired Stephen King to write The Shining.

Tim Downie: Are you near Woody Creek?

Nerds & Beyond: Just a couple of hours for me.

Tim Downie: Couple of hours…whenever I hear Colorado and Denver and places like that, I immediately go to Hunter S. Thompson. There was a whole thing about living out in the wilds, that kind of outlaw journalist, which I just think is awesome. 

There’s a great story, you’ve probably heard it. I think it was like a friend of a friend of a friend – it was kind of one of those stories – and they were actually going to interview Hunter S. Thompson at Woody Creek and he said, “Meet me in this bar,” and they went to the bar, sat down with lots of hunter memorabilia around this particular bar, you know. And they sat there, they sat there, they sat there, they waited, they waited, and waited for about three hours. He didn’t turn up. They think, “He’s gotta turn, it’s ridiculous.” The door opens, in walks Hunter S. Thompson, pulls a smoke grenade, throws it in and leaves. That was it. We’re done. Thanks very much. Thanks for coming.

Nerds & Beyond: At least he did show up. Going back to your song mention of “The Outdoor Type,” it is on your Gale playlist, isn’t it? 

Tim Downie: Yes, it is! It is.

Nerds & Beyond: What would you say is Gale’s theme song?

Tim Downie: Oh, that’s really tricky. That’s really, really tricky because it’s so mood dependent. That’s incredibly difficult.

Do you know what I think? I think The Kinks, “This Time Tomorrow” because it goes back to what we’re saying about hope. And there is that underlying thread of hope. Maybe this is one of the things that people really like about Gale is that there is a sense of hope, there is a sense of “We can do this and we can do it together, we can get there and we can do it in insurmountable difficulties.” There’s an intimacy in being able to go and “We can do it” and trust in that, and I think that’s really lovely.

Nerds & Beyond: That’s a great one. I can’t think of Gale without hearing “Great Balls of Fire” in my head, which is…fine, but maybe not ideal. I could have a lovely answer like you do, that’s all about Gale’s central theme of hope and no, instead my brain association is wizard = fireball = “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis.

Tim Downie: [laughs] I like it! There are worse songs to have to have as an association!

Nerds & Beyond: There are worse songs. If you could keep a cryptid as a pet, which doesn’t have to be permanently you could just foster them for a month or so, which would you choose?

Tim Downie: Okay – I have actually thought about this, thank you for asking. So it’s not actually a cryptid, it’s actually a witch’s familiar, and this one in particular comes in the form of a large dog but with the face of an ape, which is just the most terrifying thing I think you could possibly think of. It sounds absolutely terrifying, but it can churn butter. So, you know, it’s kind of quite useful.

Nerds & Beyond: Ah, a multi-purpose familiar. You scare off potential intruders, you also get butter on the side. Can’t really complain.

Tim Downie: Fresh butter is fresh butter, no matter how you get it. Even if it is, you know, from that sort of creature.

Nerds & Beyond: That’s the tagline for the interview. “Fresh butter is fresh butter.”

Tim Downie: “Fresh butter is fresh butter is fresh butter.” There you go.

Nerds & Beyond: What is your favorite random fact?

Tim Downie: Oh, God, I’m usually quite well known for just random facts. Why do women’s dresses not have pockets?

Nerds & Beyond: Please tell me. 

Tim Downie: Well, legend has it…well, there are two sides of it really. One is manufacturing, it’s easier to just sew it down the sides or just sew a garment together as one and then not have the pockets. But the one I like is because in medieval times it was to stop witchery, because men didn’t like the idea of women hiding things, so if we took away your pockets, you can’t be hiding maleficent things or spells or charms or loose change. So that’s why you don’t have pockets. 

I also like the other one – I don’t know why there’s a lot of women’s garment related stuff – but why women’s shirts button the other way. So men’s shirts button like that and women’s shirts button the other way, because women were in the olden days dressed. So someone would dress you. So that’s why they were buttoned the other way because it would be more familiar to go the other way.

Nerds & Beyond: That makes sense. I’m underutilizing my pockets and need to hire someone to button my shirts.

Do you have a fact about yourself that if you’re playing an ice breaking game or getting to know someone new, it’s just absolutely outrageous and fun to share? 

Tim Downie: Ooooh…hmm.

Nerds & Beyond: If you need encouragement, mine is I have a rock under my skin beneath my eye. No one ever believes me.

Tim Downie: How did that happen?

Nerds & Beyond: When we talk about childhood shenanigans, I really liked to climb things, but I am not a graceful person. So I would climb and need to get down, and suffice to say gravity often took care of it. 

Tim Downie: Ah, childhood shenanigans…oh, there’s a lot for me. I mean, I’ve got scars and all sorts on elbows and knees. In fact, I probably got a stone lodged in my knee or something like that. 

When I left drama school, I was a bit bored for a while and then I watched a morning TV show called This Morning, and Gene Wilder was on and I loved Gene Wilder, he was one of my absolute heroes and he said that he was a fencer – you know, swords, not fence building. And I thought, “Oh, okay. Yeah, I think I’ll try that.” And then I ended up for about a year training with the British Women’s Olympic team in North London and I became pretty good at fencing and would win competitions. And I’m not a sporty person, but what I discovered is that things involving weapons I’m actually quite good at. So there was that. And then I went to do Kendo, which is a kind of Japanese martial art with a bamboo sword, and I was quite good at that. And then, archery – I’m an archer, I am a member of the British Archery Association, so I do like a bit of that. 

There are elements of a D&D character.

Nerds & Beyond: I’m seeing a Wizard/Bard with a melee weapons proficiency and a haunted past in your D&D future.

As we’ve talked about hope several times throughout the interview, I want to talk about your hopes for the year: what’s something you’re looking forward to in 2024?

Tim Downie: More adventures, more travels. It sounds quite trite, but I’m just really looking forward to seeing what happens in working, of course, and exploring all the different things. I’ve got a couple of projects coming up later on in the year, so that’ll be good fun. 

One of the things I love doing is seeing new places. I think travel broadens the mind. The nice thing about filming in different places is you get that immediacy because the people around you are locals, so if you ask “Where is the best place to eat?”, you’ve got the local knowledge literally at your fingertips. I’m looking forward to more of that and also exploring the country that I’m in. It’s a fascinating country, England and Scotland and Ireland and Wales, and we see so little of it all. If you’re city centric you really just see the city you’re in. You might go, “Oh, I’ll go to Cornwall or Edinburgh,” but to actually get out into the wilds of a country and see the backbones of it is absolutely fascinating. I love learning why a place is the way it is.

So just more adventures, and more stories, and trying to get my kids interested in skulls and bones and relics and sacred wells and things like that. We went to Rome recently and I did, on Valentine’s Day, drag them to the church where the relic of Saint Valentine’s is, and I went, “Isn’t this exciting kids? It’s Valentine’s Day, and that’s Saint Valentine’s. You’re welcome.” And then took them to a healing well, as you do and I went, “It’s a healing well, it’s sacred and ancient. You’re welcome. You just wanna get chocolate…next time, next time, next time.”

Nerds & Beyond: Fingers crossed for you that your adventures pull in the kids – you just have to find that story that inspires in them what your hometown inspired in you.

Time Downie: Exactly, and I’ll find it. I will find it. In fact, there’s a nice one that I am going to pull out. They have yet to see Labyrinth, which I adore – exactly, that’s the face, that’s exactly the right face to make. 

The goblin city that Bowie lives in, the name is borrowed from a writer called Arthur Machen. Well, Arthur Machen lived fairly close to here 100 years ago. He used to take daily walks around the area, which of course was very different, but he went to a cemetery called Kensal Green, which was dubbed “the goblin city.” So I’m gonna try and tie in, “Would you like to come to the Goblin City?” I then say, “Oh, and Vincent Price made a film here called Theatre of Blood.”

They’ll be underwhelmed, but one day. It’s getting them there one day.

Nerds & Beyond: They’ll look back very fondly on those memories.

Tim Downie: So, because they’re inheriting this [gestures to bookcases], they’ve got to like it somehow because, you know, what else am I going to do with it?

Thank you again to Tim for his time and the fantastic conversation!

Hannah’s a lifelong nerd, but has been with the team since May 2021. Her life is easily classified by two abbreviations - BBG3 and ABG3 (before Baldur’s Gate 3 and after Baldur’s Gate 3). Especially nerdy about: video games, folklore, Star Wars, D&D, Spider-Man, and horror (all of it). Based in Denver, CO.

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