Rockstar brought in real gang members – some fresh out of prison – to voice Grand Theft Auto 5’s extras, and even asked them to rewrite part of the script.
In a WGN podcast, as transcribed by Polygon, longtime series writer and producer Lazlow Jones said he collected thousands of hours of people speaking naturally in their own homes for ambient audio, before getting in touch with a particularly helpful individual with gang contacts.
“In the game there’s these rival gangs. There’s Black gangs, Latino gangs. We recruited a guy who gets gang members, actual real gang members, like El Salvadoran gang dudes with amazing tattoos, one of which had literally gotten out of prison the day before,” he said, showing a careless disregard for an appropriate occasion to use the word “whom”.
“We get these guys in to record the gang characters because we don’t want a goofy LA actor who went to a fancy school trying to be a hard gang member. There’s nothing worse than that, so just go find the terrifying people and say ‘can you come in here please?'”
When the newly-recruited voice actors took issue with the lines written for them, Lazlow had them ad lib, describing his own writing as “irrelevant” to the pursuit of authenticity.
GTA 5 is coming to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on September 17. It is kind of amazing how close that is.