FIFA 17 revolutionised the EA Sports franchise with the introduction of The Journey - the first story mode ever included in a FIFA game. The mode saw players take control of a young Alex Hunter and follow his story from playing football on the playground all the way to the Champions League final. Journey Mode was a three-part story which recently concluded in FIFA 19 and while Hunter was originally the star, a second character won the hearts of many fans: Danny Williams.
Goal caught up with Chris Walters, the actor behind Williams to find out what it was like appearing in a video game and any behind-the-scenes secrets he has from working on the game.
Walters grew up in England before his family moved to Vancouver, Canada not long after he discovered his passion for acting. When his agent saw a role that required a British accent, she and Walters jumped at the opportunity. He had no idea what the role was but it soon became clear once he began reading the script.
"I was given the dialogue and it was clearly about football, I knew EA Sports were based out in Vancouver so I had an inkling that this might have been for a FIFA game.
"During the audition we acted out two scenes, one was Danny having a go at Alex when they first meet in the car park and Danny has a go at him for what he's driving. I actually tried for all three parts (Williams, Hunter and Gareth Walker) and the other scene was the plane scene with Gareth and Alex."
Walters added that he was happy he landed the role of Williams in the end: "It was very fun being Danny Williams, he did get bigger as the series went on but then I think that allowed them to write in the quieter moments he had in FIFA 19 when he was by himself in his own apartment and losing all his stuff.
"So you had those private low moments which contrasted with his bigger, clowning-around moments and you could see why he was doing it. It's those differences that I really enjoyed although the comedy parts were a lot of fun too, making up lines as we go along and seeing which one sticks.
"There was a lot of freedom from the director who allowed us to improvise which was especially fun during the post-match interview scenes where you had to cover all three branches with your answers."
Walters, a life-long Blackburn fan, has played FIFA since he was a kid, starting with FIFA 95. Combining his love for football and acting in one role was a dream come true - especially as this was his first big project. While used to acting on stage or in front of the camera, appearing in a video game was a new and enjoyable experience.
He said: "Acting in motion-capture suits was quite freeing actually, I'd say it was a combination of being on stage and filming TV work. The director is leading you like it's a film project because he wants that to match up with what the computers are grabbing but then you've got the big space in the warehouse which gives the feeling of theatre.
"And with the character direction we ended up going with Danny of him being ostentatious and big, all the things you're supposed to be on stage, and for him, his life is a stage when he's in public. It was very much a mix, very open and I liked the combination of it.
"Plus, I found it was easier to forgive myself when watching my performance back in a video game. When it's animated, it's less in my hands, somebody has taken what I look like and designed around that as best they could. Whereas if you're looking at yourself in a film and you see yourself do something stupid with your eyebrow or silly with your mouth, then you get annoyed at yourself for doing something stupid."
Having already revealed that he had tried for the role of Alex Hunter, Goal asked Walters if there were any other secrets he had from the filming process during his three years as part of the Journey. "The process was always very nice and relaxed, no one was stressed or if they were, they hid it well," he added.
"As I said before, There was a lot of freedom to do different things with the lines and improvise. I think I threw my partner's name in at one point during an interview scene, saying how the club was welcoming, even Martha the tea lady. I'm not sure if that made it into the game but it might still be in there, it was nice that I could throw in something like that."
While the Journey Mode has become a staple of the recent FIFA games, the Journey was always intended as a trilogy. For now, there is no official news on whether the Journey will return or if there will be a brand new story once EA Sports releases the next addition to the FIFA franchise.