Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Why Quantum Break star Shawn Ashmore can't play his own game

Shawn Ashmore spent years filming scenes for the ambitious Xbox One game-TV crossover Quantum Break. He'd love to play it - if only his wife would give him the controller.
Actor Shawn Ashmore stars in the video game Quantum Break.
Actor Shawn Ashmore stars in the video game Quantum Break.

Shawn Ashmore knew he was happy with his performance in Quantum Break when his digital avatar made his wife cry.

"She got choked up, she got emotional," admits the Canadian actor about the first time they got to play the new Xbox One game together.

"She was excited to see it because I'd worked so long on it. She said, 'This looks so real. When you're 60 our kids can play this and it looks like you at this age and it's not a photo and it's not a film. They can control (you) and walk dad around'."

The animated version of Shawn Ashmore, right in Quantum Break.
The animated version of Shawn Ashmore, right in Quantum Break.

Making the Remedy Entertainment game has been a lengthy and time-consuming process for Ashmore, who is more widely known for his roles as a fledgling FBI agent in TV show The Following or Iceman in three X-Men movies.

Ashmore had twice the workload of a normal TV or film project because Quantum Break isn't just a game - it's also a TV show. Four 20-minute episodes are staggered throughout the game to help flesh out its story from different points of view.

Over a nearly three-year period, he filmed live action scenes in Los Angeles alongside the game's co-stars (Game of Thrones' Aidan Gillen, Lost star Dominic Monaghan and The Wire actor Lance Reddick) before making multiple trips to Remedy's home in Helsinki to repeat the process for the creation of the digital version of his character, Jack Joyce.

The animated version of Shawn Ashmore in action in Quantum Break.
The animated version of Shawn Ashmore in action in Quantum Break.

Players can choose to watch the TV episodes or skip them, but Ashmore advises watching them, and reading all of the in-game literature, to get the full experience.

He's a big gamer and was already a fan of Remedy's earlier work on classics like Max Payne and Alan Wake. But Ashmore readily admits he had concerns before he signed up about how the combination of the two mediums would work.

"If the cut-scenes suck in a game, I hit B and skip to the gameplay. I didn't know how this was going to tie together, but I loved the script and the character."

When he finally sat down to play the game just before its April 5 launch, the 36-year-old says he was "pleasantly surprised how hooked I was".

"If you only have 45 minutes, Quantum Break is not for you. You need to set aside time, it's this narrative you get pulled into ... the amount of detail in that story is such a cool thing."

The animated version of Shawn Ashmore in action in Quantum Break.
The animated version of Shawn Ashmore in action in Quantum Break.

Ashmore has spent two days in New Zealand as part of a whirlwind media trip taking in London and Australia. He's done his fair share of forgettable bit parts and made-for-TV movies, but he says he's enjoying promoting something which he's a massive fan of.

"I do so many projects with the best of intentions, and you see it and it's like, 'Okay, it didn't really work out the way I wanted'. Quantum Break was exactly what I wanted it to be. It's the kind of game I'd play.

"It's nice that I feel like a fan of the product I'm part of. Often that doesn't happen."

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In fact, Ashmore says he'd love to play Quantum Break more often - if he could just get his wife to let him have a go.

"She loved it. She played for two hours straight and wouldn't give me the controller.

"I was like, 'Babe, I want to play this. I've been waiting a long time ...'"

Who: Actor Shawn Ashmore
What: Quantum Break, a game that mixes timebending gameplay with a live action TV show
Where and when: Out now on Xbox One

- nzherald.co.nz

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