Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Lead Actor Talks Complex Plot, the Role of Jensen, and More in Exclusive Interview

Elias Toufexis opens up about his return as the iconic Adam Jensen.

Elias Toufexis may not be a household name for most people who play video games, yet, but when his gravely voice permeates your eardrums, there’s no mistaking it. A veteran of several forms of performance art, the native of Montreal, Canada also has enjoyed successful relation with video games.

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Whether it be lending his voice to the menacing Andriy Kobin in Splinter Cell: Conviction, or the treacherous Gabriel Nowak in Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, it’s clear that Toufexis throws all of himself into each character he represents.

Yet, for all of the diverse experiences and thespian masks that the actor has worn, everything changed in 2011 when Deus Ex: Human Revolution hit store shelves. Unbeknownst to Elias, the role of the series’ new protagonist, Adam Jensen, wouldn’t be just another character, but one that would ultimately follow him and permeate aspects of his life in ways that blurred both the identities of  the character, and the man behind it.

Now in 2015, Elias Toufexis is set to return to Deus Ex‘s dystopian future, reprising his role as Jensen once again in the recently revealed Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

We caught up with the voice of Deus Ex‘s protagonist to find out what returning to such an iconic role means to him, as well as his thoughts on the abrupt leak that saw the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided revealed far earlier than originally planned.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
One of the leaked images for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

The debut trailer for Human Revolution was incredible for its time. Now that the announcement trailer for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has been made public , what are your thoughts on how it turned out? 

Toufexis: I was saying to the marketing team the other day that CGI trailers are getting to the point where they literally cannot look any better without crossing into that creepy “uncanny valley” of looking too real. The trailer looks and sounds beautiful. Also, it shows or hints at many great things in the actual game. I couldn’t be happier with the trailer or the reaction. It was hard to top the Human Revolution “I never asked for this” trailer. This one at least equaled it.

At this point, it’s no secret to anyone that the leaking of Mankind Divided wasn’t exactly planned. What was running through your mind when you got wind of the news?

Toufexis: I’m still kind of ticked that it got leaked early. The marketing team took me through their whole reveal plan, and it was a wonderful way to introduce the trailer. After all that, someone let everything slip. The marketing people worked so hard and had the rug pulled out. So, that person who leaked it is definitely not in my cool book. All that being said though, the trailer was a huge success. I’m ecstatic about how it’s being received. Millions upon millions of views and almost all of them with an incredibly positive reaction. We have a whole lot more planned too.

When did you find out that you were going to be reprising your role as Adam Jensen, and how excited were you to step back into the role of the augmented protagonist?

Toufexis: About two years ago I got a call from some of the creators and they told me that Adam might be coming back. Of course, I’m incredibly excited and I love playing Adam. I think we stumbled onto something that isn’t easy to do with Jensen. Between his great design, the gameplay, the writing and the music, Jensen has become somewhat iconic in the videogame world. I think it surprised everyone how popular he became. It was a no brainer to bring him back. As a gamer, I wanted to see where his story would head. When we were going over the story, I would bring up things that, as a fan, I wanted to see resolved. The story this time around is very complex.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Full performance capture has been used in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

Though Adam always had his share of problems at the start, by the end of Human Revolution it was clear that he had seen some stuff. With all that the character has experienced taken into consideration, are you approaching the role differently?

Toufexis: Technically, I approached it a little differently in the sense that I know who Jensen is now. On Human Revolution it took me a few months of work to find my stride with him. (Something that I spot in DXHR gameplay. Parts of my performance are like nails on a chalkboard to me.) This time around I knew exactly where to begin and where to take him. Also, though I did a little bit last time, I fully performance capture and voice Adam. It’s much more freeing for an actor to not be locked in a sound booth for major scenes, but to actually be playing them like a film.

You’ve spent years of your life playing, and essentially being Adam Jensen. What’s an aspect of the bionic man that you’re excited to convey in Mankind Divided, that perhaps fans haven’t seen yet.

Toufexis: My favorite thing about this particular game is Jensen’s involvement in the world he lives in is much more personal. The augmented people are now second class citizens. They are victimized and brutalized, and Jensen is one of them. The people he works for kind of keep him on the outside looking in, so to speak, but he empathizes with the augmented people. Some of them are victims, some of them are villains but he is just like them..whether he asked for this or not. That’s tricky to play, but a whole lot of fun. I really try to keep that empathy in mind for this story. (Though Jensen is almost subliminally subtle.)

I have to ask this, so I apologize in advance, but playing role of Adam Jensen saw a very specific phrase become associated the character, and you as an actor. The phrase has even gone on to have its own life, living on forever as a meme. Is there any chance that we’ll hear it uttered once more?

Toufexis: I think “I never asked for this” will transcend even this game. It’s as much a part of Jensen as my gravelly voice is. There is no tweet that I write where someone doesn’t ask me “Did you ask for this?”. I have people who ask me to say it for their phone message or ringtone. (Wait, why am I not charging for this? I’m making a ringtone when I’m done here). I don’t think it’s going anywhere. As far as a new phrase? That’s not up to me, it’s whatever people latch on to.

For more on Elias Toufexis, check out  @EliasToufexis, or his official website.

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Chris Jecks
Chris Jecks has been covering the games industry for over eight years. He typically covers new releases, FIFA, Fortnite, any good shooters, and loves nothing more than a good Pro Clubs session with the lads. Chris has a History degree from the University of Central Lancashire. He spends his days eagerly awaiting the release of BioShock 4.