We have updated our article about Gearbox’s decision not to sign a union contract to bring back Troy Baker as Rhys in Borderlands 3. Readers had questions about why other union actors are voicing Borderlands 3 characters and whether Gearbox’s excuse valid, which Baker’s union, SAG-AFTRA, responded to.
Earlier this year, Borderlands fans were devastated to learn that actor Troy Baker would not be reprising his role as Rhys in Borderlands 3. At the time, publisher Gearbox’s co-founder Randy Pitchford said Baker “turned it down,” but a recent interview with Baker makes things sound more complicated.
Baker is a beloved voice actor who’s voiced dozens of video game characters including Booker DeWitt from BioShock Infinite, Samuel Drake from Uncharted 4, and Snow in Final Fantasy XIII. Baker is also a member of SAG-AFTRA, the union representing voice actors. In an interview with VG247, Baker says that’s what prevented him from joining the cast for Borderlands 3.
“It was simply a matter of they wouldn’t go union,” Baker told VG247 of Gearbox. He continued:
“I can’t do a non-union gig. And without getting too deep into the weeds of that, we had long conversations about this. We always knew going into it, that this was going to be the thing. They were going to take these characters, and put them from the Tales from the Borderlands series from Telltale, into Borderlands proper. I’ve been waiting for this call. They were like, ‘Do you want to do this?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ They never, because they would never move from that position. I’m not mad. It’s invariably a completely different character, but it still stings.”
Baker had previously voiced his desire to reprise the Borderlands role in at least two public instances, VG247 reports. Once, at a Supernova Melbourne panel, Baker said that if Gearbox brought back characters from Telltale’s Borderlands, “It should be the people who originated the characters. They shouldn’t just recast willy-nilly, because as a fan that matters to me.” Later, in an OnlySP interview, Baker said that he’d “love to come back” and added, “I think it’s interesting that Randy Pitchford tweeted out that I turned it down, and then he said he heard that I turned it down. I would fact-check before I tweeted out to the internet.”
(Pitchford also noted in his April tweet that “With how Rhys appears in the game, I don’t think it actually matters at all. You’ll see for yourself when the game comes out and you may disagree with me on that or not.”)
To remain in solidarity with their union members, SAG-AFTRA members can’t accept work on a production that hasn’t also signed a contract with SAG-AFTRA. SAG-AFTRA voice actors enjoy labor protections like guaranteed minimum rates that boost the labor standards for the industry.
Kotaku reached out to Gearbox and SAG-AFTRA for comment and did not immediately hear back.