When Chloé Hollings got the call that she would be voicing the character of Widowmaker for Blizzard’s latest video game at the time, Overwatch, she did not expect to become internationally famous. At the time, she simply answered a casting call for bilingual actresses in Paris. The moment she recorded her first segment, however, she knew her life had changed.
Hollings, who is also known for her work in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Versailles, and Bury Me, My Love, was first introduced to Overwatch through the short film of her character Widowmaker. Even though she was still in the audition process, she was instantly excited. She had heard of Blizzard and knew they produced extremely popular games, and the film was of the highest quality, introducing the character to the world, and she knew the video game could have the potential to captivate an audience. She didn’t, however, expect to be admired by over 40 million of its players around the world.
“I’ve never worked on a project that touches so many lives. The response has been huge, particularly around my character. I’ve been travelling the world this whole year, going from convention to convention, meeting my many fans,” she said. “The world is changing, and I’ve discovered how much people connect through playing video games. Communities are created. People find a very strong support system through this team game. And I love that, when playing Widowmaker, I’m doing everything that I’ve ever dreamed of. I’m literally playing a cold-blooded assassin, with a tragic backstory. This is the reason I decided to become an actress in the first place: to understand people who are different from me. So, getting so much recognition through a character that is so different from the person I am is a true blessing. It is changing everything in my life,” said Hollings.
As a native Parisian that grew up in both France and Australia, Hollings speaks both French and English perfectly. Being able to play a character that honors both her mother tongues is fantastic for the actress. She puts on a fake, deep-voiced accent to embody the cold-blooded, emotionless, sexy, French assassin in the first-person shooter.
For those that have never played the game, Widowmaker is one of the 29 heroes players have the ability to choose from when they begin the game. She’s on the “enemy” team, called Talon. Every team has their sniper, Widowmaker is Talon’s. It’s important to have her on your team. In every team Hollings has ever seen professionals play during an Overwatch League event has a Widowmaker. Her most famous catch phrase is “One shot, one kill.”
The character itself has a deep backstory that goes beyond the game and is available to see on YouTube through the Overwatch short films, which have millions of views. Widowmaker used to be called Amélie Lacroix. She was married to a man, Gérard, that the enemy team wanted to kill. Because they could never manage to kill him, they kidnapped her, transformed her into the best sniper of all time by lowering her heart pace for her to always remain calm, to the extent that her skin is now blue, and brainwashed her so that she would then kill her husband, which she did. In the game she is cocky, very self-confident. She knows she’s the best and she knows what she wants.
“Blizzard does a particularly good job at creating complex, meaningful stories for their characters. And the reason it’s so important is because it brings humanity to the game, that one may only consider as a shooting game. It’s not. My character is the way that she is for a reason. She was kidnapped, she has suffered, she has lost the love of her life. She is her own widowmaker; she turned herself into a widow, which is so tragic and cynical. If you don’t know that part of the story, you may just consider that she’s ‘evil’, but no one is just ‘evil’. It’s so much more interesting to look at it this way. She is the executioner and the victim. It’s so much more complicated than what it seems, and I really appreciate that,” said Hollings.
Because of the complexity of the game, Blizzard expects Hollings and all the other cast members involved with the game to be actors, not just voice actors. She was asked to work on Widowmaker’s background story, thinking of the complexity of her life and the different layers that form her personality. Hollings has committed herself to this since the day of her audition.
“I adore working with Blizzard. Everything I could dream of is contained in this project: awesome writing; interesting, profound, multi-layered characters; brilliant artistic direction; freedom in the creative process; magnificent artwork They handle everything with care. I also love the fact that Blizzard has created a game that is so inclusive and diverse. Amongst the other heroes, there are LGBTQ characters, an autistic character, a 55-year-old mother who’s also a hero, a chubby young girl. Every character is of a different country and speaks its own language: there’s a Chinese character, a Japanese character, Egyptian, French, Nigerian, Swedish, Mexican and the list goes on. It’s incredible to think that so many people are gathering around this game, and that it is delivering such a beautiful message as well,” she added.
Beyond the fame and success Hollings has seen since beginning her journey as Widowmaker, the way the game and her character has resonated with players is the greatest accolade she could have. She can’t count the number of letters she’s received from fans, saying that Overwatch got them through depression, or was the thing keeping them going when their parent was sick with cancer, or that they were thinking of committing suicide. She even had the honor of meeting a Make-a-Wish child during Blizzcon, Blizzard’s annual event, in 2017. The experience was incredibly moving for the actress, meeting this 14-year-old boy who had spent countless hours in the hospital getting treated for leukemia and so playing the game was all he could do.
“His mother told us how happy it made him, how much strength he got out of it. Meeting him and his family was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life,” she concluded.