LOS ANGELES – Angela Bassett is taking on the mantle of "Six," the codename for the leader of the elite counter-terrorism group depicted in the video game series "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six."
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Bassett was unveiled Monday during a Ubisoft press conference at E3 as the latest "Six" in the upcoming "Rainbow Six: Siege" installment of the publisher's long-running shooter series. The character has always been portrayed as male in past "Rainbow Six" games, as well as Clancy's original novel.
"We've known for quite some time we've been looking to cast a female actress for 'Six' this time around," said "Rainbow Six" animation director Scott Mitchell. "Angela Bassett was one of our top choices from the beginning. We were looking for someone who could deliver a strong, commanding performance."
In the game, players will portray one of several international operators under the command of Bassett's character, akin to "M'' in the James Bond franchise. It's a formidable position that's not entirely foreign to the veteran actress. On film, Bassett has played the head of the secret service in "Olympus Has Fallen," a CIA chief in "This Means War" and an ambassador in "Survivor."
However, the technical requirements for capturing Bassett's virtual performance for "Rainbow Six: Siege," were all new to the "American Horror Story" star. She donned a motion-capture suit and performed within a high-tech sphere comprised of hundreds of cameras focused on her facial experiences.
"It was a layering technique, which is very different from film, but it was very, very interesting," said Bassett.
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Ahead of her E3 debut, Bassett spoke with The Associated Press about her part:
AP: Why were you interested in this role?
Bassett: I don't have much experience with video games, especially not at this high level. Whenever I get an opportunity to go in another direction, I do. I'm very aware of media and women in the media and the way we come across. I thought this would be a very strong look, as a woman and as a black woman. For myself, it's a way to keep current. I just wanted to have an opportunity to be part of something like that.
AP: Were you aware of the many criticisms how women and African-Americans are portrayed in games?
Bassett: I wasn't at first. I have a cousin who is very much into this world. He told me this would be a big, big, big deal. I said, "Really?" There have been opportunities in film where the part was a male, and they've changed it for me, and I've been able to bring it to life. I've always liked that. This was another opportunity to do that. To hear that in this world, women are not usually in this role, that was very exciting news to me.
AP: How did you interpret the role of the deputy director of Team Rainbow?
Bassett: I've often played that sort of character — the boss, the head, the one in charge. I've done it in various movies. In that respect, it was familiar to me, but the world of games, how they put it all together, that was a totally different and exciting to me. I was like a kid on the first day of school. I had lots of questions.
AP: What did you think when you saw your character? The resemblance is uncanny.
Bassett: I was amazed. It looks dead on. I knew exactly each step I went through, so it's interesting to see that's what they came up with. I hope movies don't go this way. I like interacting with people.
AP: What's your personal experience with games? You said you aren't that familiar, but did you at least play "Pac-Man" back in the day?
Bassett: I did! I did play "Pac-Man," which I guess is like Tic-Tac-Toe compared to "Rainbow Six."
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang.