"Well, you found me. Congratulations. Was it worth it?"

I'm Ellen McLain, actress and opera singer. I voice GLaDOS from the Portal video game series and Jaeger A.I. in the upcoming movie Pacific Rim. I also play the Fairy Godmother of Wish It Inc.

Proof: http://imgur.com/nR7itmk

EDIT: Thank you so much for having me, reddit!

You can watch Wish It Inc. Season 1 on YouTube: http://youtube.com/synthetic

We're looking to make Season 2 and we need your help! https://bit.ly/wish4more


Comments: 1552 • Responses: 38  • Date: 

EllenMcLain1268 karma

Hi, Ellen Here, my typing is TERRIBLE!!! But here goes

NoahsArcade841101 karma

Would you consider this AMA a triumph?

EllenMcLain2215 karma

I'm making a note here: Huge Success.

EllenMcLain889 karma

Yay Pancakes,They never tell me anything, but at this point I don't believe there will ever be a Portal 3. But I'd be glad if there was.

Smashman, I love Death Prophet as well. I'm glad you think I sound French!

jdfletch658 karma

Do you ever imagine yourself voicing actual A.I. in the future?

EllenMcLain2240 karma

I want AT&T to contact me to do Siri. I think GLaDOS would be perfect for everyone's smartphone.

EllenMcLain401 karma

Super Dewgong, what a question. It's Portal!!!

deandean1998321 karma

What was your favorite line as GLaDOS?

EllenMcLain1103 karma

"Killing you and giving you good advice aren't mutually exclusive."

zengosm227 karma

Did you ever crack up while recording any of the lines from Portal?

EllenMcLain448 karma

All the time, but they paid me by the hour so I tried to be professional and not waste Valve's time, but sometimes even I have a sense of humor.

Rob_Saget206 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA!

  • How does it feel knowing you voiced one of the most badass villains in gaming history?
  • How did you land the role of GLaDOS?
  • Would you be interested in coming on my podcast and discussing video games along with entertainment culture and the profession of voice acting?

Thank you again and look forward to your responses!

EllenMcLain380 karma

Rob- I love being a villian. Especially being compared to HAL in 2001. My husband says I am perfect for GLaDOS, because I am naturally passive-agressive. I did an audition in our home studio and sent an MP3 file to my agent. Valve wanted someone to sound as much as possible like the computer generated voice that they used in creation of the game play. Sure, I'll come on your podcast. Please contact Chris Pope at [email protected]

EllenMcLain183 karma

Rodney 101, Take an acting class. Voice actors are ACTORS. Learn how to act!

PeytonIAm174 karma

I just wanted to say thank you for helping bring to life one of the most memorable villain-turned-heros of my generation. Playing Portal really helped bring me out of a tough spot in my life, specifically the character of GLaDOS. Her humor and wit made me laugh through the toughest times, and really motivated me to change things in my own life.

Thank you thank you thank you, and I wish you all the luck in your future career endeavors!

EllenMcLain235 karma

Peyton, thank you so much for your kind comments. We all have difficult times in our lives and I am so glad that Portal helped you through a difficult time. Trust me, life gets better. Best of luck and love to you.

EllenMcLain153 karma

Count Cheska, You are still alive because the world need you! Del Toro is a big Portal fan and he asked Valve and Gabe Newell if he could use the GLaDOS voice for P.Rim. and I'm glad they said YES! Mountains of Madness means nothing to me, sorry.

ken27238138 karma

Thanks you for doing this AMA! Just one question:

After I finished playing Portal I played the version with developer commentary and in it they described the process of making your voice into GLaDOS. What was your reaction the first time you heard your voice transformed into GLaDOS’s voice?

EllenMcLain209 karma

I did not think it sounded like me. I sound a lot more southern usually than GLaDOS does.

BanjoKazoople137 karma

how close are you with gabe? is he as cool in real life as he seems?

EllenMcLain331 karma

I have never met Gabe Newell, but I would love to have the opportunity. He's gotten me a lot of work with Guillermo del Toro, so I thank him heartily.

Damian0358117 karma

Which character did you like voicing more, GLaDOS or Helen, the Administrator?

EllenMcLain315 karma

I never knew her first name was Helen. I always think of her as the Skinny Old Bitch. I like GLaDOS and Helen the SOB.

MisterHeadcrab84 karma


EllenMcLain209 karma

Oddly enough, Valve wanted overwatch to sound sort of Scottish. But mainly just disinterested. I really did not understand anything about the game play in HL2 until many years after I did the voice work. It was my husband, the Sniper, who finally explained it to me and I watch him play the game.

Smashman200498 karma

Your voice is also in Dota 2!

I love the Death Prophet voice so much! You make a convincing dead French lady. :)

EllenMcLain133 karma

I'm glad my bad French accent convinced you!

orangetj85 karma

how did you feel when they recorded you telling chell there will be cake? did you know that you were lying...

EllenMcLain163 karma

Not at first ;)

IAmTheWeregoose72 karma

What would be your dream voice-acting role?

EllenMcLain144 karma

I want to be the Fairy Godmother in Wish It Inc.! I'm 60, I SHOULD play the Fairy Godmother. I was so taken with the project. It's clever, fun, and funny.

TheGentlecolt62 karma

What is VALVEs recording studio like?

EllenMcLain115 karma

Valve always uses Pure Audio on 1st Avenue in Seattle. Valve's offices are across Lake Washington in Bellevue WA. But they record the voice work here in town.

Razzlefrazzleyo61 karma

It's super awesome you are doing an AMA my husband and I love Portal and are huge fans of GLaDoS.

Ok questions

  1. What's it like to deliver such deadpan malicious dialogue? Have you ever been taken aback by the lines you were given?

  2. Do you and other voice actors ever have meet ups to trade war stories and if so what is the best one you have or have heard?

EllenMcLain146 karma

I love being snarky for money. Only once during Portal 2 did I complain about a specific line. I recorded it but it did not end up in the game. And no, I wil; not tell you what it was. Many of my friend and my husband do voice work. Yes, we share stories. I just did a show with Jen Taylor, the voice of Cortana. She is a great actor and a lovely person. We had a wonderful working relationship.

Cyberfire59 karma

Have you ever found yourself saying one of your characters lines in everyday life?

EllenMcLain211 karma

Of course. I'm always giving my husband good advice.

Blissfull59 karma

Do you have a favorite aria o opera in general to perform? Any sort of role you prefer (though in general, and specially in Italian, there are few important femenine roles other than victim of fate and people).

EllenMcLain94 karma

Blissful, my favorite Opera is The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart. I have sung two roles in this opera. Susanna, a very smart maid, and Marcellina, a woman of my senior years who is in love with her own son, and does not know that he is her long lost son. Talk about a soap opera! I also love the operas of Puccini. Where, yes, many of the Ladies are sick or doomed.

Rainbowjo55 karma

Hi Ellen, thanks for doing an AMA! I Remember seeing a video of you raising support Gaymercon, are you going to be attending?

EllenMcLain75 karma

Yes! John and I will be in San Francisco the first week of August for Gaymer X.

dmann_198253 karma

How was doing Poker Night 2? What was the funniest thing you had to say during the recording?

EllenMcLain97 karma

I was in the studio for five straight hours and much of what I recorded was just gameplay for poker, which I don't understand. So it was ALL very funny. I really think the writers for Poker Night did a wonderful job of capturing GLaDOS.

GaiusOctavian848 karma

Apparently you're now typecast as a robot. Did you suspect when working on Portal that that would be a role you would become well-known for (at least in some circles)?

And have you done any more work with Valve for secret future projects?

EllenMcLain194 karma

I did not realize that doing the voice of GLaDOS would turn into so much work, but I'm GLaD it did.

poobahlette43 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA!

GLaDOS is my favorite character of all the games I've played. You really make the game special.

I was curious if you and Stephen Merchant had any input into the script / character development for Portal 2 ?

EllenMcLain70 karma

I do not ad lib. Stephen Merchant is a writer and he ad libs all of the time. And much of what he ad libbed is in Portal 2.

WaterFaerieNaomi40 karma

What was it like working with the other voice actors? Like J K Simmons and Stephen Merchant. Did you guys ever hang out outside the studios? O:

EllenMcLain72 karma

We never actually got into the studio with each other. I heard Cave's and Wheatley's lines as I recorded my own, but it was more efficient for Valve to record them separately.

lieutfaber39 karma

Ellen, thanks for having such a great sense of humor (I'll never forget the day you told my Portal RP twitter account to get back to work). Is the Fairy Godmother along the lines of the snarky, sarcastic GLaDOS, or is she more caring and innocent?

EllenMcLain63 karma

She is NOT innocent. I think she is always polite, but many times her politesse hides her rapier wit!

ignis10150939 karma

Do you like Still Alive or Want You Gone more?

EllenMcLain89 karma

I think they're both perfectly apt for each game and I absolutely loved singing both of them.

ReanimatedX34 karma

Hello, ma'am! Did you and and Mr Lowrie meet while working for Valve or were you married already when you started working on Valve games? Oh oh oh, and what exactly got you to work with Valve?

EllenMcLain52 karma

I met John in Europe when we were both doing a production of "Show Boat" in the early '80s.

HSimpson81834 karma

Who is your favorite Simpsons' character?

EllenMcLain78 karma

I like Marge, of course.

manustillflops31 karma

In what ways, if any, did your involvement with the Portal series shape or change your opinions regarding video games as an artistic medium?

EllenMcLain116 karma

Video games are taking over the world. I am very GLaD to be an actor for this emerging art form.

oneburntwitch26 karma

What was your reaction when your found out GLaDOS was Caroline?

EllenMcLain58 karma

I thought it was a very interesting story line and a creative solution. It answered the great question of "Where did GLaDOS come from?"

MixTapesAreGood26 karma

How did you get into voice acting? Where/what were your first gigs?

Thanks for this AMA.

EllenMcLain45 karma

I started out just preparing for stage work. Which is the best way to start for all voice actors. But it was my husband who convinced me to get a voice demo in 2002. My first gig was for the Democracy Project in North Africa. To encourage charitable giving to help women become involved in government.

Cheesydude25 karma

What was the most enjoyable aspect of working at Valve?

EllenMcLain60 karma

Wonderful creative people who love what they do and it makes the work so satisfying to work with others who love to create.

outlander2223 karma

What is your most exciting/ interesting experience in being a voice actor for video games and now a movie?

EllenMcLain45 karma

My NEXT job is always the most exciting. I can't wait to make Wish It Inc.

ReanimatedX23 karma

Hey Ellen, thanks for doing this AMA, how did you go about to become an opera singer? What was your childhood like growing up in Tennessee? Did you wear overalls?

EllenMcLain44 karma

When I was a little girl, I usually wore dresses because we couldn't wear pants going to school. I always knew that I wanted to be a singer. I thought I would do Broadway type shows, but when I went to NCSA, the librarian told me to listen to opera and I fell in love with opera in high school. So my career became focused on opera, but in the years since, I have done all kinds of performing and I still sing opera.

ACurlyCube18 karma

Hello Ellen! I am a huge fan! How were you approached to do the voice of GLaDOS and had you had any interaction with videogames beforehand. Much love!

EllenMcLain44 karma

I did the voice work on Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2 first. They were my first games.