"I hope you brought something stronger than a portal gun this time."

I'm Ellen McLain, actress and opera singer. My voice has been featured in Portal and Portal 2, Poker Night 2, Team Fortress 2, Half Life 2, Dota 2, and the upcoming blockbuster Pacific Rim. I also play the Fairy Godmother of comedy/fantasy web series 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: 1650 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

rabbit-heartedgirl1948 karma

Oh. It's you.

It's been a long time. How have you been?

EllenMcLain1849 karma

I've been busy being old.

ShiftyNor1357 karma

Could we please get a GlaDOS announcer for Valve's Dota 2?

EllenMcLain1740 karma

Wait and see...

the_unknown_soldier937 karma

When you're angry at somebody, do you just repeat condescending GLaDOS lines at them? Because I would.

EllenMcLain2098 karma

I just repeat condescending Ellen lines. I have plenty.

outlander22862 karma

Hello Ellen, Thanks for doing this again! I was at your last one Anyway my question: Are there any games that you wish you could voice in?

EllenMcLain1943 karma

Portal 3, lol.

omnidot766 karma

Do you think the designers add features to characters based on your interpretations of them? Or is it the other way around? I've heard both sides.

EllenMcLain1867 karma

I think that my work on Portal affected the writing for Portal 2. Erik and Jay and Chet realized what a bitch I am and they just played along.

TofuDawgg755 karma

What was your favorite line while voicing GLaDOS?

EllenMcLain1626 karma

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

periodasscramps620 karma

If they were to ever make a Portal movie, would you consider being Glados? :D

EllenMcLain1169 karma

I love it that GLaDOS is a machine because I could voice her anytime anywhere for anything, even a movie.

TheDuskDragon601 karma

What hidden talents do you have (beyond singing and voice acting) that would surprise most people?

EllenMcLain1347 karma

I keep my husband happy.

wINDY1223581 karma

Which lines from Portal 2 would you say were the most difficult to record?

EllenMcLain1278 karma

It was when I was a potato battery. They kept telling me I sounded too strong, I needed to sound weaker.


What is your interpretation on the ending of Portal 2?

EllenMcLain1038 karma

GLaDOS releases Chell with a bit of sadness.

TownIdiot25527 karma

That username....

EllenMcLain1182 karma

I agree.

StatusQ4487 karma

Have no question, just wanted to say hi :)

EllenMcLain819 karma

Hi StatusQ4 :)

inpher428 karma

Can you share your favourite cake recipe?

EllenMcLain876 karma

Red Velvet is my favorite type of cake and that recipe is classified.

flightoftheicarus370 karma

Being an opera singer, how does GLaDOS' deadpan voice compare to some of the opera works you have done? Which do you prefer doing?

EllenMcLain745 karma

Actually, I think Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus is like GLaDOS because he is always bored. I prefer doing things for money.

meddic360 karma

How does it feel to be Ellen McLain?

EllenMcLain636 karma

It feels old, but fun.

Jessica_T350 karma

Do you ever use the GLaDOS voice for fun in your everyday life?

EllenMcLain895 karma

Yes, my everyday life is so full of pain and suffering.

dota2brewmaster342 karma

Hi Ellen!

  • What is your favorite drink?

  • Would you do The TF2 announcer pack for Dota 2 if Valve asked you to make one?

EllenMcLain496 karma

Virgin Pina Colada. And I would if Valve asked me.

Agauos324 karma

Why are you so wonderful?

EllenMcLain617 karma

Because my husband loves me. God knows why.

BlurOut323 karma

If you could, would you become a neurologist just to research the depths of Gabe Newell's mind and figure out why he can't count to 3?

EllenMcLain828 karma

I would become a neurologist because they make more money than I do.

IKingJeremy316 karma

What do you think of reddit?

EllenMcLain678 karma

I have so little experience with reddit that I don't think anything yet. Usually I don't think anything about anything at all. But I'm having fun.

meddic273 karma

Hello, Ellen! I'm a huge fan! I wanted to say that your role as GLaDOS is my favorite of yours. One day, I'd love to meet you. I just want to say that Still Alive is a song all my friends and I love so very much. Want You Gone is great too. GLaDOS is my favorite robot in gaming as well. Anyway, I have two questions.

Have you met Jonathan Coulton? If so, what is he like?

Do you plan to do more work with Valve?

Thanks! I'm GLaD I could make it on your AMA this time.

PS. I'm wearing a Portal 2 shirt right now!

EllenMcLain477 karma

I met Jonathan Coulton twice to record his songs "Still Alive" and "Want You Gone." I also saw Jonathan Coulton perform at Bumbershoot about three years ago. He is a wonderful writer/performer. I loved working with him because he knew exactly what he wanted. His direction was very specific. I hope that our paths cross again soon. Better question: does Valve plan to do more work with me? I'm ready any time. PS: My plush turret "Tillman" says hi.

kitsune13250 karma

What is the funniest thing that happened to you?

EllenMcLain604 karma

When John and I were doing Show Boat in Europe, part of the set fell on me and I had to hold it up and continue to say my lines and it was the most tragic scene in the whole play. The audience gave me rousing applause with much laughter.

LobsterTache249 karma

How do you get into character?

EllenMcLain447 karma

I internalize the character and what's happening to the character and I respond depending on what's happening to the character and what the character wants.

iwantauniqueusername303 karma

So you are actually part GLaDOS?

EllenMcLain685 karma

Yes, the brainy part.

Dashing_Blue_Wings243 karma


EllenMcLain455 karma

Anytime at all.

spac3cat187 karma

Have you played the games you've voice acted in yourself? Do you do any personal fragging on TF2? Love your work, by the way! I wanted to see you at Momocon 2012 but my group was all "uggggh let's leave" and I was so upset I missed your table U~U

EllenMcLain330 karma

Sorry I missed you at Momocon! I'm not smart enough to play computer games, but my husband John plays several of them including TF2.

kbennett14580153 karma

Hi Ellen! I can't think of any good questions, but I just wanted to compliment you on your beautiful singing voice! Cara Mia Addio brings me to tears every time!

EllenMcLain187 karma

Yes! To mine too. Mike Morasky knows how to compose.

Forest-Fern128 karma

Do you have any advice for overcoming shyness? You seem so outgoing, I was just wondering how you do it!

Thanks in advance :)

EllenMcLain271 karma

Hi Forest-Fern, I am an introvert, but I am not shy. I think that my age has made me less worried about what other people will think. Just remember that most people have some shyness and if you try to overcome that, you'll have a lot more fun. I suggest thinking that everybody else is naked.

MerryChoppins112 karma

Thank you for doing a round 2!

Do you ever just start doing VoiceOver stuff in public if you see someone wearing valve swag?

Edit: Like just calmly as a joke?

EllenMcLain238 karma

If you come to the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle and are between the age of 15 and 25, I'll be sure to let you know who I am.

HeeyAqualung112 karma

If you could be the voice of any character on a previously produced show, game, or movie; who would you want to be and why?

EllenMcLain309 karma

I really don't want to follow in anyone's footsteps, I like to create my own characters.

fustanella110 karma

If you were to record an outgoing message for voicemail or ansaphone, what would it be?

EllenMcLain276 karma

"Hi, this is fustanella. I'm not available right now, I'm eating cake."

TheJeselnik105 karma

Hey Ellen! I met you and John last year at Dragon*Con 2012 and you two were fantastically amazing! It was an awesome experience and I was so happy to meet the both of you; it remains my favorite con experience!

What are other conventions you foresee going to? I'd be thrilled to see you at Dragon*Con again!

EllenMcLain110 karma

Hi Jeselnik, John and I will be at Anime Midwest in Chicago, Gaymer X in San Francisco, and PAX in Seattle over Labor Day weekend.

llamabrick92 karma

How did Valve find you? Did you apply, or did they go to you?

EllenMcLain151 karma

I'm with the Actors Group in Seattle. My agent at The Actors Group sent me an audition from Valve.

TownIdiot2560 karma

How cool is the person who voice acts for Chell?

EllenMcLain114 karma

It goes without saying- totally cool.

meddic58 karma

Could you have your husband do an AMA also?

EllenMcLain96 karma

I'm sure he could, somebody just needs to ask him. He's much funnier than I am.

manchesterca56 karma

Welcome back for round 2 Ellen!! I'll try and keep it simple.

1) What drew you to Wish It Inc.? Did you know the Synthetic PH team beforehand?

2) You're becoming a regular celebrity around the internet, but what's a little known role that you've done? (As a lot of people seem to know you as GLaDOS, Helen the Administrator, the Overwatch etc etc).

3) What was your reaction to GLaDOS' comment regarding a "Cave Johnson shaped hole" in her databanks during Poker Night 2? As it's pretty tear worthy, the thought of her not remembering Cave until the events of Portal 2.

4) Is there a good place to find out a schedule of your convention events? I'd love to meet up with you (in my Cave Johnson costume no less), but I can't seem to find details until the last minute or afterwards!

As always, love your work. Your friend in Science. @CaveJohnson

EllenMcLain69 karma

I had seen some of their videos and I liked the writing- they are funny. I've sung a lot of opera roles, in particular MiMi from La Boheme. Also Linda Loman in Death of a Salesman. Sorry, but I don't remember that particular line about Mr. Johnson. Check EllenMcLain.net and I'll try better to list all of my conventions. I have 3 coming up.

lastnameever53 karma

have they contacted you about Portal 3 yet?

EllenMcLain135 karma

No, but I wish they would.

TownIdiot2548 karma

Hey Ellen! Love the Portal games. I have a few questions.

  • Did you know when you took the job how iconic your voice would become?

  • Do you like potatoes more or less than before making Portal 2?

  • A bunch of Stephen Merchant's lines were improved, and all of J.K. Simmons's was word for word in the script. How about your lines?

  • How do you feel about that family who got mad about GLaDOS and Wheatley making fun of Orphans? Here is the link for those who don't know about it.

  • You said in the last AMA you were not called in to do a Portal 3 yet. However, you do do the voices of the combine machines on Half Life, so what about Half Life 3?

  • Lastly, what is the best fat-person joke you know?

EllenMcLain86 karma

No, I had no inkling. I like potatoes waaaay too much for my own good. Stephen Merchant both improvised many of their lines. I did not improvise. My mother, who was a social worker, was the first child professional child welfare worker in North Carolina. Many people in my family are adopted and we love them just as much. I cannot comment on that family's personal experience, I only understand my own. I have never heard of a Half Life 3. I don't know any- do you?

Beach_Mom37 karma

Is Wish It Inc as fun as it looks on the kickstarter page? If I could swing it I would have backed so my son could be on it.. but he will have to be happy with his DVD bundle...

EllenMcLain51 karma

Wish It Inc. is MORE fun because the writing is so good and I'm sure your son will be happy with his DVD bundle. Thank you for supporting us!

Jem_Star37 karma

Hi, another fan here. Loved your work on Portal and I enjoy watching or hearing you work on other projects. I hope to get to meet you someday (and hopefully with my GLaDOS costume ready!) Thank you for reading!

EllenMcLain51 karma

Thank you for writing!

Sivan_Mehta32 karma

Where did you go to study the character of GlaDos? Was it more of a creative venture or did you perform legitimate research.

EllenMcLain91 karma

I took direction from the writers and producer and I am passive aggressive.

Mendicantbias0028 karma

Hey there, I am a kickstarter for Wish it Inc. and I was wondering if you would ever consider doing an entire album as GLaDOS? :D

EllenMcLain54 karma

Sure, just ask me! Thank you for supporting the Kickstarter.

shadowmaat23 karma

What kind of Fairy Godmother hijinks can we expect you to get up to in Wish It Inc.?

EllenMcLain46 karma

Running a company of leprechauns and egomaniac-genies is hijinx should be enough, but I get to fix a busted magic generator with a golf club. That should be fun.

supermagpie20 karma

Was there any dialogue you've recorded for games that you were particularly disappointed to see edited from the final version of things?

EllenMcLain30 karma

I trust the writers and the game developer's to use what they need, so no I've never been disappointed.

zettapoke10 karma

Hi, Ellen! Thank you so much for doing this! :)

Do you have any suggestions for someone trying to get into voice acting and the voice acting business? Also, for the Portal games, how long did it take to record all of the lines?

EllenMcLain17 karma

Besides acting classes, you have to make a voice demo of your work. For Portal 2, I recorded over a 10 month period every other week for four hours.