How an Aspiring Actor Accidentally Became Resident Evil's Lady Dimitrescu

Showing up to a table read and discovering you're in a major video game franchise is not a typical Hollywood story.
June 1, 2021, 1:00pm
A screen shot from the video game Resident Evil Village
Screen

Maggie Robertson had only been in Los Angeles for six months, having just moved from London after completing a master's degree in classical acting, when she unexpectedly landed the role of a lifetime: Resident Evil Village's Lady Dimitrescu, aka the tall vampire lady the internet's been extremely horny for ever since they were revealed earlier this year. 

"I think my story here is fairly unusual," laughed Robertson during a recent interview.

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Robertson is not a gamer, and was not looking to land a role in a game. In 2019, she was absent mindedly scrolling through a website that lists potential gigs for actors. At the time, she didn't have an agent—she was doing all of this searching in her free time. These websites often have a description of the role and traits the production is looking for, such as requiring someone who is tall. (The description here did, in fact, ask for someone tall.)  

It did not, crucially, list what role the production is for. There was no mention of Resident Evil. But Robertson liked the description and figured she could pull it off, so she submitted for the role and soon after, received a callback for a proper audition. She's not sure if the callback was a week or a month later because of how little confidence she had it would go anywhere.

"[It] felt like a theater audition," said Robertson. "I was like, 'Oh, great, this feels like home. I know what I'm doing. That was really fun. Yay!' And then I left."

She had the same approach to the audition, too.

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But that audition led to another audition, where Robertson did some movement tests for the character. The whole time, Robertson just sees this as a fun opportunity in Hollywood. Maybe this is what all of these experiences are like? A few months go by without another call, before Robertson receives the one that matters: she's been cast in the production.

The problem now, however, is that Robertson doesn't know what she's been cast in. When she showed up to the first table read, she immediately picked up on a weird energy in the air.

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"The excitement is palpable and there are people whispering in the corners together," she said. "I think I even overheard someone say something along the lines of like, 'Oh, my gosh, I can't believe I'm in this franchise, this is a dream come true.'"

She knew this was a video game project, but beyond that? Not much.

Robertson sat her way through the table read, and after returning home, started doing Google searches based on the information in the script she'd been handed. She eventually realized she'd been cast as a central character in the next major Resident Evil.

"Once I found out that it was Resident Evil," said Robertson, "there was that moment where you just have to kind of sit back in your chair and process that information for a second because it's massive. And I'm not a gamer myself, but even I have heard of Resident Evil."

Robertson said her original pitch for Lady Dimitrescu during the audition phase and the performance featured in Village aren't radically different. The script for Village didn't allow for much in the way of improvisation in terms of the lines Robertson was speaking for Lady Dimitrescu, but there was a lot of latitude given in terms of how Robertson performed her.

"That's really the stuff that I was playing with, the physicality of her," she said. "Once I had more clarity on her objects like the cigarette [that she holds] or the fact that she's wearing a nice sloping hat, then I got to play with different movement qualities. The hat has this nice curvy brim, and so that enabled me to be able to play with ideas of looking up at people from under the brim of her hat. And it has this nice sloping curve, so then the curve led me to make all of her other physical movement qualities very fluid and indirect and curvy."

That Robertson would find herself, almost by accident, playing a character like Lady Dimitrescu is in line with how she fell into acting. In high school, a friend wanted to audition for the school play but was afraid to do it on their own. Part of the gambit was that Robertson also had to audition, and in the end, she got a part in the play—but her friend did not. 

"[Acting] gets my brain involved in my imagination and my body," she said. "and that's what I fell in love with."

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Specific to this performance, however, is that Robertson's acting is dropped into a character made by a bunch of video game artists. Outside of being tall, Robertson does not look like Lady Dimitrescu, and Robertson found themselves falling for the art of performance capture, of an actor being digitally inserted into characters, because she's "not limited by how I look."

"I have a very mature voice and I'm very tall," she said, "which means that oftentimes I'm playing a lot older than I actually am. And then I'm in this weird pocket where I'm kind of waiting to age into my really solid casting bracket. But I didn't have to wait on any of that when you do performance capture and when you do voiceover."

Until a few weeks ago, however, Robertson could not tell anyone she was Lady Dimitrescu. Village has been in development for several years now, and Robert's involvement goes that far back, as well. Even when Lady Dimitrescu was revealed in a trailer, Robertson couldn't take ownership of that. Her non-disclosure agreement with Capcom forced her to stay quiet until right before the game's release, when she revealed who was behind Lady Dimitrescu.

When Lady Dimitrescu first appeared and took gaming culture by surprise, Robertson wasn't aware of what was going on. Because she couldn't talk about the role, she'd kind of tuned things out. Actress Nicole Tompkins, who plays one of her witchy daughters Daniela in Village, texted Robertson to let them know the Internet had taken a liking to Lady Dimitrescu.

That liking, of course, was often overtly sexual. People wanted Lady Dimitrescu to sit on them, stand on them, and see where the rest of the night takes them. This hilarious tweet was a succinct predictor of where the conversation around Lady Dimitrescu was going:

"To be honest, now I'm not really paying too much attention to it," she said, "because, overwhelming, the responses that I'm getting and the notes that I'm getting are about my work and my performance as an actor, which is what I want to talk about anyway. But in terms of the hyper sexualization, I mean, like...dude, I get it. She is sexy, she's powerful, she's a badass, she is all of these things. And I think that's what makes her so attractive is because she's so multidimensional and that's sexy."

What Robertson is paying attention to are the rabid and creative Resident Evil fans who've wholeheartedly embraced her and Lady Dimitrescu. Her Twitter feed is full of Lady Dimitrescu cosplay, elaborate fan art, and people signing up for a chance at an autograph

Robertson came to Hollywood intending to star in movies and TV. Now, she's reorientering her career around voice over and performance capture, all thanks to Lady Dimitrescu.

"This game, this experience working with Capcom, the opportunity that they gave me to be a part of this game has changed my life and will forever change my life," she said. "This character will be with me for the rest of my life. And that is so surreal and mind blowing to think about. I've never experienced anything like it and I'm just so overwhelmed and grateful."


Follow Patrick on Twitter. His email is patrick.klepek@vice.com, and available privately on Signal (224-707-1561).