‘Arcane’ creator Christian Linke on casting Hailee Steinfeld and Ella Purnell [Exclusive Video Interview]

In deciding which animation studio he should use to create the Netflix series “Arcane,” creator Christian Linke decided to take a chance on a small French studio called Fortiche. “I had been friends with them for a long time. We worked on all these music videos together. They always had this really cinematic look, this beautiful approach to kind of blending 3D and 2D,” he tells Gold Derby during our recent Meet the Experts: TV Animation panel (watch the exclusive video interview above). While it did take a while to make the final decision to go with the studio, he felt that it would be worth investing in a relationship with them. “Let’s help them grow and scale up to something like this. We’ve got to just find a lot of answers in the process, build the teams from the ground up, but I think that’s really what made that possible.”

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“Arcane” takes place in the universe of the online multiplayer battle video game “League of Legends.” The show centers around two cities: the prosperous and ideal city of Piltover and the dilapidated and sleazy undercity of Zaun. As the disturbance between the two places gets more heated, sisters Vi (Hailee Steinfeld) and Jinx (Ella Purnell) begin becoming aligned on opposing sides of a looming war over differing beliefs and mysterious occurrences. The series has debuted to a ton of critical acclaim and cleaned up at the Annie Awards back in March, winning nine trophies including Best Animated Television Show.

Casting the character of Jinx proved to be a very difficult task for Linke. “She has a unique voice in the game and so you have to find someone that could do the intimate, very acted, dramatic scenes but at the same time, also sell these big, larger than life moments.” The expectations were certainly high and he felt like everything came together when Purnell came in to audition. “It took us, a total of like two-and-a-half years to find Ella and see, when we heard her audition, just the pearly gates opened up.”

In developing the second season, Linke acknowledged that the first season was really used to establish the show’s characters and get them to really close to the version of the characters from the game, like an origin story. “In season two, we definitely always wanted to take it further to say, now that we kind of know these characters and they exist in our audience’s minds, where do they go from here?” The last couple of episodes of the second season are currently being written and there’s a lot of changes that are coming. “Every character really is becoming a bit of the opposite of who they were in season one.”

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