Over the weekend, in a shocking series of videos shared on Twitter, Hellena Taylor, Bayonetta’s original voice actor, shared that the reason she did not return for Bayonetta 3 was because of an “insulting” offer for the role. As a result, she’s asking fans to boycott the game, which releases on October 28th.
On October 15th, the voice actor posted three videos on Twitter sharing her story, detailing her years of experience and training. “And what did they think this was worth?” she said in the video. “The final offer to do the whole game [...] was $4,000 US dollars.”
Taylor called the offer “an insult to me” and asked fans to boycott the game and donate the money they intended to spend on Bayonetta 3 to charity. In the subsequent videos, Taylor said that she made this statement to stand in solidarity “with people all over the world who do not get paid properly for their talents.” She talked about the effect the offer had on her and her mental health, worrying about losing her housing and ideations of suicide.
Taylor’s revelation comes amid a climate in which voice actors are increasingly sharing how little they’re paid to voice some of entertainment’s most popular characters. Anairis Quiñones revealed on Twitter she was only paid $150 to voice Rika Orimoto in the popular anime Jujutsu Kaisen 0. Other voice actors expressed similar concerns on Twitter, sharing that voice work is continually underpaid with big studios even refusing to work with union contracts that would ensure voice actors have certain protections.
In her videos, Taylor went on to explain how, in her native Britain, there’s a cost of living crisis that has “nurses going to food banks to feed their children,” while “fat cats cream off the top and leave us the rotten crumbs.” Taylor noted that, according to her estimation, the Bayonetta franchise has made $450 million.
The Verge has reached out to Nintendo, which is publishing the game, and Taylor for an official comment but has yet to hear back from either. However, seemingly in response to Taylor’s videos, Hideki Kamiya, the Bayonetta series creator at studio PlatinumGames, tweeted, “Sad and deplorable about the attitude of untruth. That’s what all I can tell now. By the way, BEWARE OF MY RULES.”
In her videos, Taylor said that she doesn’t fear potential legal action regarding any breach of a nondisclosure agreement because she “can’t even afford to run a car” and that she had written to Kamiya himself to express her dissatisfaction. She said that his response seemed complimentary of her skills and that fans were eager to have her return to the role only to then offer her the $4,000 sum. In an early October interview with Game Informer, game director Yusuke Miyata said it was “various overlapping circumstances” that prevented Taylor from reprising her role.
Taylor wished all the best to Bayonetta’s new voice Jennifer Hale, best known for her work as Commander Shepard in Mass Effect. It is somewhat ironic that Hale is Taylor’s replacement given that Hale’s numerous video game credits, including Overwatch and Ratchet & Clank as well as her myriad animated TV and film roles, mean she would likely command an even higher salary than Taylor. Hale previously offered no comment on the situation but liked several tweets that praise Taylor’s work advocating for voice actors as well as those that suggest she cannot comment for NDA reasons and that she potentially didn’t know Taylor’s situation when accepting the role.
On October 17th, she tweeted a brief statement saying, “I support every actor’s right to be paid well and have advocated consistently for this for years.” Hale did not mention Taylor specifically nor address Taylor’s comments in her videos that Hale cannot call herself Bayonetta nor should folks buy any spinoff games that feature Hale as Bayonetta. Hale closed her statement saying “Finally, I hope everyone involved may resolve their differences in an amicable and respectful way.”
Taylor explained that she understood folks who do not wish to participate in a boycott but urged those who care about how people are treated to spend their money elsewhere.
“Bayonetta always stands up for those with less power and in doing this you stand with her.”
Update October 17th 3:21 PM: Added comments from Jennifer Hale regarding her role as Bayonetta.