Hellena Taylor, the original voice of Bayonetta in the eponymously named hack and slash series, has called for a boycott of Bayonetta 3, after PlatinumGames allegedly made her an “insulting” pay offer.

Source: Bayonetta 3 (2022), Nintendo

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Upon the gameplay reveal, some fans suspected Bayonetta was not voiced by Hellena Taylor — who had voiced her in the first two entries in the series, cameo appearances, and the Bayonetta: Bloody Fate anime film. Soon after, it was confirmed Jennifer Hale (Dynaheir in Baldur’s Gate, female Commander Shepard in Mass Effect, and Samus in Metroid Prime) would be voicing the titular Umbra Witch.

In an interview with Game Informer in early October, game director Yusuke Miyata stated, “Various overlapping circumstances made it difficult for Hellena Taylor to reprise her role. We held auditions to cast the new voice of Bayonetta and offered the role to Jennifer Hale, whom we felt was a good match for the character.”

Source: Bayonetta 3 (2022), Nintendo

“I understand the concerns some fans have about the voice change at this point in the series, but Jennifer’s performance was way beyond what we could have imagined. I’m confident that her portrayal of Bayonetta will exceed our fans’ expectations,” Miyata promised. PlatinumGames also confirmed Atsuko Tanaka, Bayonetta’s Japanese voice actress, would remain. 

On October 15th, Taylor’s tweets and attached videos sent shockwaves through the fanbase. “Friends, Worldlings, Bayonutters. Hear ye!,” Taylor opened, with several associated hashtags. After introducing herself as the voice of Bayonetta, Talor stated she “would like to explain to you why I didn’t voice Bayonetta 3.”

“The Bayonetta franchise made an approximated $450 million dollars; that’s not including merchandise. As an actor I trained for a total of seven and a half years, three years at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, LAMDA, with voice coach Barbara Barkery and four and a half years with the legendary Larry Moss in Los Angeles,” Taylor explained.

“And what did they think this was worth?” Taylor rhetorically asked. “What did they offer to pay me? The final offer to do the whole game, as a buy-out at a flat-rate, was $4,000 US dollars. This is an insult to me. The amount of time that I took to work on my talent, and everything that I have given to this game and to the fans.”

Source: Bayonetta 3 (2022), Nintendo

“I am asking the fans to boycott this game and instead spend the money that you would have spent on this game, donating it to charity,” Taylor encouraged. “I didn’t want the world. I didn’t ask for too much. I was just asking for a decent, dignified living wage.”

This may suggest Taylor was being offered an amount below the UK National Living Wage — the same as minimum wage — of £9.50 an hour ($10.76 USD). Kotaku calculated via the SAG-AFTRA 2020 rate sheet that unionized workers could expect $451 an hour for off-camera day performances.

“What they did was legal, but it was immoral,” Taylor emphasized.

Source: Bayonetta 3 (2022), Nintendo

“Now those who follow me on Twitter know I’m more of a lover than a fighter,” Taylor continued, “and sometimes think I’m not very much like Bayonetta at all. But I guess I am a little bit more like Bayonetta than I thought.” 

“I understand that boycotting this game is a personal choice, and there are those that won’t, and that’s fine,” the voice actress conceded. “But if you’re someone who cares about people, who cares about the world around you, who cares about who gets hurt with these financial decisions, then I urge you to boycott this game.”

“I decided to do it to stand up in solidarity with people all over the world who do not get paid properly for their talents. Fat cats cream off the top and leave us the rotten crumbs. You know, in England right now there are nurses going to food banks to feed their children. This is not right, this is not acceptable,” Taylor emphasized.

Source: Bayonetta 3 (2022), Nintendo

“It impacts mental health. Because of it, I suffered from depression and anxiety, I worried that I was going to be on the streets. That terrified me so much, that once I was suicidal,” Taylor revealed. “I am not afraid of the non-disclosure agreement. I can’t even afford to run a car. What are they going to do, take my clothes? Good luck to them.”

“Bayonetta always stands up for those with less power and stands up for what is right and, in doing this, you stand with her. Thank you.”

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“For those of you who are interested,” Taylor continued. “I’d like to go into a little more detail into the back-and-forth. The first thing is that I was required to audition again, because sometimes voices change with time. So I auditioned for the role, and I passed with flying colors. They then sent me an insulting offer.”

“So I thought ‘you know what, I’m going to write to [Bayonetta‘s creator]Hideki Kamiya. I’m going to write to him and ask him for what I’m worth.’ So I got a friend who has been in business in Japan to write in Japanese to him. I know he read it because I got a reply.” 

“I got a reply saying that he values greatly my contribution to the game and that the fans really want me to voice it over, and he… the memory of first meeting me as Bayonetta is ‘a memory I hold dear,'” the actress disclosed. “So I thought, ‘great, thank God.’ That, was when they offered me $4,000 US dollars.”

Source: Bayonetta 3 (2022), Nintendo

“Platinum had the cheek to say that I was busy. That they couldn’t make it work with Miss Taylor’s schedule,” the actress recounted, claiming, “Well, I had nothing but time.”

“They now have a new girl, voicing her over — and I love actors, I wish her all the joy in the world, I wish her all the jobs — but she has no right to say she is the voice of Bayonetta,” Taylor seethed. “I created that voice, she has no right to sign merchandise as Bayonetta. Any more than I have the right to sign as Eva Green, even though I was her parrot on the video game The Golden Compass; that portrayal is hers and hers alone.”

Source: Bayonetta (2009), Platinum Games

Taylor also encouraged players to boycott PlatinumGames’ potential attempt to make a spin-off title with Jeanne, one of the other popular characters within the Bayonetta series. “They’ll probably try and do a spin-off with Jeanne,” she asserted. “Don’t buy that either.”

Thanks to Taylor’s refusal to stick to non-disclosure agreements, this may suggest a spin-off is planned. Even so Jeanne is typically an unlockable character within Bayonetta games, playing slightly differently, reducing the “need” for a spin-off.

Taylor opens her final video with “So, to Kamiya, Presidents of Nintendo, and all other fat cats around the world: I would like to quote to you from the greatest moral teacher to ever live, Jesus Christ, from his parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man.” Taylor then paraphrased Luke 16:19, as Lazarus begged outside the rich man’s home for food to no avail, yet on their deaths Lazarus went to heaven and the rich man went to hell.

The rich man begged to Abraham to be saved, which Abraham rejected. So he begged for a messenger to warn others to repent, to which Abraham explains prophets had already been sent. The rich man then begs for Lazarus to be resurrected to spread the message; the miracle sure to make it more believable. Abraham replies that it if he had ignored prophets, he was unlikely to listen to a resurrected man either. 

After reciting the passage, Taylor concluded thanking the fans. “I would like to thank you, the fans, who have followed me on Twitter, commented kindly, and liked my work. Bless you. I wish you all the joy and luck in the world.”

Source: Bayonetta 3 (2022), Nintendo

Since then, nigh-all discussion about Bayonetta 3 and PlatinumGames has been about Taylor’s claims, the threat of the boycott, and voice actor pay in general. Some theorized Taylor was involved with a union, and that Nintendo had a hand in the controversy as they allegedly reject union voice actors.

An old tweet by voice actress Ali Hillis — the voice of Palutena in Kid Icarus — has since resurfaced, further supporting the theory.

As fans asked whether Hillis would be reprising her role in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Ali Hillis replied, “I sure wish I was!! I had to pass the role on cuz Nintendo took the game non-union. I’m gotta stand w my peeps!” Palutena would be voiced by Brandy Kopp, as she had in Super Smash Bros. 3DS/Wii U.

Source: Ali Hillis Twitter

Wrowa, a member of gaming forum ResetEra, is another individual who had been quoted in discussions. One user posted, “Whole lotta things don’t add up about the story, huh. Game has both Yuri [Lowenthal] and Hale in it, two voice acting titans that would have no reason to take a role that doesn’t pay,” to which Wrowa replied “It actually does add up, surprisingly enough.”

Hellena Taylor says recording for Bayonetta 1 only took her 16 hours (4 sessions, 4 hours each),” Wrowa cites. “The union rate for 4 hours seems to be ‘$975 and some change‘. So, if Taylor expected the recordings for Bayonetta 3 to take another 16 hours, we’d end up right at $4.000.”

“She says the initial offer was lower and that could indeed be explained by Bayonettas role seemingly being less central this time around (since there are more playable characters),” Wrowa theorized.

Source: Wrowa Twitter

Wrowa further proposed “I think what this might boil down to is simply that Bayonetta 3 is just one role out of many for people like Yuri and Hale. Getting paid the union rate (or a little more) is enough for them, since they don’t need to make a fortune from each game they work on.”

“Taylor on the other hand seems to have a much harder time landing roles (she says in her video that she’s got so little money that breaking the NDA is meaningless to her since there is nothing they could possibly take from her). So for her it’s actually way more important that the few roles she does play pay really, really good, but Bayonetta is not that,” the ResetEra user concluded.

Source: Bayonetta 3 (2022), Nintendo

The supposed $4,000 figure has been compared to other lines of work, including voice over editors and even YouTubers reading out sponsor reads for Raid: Shadow Legends allegedly earning more. 

In the case of the latter, YouTuber “Vinny” Vinesauce corroborated the claim. “Everyone’s been saying ‘bro, we get paid more for Raid: Shadow Legends,’ and the truth of it is, yeah. Like, I get offers that I don’t take because I don’t feel comfortable taking them — but that’s a personal choice — but I get offers. And you know, I’m a clown. And they’re more than that. And that just seems incredibly unfair.”

“Even if she’s only doing 20 hours of work for the game — which we don’t know how much work she’s doing — that still seems like super, super low.” Vinny then conveyed others suspicions that Hale would be asking for more than $4,000 due to her pedigree as a voice actress, coming to the conclusion that Taylor was given a poor offer to drive her away for a bigger name.

Source: Bayonetta 3 (2022), Nintendo

While PlatinumGames has offered no statement at this time of writing, Kamiya denied Taylor’s allegations. “Sad and deplorable about the attitude of untruth. That’s what all I can tell now,” Kamiya indicated. “By the way, BEWARE OF MY RULES.”

[Archive] Source: Hideki Kamiya Twitter

These “rules” would be Kamiya’s infamous reputation for blocking English-speaking Twitter users, or “insects,” for asking questions he had already answered, advice, and questions about titles that PlatinumGames didn’t have total ownership over.

For a brief time, Kamiya’s Twitter account was unavailable; the prevailing theory being he was locked out for blocking so many people in such a short time his account was briefly restricted as it was suspected to be a bot. Since his account has returned, he has only Tweeted in Japanese — discussing how best to use third-party Twitter services and alluding to blocking more users.

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    Ryan Pearson

    Taking his first steps onto Route 1 and never stopping, Ryan has had a love of RPGs since a young age. Now he's learning to appreciate a wider pallet of genres and challenges.

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