“If Clementine came off annoying, people would be trying to find the button that sends her straight into a herd of walkers,” Melissa Hutchison, voice actress behind The Walking Dead‘s Clementine, told Game Informer in regards to how she and developer Telltale Games had to avoid making the little girl just another aggravating video game companion character.
“From the beginning, the designers knew they wanted a character that would act as a moral compass for the main character as he progressed through the game,” Art Director David Sakai said. “The designers envisioned a smart, honest, and capable girl around eight years old.”
Telltale’s designers didn’t have to completely imagine the character into existence, however: Clementine’s personality, attire and candid dialog were based upon Sakai’s daughter. With those inspirations and imaginations in place, the developer then had to find someone to breathe life into its creation, a task that proved to be initially troublesome.
The studio brought in myriad children and adults to audition for the role, but none of them were working out. Children proved incapable of displaying Clementine’s complex range of emotions, and adult actresses weren’t meeting the team’s vision for the character.
Hutchinson proved herself able in both regards.
“When I read Clementine’s character description, it struck this chord in me,” she said. “I really related to Clementine. Her personality description kind of matched that of my own when I was a child, sans the zombie apocalypse thing.”
Hutchinson added that portraying Clementine in The Walking Dead “brought me to actual, physical tears.” The voice actress wasn’t the only one affected by Clementine: the emotional weight she delivered helped to cement Telltale’s episodic title as XBLA Fans’ Game of the Year.