Marisha Ray Teases High Stakes & ‘Interesting, Juicy Stuff’ in Season 3

Marisha Ray Teases High Stakes & ‘Interesting, Juicy Stuff’ in Season 3

Last week, Critical Role and Prime Video delighted the internet (and a rabid fanbase known as “Critters”) when they revealed the long-awaited premiere date and new opening titles for The Legend of Vox Machina‘s third season. And if you thought that was enough excitement, get ready: According to Critical Role’s Creative Director and founding member Marisha Ray, who voices half-elf druid Keyleth, new and old fans alike are going to have their hands full when it comes to their emotions this season.

Previewing that “a lot of things are kind of culminating in this season and coming to fruition, pulled directly from the campaign,” Ray also teases “interesting, juicy stuff” when it comes to Vox Machina’s friendship. “If the first season was about found family and the second season was about everybody coming together and learning the joys of having said found family, this third season definitely touches on a decent amount of but also, families have conflict,” she says. “Especially kind of looking back at where Vox Machina started in that first season, in those first couple of episodes where they were just like, a bunch of sidekicks with very little responsibility. This is like all of the responsibility all at once happening now. And the stakes are very high.” (How high? Let’s just say there are dragons—a lot of them. They mean business, and the future of the world is at stake.)

As the show heads into its third season and adds even more worldbuilding to the story and its characters, Ray and the rest of the cast remain mindful about creating a balance between making a show for both people who are aware of how the story ends and one that audiences are discovering for the first time.

“It’s still an adaptation. We’re always trying to be very clear with people that an adaptation is going to be an adaptation,” says Ray. “There are things that have to be truncated or have to be kind of switched around for the flow of the story and I think there’ll be a lot of those little nuggets of surprise. But also, there’s so much pulled from and recognized from the campaign, especially when it comes to the inter-party relationships, that I think the audience is just going to freak out about.”

Legend of Vox Machina Season 3

Amazon Studios

Although Vox Machina was Critical Role’s beloved first campaign which streamed on Geek & Sundry from 2015-2017, within the actual play that the group has been participating in every Thursday night for almost a decade, longtime fans have been able to delight in seeing familiar characters engage with newer ones—such as Ray’s character of Keyleth showing up in a surprise cameo.

“It’s amazing to see,” Ray says, admitting that she was just as excited as fans when her beloved druid made an appearance in the current ongoing campaign known as Bells Hells. “With The Mighty Nein [Critical Role’s second campaign that ran from 2018-2021, on which a second upcoming animated series will be based], it was very much a departure. And Matt [Mercer, Critical Role’s Game Master] very deliberately didn’t want it to be nostalgia. He wanted it to be its own kind of contained thing that wasn’t relying on people having knowledge of the first campaign.”

Bells Hells, Ray notes, is a horse of a different color as the cast made backstories for their characters tied directly to previous campaigns. “It kind of just makes sense for it to kind of come around,” she continues. “But I say all the time, it really does feel like these characters spring forth from our brains and then take on a life of their own, independent of us as players or actors. So when they come back around, it kind of gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling. Like seeing a friend you haven’t seen for five years and being like, yeah, they’re doing good.”

To that end, at almost a decade of telling stories, the team at Critical Role has amassed an astounding number of fans who have followed the group through different stories and characters (part of the reason The Legend of Vox Machina was so successful right out of the gate is because of those dedicated fans, who first helped raise money for the series via a record-breaking Kickstarter before Prime Video stepped in.) “The things that are happening in the world can kind of reflect on the stories that we tell, because that’s just to be expected. And that’s natural,” says Ray. “I think Vox Machina was kind of unique in its own thing, in which it was a little bit more of your stereotypical fantasy story—a lot of the characters followed stronger archetypes before we kind of started mixing up. So I think even in terms of it being kind of the baby of the campaigns, you can see how that has reflected in what people are drawn to. Mighty Nein was heavily political intrigue and skullduggery and a lot of stuff that got kind of complicated in those ways.”

Keyleth (Marisha Ray) and Lady Allura Vysoren (Indira Varma)

Amazon Studios

On Saturday June 15 at 6:30pm PT, Critical Role will present their 98th episode live in front of hundreds of fans at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. It’s not the first live show that the group has put on in the years since their show broke out into the mainstream, but it’s the first one for the Bells Hells campaign and Ray is hyped for fans to see how things play out with her current campaign character, Laudna (an undead warlock/sorcerer).

“You build these characters kind of independently of our player of the rest of the team and kind of have ideas for certainly trajectories that they could go. But the X factor that you never can anticipate is the actions of your fellow players and how they will affect your character and how they feel,” says Ray of what’s surprised her about Laudna over almost 100 episodes. “Beau [Ray’s Mighty Nein character] was like a grumpy little shaker. She was always interested in doing the best and being a hero and trying to do what she can, Keyleth even more so. And so I think that this campaign can kind of see us all dipping our toes into a little bit of the Machiavellian side of things. I think it’s interesting to see characters that might be doing things that can be kind of considered morally gray but still with the best intentions in mind. Even with where Laudna is right now in her in her relationship with Imogen (Laura Bailey‘s sorcerer character), as trite as it may be, it is very much a ‘it’s not you, it’s me.’ And we’ll see if we can kind of get over that and hear what the rest of the group is telling her. It’s a complicated situation. She’s got a different things going on in her head that say otherwise, both literally and metaphysically.”

Aside from big narrative moments, what else is Ray looking forward to on live show night? Letting these characters have their time in the sun on the big stage.

“I think it’s nice to be able to have that same treatment the other two campaigns have had,” she says, teasing that fans can look forward to a wardrobe by costume designer Jenny Newman called Bells Hells but make it fashion. “Each live show, we’re always learning new things. Especially as a creative director, you never want to feel like you’re going backwards but you always want to kind of like at least meet or top all of your previous live shows or find new ways to elevate and innovate. No matter what we do, we owe it to the audience in the people who have paid money, bought plane tickets, dedicated a decent chunk of time and energy into coming to the shows to make sure that it’s worth their time and their money.”

The Legend of Vox Machina, October 3, Prime Video

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