When the team at Valve described the character voice they had in mind for the insane artificial intelligence GLaDOS for their game Portal, voice actress Ellen McLain knew she had a challenge on her hands.
McLain, an actress and trained operatic soprano, was no stranger to the people at Valve. She was the announcer in the game Team Fortress Two and also the voice of the Combine overwatch in Half-Life 2. One of the producers for Portal described McLain as “A great mimic, a terrific actor, and a classically trained operatic singer."
Every role has its specific challenges, and to portray the mad computer, McLain had to match her voice to a computer text reader, doing multiple takes with different emotional content. Despite the challenge, she says directing was "excellent" and that she enjoyed all of her sessions working on GLaDOS’ voice. She also sang the song Still Alive, featured in the end credits of the game. For her work, Ms. McLain was awarded the AIAS Interactive Achievement Award for Outstanding Achievement in Character Performance.
Ellen McLain is married to John Patrick Lowrie, another voice actor. The couple live in Nashville, Tennessee.
YouTube, GLaDOS commentary (featuring Ellen McLain) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=648DRxIfgx4
Jonathan Coulton's Blog: http://www.jonathancoulton.com/2007/10/15/portal-the-skinny/