Curse of Monkey Island
Image: Lucasfilm Games

If you're a Monkey Island fan who played last year's Sea of Thieves' expansion Sea of Thieves: The Legend of Monkey Island, you may have noticed that the original voice actress for Elaine Marley, Alexandra Boyd, didn't reprise her role in the game, with a new actress named Emily O'Brien instead stepping in to voice the character.

Boyd had previously voiced Elaine in all of the Monkey Island games to feature voice acting, except for Escape From Monkey Island where she was temporarily replaced with Charity James. Her absence, however, was a little bit more conspicuous in the Sea of Thieves expansion given that she had just returned to voice the character one year prior in Return to Monkey Island.

The reason for her decision was never revealed publicly at the time, with most people simply assuming that Boyd was too busy to take part in the production. However, in a new interview with the BBC journo and adventure game streamer Laura Cress, the actress finally explained the story behind her absence, claiming that her decision not to take part was the result of unnamed producers (who she claims were not from Lucasfilm Games) offering her what she believed was an "unfair" level of compensation for the job.

In the interview, Boyd told Cress:

"I want to say this without it sound like sour grapes or anything because it’s not that. Let us preface the story with that. And it all was happening around the writer’s strike and the actor’s strike and the big question mark of AI. And how actors — there’s the potential for them to be replaced quite easily. Especially in voice.

"Anyway… We did the 2022 version and then another email came for me saying, ‘Can you sign this NDA because there’s another job?’ I was like, ‘Oh, it’s another job from this!’ And they were like, ‘No, it’s another Monkey Island job.’ I was like, ‘Great!’" The problem came for me was that the money they offered was exactly what they had offered the time before and only twice what they offered before, which was scale."

Scale, in case you're unfamiliar, is a term for the lowest possible amount actors can be paid for a union production and can often be a useful baseline during contract negotiations on low-budget projects.

Boyd argues, though, that considering the producers were asking her to come out of retirement and because the company had previously made millions from her performance in the past, she deserved to see a better offer than "scale x 2 plus 10". She claims that this offer is evidence of "a disconnect" between the producers and the craft and also argues that the Monkey Island producers didn't "consider the fans" when deciding she was replaceable.

As she states:

“I went ‘Hang on a minute, I’ve been doing this role for going on 27 years and you have made millions and millions and millions of dollars. They don’t even have to print a disc anymore. People just download it. There’s no cost to them, except hire a studio, hire the actors, and then post-production. And the animation — I understand there’s a great deal of work goes into it. But to just come back to me and hire me as if I was being hired for the first or second time just really felt unfair.

"And remember, in the back of my mind, was the writer’s going, ‘Do you know what? We’re writing these lines and you’re making millions and millions on streamers, billions of downloads, and we’re not seeing a cut.”

According to Boyd, she alleges that she tried to negotiate a better rate for herself, but the producers were unwilling to move on their initial offer and told her that it was a fixed budget and everybody on the project was being paid the same. As a result, she decided not to return, with the producers simply recasting the character instead.

As she tells Cress, there's no bad blood between herself and the producers involved with the series, but she doubts that she will return for another game (such as an Elaine spin-off) as it will likely "cost too much money for them" and she is retired and pursuing other interests

You can watch the full interview here.