When Helen King landed a lead role in the new Prince Of Persia video game, she didn't know what she was in for.
"I didn't realize it was such a big deal until I'd done the job. I'm very pleased that I didn't know, actually," she laughs.
King is a voice actor, one who gives life to cartoons, puppets and, in this particular case, a princess named Farah, the long-lost crush of a nameless Prince.
Voice recording for this instalment, The Two Thrones, was completed in late summer, and with its release this month King gets to see if her hard work will pay off.
"I'm very curious to see how receptive the serious Farah fans are to a new voice," she says. "I went online and was completely blown away by the attention paid to this one character."
How popular is Farah? Enough to make the Farah Appreciation Thread one of the largest forums on Ubisoft's website. The thread's members hold events like Farah Friday at their workplaces, where they log on to share reflections like this one: "I love her dark eyes, I love that little piece of hair that's always in her face, I love her voice, the voice that could silence me instantly just to hear her talk."
But King takes it all in stride.
"I think it's really cute. People obviously set some kind of store by their gaming experience. It's something they respond to on a personal level: they feel like these characters are their friends. It's nice to think about becoming part of that experience."
We're meeting at Café Diplomatico, near her new home in Little Italy. The first snowstorm of the season has hit, so we both opt for the boozy hot foaminess of Irish coffee. But King's no stranger to winter; she recently moved here from Montreal.
Her old neighbourhood, Mile End, is also the home of Ubisoft Montreal, the company that hired her for the part and one of the largest gaming studios in North America.
Its Prince Of Persia series has sold an impressive 6 million copies worldwide. It also hit gold with Splinter Cell and continues to snag top properties like Peter Jackson's King Kong.
I've been a fan of the series since its original early-90s incarnation for the PC, in which you guide a pixelated pyjama-clad Arabian knight past traps and scimitar-wielding sultans.
In 2003, Ubisoft took the swashbuckling premise 3-D with The Sands Of Time, again combining puzzles and combat. It also added the ability to "rewind" your mistakes by controlling time, useful when facing spinning blades and death-defying drops. The newest P.O.P. title, The Two Thrones, is the third in the series.
Farah hasn't been seen since the end of Sands Of Time. At the time, King didn't know she was playing the reprise of a character; fine by her that she had to come up with an original voice. But she did have a few guides.
"I was given a couple of schematics, sketches the animators had done - really nice tough poses of her standing, bristling with arrows, looking very cool. That gave me an idea of the attitude."
Before they did the longer cinematic scenes, she was shown a test of the characters in action moving around the space they were working with, so they could get an idea of the projection level.
"It was really rough, but it was very helpful. As far as character goes, I just had the designs."
King's voice recording was done at Ubisoft's studio, but the Prince himself was miles away in sunny L.A., "so a lot of it was intuition and relying on the script and direction."
The Prince narrates his own adventure like a regular Scheherazade, making storytelling an integral part of the game.
King tells me this is great for actors, who are interested in pushing a narrative forward. But the gaming element has its own requirements.
"It was like doing a full-on acting performance. People can't see your face, so you have to convey so much in your voice. It's a lot more physical than people would expect."
This included not just the voice-work, but also every other sound the princess makes during play, called the onomatopoeia, or ono for short. Everything from the breath she draws when pulling back a bow string to the a variety of screams for falls of various heights.
"I started to dread it by about hour six of recording. The director would say, "Okay, seven types of oof!' And I would do seven types of oof. I'd flip the page and it was like, "Oh no" it's all ono!'"
At the end of our interview I ask King to conjure Farah for me. She laughs a little nervously. Our table in the crowded restaurant is miles away from the privacy of a sound booth. But then the diner's din fades away, the flurries outside become driving sand and a clear, regal voice intones: "You are a prince in title only: go and reclaim your throne. But know this - you do so alone."