It’s been said in the past that Perfect Dark protagonist Joanna Dark was modelled on historical figure Joan of Arc, but we've been speaking to the guys behind the game and they've put us right on that score – and have revealed exactly who inspired the design of the famous secret agent.
“I think that’s the thing that just sounds good," admits David Doak – who worked on the game before leaving Rare to establish TimeSplitters studio Free Radical Design – when quizzed on the whole Joan of Arc thing. "I can’t remember whether Joanna Dark or Perfect Dark came first. I think Joanna came first, but as I recall, the Joan of Arc thing was a kind of retro-fit. Joanna Dark sounded like a nice name, and then, ‘Ooh, it sounds a bit like Joan of Arc. That’s quite good.’ As opposed to it fitting the other way around.”
Brett Jones – who did so much to shape the design of the character – explains that he was inspired by media he was consuming at the time. “We’d all been enjoying Ghost In The Shell and the Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd film – a lot of influence from those,” he says. “We were heavily influenced by early anime stuff. Even Joanna’s costume is almost directly ripped from Ghost In The Shell. Also, the leather outfit was inspired by Mrs Peel from The Avengers, and the dragon dress actually used the dragon design from Killer Instinct."
Joanna's movements were provided by motion capture artist Laurie Sage, but her face was modelled on someone different. “She was completely based on Winona Ryder,” Jones admits. “I was collecting images of faces, had a massive collection of reference images and we just picked her. She had this great pixie haircut and fulfilled the look of what we wanted Joanna to look like.”
Ryder is perhaps most famous for her glittering movie career in the late '80s and early '90s, where she starred in hit films such as Beetlejuice, Heathers, Dracula, Reality Bites and Edward Scissorhands, but more recently she has enjoyed a resurgence thanks in part to her recurring role in the acclaimed Netflix series Stranger Things.
Perfect Dark turns 20 this month. Make sure you read our exclusive 'making of' feature if you haven't already.