By Martin Bourassa / July 9, 2020  

An Interview with Dean Erickson

We talk with Gabriel Knight star Dean Erickson to discuss his experience making the FMV masterpiece GABRIEL KNIGHT 2: THE BEAST WITHIN (1995).

FMV WORLD: Thank you so much Mr. Erickson for agreeing to this interview; it is truly a pleasure for us to talk to an FMV giant such a yourself.

DEAN ERICKSON: Thank you for the hyperbolic description. I wouldn't even call myself a big fish in a small puddle. More like a guppy, but thank you.

FMV WORLD: Alright, let's dive right into it with a first question: how did you first get into acting?

DEAN: After leaving a job on Wall Street, I thought about raising money to start a hedge fund. Not an easy task in the best of situations, but I was particularly ill-suited to raise money because I wasn't comfortable speaking in front of people. I took an acting class with the idea I could become more comfortable and then I became more interested in acting than in working in finance.

FMV WORLD: In 1993, prior to your interactive work, you had a recurring role on the popular television show Frasier. How was that experience?

DEAN: Frasier was intimidating because of the great actors involved like Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce, Jane Leeves and others. I was just a bit player. Frankly, I was mostly concerned with remembering my lines and not embarrassing myself too much. However, I did get to kiss Jane Leeves in a scene that was cut. (Nice!) Kelsey commented that I was speaking one of my lines too slowly. (Not as nice, but true!) And David and I went to the same gym at the time, and he was one of the nicest people I've met.

FMV WORLD: You are known to FMV fans as Gabriel Knight in Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within (GK2). Tell me, how did you snatch that part?

DEAN: This was a typical audition process but I did have to fly up to the Sierra Online Studios early to meet (series creator) Jane Jensen and get her final approval. I don't recall the exact scene but I read a scene with some emotional intensity involved. Jane's face changed a bit as I proceeded with the scene, and I got the feeling that I had won the part right then and there. Basically, I believe that she needed to see an actor who could bring the darker side of Gabriel out, not just the charming, wise-guy side.

FMV WORLD: How did it feel being cast in an untraditional, interactive film such as GK2?

DEAN: Truly, I was simply an actor looking for paying work. My agent thought I looked the part. I thought it would be a great experience, and it was. It turned out to be far more interesting in terms of the technology than I might have realized at the start but that wasn't really my concern. I just had to fulfill my part to the best of my abilities. I had no apprehensions about the fact I would be making SAG scale for three and a half months in an idyllic setting under controlled conditions with nice people.

FMV WORLD: You say the shoot was just three and a half months for what amounts to several hours of video. That must have been intense.

DEAN: Yes, it was intense in that we shot fairly quickly, only one or two takes per shot. But we were mostly shooting on an air conditioned soundstage in a beautiful part of the country during the summer near a lake. We worked mostly 9-5 M-F so it was about the best situation one could have as an actor. It truly couldn't have worked out better other than maybe getting work afterwards.

FMV WORLD: GK2 is often named as one of the best FMV games ever made, even today. As recently as 2011, Adventure Gamers named it the 3rd-best adventure game ever released. How do you feel about that?

DEAN: It feels great that the game has been so well received. Even today, people contact me to tell me they really enjoyed the game. GK2 seems to have had a positive impact on a number of people and you can't hope for much more than that.

FMV WORLD: Have you ever played the game?

DEAN: I've never played it, though I've watched some compilations and pieces of play-throughs. I especially like the opera scene and can remember shooting those scenes more vividly than most.

The Opera Scene from Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within (1995)

FMV WORLD: That opera scene is widely considered one of the best scenes of the FMV genre. What can you tell us about how this scene was shot?

DEAN: It was my first and only time in Seattle, and we shot the scenes on a real stage. No blue screens for this one. They hired opera singers, (the director) Will Binder led multiple rehearsals, and it all felt a bit more like theatre than shooting on the soundstage in Oakhurst.

FMV WORLD: Joanne Takahashi, who played Grace Namakura, was one of the other protagonists of the game, and Jane Jensen is a big name in the video game industry. How was your experience working with them?

DEAN: They are both amazing talents. Unfortunately, I barely worked with Joanne. She shot most of her scenes before I shot mine. Then we came together toward the end of the production to shoot a few scenes together.

Jane wrote a terrific script which made everything else possible, but she worked mostly with Will Binder and the team. My work was done with the other actors, and I took direction from Will.

FMV WORLD: Were you approached for any other FMV work after Gabriel Knight was released?

DEAN: I wasn't. Frankly, paid acting work dried up for me, but I did get to play Hamlet, Macbeth, and few other stage roles after GK2. I'm satisfied with the acting career I had and am happy with my investment business now.

FMV WORLD: Have you kept in touch with anyone you worked with on Gabriel Knight?

DEAN: I talk to Will once in a while and we have coffee every couple of years. He's doing well and has a lovely family. I spend most of my time with my wife, our families, and our friends. I haven't followed the other actors or team members. They were all great, but life moves on.

FMV WORLD: A Gabriel Knight comic book written by Jane Jensen has recently been released. Did you follow anything Gabriel Knight-related after the game was released?

DEAN: I didn't know there was a comic book. I casually followed whatever GK news came out and followed what Jane was doing. I suspect I still have a couple of review magazines and maybe a game somewhere but I'm not sure where they are now. I've moved a few times in the last 25 years. Mostly, I'm only connected to the game now because of fans that contact me through social media (like you did!).

FMV WORLD: I believe the Gabriel Knight comic book is a sign that fans want more Gabriel Knight stories. If a live-action FMV sequel was ever made, would you consider reprising your role as Gabriel Knight?

DEAN: I would certainly consider it, though I'm not holding my breath for it. Basically, I'd be playing the father (or grandfather!) of Gabriel today. Either way, I will keep my day job.


Photo Credit: Bill Crow (Studio Manager). Click thumbnails to enlarge.

FMV WORLD: In the game, your character is a Schattenjäger, which means "Shadow Hunter" in German. If you could have supernatural powers, which powers would you want to have? Would you be a werewolf like Gabriel?

DEAN: If I had a supernatural skill, I'd like to be able to tell the future. What an investor I would be!

FMV WORLD: Yes, that would be helpful with your investment management business, Bionic Capital LLC. On that topic, it's really remarkable how you've proven to be a man of many talents. In addition to being an actor, you are also a wealth advisor, inventor, and author of several books, including a novel titled No One Laughs at a Dead Clown: A Razz McNeil Mystery. Can you tell us more about these experiences?

DEAN: That novel took me ten years to finish but I'm proud of seeing it through. My mom liked it, so there's that (laughs). Essentially, whenever I have an idea that has value to me I try to see it through to the best of my ability. I've created the AbStar Fitness Trainer, an exercise device that improves upon big, spongy exercise balls. I've written a couple of personal development books. Even my investment business is creative at its best. I have a project now that might surprise a few people.

FMV WORLD: Can you tell us more about this future project?

DEAN: I am working on something that is outside of my typical experience but that makes it a challenge. Sorry I can't reveal it now, but hopefully it will be completed soon.

FMV WORLD: Well Mr. Erickson, thank you very much once again for agreeing to this interview. Any closing words for your fans?

DEAN: Thank you. I'm always grateful for anyone that noticed GK2 and anything else I've done. Regarding whatever comes next, be kind.

Follow Dean Erickson on Twitter

Dean's novel
"No One Laughs at a Dead Clown: A Razz McNeil Mystery" is available in paperback and for Kindle from Amazon.

AbStar Fitness Trainer is available at

Read the free
Gabriel Knight comic book at Phoenix Online.

Visit for more information.

Related Articles Related Articles Related Articles Related Articles

FAQ | Contact