Lightning Returns interview with Ali Hillis – We want your questions! By Erren Van Duine on January 31, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Hello everyone! We’re teaming up with FF Union for a unique Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII interview opportunity.

As you may have guessed based on the title, we’ll be chatting up Ali Hillis – the English voice of Lightning – as we prepare for the western launch of the final chapter in the Final Fantasy XIII saga.

We’d like to ask you guys to submit questions that you’d like to ask Ali regarding her character, career as a voice actor, or anything else you’d like to know. The interview will take place next Tuesday, February 4th and we’ll be accepting questions until through Monday, February 3rd. You can ask us below in the comments or through our Mognet Central forums.

  • Lulu

    So you are voicing Lightning since 2006 right ? 8 years that’s quite a long time. How do you feel about finally leaving her, you won’t probably voice her again (another dissidia perhaps ? *-*) Are you sad ?

  • Daniel Masterson

    would bang.

  • miss chel

    How do you feel towards the evolution of Lightning’s character and did it affect your connection with her? Like perhaps you got a better understanding or did she drift off from you because of some changes?

    Did you learn something from her character/did her character influence you in any way?

    What do you think of her relationships with the characters, especially to the closest ones to her: Snow, Serah, and Hope?

    More specifically, what do you think of Lightning and Hope’s partnership, and of Hope Estheim’s character?

    Are you interested in working in another Final Fantasy other than the XIII series?

  • Randy_Thompson

    Any chance you don’t mind letting slip that Lightning will be in Kingdom Hearts 3 and that you will be reprising your role? πŸ˜€

    If there is one outfit of Lightning’s you could have in your closet which would it be and why?

    Lightning has always been this strong person, either showing confidence or arrogance, and has really never been one to show weakness often. We got one scene of her crying during the DLC for XIII-2 and that was so surprising to finally see her break down like that. Was it odd or unfamiliar, as an actress, to portray that side of this character who’s been so stoic for all the time we’ve seen her? As an aside, that really was a great moment to see and I think Ali Hillis did a fantastic job.

  • beneath-a-timeless-sky

    How much has Lightning impacted on your life? Most VAs become attached to their characters over time, so I imagine you’ll feel sad to leave Lightning behind?

  • Wildones

    What were your emotions as you went in to record for Lightning the final time?

  • Noctis

    1.Without spoiling anything what was your reaction when you found out about Lightning Returns’ story?
    2.How has Lighting’s character developed since we last saw her?
    3.Have you played other Final Fantasy titles?
    4.Not counting Lightning who is your favorite character in the XIII saga and why?

  • Iceygames

    Will lightning be in anything else? Like is there any word of it at all from square?

  • Bangarang

    Have you ever gotten to ad-lib any of your work on this series, or was the script set in stone? Also, have you played and/or finished FF XIII / XIII-2, and do you have plans to pick up LR: FF XIII, if you weren’t already given a free copy πŸ™‚ ?

  • resh_aykut

    Why didnt you sing a song in ffxiii series , it would be great ^.^ And my another is : Will Lightning returns ffxiii Retro-spective gameplay be available when we bought the game ? or can we watch again as recap in the game ? Thank you ^.^

  • waku waku

    Would you say that you look, in certain ways, similar to Lightning?
    How did you initially get into the video games industry?

  • beneath-a-timeless-sky

    1. Did you ever get the chance to record your lines with the other voice actors/actresses? What was it like to work alongside them?

    2. Who is your favorite character? (doesn’t have to be from the FFXIII trilogy)

    3. Are you going to be involved in any future titles (Final Fantasy or otherwise)? If so, would you be able to tell us anything about them?

  • Slickyrider

    How difficult was voicing Lightning? Moreover, how hard did you push yourself to achieve the precise tone of Lightning’s voice?

    What was it like to voice Lightning for the first time, in Final Fantasy XIII?

    Would you say that your work as Lightning has been the highlight of your career thus far?

    Now that Square Enix has employed you in such a paramount role, what are your hopes for the future as a video game voice actress?

    Why did you choose to become a voice actress? Is there anyone in the industry that inspired you to pursue your career?

  • YunFang1130

    1.) What is your favorite memory from playing the role as Lightning?
    2.) What is one trait that you and Lightning share?

    3.) Can you please tell Square to make another Lightning game?! ;A; (I’m not ready for the saga to end!)

  • Matthew Barnes

    Why didn’t you put as much emotion into lightning’s voice? Why did she have to sound Stoic ALL the time?

  • Wazi the pa

    Im not good with questions and already there are some brilliantly made questions in this comment. Thus, I leave the work to you. Praise be to Yevon πŸ™‚

  • OathkeeperSoraXIII

    1. How would you describe your journey throughout the XIII series and what’s it been like to see Lightning develop as a character?

    2. When you saw the script for Lightning Returns what was your first impression? Especially when it came to the scenes with Snow.

    That’s all I can think of. Sorry if someone else has mentioned these

  • Claudai

    1. will you cosplay lightning?
    2. what do you think,what Lightning doing in new world?
    3. favorite OTP? (one true paring, like LightningxHope)

  • William Bartee

    is this the last time we ever see lightning in a main game or at all in the franchise?

  • Twilight Odin

    This. All of these.

    Also, How do you feel knowing that this will probably be your last time voicing Lightning?

  • Katherine Endicott

    One of the many things I enjoy about Lightning is her deadpan sarcasm, particularly in the first installment of the trilogy. How much of that was scripted? Were you able to improv any?

  • NRool

    As somebody who aspires to one day become a Voice actor myself, I’m always curious to know how people get started in the industry, so what’s your story?

    And any advice for those seeking to enter the VA industry one day?

  • Cie Qyu

    On what level can you relate to Lightning?

  • raruna

    Do you feel the directors pushed the cast to be “too” true to the original? Do you feel you had enough creative room to work with the character of Lightning ?

  • Most voice Actors/Actresses have some kind of connection with the character they provide the voice to:
    Can you relate yourself to Lightning in anyway in terms of mannerisms/habits?

  • Bruno Barrios

    Who would you like to see Lightning pair up with in the new world? Is a LightninXVanille pairing possible? CAN SOMEONE PLEASE ASK HER THIS? for me? *puppy face*

  • Somber

    That’s her profession. Her monotonic voice will seem strange for some but extraordinary to the others. You may understand more if you know Liara from Mass Effect.

  • Tom

    Ask her this: Would you be in any future Final Fantasy games if you had the opportunity?
    Would you do a Lightning cosplay for a FFXIII event?

  • Zeigarnik

    Can we expect to see work again with SE on a future Final Fantasy game ?

    Hint : The mysterious woman in the trailer of FFXV ? ;P

    Also Erren ,please don’t take this as an offense ,but I thought you specifically dislike Ali Hillis’ work on Lightning? Why are you keen on interviewing her ? (Honest question)

  • Zeigarnik

    You clearly played the first 5 minutes of the games ?

    Do you realize how many lines she actually in the games ? Are they all in one voice ? Really ?

  • Acolyte Halcyon

    Can you twerk?

  • SazhKatzroy

    It has been almost four years since FFXIII released in the US… do you have anything you would like to say to the fans?

    What advice can you give to young aspiring voice actors?

    Have you ever played any of the FFXIII games?

    Was there a memorable moment (fun or difficult experience) during your recording of Lightning’s voice that you could share with us?

    Would you be willing to voice Lightning again in the future should any projects in the form of a prequel, sequel, crossover, or movie come to light?

    Has voicing Lightning during these past four years changed you in any way?

  • Lowe De Leon

    If there was anything that you would have liked to change in Lightning’s character, what would it be?

    If there was anything that you would like to change in the trilogy’s story, being Lightning as a point of view character, what would you change?

    If you were given a chance to have a say in how the Trilogy ends, how would you like it to finish?

    If Square-Enix asks you to voice another future character in the Final Fantasy series, would you take the offer or not? And why?

    With Lightning’s various tragedies, pains, and regrets, as her voice actor what lesson can you take away from Lightning’s story to bring to the real world?

    If Bhunivelze has only given you three people to save out of the main characters, who would you like to do so in the finale? And why?

    If the XIII saga is proposed to be turned into a real-action movie, who’s the celebrity you would pick to take Lightning’s role other than you?

    How does it feel now, that Lightning or Claire, is finally home?

  • Stephen Mc Devitt

    Dear Miss Hillis
    1. What did it feel like when you were in a photo with Yoshnori Kitase, veteran Final Fantasy producer, and Motomu Toriyama, a creepy psychopathic manchild who wants to marry the character you voice?
    2. When you voiced Lightning again, do you feel there’s a lot less emotion in the character this time compared to the original XIII?
    3. Do you not think Lightning’s new outfits are absolute garbage?
    4. This is not a question but I hope you better voices role for better characters under a better director and one day look and laugh on how stupid this Lightning saga really is.
    5. Did Moomu Toriyama ever attempt to make a move on you? Since he wants to marry Lightning, I imagine he wants to sexually harass you and Maaya Sakamoto, the Japanese voice of Lightning.

  • Stephen Mc Devitt

    If we haven’t seen Cristina Vee cosplaying as Noel from BlazBlue yet, I doubt what you want might happen.

  • Stephen Mc Devitt

    Like heck. If anything, Lightning Returns was a middle to XIII fans everywhere.

  • Stephen Mc Devitt

    I don’t know much of how developing video games work but I doubt Lightning had a voice since 2006. Maybe she started voice the character in 2009.

  • miss chel

    So inappropriate. :/

  • juma086

    What is your fondest memory of Lightning in the entire XIII trilogy?

  • Mathieu L.

    1. What was it like to play such a huge role in the final fantasy series?

    2. Did you ever have to change the tone of Lightning’s voice between each installment?
    3. Would like to be in another Final Fantasy game if ever you were asked too?
    4. What was it like working with Troy?


    Miss Hillis,

    How awful and juvenile do you think the FF fanbase is in comparison to the fanbases of other things you’ve worked on?


    Have you played any other Final Fantasy games before getting the role of Lightning? If so, what was your favorite?

    What was your favorite memory throughout being involved in the trilogy?

  • Stephen Mc Devitt

    I actually like Final Fantasy XIII and it was the first one I finished.
    I’m not gonna ignore the elephant in the room. Motomu Toriyama goes as far as calling Lightning the first ever FF protagonist despite Terra, Celes, Yuna, Ashe, Fang and Vanille played more important roles than Lightning ever did.

  • Stephen Mc Devitt

    Would you rather ignore the giant elephant in the room?
    Is Motomu Toriyama right to call Lightning the first ever Final Fantasy protagonist to exist?

    In this day and age, there is no way you have such a high position and be this oblivious.


    I didn’t call you out on your opinion, nor do I care about it. I called you out on your obnoxious “questions”

  • iLoveLightning

    Leading questions seem to be your forte.

  • iLoveLightning

    Of course she can twerk.

  • I feel that there’s always going to be those stupid questions people ask; and then those annoying, old-school-fanboy-bashy questions that aren’t relevant to a voice actor. The kinds that take over the more worthwhile, valid questions like some I’ve seen on this board.

    Heh, we’ll see.

  • Claire Strike-Farron

    So many questions I want to ask. X3 Hmm, how did you feel when you found out that you got the part as Lightning? πŸ™‚

  • Alleo

    yeah especially the part about sexual harassment or calling him a “creepy psychopathic manchild” -.- I really hope that this comment will be deleted. This is not only hate on a game (and yes Mc Devitt you hate it -“how stupid the lightning saga really is”- really shows that..) but also completely hateful on a real person…Maybe itΒ΄s just me but this is crossing quite the line <_<

  • Alleo

    I really would like to know if she played the saga πŸ™‚ and if she did how she liked it.

  • mimΓ©tics

    If I had one question for Miss Hillis, it would be : Which lightning did she enjoy the most to voice between the three installments ?

  • Jesus Christ

    Are you going to tell her that Nova Crystallis panned LR? I’m just saying…and askin. It’d be interesting to see how she respond to that.

  • Erren Van Duine

    And that matters why?

  • Joshua

    My question is: How was your overall experience voicing Lightning, and do you feel you’d ever return to the studio to voice future Final Fantasy characters?

  • Stephen Mc Devitt

    Why am I getting so many dislikes for pointing out what Toriyama previously said? Please don’t tell everyone here agrees with him.

  • Stephen Mc Devitt

    But no other other developer goes on like this than Toriyama or at least this publicly since Final Fantasy carries significant weight that needs to be handled with care.

    Toriyama is probably no more of a nice or caring person than Michael Bay, Uwe Boll, Paul W.S. Anderson, David Cage, George Lucas or Bobby Kotick as well as being no more honest than Randy Pitchford, Peter Molyneux and Dennis Dyack.

    This man, Yoici Wada and all the bitter Square-Enix execs are all killing the Final Fantasy franchise and are given the JRPG genre and the entire Japanese gaming industry a bad name… and it’s… gotta stop.

  • Podcast3Above

    Would you like to reprise your role as Lightning in a future Final Fantasy title?

  • Sothe Zephyr

    Someones still a little butt hurt that someone posted an opinion o.o”

    ….even after everyone else got over it πŸ˜‰ But i cant wait to read the interview!

  • Maz loa

    Japan likes to expand their stories with Audio Dramas and the XIII series is no different. If SE were to ever localize them, would you be interested in lending your voice for them?


    …You realize p4rgaming is a satire news site right? Their articles are made up.

  • blade

    1. What was it like to voice Palutena from Kid Icarus: Uprising?
    2. What do you think Lightning’s fatal flaw is?
    3. Any headcanons you’d like to share? ;D
    4. What is your favorite line/scene from Lightning?

  • Question for Ali: If you weren’t cast as Lightning, which other character from the FFXIII universe would you have been interested in voicing?

    (Please feel free to rephrase that question as you see fit)

  • Eftaker Ahmad

    Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII for PC port please…?!!

  • FFU Lauren

    It won’t be a read interview, it will be an actual podcast :3 x

  • FFU Lauren

    It’s more so us, Final Fantasy Union. We (+Erren) just thought you guys would like to hear from Lightning :3 Although, food for thought, there are some VAs that I don’t really like in terms of their performances, but if you guys like them, I’d do my darnest to get them to answer your questions if I thought you’d like them to. I’m sure Erren feels the same πŸ™‚ x

  • Sweet!

  • Ryuukishi

    I’d want to ask what’s next for her career! A hint of upcoming roles and projects, whether it’s reprising Lightning or Liara (I wish) or more likely something totally new!

  • Stephen Mc Devitt

    Okay! I’m sorry but Toriyama is one of the worst tellers to have ever existed, plus I doubt anyone will let go of his stupid claim that Lightning is the first female protagonist to ever exist in a Final Fantasy.


    I did. And it seems like plenty others have too. He wasn’t the first game designer/director to say something untrue to promote their game. It happens all the time in the industry. Activision made a claim about Call of Duty Ghosts where they “invented” some kind of technology that had the fish swim around you underwater. Yet, that’s existed since Super Mario 64. People just like to be up Square’s assess all the time. You can not like Square/Toriyama if you want. But I’m just trying to make you understand stuff like this isn’t uncommon.

  • Sothe Zephyr

    Oh cool πŸ˜› Still lol, cant wait!

  • Jesus Christ

    It matters to people who wants to know. I want to know and I’m positive that I’m not alone on this. If I were her, I’d like to know who’s interviewing and if they have an opinion of me. You obvious do for a long time. It’s not a bad question or topic to ask her.

    “Miss Hillis, how do you feel about the lukewarm to bad reviews that LR has gotten since its release in Japan? Do you feel Western reviews will be the same?”

    “Miss Hillis, do you feel like Square Enix is milking Lightning in the franchise? Do you think Lightning as a character is tarnish with this sequel… based on reviews?”

    “Miss Hillis, what’s your response on some of the negative feedback Lightning as a character been getting since the first game? Do you think the nay-sayers just don’t get it or they have a point? Is it down to just preference?”

    I think it’s a good thing to ask her for her commentary on the criticism her character and the games been getting since day one. And you can give her examples, whether or not you want to include your review is up to you.

    It’s quite relevant if you ask me. Now, I don’t now if I have crossed any line here making that first post, so hopefully my questions are still considered. No ill-feelings here, just honestly asking.

  • Jesus Christ

    If you read my comments on that review page, I didn’t say anything nasty to anyone and I wasn’t bothered by it.

  • Sothe Zephyr

    i don’t wana start anything so lets agree to disagree :3

  • Sothe Zephyr

    Omg i wish there would be another one πŸ˜›

  • Jesus Christ


  • Stephen Mc Devitt

    Perhaps next year we can look forward to a new Call of Duty game that stops all terrorism in the world by unleashing a deadly virus that kills everyone who isn’t 3/4 white and 1/4 bald eagle. That was a quote from Zero Punctuation when Yahtzee called CoD Ghosts worst game of 2013. You just put me in somewhat in a good mood there just now.
    Aside that, if you ever see Motomu Toriyama in person, please tell about Terra from Final Fantasy VI and maybe Yuna from X and X-2 just to see if he really made a mistake and put his setence into better context like say “Lightning is the first SOLO female protagonist in the same vein as Vincent in Dirge of Cerberus and Zack in Crisis Core.”.
    Just help him be more aware of the people who play Final Fantasy games.

  • Somber

    Man. A lot of rude, inappropriate questions and indirect insults. This is why FF Fanbase had fallen into the nastiest fanbases list. Sad….

  • Dark

    Do not use “every”

  • If you truly believe that Lightning Returns is a middle finger to XIII fans everywhere, you simply don’t get it. If anything, LR is the ultimate “thank you” to the real fans… fans who have enjoyed XIII and XIII-2 despite all the negativity that has inexplicably followed this series. And yes, I’ve actually played Lightning Returns (Japanese import. 4 full play throughs. 200+ hours), so I’ve seen just how many “thank you” moments were packed into this game. πŸ™‚

  • Stephen Mc Devitt

    Really? If the people of the world in LR are ones from Academia 500AF, why can’t they rebuilt the science and technology they had in XIII-2? XIII was a sci-fi heavy game, so why throw it all away?
    What about Lightning herself? I remember that she had passion. She wasn’t afraid to swing a punch when she was angry but also would show a sense of compassion when it was neccessary. How about she looked in XIII? She was visually striking and fitted with the whole sci-fi premise.
    Why does she need all those stupid outfits that don’t fit her character? Why can’t she use a gunblade anymore? Why can’t she just show some basic human emotion and empathy towards others anymore? She pretty much shows no concern for Snow or anyone around her when steals everyone’s souls.
    Oh wait. I read there IS an explanation why she became such a husk but when it’s told as well what is being told, it’s too late for me to care. “Oh look at me! I’m like Jesus Chirst except I kick ass, give no real teachings or philosophies to live by and wear a slutty cat outfit to increase my cup size.”
    How is all this suppose to be related to the tension between Cocoon and Pulse, the whole Fal’Cie conspiracy and the timeline troubles?

  • Matthew Barnes

    I love Final Fantasy XIII’s mythos, I really do but I have a limit and have to say: No, that is not a justification. I KNOW Liara from Mass Effect, Liara shows emotions but she is the most boring character in Mass Effect with a gimmick that gets old hot blue space women who are neither male nor female. Samara is MUCH more interesting than Liara and I can sense so much emotion and power coming from her, that I did not feel from Liara.

    Lightning has about as many facial expressions as Bella from Twilight. If she was so against being a L’cie whose destiny was controlled to the point where she was willing to blow up Orphan and subsequently Cocoon without thinking of the consequences while being an “Army of One”. Then all of a sudden she takes a knee to Etro after being indoctrinated by the “This is how things are, accept it.”

    My friend is a soldier, he has complexes, expressions emotions that I can sense behind his actions, in other words: A mind and a reason for doing what he does. Lightning however? The only thing that made sense was her going to blow up the Sanctum for what they did to Serah. When she took Hope with her because “Leaving a child behind who just lost his mother would straight up be fucking wrong”. I saw her sense of ethics.

    When I saw her willing to blow up a planet with a bunch of people still on it, I said “WTF Lightning!?” Then the game ended and I said: “What? That’s it?”

    I’m looking forward to Lightning Returns, I want to see if they solve this and give me a path to believe ability in Lightning’s character.

    From what I can see, she is a ruthless death god who is killing everybody and justifying it by saying “To save their souls.” With no remorse or bother.

  • KanjiLikesBoys

    1)that’s really any D-bad on the internet who doesn’t fear their attitude coming back to hurt them
    2)All fanbses complain, all the time.

  • KanjiLikesBoys

    1)that’s really any D-bad on the internet who doesn’t fear their attitude coming back to hurt them
    2)All fanbses complain, all the time.