A villain should be rather horrifying. NES games are played by those who appreciate the deepest corners of nerd culture. Hannah Fierman represents a strange nexus point where those worlds converge.
Perhaps known best for her role as the demon succubus in the anthology found footage horror film V/H/S (and reprisal of the character in the feature Siren), Hannah is no stranger to the darker fringes of the multimedia landscape. Becoming the face of a mysterious monster in a new NES game seems right on brand.
But for those paying close attention, the ultra-nerdy lovers of retro games in the crowd may also note something else in her resume. Long ago, she portrayed a certain elf-like princess in a fan film about our favorite green-tunic-wearing hero. I first knew Hannah through her role as none other than Princess Zelda in the feature length, zero budget, passion project Hero of Time Zelda film.
It was at least twenty years ago now (mind you, years before YouTube and streaming video in general) when the drummer in my raucous neo-grungy Baltimore band Eat Your Neighbors sent me a message (was it on MySpace? AIM? One of them...) with a link to a trailer for The Hero of Time movie. It was years away from being released, but I remember making it a mission to go on an epic quest to the nearest possible showing to see the film if the young team ever finished it.
Sure enough, a few years and much life later, I found myself on a roadtrip with likeminded nerdy friends to a little theater in New York City. It was at that show (one of only two, I believe, before the ever-present C&D hammer from Nintendo came down) I first met Hannah.
It was not the last time. Her career continued, and I followed it passively. Eventually, I started work on (the stalled) It's Dangerous To Go Alone...The Movie about the influence of The Legend of Zelda on modern creatives. That brought me to Atlanta, and I invited her and director of Hero of Time, Joel Musch, for an interview in preliminary footage for that film. It was great to catch up, though I do remember it being a frigid day for Atlanta, and I sadistically insisted we get some b-roll on the rooftop. She was a good sport! (Ironically, on that trip to Atlanta I also met and interviewed Zack Catalo, creator of Zelda: Outlands, but that's a different story).
Starting around that point, Hannah and I kept in touch professionally. I was doing a lot more film work, and she started to get involved with some cool projects. Once or twice we met up when I was passing through Atlanta, and we always said we'd work on something together in some hypothetical future.
A few years later, I began working on Mystic Searches with Austin (hopefully if you're here, you know that story -if not, please check out the rest of the site!), and we slowly began pushing the concepts of a child through our adult sensibilities. We started writing vignettes and descriptors and aimlessly sketching out concepts of potential characters in that universe. One character, who would become our villainess, was cribbed from a piece of short fiction I'd written in college. I'd been reading a lot of Stephen King and a lot of Lovecraft back then when Amriya, was first conceived, and in that iterative state, she was part of a cult of wanderers hellbent on illegally tapping into the supernatural for personal gain. A lot of that got sucked into the growing gravity well of Mystic Searches, and we tried to imbue her and her role in the world with some of that King/Lovecraft charm.
Based on some loose physical descriptions from the prose combined with a lean into the Romani-inspired aesthetic that was coming to define a lot of the concepts, Amriya came to life through Austin's hand.
At some point, we decided to do a mockup of a cartridge to help drive the concept of the game and to act as an incentivizer. That's when Austin created this image, a first pass at label art for Mystic Searches.
All I could see in his new art was a comic book illustration of Hannah, who I'm pretty sure he had never even met to that point. I laughed and showed him the art side by side with headshots of Hannah. We laughed about how we're both bouncing around this echo chamber of creative influences and something like this was bound to happen. With her weird indie connection to The Legend of Zelda mixed with her as a face of supernatural horror, we both decided she'd be the muse for the character going forward. I reached out to her, and with her blessing, that's how Hannah became the face of the villain for the upcoming NES game, Mystic Searches.
Maybe someday there will be a dark fantasy film adaptation set in this universe. She knows she's first in mind to call if it ever happens!