Over time, Arthur Morgan changes quite a bit throughout his journey. From being a loyal right-hand man to Dutch to ultimately being betrayed by the man he once considered his surrogate father, Arthur’s character arc changes him into a righteously redeemed man. While players can alter or change his morality throughout each respective playthrough of Red Dead Redemption 2, he still evolves and fundamentally changes after what he goes through at the end of the day. Working on the game for over five years, Roger Clark knows this better than anybody.
In an interview with Game Rant, Roger Clark elaborated on the origins of Arthur Morgan’s character and how he came to be the iconic protagonist in Red Dead Redemption 2. Throughout the game’s development, Arthur’s personality and constitution evolved drastically, which Roger Clark played a key role in developing. Clark had the creative control to help influence the development of Arthur Morgan’s character in tandem with the game’s narrative, whether it was the origins of his personality or how he carried himself. From Roger Clark’s perspective, this deeply impacted Arthur Morgan’s character.
At the beginning of Red Dead Redemption 2‘s development, after Roger Clark had been cast as the lead role of Arthur Morgan, the overarching narrative was largely finished. But Clark was given a surprising amount of creative control for discovering and determining Arthur Morgan’s character. According to Clark, the narrative was purposefully flexible to allow for him (and other characters) to flesh out character’s personalities throughout the game’s creation:
“My work on the game took five years, so some sort of evolution was unavoidable. We started out with a very skeletal structure of the narrative. We fleshed it out as we went along, which was good I think. It gave us the freedom to stick with all the good bits we discovered along the way and put on the shelf stuff that wasn’t so good.”
As a result, Roger Clark was able to inject much of his own inspiration into the development of Arthur Morgan’s personality and how he interacted with his fellow gang members. It’s clear that the camaraderie between cast mates may have went a long way in influencing this, as the gang largely hammers home the feeling that everyone is family and cares for one another. Even when Dutch is tainted by Micah’s influence and everything begins to fall apart, players can still feel the unbridled loyalty between them. This goes a long way as the relationship becomes strained and broken throughout the events of the later chapters. Arthur Morgan, being one of the few characters at the center of the gang’s conflict, evolves and changes drastically:
“Arthur was always a man of few words who had trouble expressing his feelings, but it’s hard to say how he changed specifically, only that he got more specific if that makes any sense. Time gave us the luxury of discovering, along with the writers, the complexity of character and his relationships.”
Arthur’s character origin is a more subtle note in Red Dead Redemption 2, but Clark still had a formative role in helping establish Arthur Morgan’s character. Players know that Arthur was orphaned at a very young age, and fell in with Dutch’s gang after losing his parents at around 11 years old. Arthur then bounced around the streets alone as a delinquent before he met Dutch Van der Linde four years later. From there, Dutch and Hosea helped raise him into the man he’s become in Red Dead Redemption 2. Because much of Arthur’s childhood was spent growing up with Dutch’s nomad-like gang, Roger Clark added a variety of inspirations for Arthur’s personality:
“I was doing a theatre gig when I first started working on Red Dead, and I was working with a guy from Flagstaff, Arizona, who helped me a little with this dialect I was creating. I didn’t go for one specific western location. There are aspects of West Texas and Texarkana that were my main influences, I think. I figured consistency was more important than any kind of regional accuracy.”
Clark’s work resulted in the iconic Arthur-isms that highlighted Arthur’s distinct character, as well as the many memes and jokes about the game. Clark’s own background helped serve to inspire Arthur’s depiction in more ways than one. “Arthur had traveled a lot in his youth, like me,” Clark explained, “so I took bits from dialects that I liked.” Arthur’s slightly non-descript western accent certainly made him more adaptable, and was especially more unique for his character design. Now, Arthur’s southern drawl and story is far more iconic, but at the time, Roger Clark’s work put Arthur Morgan’s character on that Path.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is available now on PC, PS4, Stadia, and Xbox One.