FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH: John Eric Bentley talks Barret Wallace

What makes Barret such an incredible character and what can we expect from FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH? We spoke to voice actor John Eric Bentley to find out.
By Duncan Heaney

Barret Wallace is a big man with a bigger heart. That unique combination of strength and passion come through loud and strong thanks to actor John Eric Bentley. Having portrayed the Avalanche leader in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, he’s excited to return to the role for FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH.

This new game goes deeper into the characters and their relationships than ever before. You’ll get to see some of the events that make Barret the man he is and explore his developing relationships with Cloud, Tifa, and the rest of his allies - and John’s pitch perfect performance brings it all together superbly.

We recently spoke to John about what to expect from Barret in the new game, and his experiences with the series as a whole:

How familiar with FINAL FANTASY VII were you before you took the role of Barret?

Oh, very because I played the original! I’m playing the game, and I’m like: “Oh, there’s a Black character! This is awesome - I’ve never seen a Black character in an RPG!”

And then I’m like: “Oh surely he’s about to die” - and he didn’t! And I’m like: “Oh, I’m hooked!”

What would you say defines your portrayal of Barret?

I wanted to make sure that when I portrayed Barret, he wasn't a caricature. I just didn’t want that to happen for the sake of my culture, my community, me as a Black man, my family… anything.

So, I was very diligent in making sure that people could see the different levels and layers that Barret as a man had. Especially with his relationship with Marlene, and the team, and even more so with Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith.

So, I just wanted to make sure that there were layers that were being presented that allowed the audience to see that he just wasn't an angry Black man who, like the polygon figures, shook when he got mad, you know?

As you say, Barret can be in-your-face, but he’s also good-hearted and caring. How did you find that balance in your performance?

Barret is Barret! He's a leader. He's big dude, he's boisterous and he is kind of a commander. So, for me to portray it, I just wanted to make sure that he didn't come off as a blowhard, as a buffoon or as your typical drill sergeant.

So, yes, he is loud and I’m loud myself! As many people in this room know, I’ll walk in and I’m like (shouts) “What up!” So doing Barret is a little bit like, let me put a bit of John in there, but a bit of this in there - it’s a like a recipe for me to make sure it’s balanced right.

Do you have a favorite interaction with another character in the cast?

I think it’s with everybody. He has to be the leader, so any time he’s with the party, or with Cloud, he has to be demanding and strict, but also - and you’ll see this in the new one - he has to care. There has to be a throughline of Barret caring for everyone he interacts with.

Except for Shinra, or people he has to fight against, right? He doesn’t have to care about them because he has a different mindset.

But as far as everyone else goes… I love my interactions with Marlene. And Cloud, and Red XIII - when we go back and forth with each other, that’s fun! That’s bro stuff.

But my relationship with Tifa is very fatherly as well. Then again, you have characters like Jessie and Wedge who he finds endearing, but still has to lead.

So, all the relationships are important because they make the story go!

How did you feel about the positive reaction to FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and your role in particular?

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE kind of threw me. I'm not going to lie, because I'd been waiting for it forever as so many fans had. But Barret in the original, I guess, wasn't as big a character as the rest of the party - Cloud is running the show.

So, for me to actually see people loving this dude, it kind of threw me. I wasn't ready for it and several people said: “Hey, man, you better get ready because you’re doing a good job!” And I was like: “Really, am I though?” because as an actor you always doubt yourself.

And then people come up and are like: “(shouting) I love you as such and such!” Ok cool - I’m glad! They’re louder than me (laughs).

Is that your favorite kind of fan interaction?

My favorite fan interactions aren’t “Hey, I love your work!” Those are cool and they’re great. It’s a little pat on the back and you’re like: “Good, I’m doing a good job.”

But the biggest fan reactions I have are where kids come up and they go “Barret!” Or “Barry” because they can’t really say Barret yet. And they want you to pick them up and want you to be that father figure!

But the ones that really got me were the folks who said: “Hey, COVID was a tough time, and during the time the game came out, I thought about taking myself out.” Those interactions are priceless, to go: “I’m so glad you didn’t, what can I do to make sure you don’t?”

Because if I’ve got platform to play a videogame character, but also to be able to speak into someone’s life and let them know that they’re worthy, worth something, loved… if I get a chance to do that, to me this is the best job in the world!


He’s still loud, he’s still big, he’s still handsome as all get up. I ain’t gonna lie, Barret’s a handsome dude - when he takes the glasses off, it’s like: “Hoo, that’s me? (laughs)”

But anyway, how is he different? You saw the emotion in REMAKE because of the plate falling and his first-time interactions. This is different because we get to see a slice of Barret that… unless you’re a fan, you don’t know his backstory. You don’t know why Barret is who he is in REMAKE.

So, REBIRTH allows you to figure that out. There’s a lot of discovery for fans and I can’t wait to see all the reactions. A lot of questions will get answered.

Barret has a very emotional arc in this game as he confronts his past. How did you approach these more powerful scenes?

Same as we did the plate falling. A lot of people believe in method and stuff like that, and I don’t knock those people. I’m not really a method actor, but I do like to take situations that I’ve experienced in life and bring them to the project.

The only thing is that when we go into record, you never know what scenes you’re going to do! So, you have to be emotionally ready for anything that comes your way. So prep work has to go in usually, but because I was a fan of the original, I’m like: “Oh yeah, this is what where we’re going to do this.”

So, you have to prepare for it, but the emotional part for me is easy. But I’m not going to lie - in REBIRTH, he goes through it! There are scenes that I can’t talk about - and I can’t wait for gamers to experience that - where he takes you on a journey with relationships that are deep. And deep-seated.

So, you have to be ready when you go into a booth at any time, because you might come back to that scene next time you do a session and remember where you were. And it’s heavy - his past is HEAVY heavy!

What was your favorite scene to play in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE?

Any scene that I got to do with Marlene was awesome! Anything towards the end, when I got to hang out with Red and go back and forth: hilariously fun.

But to see the plate collapse is one of my favorite scenes because…, it's just it's just that kind of scene. As actors we like to get to the meat of the matter, and that was meat of the matter from 0 - 60. And then you have to snap right back out of it and lead, not knowing what you’re going into.

So, that was very emotional because - and I’m giving my secrets away - I substituted my relationship as Barret with Marlene, with my relationship with my sons. I have four boys, and I substituted my ‘sense memory’, as it’s called. What if that was one of my sons or all of my sons on the other side of that plate?

What was your favorite scene to play in FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH?

Ha, there’s a lot! I can’t really say because I’m not meant to talk about stuff - Square Enix will have my NDA contract, so I can’t really say my favorite scenes (laughs).

But I will say my favorite things are going to this particular place and overlooking particular events that are happening that are actually stunningly beautiful. That's the only thing I can say about that scene.

And then there's another scene where I get to interact with Yuffie. Suzie (Yeung) is killing it and it's actually hilarious. And then that actually allowed me to go: okay, well here's Tifa who I already have a relationship with, here's Marlene, who's my baby girl, but now Yuffie’s coming in. She’s got the same kind of energy that I have, but she’s a baby girl - she’s in between Tifa and Marlene.

I always joke about this that Britt (Baron) and Suzie are like baby sisters, and that’s how I can do what I do with them. Those scenes are fun.

And then any of my scenes with Cloud… man, I’m just going to say this candidly -Cody (Christian) came in to do voiceover stuff not knowing how big this game was - I didn't even know how big it was! But any time I got to do scenes with Cody, I would ask: “Hey, has Cody recorded this yet? Can I hear what he does? Can I hear what he does, so I can feel what I would say or how I would say it?

It gave me a groundedness and a sense of direction of how to lead the team and where we were going to go.

I mean, that dude is incredible. I don't think people understand the work he puts into it. I call Cody “Today’s Keanu Reeves.” Because Keanu is one of the most generous guys in the world, but he’s real. He’ll be down on the street or on a subway train chilling with everybody else. That’s how Cody is.

Music! He’s musically inclined. Y’all don’t understand how much he does. So, for him to say: “Hey, this is how I approach things”, I’m like, “Damn John - well go ahead too!”

What’s the most challenging thing about being Barret?

The emotions. Because you got to go there.

Where you have to go emotionally, and where you have to know boundaries as an actor, especially an actor of color… they’re hard to juggle at times.

So, in order to do that emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, there are challenges, which I love.

But not only are you doing that, which is a task in itself, you also have a certain amount time to fit your lines in. You have to do what they say in your ear and say the words that they’ve given me on paper, BUT the character may also doing something physically that doesn’t relate to how you might want to do it.

So those are the challenging times. For example, how do I take the elevator scene in REMAKE where’s he’s just going off - how do you take that and balance it out so he’s not so big and being a caricature?

So, I'm always in my head when I'm in the booth. But like I said, that's the fun part and that's the challenging part.

What are you most excited for fans to discover in FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH in regard to Barret?

In regard to Barret? Man, I want them to experience the whole damn game!

As far as experiencing Barret, I’m not a selfish actor. I want them to experience the journey that Tifa goes on, that Aerith goes on, the journey that Cloud REALLY goes on, the journey that Yuffie all of a sudden jumps into, the journey that a character who’s also a robot goes on…

But for Barret? I guess the only thing that I want people to understand is his past. If you understand his past, you understand his actions. If you experience his past, and what he’s dealing with, and the weight of the world being on this man’s shoulders as a leader, you’ll understand REMAKE better.

That’s what I can’t wait for people to experience!

Who is your favorite character…?

Red (XIII)! You don’t even have to finish that question!

Red, first of all, is drawn, created, done beautifully. If you haven't done it, look at the details in Red - what’s on him, what the doc marked him up as, his branding, his braids, his hair. If you look at him, Red represents a culture in America, probably the world, that has gone through it, been tested upon, been beat down, been counted out and survived it all.

So, you think about all of these different things about Red, and he’s the ultimate underdog, right? You just become a fan to go: “Oh he’s still alive, he’s still fighting.”

Red’s incredible - and he’s beautiful. I mean, he’s Red! He’s cool - half dog, half wolf, loyal (except for when he talks about me, especially in the truck). And then in this one, you get to see Red… oh I can’t say it! You get to see Red at different times…

Red’s voice actor (Max Mittelman) kills it! He’s another one where I say: “Can you play me what he did?” Thank God they had some stuff recorded because I was able to play off that, like: “Damn!”

(At this point in the interview Max Mittelman runs in for a hug)

That’s my little Red!

Max: We just met today!

John: Yeah! We just met! I’ve known about him forever, and everyone and their momma brags about him, but… he’s the man.

And on that heart-warming note we end but you can hear John’s fantastic in FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH, coming February 29, 2024, for PS5.

Preorder any digital edition of the game to get the following bonus item:

  • Moogle Trio Summoning Materia (in game item)

What’s more, if you have a save file from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE or FF7R EPISODE INTERmission, you will be able to claim the following items in FINAL FANTASY REBIRTH:


  • Summon Materia: Leviathan


  • Summon Materia: Ramuh

Please note that save data must be saved on the PS5 system.

Standard Edition (physical and digital)

Available both digitally and physically. The physical version comes across two discs and includes a reversible cover.

This edition includes:

  • The full game

It’s available to preorder now:

A Digital Deluxe Edition Upgrade will also be available to purchase for the digital Standard Edition, which adds Digital Deluxe Edition content. This cannot be preordered and will become available when the game launches.

Deluxe Edition (physical only)

The physical Deluxe Edition also includes the below:

  • The full game
  • Steelbook® case
  • A mini soundtrack CD (in jewel case)
  • Physical artbook

It's available to preorder now:

Digital Deluxe Edition (digital only)

Available to preorder from the PlayStation Store, this edition includes:

  • The full game
  • Digital mini soundtrack
  • Digital artbook
  • Magic Pot Summoning Materia (in-game item)
  • Accessory: Reclaimant Choker (in-game item)
  • Armor: Orchid Bracelet (in-game item)

It’s available to preorder now:

Collector’s Edition

Available from the Square Enix Store, this edition is a real treat for fans. It includes:

  • The full game (across two discs)
  • FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH STATIC ARTS - SEPHIROTH - a large, highly detailed statue of Sephiroth
  • Steelbook® case
  • A mini soundtrack CD
  • Physical artbook features stunning illustrations and concept art from the game
  • Moogle Trio Summoning Materia (in-game item)
  • Magic Pot Summoning Materia (in-game item)
  • Accessory: Reclaimant Choker (in-game item)
  • Armor: Orchid Bracelet (in-game item)

It’s available to preorder now:

Twin Pack (digital only)

This terrific twin pack gives you access to both FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE and the upcoming game FANTASY VII REBIRTH.

Once ordered, you can start playing FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE right away and be ready to continue the adventure in FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH on release day.

The set includes:


Purchase this twin set before launch to get a substantial discount - essentially you can get both titles together for the same price as one standard edition! Check the PlayStation Store to see prices in your region:

Digital Deluxe Twin Pack (digital only)

This bumper bundle gives you both FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE and the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Digital Deluxe Edition, and all the awesome content that comes with it.

Once purchased, you can start playing FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE right away:

It includes:

  • FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH Digital Deluxe Edition - full game
  • FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH Digital mini soundtrack
  • Magic Pot Summoning Materia (FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH in-game item)
  • Accessory: Reclaimant Choker (FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH in-game item)
  • Armor: Orchid Bracelet (FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH in-game item)

It’s available to order now. What’s more, purchase before launch for a significant discount on the price of both games!

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