One of the best things about the evolution of gaming as a medium is that we’re seeing genuinely well known and respected actors appear in titles more and more these days.
To be clear, I’m in no way trying to undermine the fantastic work done by video game voice actors like Nolan North and Ashley Johnson, but sometimes it’s fun to take a look at the big screen stars who’ve taken a walk on the digital side.
Oblivion – Patrick Stewart
Renowned thespian and leader of the X-Men Patrick Stewart could read the phonebook and make it sound interesting. He popped up in The Elder Scolls IV: Oblivion as Emperor Uriel Septim VII.
Assassin’s Creed – Kristen Bell
Veronica Mars’ very own brilliant Kristen Bell popped up in a couple of Assassin’s Creed games as Lucy Stillman.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Kevin Spacey
It was fantastic to see an actor of Kevin Spacey’s caliber in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Unfortunately, the House of Card star’s appearance did nothing to make the game less average.
Fallout 3 – Liam Neeson
Fallout 3 sees Liam Neeson take on the role of the player’s dad who – in a refreshing change of pace – is the one who gets kidnapped, leaving it to you, the player to try and save his skin.
The Legend of Spyro – Elijah Wood
Everybody’s favourite Hobbit (apart from maybe Bilbo) actually appeared as everybody’s favourite purple reptile (apart from maybe Barney) for the Legend of Spyro games.
Arkham Asylum – Mark Hamill
To an entire generation, Mark Hamill is probably as well know for playing The Joker as he is for being Luke Skywalker – the definitive voice of the clown for so many reprised his role for the excellent Arkham games.
GTA San Andreas – Samuel L Jackson
The inimitable Samuel L Jackson appeared in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as officer Frank Tenpenny, a particularly bad motherfucker who favours police brutality and corruption.
Civilization VI – Sean Bean
Man of a thousand deaths Sean Bean managed to net himself a relatively safe role as the narrator of Civilization VI. He could still kick the bucket in a future update though.
Metal Gear Solid V – Kiefer Sutherland
A controversial recast, as 24 star Kiefer Sutherland’s appearance as Snake in Metal Gear Solid V meant that longtime Snake voice actor David Hayter had to step aside.
That had nothing to do with Sutherland himself of course, and he turns in a great performance as the sneaky killer.
Mass Effect – Seth Green
Robot Chicken creator and all round awesome nerd king Seth Green provided some comic relief in Mass Effect as Joker the pilot. He might not be able to make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, but he’s still great.
The Witcher III – Charles Dance
Charles Dance is brilliant. The Game of Thrones actor brings an air of majesty to any role he plays, so it’s fitting that he was Nilfgardian Emperor Emhyr Var Emreis in The Witcher 3.
Call of Duty: World at War – Gary Oldman
Unlike Kevin Spacey, Gary Oldman managed to get in on the COD gravy train while it was still respected by the gaming community. The former Commissioner Gordon played Sgt. Viktor Reznov.
The Fallout series – Ron Perlman
Seriously, are you even playing a Fallout game if Ron Perlman isn’t there to announce that ‘war never changes’? There aren’t many actors who could dump a fuck ton of exposition on me when I all I want to do is play, but Perlman always nails it.
Rome: Total War – Brian Blessed
Some say Brian Blessed can take down armies with the power of his voice alone. Others think that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Either way, he does a great job of narrating the action in Rome: Total War
True Crime: Streets of LA – Christopher Walken
Christopher Walken pops up in True Crime: Streets of LA as an elderly desk sergeant by the name of George. It earned him a nomination at the prestigious Spike Video Game Awards in 2003.
Beyond: Two Souls – Ellen Page
Fun fact: Naughty Dog had to make some slight alterations to Ellie’s design in The Last of Us because of it was deemed too similar to Juno actress Ellen Page.
After slamming Naughty Dog for ‘ripping off’ her likeness, Page went on to star in Beyond: Two Souls, which was a warm pile of shit compared to The Last of Us.
Rage – John Goodman
The always-excellent John Goodman lent his formidable pipes to the character of Dan Hagar in RAGE. It’s a shame he couldn’t have picked a better game to appear in, really.
Seaman – Leonard Nimoy
The late, great Leonard Nimoy will forever be closely tied to his iconic role as Spock in Star Trek. He’ll be less well known as the narrator in Seaman, a highly unusual ‘pet fish’ sim for the Dreamcast that defies all explanation.
Deadly Creatures – Billy Bob Thornton
There’s a Wii exclusive action adventure game called Deadly Creatures that you’ve probably never heard of.
Despite being about a Scorpion and a Tarantula (seriously), Bad Santa himself – Billy Bob Thornton – voices one of the two human explorers. No, I don’t know why either.
Fable 3 – Like… A Fuck Ton of Big Names
As much as I love the Fable 3, it has to be said that the quality of actor they managed to get for the final game far outweighs the quality of the game itself.
Michael Fassbender, Stephen Fry, John Cleese, Zoe Wanamaker, Naomie Harris, Simon Pegg, Nicholas Hoult, Ben Kingsley, Sean Pertwee – some of the finest talent around helped bring the third Fable game to life in ways the actual gameplay struggled to.
If you’ve learned anything from this article, hopefully it’s this: even Billy Bob Thornton has bills to pay.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.