If you've recently played Fallout: New Vegas, you'll no doubt have been surprised to meet a character called Benny Gecko, played by Matthew Perry, and another, a decrepit, rotting, zombie-like mutant by the name of Raul – voiced by Danny Trejo. That’s right, Danny Trejo, as in Machete Danny Trejo, otherwise known as the world’s greatest bad guy. So in honour of his gaming voiceover work, and his first leading role as Robert Rodriguez’s Mexpoitation knife obsessive, here’s some of Hollywood’s finest who’ve appeared in non movie tie-in video games.
Biggest movie role:** Oskar Schindler in Schindler’s List (1993)
*Biggest gaming role:* James, the protagonist’s father in Fallout 3 (2008)
Gaming Oscar-worthy? Though the game boasts other big name voice-acting talent, such as Ron Perlman (The Narrator), Malcolm McDowell (President John Henry Eden) and, um, Odette Yustman (Amata), Neeson outshines the whole sorry lot of them. Why? Well, he’s Liam Neeson, and his particular set of skills set him out from any voice-acting crowd. Or any crowd at all, actually. In reality, his character is the driving force behind the whole game, as the aim (to begin with) is to find him in amongst the barren wilderness of Fallout 3 – in fact, Executive Producer Todd Howard went as far as to say: "This role was written with Liam in mind, and provides the dramatic tone for the entire game." The first voice you hear, and the first face you see, is that of Neeson’s and it’s his growling Irish burr that stays with you throughout your adventure.
Biggest movie role:** Professor Charles Xavier in the original X-Men trilogy. (2000 – 2007)
*Biggest gaming role:* Emperor Uriel Septim VII in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2007)
Gaming Oscar-worthy?** **Though there are no such things as gaming Oscars (and there damn well should be – just ask our mate Roger), one of the things that come close are The Spike Video Game Awards, and guess who won one in 2006? That’s right, Rachael Leigh Cook in Kingdom Hearts II, but guess who else did too? None other than Sir Patrick Stewart, spaceship captain of our nerdy hearts, high-level telepathic mutant of our souls, walking away with ‘Best Performance by a Human Male’ with his minutes-long role as the swiftly-killed Emperor of Oblivion, kicking off the award-winning game with Shakespearean aplomb, eventually to be replaced with none other than his ‘son’… Sean Bean. But more on that later. The next page, in fact.
Biggest movie role:** Boromir in The Lord of the Rings (1993)
*Biggest gaming role:* Emperor Martin Septim in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2007)
Gaming Oscar-worthy? Sean Bean as Sir Patrick Stewart son? That’s a bit of stretch. That said, this is a game set in a world that contains imps, goblins, ogres and items like the Escutcheon of Chorrol and Mankar Camoran's Robe, so maybe we’ll let it pass. Anyroad, Bean’s portrayal of the lost priest son of the emperor is top-notch, even though we don’t see as much of him as we’d like (same goes for Sir Patrick, of course) before we install him as emperor and rush off the kill the game’s big baddie, Mankar Camoran, voiced by none other than Terence Stamp. More than anything Sean Bean is easily the best actor we’ve ever seen (SPOILER) merge himself with the spirit of Akatosh, the Dragon-God of Time. No lie.
Biggest movie role: Henry Hill in Goodfellas (1990)
Biggest gaming role: Tommy Vercetti in GTA Vice City (2002)
Gaming Oscar-worthy? Though Ray Liotta’s work here as gangster Tommy Vercetti shouldn’t be overlooked (his work on Vice City winning him a G-Phoria Video Game Award back in 2002), a tip of the cap has to be made in the direction of Burt Reynolds as gun-toting, mega-capitalist Texan business man Avery Carrington, Dennis Hopper as completely bonkers porn director Steve Scott, Jenna Jameson as adult film star Candy Suxxx (a role she was born to play, there) and our very own Danny Dyer as Cockney wideboy Kent Paul (“My name’s Paul, and I’m from Kent, you mug!”). It’s a veritable feast of voice acting talent, from Debbie Harry as the taxi dispatcher to Miami Vice star Philip Michael Thomas as drug-dealing associate Lance Vance. In fact, there’s so much top-notch ‘80s hamming going on, it’s difficult to tell what’s good bad acting or just plain bad acting, but it’s boom time, baby, what do you care? Bring on the hookers and coke, we’ve got some partying to do! Aiaiaiaiaiaiaieee!
Biggest movie role: Jack Bauer on 24 (2001 – 2010) – not a film, sure, but you try arguing with Jack Bauer.
Biggest gaming role: Corporal Roebuck in Call of Duty: World at War (2008)
Gaming Oscar-worthy? If you were trying to negotiate the vicious and bloody Eastern Front, ducking from gunfire and dodging grenades, who would you want on your side? Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris and Jack Bauer. Chuck Norris said no, alas (apparently he wasn’t even asked, weirdly) and Jack just had to make do. Not a problem for Mr. Sutherland, who plays Corporal Roebuck, your narrator and comrade-in-arms as you fire flaming jets of lit petroleum at as many enemies as possible, take out whole battleships from a bomber plane, and mow down Japanese soldiers hiding in underground tunnels. It’s a bloodier, rougher, dirtier Call Of Duty, and Kiefer is just the man to guide you through it. General MacArthur would be proud.
Biggest movie role: Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Biggest gaming role: Toni Cipriani in Grand Theft Auto III (2001)
*Gaming Oscar-worthy? *Michael Madsen is no stranger to gaming voice-acting, racking up an impressive CV that includes such gaming behemoths as Driver 3 and GTA III (and Liberty City Stories), as well as less celebrated outings (True Crime: Streets of LA and Yakuza, for example). Of these, it’s the role of Toni Cipriani that stands out, if only because the character is essentially gaming’s homage to HBO gangster favourite, Tony Soprano – in one mission even having to deal with his own mother ordering a hit on him, much like James Gandolfini’s panic attack-suffering mobster. His voice work can also be heard in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, in the form of everyone’s favourite police wolf, Maugrim. No-one gets their ears cut off, but hell, you can’t have everything.
Biggest movie role:** Trudy Chacon in Avatar (2009)
*Biggest gaming role:* Carlita in Driver 3 (2004)
Gaming Oscar-worthy? **You’re not going to believe this, but guess what kind of characters Michelle Rodriguez gets cast as in video games? It’s not Edwardian schoolmarms, no (though The Downton Abbey spin-off is meant to be excellent), but hard-nosed, rough-and-ready, tomboyish soldier-ladies. Example given: ‘Marine’ in Halo 2, and Carlita in Driver 3, who runs a crime ring that deals with, amongst other things, blowing up yachts, shooting people and generally being a nasty. But, as we’re more than happy to point out, she’s damn good at it, and there’s no-one else whose pixels we’d prefer flying the imaginary helicopter that takes our character out of danger.
Biggest movie role: Randy "The Ram" Robinson in The Wrestler (2008)
Biggest gaming role:** **Richard "Demo Dick" Marcinko in Rogue Warrior (2009)
Gaming Oscar-worthy? Now is Mickey Rourke’s vocal performance in universally-panned uber-bomb Rogue Warrior gaming Oscar-worthy? Well, it doesn’t much matter – when a game gets that much of a mauling from the critics, Mickey Rourke could be surreptitiously performing a Branagh-beating Hamlet (under the guise of a rebellious Navy SEAL with a penchant for heavy duty explosives, of course) and no-one would notice. They’d be too busy finishing the game in an hour flat, blocking their ears from a torrent of needless sweary-words, and enduring more bugs that a 16th century farmhand’s straw bed. Yes, we made a bedbugs joke. Moving swiftly on, Mickey also made an appearance in Driver 3 as a former hitman turned crime leader, and he’s as excellent as you’d expect. I.e. very excellent. Bring on Expendables – The Video Game.
Biggest movie role:** Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction (1994)
*Biggest gaming role:* Officer Frank Tenpenny in GTA San Andreas (2004)
Gaming Oscar-worthy?** **To deliver lines like "we could shit on you from such a height, you'll think God himself has crapped on you”, you need a man with timbre, with confidence, with a big pair of lungs… you need Samuel L. Jackson. Playing a bastard of such bastardly proportions as Officer Tenpenny truly is an art, and Mr. Jackson has it down to a tee, with you 100% believing this most crooked of crooked cops could actually flood the streets of Los Santos with crack cocaine, frame anyone who crosses his path, and blackmail people into killing witnesses. GTA has a long tradition of excellent voice-acting, and this is easily one of the very best – the shame of it is, bar Afro Samurai, Jackson hasn't done any more game voice work since. Get on it, Rockstar! We need this!
Biggest movie role: Dracula in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Biggest gaming role:** Sgt. Reznov in Call Of Duty: World At War (2008) and Call Of Duty: Black Ops (2010)
Gaming Oscar-worthy? **Gary Oldman has this uncanny knack of out-acting every else around him, all of the time. The Fifth Element, Leon, Harry Potter… quietly, confidently, without anyone else quite realising how he does it, he aces it. The same goes for his voice-acting work, showing Kiefer Sutherland how it’s done in World At War as the unforgettable sniper-cum-best-mate Sgt. Reznov, a grizzly, gnarled fighter that reappears in Black Ops, helping your protagonist bust out of a Russian prison. We would tell you more, but as it’s only just been released, we’ll be good and only tell you this: he is as awesome as you always expect him to be. And that Russian accent? Nice work, Mr. Oldman, nice work indeed.
Biggest movie role: Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (2001 - 2003)
Biggest gaming role: Monkey in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (2010)
Gaming Oscar-worthy? It’ll come as a surprise to absolutely no-one that the king of motion-capture, his Lord Highness of the ping-pong-ball-spotted black onesie, Baron Andy von Serkis, should have appeared in a video game or two. Most recently he directed and starred in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, playing a hulking but charming stick-wielding acrobat called Monkey, and it’s a genuine joy to see his mannerisms come across in the role, alongside actual pictures and clips of Serkis’s real life sprinkled in for good measure – why exactly? Well, you’ll have to play the game, or failing that, check out Heavenly Sword (which he also dramatically directed and scripted edited) where he plays King Bohan, and sports a natty red skullcappy thing. After Enslaved, we can’t wait for the next mo-cap Serkis gaming adventure – and we don’t say something that earnest lightly.
Biggest movie role:** Machete in Machete (2010)
*Biggest gaming role:* Raul the Ghoul in Fallout: New Vegas (2010)
Gaming Oscar-worthy?** **Danny’s first steps into the world of gaming appearances came in the form of Def Jam: Fight for NY, the world’s favourite hip-hop themed fighting game sequel, where you got the chance to unlock his likeness and beat the crap out of Snoop Dogg, Omar Eppes, Carmen Electra and Method Man. GTA Vice City boasted a cameo from the big man as Cuban gangster Umberto Robina in 2002, and most recently, he played repairman extraordinaire, the Mexican ghoul Raul in Fallout: Vegas. A prolific actor (to say the least – he normally clocks up five movie appearance a year), we’d have expected more game cameos, but so far, it’s just three… but we doubt it’ll stay that number for much longer.
Biggest movie role:** Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars Trilogy (1977 - 1983)
*Biggest gaming role:* **The Joker in Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)
Gaming Oscar-worthy?** **Fans of Mark Hamill will have been well aware of his voice-acting talents long before the smash success of Arkham Asylum, voicing The Joker for much of DC’s Batman-affiliated spin-offs, in particular the early ‘90s kids’ TV hit Batman: The Animated Series as well as a number of direct-to-DVD movies. But despite the jaw-dropping success of last year’s caped crusader title, he’s said that its sequel, Arkham City, will be the final time he’ll voice the chalky-faced psychopath. His portrayal in the original a devilish delight, Hamill obviously relishing the role, confident and charismatic as well as being completely and utterly mad – so it’s a damn shame to hear that news. No-one can cackle quite like you Mark. We mean it.
Biggest movie role:** Scott Evil in the Austin Powers movies (1997 - 2002)
*Biggest gaming role:* Jeff "Joker" Moreau in the Mass Effect series (2007 - 2010)
*Gaming Oscar-worthy? As you might have noticed, it’s primarily three names that attract the biggest and best movie stars to get off their Hollywood thrones and slum it with the gamers: Rockstar and their GTA series, Bethesda Softworks and Fallout, and Bioware and their series of RPGs (Dragon Age, Mass Effect and so on) – and it’s Bioware and Mass Effect that managed to snare Seth Green – admittedly no Gary Oldman or Samuel L. Jackson, sure – but perfect for the role of “Joker” Moreau in Mass Effect 2, a bad-ass pilot who can get the ship through anything, anytime, whilst being a little bit cheeky with it. Shame of it is, when asked whether he enjoyed playing the game Green has admitted he can’t do it – “I'm just fing terrible at them.”
Biggest movie role: Dewey Finn in School Of Rock (2003)
Biggest gaming role: Eddie Riggs in Brütal Legend (2009)
*Gaming Oscar-worthy? **Looking at the front cover of Brütal Legend, you might think that the game was written with Jack Black in mind, with his flying V guitar outstretched and that cheeky grin on his face – and that’s because it was. Purposely built with Mr. Black as its protagonist, Brütal Legend is a game like no other, mixing the world of heavy metal with real-time strategy that also sees rock heavyweights such as Motörhead's Lemmy, Judas Priest's Rob Halford and Ozzy ‘Prince Of Darkness’ Osbourne all making vocal appearances. It's a title that reportedly boasts 35,000 lines of dialogue, all written by gaming maestro Tim Schafer (of Monkey Island fame) and performed by Jack ( air guitar *) Black. Needless to say, it, and Jack’s performance, rocked. Big time.
Biggest movie role: Hellboy in the Hellboy series (2004 - 2008)
Biggest gaming role: Slade in Turok (2008)
Gaming Oscar-worthy?** **Fallout fans will be horrified at the idea that Ron Perlman’s biggest gaming role could be anything other than his narrator voiceover in the apocalyptic RPG series, delivering the same ominous line every release (“War. War never changes.”) in easily the most cynical gaming introductions ever made – but as we don’t see his face in Fallout, we thought we ought to plump with his role as Slade in Turok, where he plays your wise-cracking best buddy in Whiskey Company, and your closest ally in the seemingly never-ending barrage of killer dinosaurs. It helps that he’s a big fan of using a flamethrower, sure, and occasionally his short, snappy temper (brilliantly brought to life by Perlman) actually comes in handy when confronted with a 20 foot tall T-Rex. The role of his career? No. Damn good fun? Yes sir.