“I was sent material and was like, ‘A video game? What does it mean to be in a video game?'”
With the massive popularity of video gaming, landing a role in a gaming franchise has become just as coveted as getting cast in a movie! Over the past decade, a surprising number of celebrities have gotten involved in gaming — and not just making a quick cameo as themselves. Actors are gearing up and using motion capture technology to truly bring characters to life and help portray their unique personalities.
Major franchises like “Call of Duty” and “Assassin’s Creed” have recruited celebrities like Kit Harington and Kristen Bell to be both the face and voice of their characters. And while gamers have definitely noticed celebs popping up while they’re playing, those outside of the world of gaming will be surprised to learn just who else has signed up to be a part of a virtual world.
Read on to discover which stars you might see in video games…
Kit Harington lent his voice and his likeness to “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare,” where he plays the game’s main antagonist Salen Kotch. The maniacal villain decides he can run human affairs in the solar system better than the elected leaders and starts a war against the forces of SATO, the military branch of the United Nations Space Alliance.
“My take on Admiral Kotch is that he has an element of the dictator about him. He’s an invading commander, he’s someone who wants to control a whole race of people and he feels that he’s entitled to do that. He’s also not afraid of death. That makes him incredibly terrifying. But I think what was great with Salen Kotch is that he’s a madman. I found that very fun to play,” Kit said during Comic-Con.
Norman Reedus takes players to a post-apocalyptic world in “Death Stranding,” where he plays a porter tasked with reconnecting isolated communities. He signed on to be a part of the game when director Guillermo del Toro introduced him to video game designer Hideo Kojima.
“I did the videogame because Guillermo Del Toro originally called me and said, ‘Hey, a guy named Hideo Kojima’s gonna call you. Just say yes.’ And I was like, ‘Who is he?’ ‘Doesn’t matter who he is, just say yes.’ And then I met Hideo at Comic-Con in San Diego…and he showed me what he was working on. I was just blown away, the guy’s like a super-genius, and then I became friends with him, started working with him, and we kept going. So we did Death Stranding, which was a huge hit, and we’re in talks to do other stuff,” Norman told Wired.
Rami Malek portrays Josh in “Until Dawn,” which follows a group of teenagers who head to a cabin in the woods where Josh’s sisters disappeared a year prior. The game’s cast also includes Jordan Fisher, Hayden Panetierre, and Meaghan Martin.
“It was a lot of fun. Of course, gameplay is important — but I think we also achieved the creation of really unique and interesting characters within it,” Rami told SilverKris.
Keanu Reeves appears as non-playable character Johnny Silverhand in “Cyberpunk 2077.” Johnny is a veteran who started a band in order to confront “hypocrisy and subjugation” with his music. Despite his tough exterior, Keanu says underneath he is a “positive, hoping-for-a-better-world presence.” And Johnny’s role depends on how the player interacts with the game, which Keanu says is something that drew him to the project.
“It’s an open-world, role-playing game. What decisions you make for your dialogue and how you want to be, gives Johnny Silverhand not just one role. I’m playing different versions of the character. That’s something I normally don’t get to do when I inhabit a character,” Keanu told the LA Times.
Rosario Dawson has made appearances in her fair share of video games and it makes sense considering she’s a big fan of gaming herself. She’s lent her voice to numerous games including “Ratchet & Clank,” “Lego Dimensions,” “Syndicate,” and “NBA 2K20.”
She’s also taken part in the “Dishonored” series, where she took on the role of Billie Lurk, an abused woman who sets out to become a thief and assassin. In “Dishonored: Death of the Outsider,” Billie takes the lead role and fans can play as her character.
“We’ve had the idea for a very long time that we wanted to lead one of the games with Billie Lurk. She’s one of our favorite characters. She’s very strong, she’s very deep, she’s layered, she’s voiced by Rosario Dawson. Very, very talented actor,” game designer Harvey Smith told Playstation.
Elliot Page appears in “Beyond: Two Souls” as Jodie, a character who has been tied to a supernatural entity named Aiden since birth. When Aiden almost causes Jodie to kill someone, Jodie is put under the care of doctors and game players must make the choices for the characters going forward.
“I got involved like how you get involved with a film. I was sent material and at first, of course, was like, ‘A video game? What does it mean to be in a video game? Is it just voiceover?’ I didn’t really know. And then I was just so moved by the story, and so excited that this character existed that was so awesome and badass and complex and real,” Elliot told GQ.
Jesse Williams has a role in “Detroit: Become Human,” where he plays an android who is accused of killing a famed artist and later organizes a massive revolt against the human race. He says creating his character was an “all-consuming” process that required work to be completed in steps over the course of 30 days.
“We worked our asses off…12 to 15 hour days and unlike other work, there wasn’t a 20-minute break to reset lights or to change cameras…All the cameras are all set up. So you just go. And I have a lot of speeches. I’m talking four pages, memorize four-page top to bottom speeches, just me talking. And it’s choose your own adventure so there’s 40 different ways to do everything. We would burn through 30 to 40 pages a day and on ‘Grey’s’ we do seven pages a day with a group,” Jesse told EW.
Kristen Bell served as both the voice and face model for Lucy Stillman in the “Assassin’s Creed” games. Lucy was a genetic memory researcher who could help others relive the memories of their ancestors by using a unique device.
“Being a part of the first ‘Assassin’s Creed’ video game was an amazing experience. Video games is such a creative entertainment medium, and to be able to see and play myself as a video game character was surreal. As an actress, it’s both challenging and rewarding to play a complex character with this mysterious background,” Kristen said of the role at the time.
Liam Neeson got futuristic in the post-apocalyptic game “Fallout 3,” which takes place in 2277. He played James, a scientist and doctor who spent the last 19 years in an underground vault after nuclear warfare nearly wiped out the entire planet. He finally leaves the vault in search of a piece of technology that is needed to rebuild civilization. Liam says he later got his son a copy of the game, but he wasn’t too thrilled with it.
“My kid hadn’t heard of it, and I eventually got him one, and he played it, and he said ‘Dad! It’s you!’ He was so pissed off. No escape!” Liam told CinemaBlend.
Arden Cho lent her voice to the “Tomb Raider” video game back in 2013. She took on the role of Lara Croft’s best friend Samantha Nishimura who was serving as a director and translator on a documentary about the search for Yamatai. She was also previously featured in “SOCOM 4 U.S. Navy SEALs” as Lieutenant “Forty Five” Park. “Grey’s Anatomy” alum Camilla Luddington, meanwhile, provided the voice of Lara.
“It was a really cool experience…They had me in all the gear, the wardrobe, the guns. They just scanned my body and my facial expressions…It was crazy. I’ve never done motion capture before. It took pretty much a full day for them to capture me and then they made me into Lieutenant Forty Five,” Arden said on her YouTube channel.
Matthew Perry was such a big fan of “Fallout 3,” that he was asked to provide a voiceover for “Fallout: New Vegas.” The team behind the video game found out about Matthew’s obsession during an appearance on “The Ellen Show” where Matthew expressed his love and even gifted Ellen with a copy.
“I played this video game so often that I injured my hand so severely that I had to go to a hand doctor and get injections in my hand because I love this video game so much. The game is called ‘Fallout 3.’ I’m not affiliated with this game at all, I just love it,” Matthew told Ellen.
Soon after, gaming companies Bethesda and Obsidian reached out to Matthew and he was cast as Benny in the new release.