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In the world of video games, there has been a lot of buzz around the new PS3 title Beyond: Two Souls because it stars Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. But this isn’t the first time a famous actor has lent his vocal chords to a pixelated character.

In no particular order, here’s a rundown of some of tinseltown’s finest playing a role in video games. A few are easy to recognize, but a few others will make you go, “Whoa, that was him?”

Psst, you can learn to become a voice-over artist with your PC How To Become A Voice-Over Artist With Your PC How To Become A Voice-Over Artist With Your PC Thanks to the Internet, voice artistry is one of those roles that have taken on a whole new shape, with many thousands of voices now available for use in games, on websites, as voice-overs in... Read More too.

Mark Hamill

Mark-Hamill-Luke-Skywalker-The-Joker

Film Fame: Luke Skywalker in Star Wars

Game Fame: The Joker in Batman: Arkham Asylum

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In the past few years, no video game character has been voiced as amazingly as The Joker in the Arkham series of games. It’s got a lot to do with Mark Hamill having already voiced The Joker in the Batman animated series, but he really brought out his best performance in the game. Hamill’s Joker is creepy, funny, scary and just the kind of psychotic persona that made him one of the best villains in gaming My Three Favorite Video Game Antagonists Of All Time [MUO Gaming] My Three Favorite Video Game Antagonists Of All Time [MUO Gaming] Last week on MUO Gaming, I talked about my favorite video game protagonists. After all, everyone loves the guy. Still, there is something to be said for a great villain in a game. They give... Read More . And man, that manic laugh…

Ray Liotta

Ray-Liotta-Henry-Hill-Tommy-Vercetti

Film Fame: Henry Hill in Goodfellas

Game Fame: Tommy Vercetti in GTA: Vice City

In the Grand Theft Auto games The 8 Best Rockstar Games Of All Time The 8 Best Rockstar Games Of All Time Rockstar Games is more than just Grand Theft Auto, and its back catalog of titles deserves a closer look. What follows is a list of the best titles Rockstar Games has released so far. Read More , you are essentially a bad guy. And even as you do immoral things, you have to want to root for your character. Ray Liotta’s performance as Tommy Vercetti in GTA: Vice City is the best example of how to pull that off. Tommy’s a bad guy, but you want him to win because he’s taking out bigger evil guys! Liotta’s mafioso accent brought Tommy alive in those cut scenes, and the throwaway lines in the gameplay only made him all the more endearing.

Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel-L-Jackson-Jules-Winnifeld-Officer-Frank-Tenpenny

Film Fame: Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction, and others

Game Fame: Officer Frank Tenpenny in GTA: San Andreas

While it’s important to make the protagonist a “bad guy you love” in GTA like Ray Liotta did in Vice City, Samuel L. Jackson managed the impossible in GTA: San Andreas — he made the antagonist someone you loved more than your character! Officer Frank Tenpenny is a bent cop, but you can’t help want more of him in the game. Jackson has one of the most recognizable voices among actors, and it helps that the character is modelled after him. And that’s what makes you imagine him pulling off epic lines like, “I can **** on you from such a height, you’ll think God himself took a crap on you!”

Martin Sheen

Martin-Sheen-President-Bartlet-Illusive-Man

Film Fame: Cpt. Ben Willard in Apocalypse Now, President Bartlet in West Wing

Game Fame: Illusive Man in Mass Effect

With a star in the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and plenty of awards in his cabinet, Martin Sheen is one of the heavyweights in the film industry. But as a gamer, you probably know him better as Illusive Man, the leader of Cerberus and the first man to speak up and rally against the Alliance in the Mass Effect series. Sheen really got under the skin of the character, “smoking” pens because he doesn’t smoke, and being confounded that someone would want to backtalk his powerful character in the game. But Sheen has one request when you’re watching the Illusive Man the next time, “He’s such a horrible man. Please don’t think I’m like that, that’s just my voice.”

Kristen Bell

Kristen-Bell-Veronica-Mars-Lucy-Stidwell

Film Fame: Veronica Mars in Veronica Mars

Game Fame: Lucy Stillman in Assassin’s Creed

When you first played Assassin’s Creed, if you said to yourself, “Hey, that looks like Kristen Bell,” then there’s a reason for that. The character of Lucy Stillman — a Templar who was the operator of the Animus — is voiced by and modelled on the star of Veronica Mars. Bell managed to take the character beyond the “pretty thing to look at” that the developers seemed to be going for and brought out her complexity as a double agent. Her back story is a bit confusing if you play just the games, so pick up the Lost Archive DLC in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations to find out why her character did everything she did.

Andy Serkis

Andy-Serkis-Gollum-Lord-Bohan

Film Fame: Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings series

Game Fame: King Bohan in Heavenly Sword

Perhaps the finest voice-acting performance in movies has been that of Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings series. It’s impossible to forget that lisping snarl of “My precious…” Serkis has been in several other big-budget films like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but his greatest performance, in my books, is as the evil King Bohan in Heavenly Sword. Serkis “effectively played” the character, according to Giant Bomb, which notes that apart from the voice, Bohan’s body language is based on motion captures from Serkis. Perhaps he hams it up a bit as the King Raven at the end of the game, but we can forgive that small transgression for all the minutes of stellar acting before that.

Gary Oldman

Gary-Oldman-Commissioner-Gordon-Victok-Reznov

Film Fame: Sirius Black in Harry Potter series, Commissioner Gordon in Batman series

Game Fame: Viktor Reznov in Call of Duty: Black Ops

He is Sirius Black to Harry Potter fans. He is Commissioner Gordon to Batman fans. But to every Call of Duty fan, Gary Oldman will always be Viktor Reznov, that mean, tough Russian soldier who guides you through the worst of times World At War, Black Ops and Black Ops 2 Why Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2 Makes Me Want To Play COD Again [MUO Gaming] Why Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2 Makes Me Want To Play COD Again [MUO Gaming] Sometimes, it seems as if Activision purposely releases a franchise until gamers hate it. Every year they pumped out a new Tony Hawk until everyone was sick of it. They did the same with Guitar... Read More . Whether it’s rallying the troops through a rousing speech, sharing the most intimate details of his personal life, or just enjoying being in a battle, Reznov’s character has immense depth and Oldman rises to the challenge perfectly. And to pull it all off in a foreign accent? This is one of the best performances in voice acting, video game or otherwise.

Who’s Your Favourite?

There are plenty of other fine actors who have lent their voices to video games, in roles small and big. Which ones do you know of? Which is the one voice you have always remembered?

  1. Keefe K
    November 11, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Leonard Nimroy, famous for playing Spock in Star Trek, and also did the readings in Civilization IV

  2. Miroslav
    November 11, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Now, come on, how could you omit Michael Ironside as Sam Fisher in the famous Splinter Cell series of games? His performance in Splinter Cell is just fabulous. Don't you think, guys?

  3. Guru
    November 11, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    When I saw the article title, I thought it would be more of only video game voice artists like the below:
    1) Kevin Conroy - Nearly every Batman voice you have heard in any non live-action video. Widely credited with being the first (and the one to come up with the idea of) to have 2 different voices for Bruce Wayne/Batman

    2) Nolan North - His list of credits are too numerous. Let me save you the time. Here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nolan_North#Filmography

    3) Ellen McLain - A personal favourite. She voices GLaDOS in Portal. She is also the only 1 to be featured in all 5 games in The Orange Box (GLaDOS in Portal, the Announcer in Team Fortress 2, and the Combine Overwatch in the Half Life games)

    4) Jennifer Hale - Best known for voicing Shepard (Female) in the Mass Effect series.

    None of the above have acted (to a great extent at least) but all have brought games to life with just their voices, which is a very credible (and quite difficult) accomplishment by itself. I'm sure I've missed out quite a lot of people apart from these few.

  4. Bob
    November 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Danny Tamberelli
    Film Fame: Little Pete Wrigley in The Adventures of Pete and Pete
    Game Fame: Jimmy De Santa in GTA V

  5. Sudeepto Dutta
    November 11, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Very nice article. Its a nice coincidence that I'm playing GTA Vice city on my PC ; reliving the 80's & I used to wonder who might have given Tommy's voice.

    Now I know who does :) . Thanks for the article ...

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