Lending Gravitas to Pixels | Best Celebrity Video Game Performances

Sergeant Reznov, voiced by Gary Oldman in game. Source.

Celebrity video game performances can be very hit or miss as illustrated in a previous article. After all, there’s a reason why there are professional voice actors. It takes a lot of skill and talent to deliver a truly great performance with just your voice.

However, when some celebrity video game performances are terrific. Be it just a cameo or a full-fledged character, some celebrity video game performances just fit.

Regardless of what kind of character they’re portraying, or what it is that they’re known for outside of video games, these actors managed to nail their video game portrayals. 

The Fallout franchise normally gets it right when it comes to celebrity voice talent, save for Benny in Fallout: New Vegas. While he might not be as iconic as Ron Perlman’s opening monologue – who could forget ‘War… War never changes’ – Neeson’s performance was well cast.

Neeson has been known for years for portraying fathers trying to do their best, normally with some form of twist, such as in the Taken franchise. His role in Fallout 3 was no different; Neeson portrays the protagonist’s father, who mysteriously disappears, starting the games main quest.

What the character needed was a sense of gravitas, mixed with a sense of urgency and emotion. Neeson brought all of that, and more, to the role, giving it a fleshed out performance that puts many other characters of the era to shame.

Beyond Two Souls features some stellar celebrity video game performances from its cast, the lead of which was Ellen Page. Unlike some of the NPCs in Beyond Two Souls, the lead role needed an actor who could not just voice the role, but perform an amazing mix of emotions.

The script was thousands of pages, each of which required a sterling performance. Thankfully, Page fit into the role perfectly, bringing an almost naïve innocence that added another dimension to the character.

But it goes further than just voice acting; Page also performed motion capture for the role. This allowed Page to bring her performance to another level; instead of merely recording her lines, she was able to actually perform the role, adding some much needed depth.

Celebrity Video Game Performance
Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe performing mo-cap for Beyond: Two Souls. Source.

It’s not a surprise that the man who portrayed Luke Skywalker for decades would be on this list, given that he’s got an extensive range of voice acting credits to his name. Hamill originally began portraying The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series in the late 90s/early 00s, and this let him transition pretty easily into video games.

Obviously, voice work as The Joker in many Batman related video games followed. His voice work as The Joker lasted almost 20 years, with his final time being in Arkham Knight in 2011.

Hamill brought a manic energy to each incarnation of The Joker that he voiced, with each version feeling fresh. It’s a credit to his talent that over the course of 20 years, the character never felt stale.

The character of Solid Snake from the Metal Gear franchise is a legendary one. Because of that, when it was announced that a new actor would be taking on the role in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, many people were skeptical.

However, it was then announced that Keifer Sutherland, of 24 fame, would be taking the part, many gamers instantly saw the appeal. Sutherland has always been known for being rough around the edges in his roles, and he’s been able to perfectly portray someone who gets the job done, no matter the cost.

All of that experience came together perfectly when it came time to portray Solid Snake. He was old enough, and well versed enough as an actor, to be able to portray Snake’s world wariness, while also delivering a performance that kept fans enthralled. Say what you want about the rest of the game, Sutherland’s performance was a shining light.

Gary Oldman is one of the last people you’d expect to be in a video game, much less some of the biggest franchises on the planet, such as appearing in three Spyro games and two Call of Duty games, namely Black Ops and World at War.

On top of that, he also had minor parts in several other games, but Spyro and CoD are the ones worthy of note. In three separate Spyro games, he starred opposite Elijah Woods’ Spyro as the titular dragons mentor. Oldman’s voice perfectly contrasts with Woods’ in order to highlight the mentor/mentee relationship.

In World at War and Black Ops, he pulls off the roles of Sergeant Viktor Reznov and Daniel Clarke, two characters who couldn’t be much more opposite. Even though they’re two contrasting roles, Oldman tackles both with a sincerity in his performance that many actors wouldn’t be able to bring to a typical film role.


Featured Image Credit.

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