Boosting the commercial appeal of a video game with the presence of a celebrity isn’t as common a practice as you would expect. While we have a fair share of famous voice actors, not as many Hollywood stars have lent their likenesses to a video game so far.
The genius marketing stunt pulled by CDProjekt RED at E3 2019 with the announcement of Keanu Reeves as a leading character in Cyberpunk 2077 will surely inspire other studios to do the same, as well as convincing other big-time actors that video games are as crucial as movies for their careers.
So, when is Nicolas Cage starring in a video game? Which actor would you like to interact with? Until then, here are some of the most important games where renowned actors played significant roles.
Let’s be honest here – Keanu Reeves’ reputation precedes him. Legend – and the Internet – says that he is the greatest human being alive, and who am I to doubt? He also doesn’t seem to age, what’s up with that?
The John Wick movies reminded us of his acting chops and sublime action stunts, and his role in Cyberpunk 2077 sounds like a match made in heaven – and with perfect timing too!
Keanu Reeves is Johnny Silverhand, the most important persona after the playable character V. Silverhand is something of your inner conscience, someone in your head that nobody else can see in the world. This isn’t a cameo or rush job; this is the cherry on top of what is surely going to be the big game of 2020.
After the chaotic demise of Silent Hills, Kojima, Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus decided to move on to another game, away from Konami’s clutches. The famous director and the cherished The Walking Dead actor star in Death Stranding but were soon joined by a batch of talented celebrities, with Mads Mikkelsen and Léa Seydoux being just a few.
Once again, this isn’t just voice work – we are talking about motion capture and 3D scanning that puts the actors inside the game. Death Stranding is surely one of the games featuring some of the richest Hollywood talent, not to mention the celebrity status of Hideo Kojima himself among gamers.
Electronic Arts has quite a challenge in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, considering that Visceral’s open world Star Wars game was canned to focus on this “much smaller-scale project.” Well, let’s not get overly negative right now, since this game is looking a lot like a sci-fi Uncharted, for better or for worse.
But there is no way to deny the fact that having Forest Whitaker on board is a major plus. One of the most esteemed actors ever, Whitaker reprises his role as Saw Gerrera in Rogue One. His unmistakable voice and reassuring presence light up the screen, and Star Wars fans will surely enjoy Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order that little bit more because of him. There are a lot of players complaining about the lack of lightsaber dismemberments, but that is something that we’ll have to live with – it’s Disney, after all.
Until Dawn is one of the best cinematic horror games ever designed and the recognizable cast helped. Sony struck gold with by signing Rami Malek, a low-profile actor that hit stardom with the television show Mr. Robot, right around the same time of the Until Dawn release.
Hayden Panettiere is another famous name participating in the game. Her breakthrough role was the cheerleader Claire Bennet in the TV show Heroes, and she did a wonderful job as Sam in Until Dawn. Let’s not forget about the talented Peter Stormare as well, among other celebrities.
Mass Effect Trilogy
While the Mass Effect series was as much about voice actors (Seth Green, Tricia Helfer…) as it was about likenesses, you can’t avoid but seeing Martin Sheen as the Illusive Man, and especially Yvonne Strahovski as Miranda – I’m willing to bet that you’ve googled Miranda to death
I’m still not sure what they were thinking about casting Jessica Chobot for Mass Effect 3, but I guess they ran out of cool Hollywood stars?
Kristen Bell is the eternal Veronica Mars, but she has starred in tons of movies and series, not to mention her recurrent parts in animated works, Disney’s Frozen included. But most gamers probably got to know her thanks to her role as Lucy Stillman in Assassin’s Creed.
Kristen Bell lent her voice and beautiful looks to Lucy in three Assassin’s Creed games, until some stuff happened, and her story arc ended. Lore became a jilted mess, no one cares about the Animus anymore and Kristen Bell played a great role that was sadly cut short.
Beyond: Two Souls
Beyond: Two Souls summarizes Quantic Dream as a studio – bold, visually stunning, polarizing and ultimately lacking gameplay. But Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe aren’t to blame, as their performance in this game was brilliant. Page, in particular, gives it all she’s got, as she does in every role that she plays.
Besides, what’s not to like in Ellen Page? Even Naughty Dog seems to like her so much that the first designs of The Last of Us’ Ellie were clearly inspired by her looks. It was too obvious to be a coincidence and the final look had to be changed to avoid a highly likely lawsuit.
Halo: ODST and Halo 5: Guardians
Nathan Fillion will be forever known as the tremendous captain from the Firefly series, but also for his endless efforts to nail the part of Nathan Drake in Uncharted. He went as far as producing and starring in an awesome Uncharted Live Action Fan Film in 2018 that I urge you all to watch – maybe it will go down in history as the better of the Uncharted movies, who knows?
But Fillion isn’t a stranger to video games, having starred in Halo: ODST and Halo 5: Guardians as the huge fan of the series that he is. He plays the role of Sergeant Edward Buck, an experienced fighter with a short fuse that acts mostly as an ally NPC, but he can be selected in co-op missions involving Fireteam Osiris. Later, Fillion went on to voice Cayde-6 in Destiny.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Kevin Spacey may be in a very dark place right now, but it’s not for us to discuss the controversy surrounding his alleged actions. The man is, in fact, a remarkable actor, from his brilliant work in Se7en and House of Cards, to his performance as the bad guy in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
His acting chops are clearly visible as the ruthless and obsessed Jonathan Irons. His ideals and the way that he conveys them are so grounded that it’s not uncommon to see gamers siding with his point of view. Madman or visionary? Sadly, Advanced Warfare doesn’t offer you a choice, but you can rest assured that Kevin Spacey’s performance is one for the ages.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
In 2004, Vin Diesel starred and actively participated in the development of a game based on his movie The Chronicles of Riddick. These were the days when celebrities were only starting to notice video games, but Vin Diesel took the plunge without fear, since he is an avid gamer.
His role in Escape from Butcher Bay was faithful to his character. The deep voice and imposing figure played a vital role in a game, being highly complimented for his take on stealth and action elements.
Quantum Break is a blockbuster developed by Remedy Entertainment and a revolutionary hybrid that is best seen in conjunction with the live action TV show. Due to its concept, it would only make sense that we get to see the actors from the show playing their roles in the video game.
Shawn Ashmore (X-Men) and Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) are the highlights of both game and TV show, but you can spot other famous faces such as Lost’s Dominic Monaghan. With such a brilliant cast, it’s no surprise that Quantum Break was acclaimed in both mediums.