Video games have become a much larger component of mainstream media over the past several years. With this change in perception came improved production values in the form of voice acting. Voice acting is a vital part of modern video games and yet it is typically underestimated. Case in point: The majority of voice acting in video games often flies under the radar. Many people are unaware of some celebrities that have lent their voice to games, even when a character sounds oddly familiar. The following are the 10 most surprising celebrities that have loaned their voices to a video game.
**Warning: Some of these clips have NSFW language or imagery**
10. Susan Sarandon – Granny Rags (Dishonored)
Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking), who had earned a total of five Oscar nominations throughout her career, gives one of the most genuinely chilling performances from a voice actor in a video game. The 2012 cult favorite game Dishonored featured the talented voice work of Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) and Carrie Fisher, who plays Princess Leia in the Star Wars films. These stars relegate Susan Sarandon to go overlooked in her small role. The sinister elderly woman named Granny Rags is brought to life through Sarandon’s voice, which brings a uniquely brooding speech that represents her character beautifully in its dark glory. Sarandon brings a uniquely entertaining take that sends shivers down the spines of gamers. Her long list of credits practically ensures you’ve seen a film that stars Sarandon, yet in today’s age, she manages to go overlooked while starring in this blockbuster game.
9. Kristen Bell – Lucy Stillman (Assassin’s Creed 1-3)
Kristen Bell is a highly-recognizable actress that often opts for television roles such as Gossip Girl, House of Lies and Veronica Mars. However, the versatile actress is also known for starring roles in feature films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Frozen, in which she voiced the character Anna. And while she is well-known for these performances, her major entry into the video game world is not often discussed. Bell voices the lovely Lucy Stillman during the first three Assassin’s Creed video games. Since the original game was released in 2007, prior to Bell landing some of her major roles, it’s understandable that many gamers may not have recognized her voice. Even now, many people are still unaware of this entry on her resume.
8. Matthew Perry – Benny (Fallout: New Vegas)
The voice of Chandler Bing is hardly recognizable in the character of Benny from Fallout: New Vegas. Matthew Perry lends his voice to the open-world juggernaut with excellent results. Playing one of the villains of the game, Perry pitches a perfect voice and lends the ideal amount of humanity to the character to make him one of the better-voiced characters of the generation. What distinguishes the role is how different Perry sounds, leading to many fans who don’t follow the behind-the-scenes news of a video game to completely miss this famous star’s voice. Perry is a huge name in Hollywood circles and Fallout is a massive video game series. It’s therefore quite surprising how this famous role goes underappreciated. The character even visually looks like Perry, but the voice is well-disguised and doesn’t end up being obvious to those that don’t look at the credits.
7. Kiefer Sutherland – Big Boss (Metal Gear Solid V)
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was one of 2015’s most anticipated games and Kiefer Sutherland is one of Hollywood’s most established actors. It therefore arrived as a huge shock that Sutherland lent his voice to the main character in the game. The star of the series 24 has very little voice work to his credit, but he did also appear in Call of Duty: World at War. Casting Sutherland for the role of Big Boss in Metal Gear Solid V was a slight risk, but Sutherland nails it emphatically. With Big Boss getting older than he appeared in Metal Gear Solid III, developers decided to give the role to a new voice. In the past, David Hayter, the voice of Solid Snake, provided both voices. As it stands, the casting of Sutherland was a home run as the actor delivers tremendously on his promise. Gamers can only hope Sutherland provides more voice work in the future as his calm, soothing yet determined voice is ideal for a multitude of characters.
6. Gary Oldman – Ignitus (Legend of Spyro Series)
Gary Oldman is known to video game fans for his roles in the Call of Duty series. He famously provides the voice of Sergeant Viktor Reznov in a well-advertised role he would reprise twice. What gamers may not know is that Oldman, famous for his role in The Dark Knight trilogy as Commissioner Gordon and in the Harry Potter films as Sirius Black, has other voice work on his resume. A far less publicized role than his Call of Duty voice is his appearance as Ignitus the dragon during The Legend of Spyro trilogy. These games, released during 2006-2008, are somewhat forgotten as they arrived after the original Spyro trilogy and its waning popularity was already deemed stale. It features a deep cast of voices that also includes Elijah Wood and David Spade. Yet it is Oldman who seems the most surprising and whose performance as Ignitus will really have gamers scratching their heads attempting to discover who that familiar voice is.
5. Haley Joel Osment – Sora (Kingdom Hearts Series)
The immensely popular child actor Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense, Pay It Forward) was somewhat of an overnight sensation after his starring roles. While he has faded somewhat into obscurity lately, one role Haley Joel Osment stayed consistent with was his role as Sora in the Kingdom Hearts video game series. Osment first provided the voice of the character in 2002 for the original Kingdom Hearts and has continued to supply the voice of the character to this date. The latest title in the series released was Dream Drop Distance in 2012, making it quite a long-running career. Joel Osment is expected to provide the voice of Sora once again for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3, which will hopefully arrive in 2017. That many fans are unaware the hero of this popular RPG series is voiced by Haley Joel Osment is a real shame. Osment’s has impressively performed the voice of a teenage character for 14 years and counting, even though his own voice has undergone changes with maturity. It’s a remarkable feat that he has been able to maintain this range to voice the youthful Sora.
4. Neil Patrick Harris – DJ Veteran Child (Saints Row 2 and Saints Row IV)
Neil Patrick Harris will forever be known as Doogie to some, but his remarkable comeback to fame is one of the more interesting developments in Hollywood. Harris remade himself and his brand by appearing as himself in the Harold & Kumar films. He was able to parlay that into a successful starring role in the television series How I Met Your Mother, and from there has gone on to become one of the more recognizable faces in the media. What has gone somewhat undiscovered is that Harris provides the voice to a Saints Row character named DJ Veteran Child. This trafficking criminal is far from the role audiences are accustomed to seeing from Harris, and provides outrageous humor after replaying his scenes with the knowledge that he provides the voice work. The game provides a fun Easter egg in the form of a random comment from an NPC. A civilian is quoted in the game referencing Veteran Child as “a total Barney.” This out of context quote is a celebration of Harris’ portrayal of the character Barney Stinson on the aforementioned How I Met Your Mother.
3. Steve Carell – Commentator (Outlaw Golf)
One of the larger surprises around is that 2002’s Outlaw Golf, a title that released for GameCube, Xbox, PlayStation 2 and PC, contains one the most successful comedic actors of the last decade. The game is universally forgotten as its silly interpretation on an arcade golfing experience was deemed merely average at the time of release. The underrated aspect of this comedic game is that it featured narration by Steve Carrell, at the time known for his work on The Daily Show on Comedy Central. Carrell would soon go on to land the starring role in the film The 40 Year-Old Virgin and would parlay that into the starring role on the wildly popular television series The Office. Had Carrell delayed this voice work by about three years, the narration would have been national news. As it stands, it is an often-forgotten nugget in the fascinating career of Steve Carell.
2. Idris Elba – Truck (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3)
An actor gaining major traction in Hollywood today, Idris Elba’s popularity continues to soar as audiences discover each of his powerhouse roles. Set to take on the role of the villainous Shere Khan in the upcoming live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book, Elba’s name continues to float around message boards amid rumors of a possible James Bond takeover and his upcoming role in the Star Trek film series. However, during 2011, Elba’s main credit still belonged to The Wire, a niche television series that received more attention after its conclusion than during its initial run. This made Elba’s role as Truck during Modern Warfare 3 a hidden gem. The game was packed with famous voice actors in every role, as Call of Duty games always attract the greatest stars. Focus on Elba’s role is not often recognized, and that’s a shame because the character is beautifully voiced in an emotionally impactful way.
1. Mark Hamill – The Joker (Batman Arkham Series)
Luke Skywalker is the Joker? That’s the surprise that many fans receive when they discover who performs the excellent voiceover work for the Joker during the Batman Arkham video games. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise, however, since Hamill voiced the same character during Batman: The Animated Series. However, this is a role that still flies under the radar and catches people off guard. Hamill has participated in voice work for many video games ranging from Call of Duty to Avatar. His role as the Joker is his finest performance to date and needs to be further recognized. When watching the fine performance during the games, the Joker’s trademark laugh is one aspect that stands out. Fans of Luke Skywalker may not even recognize Hamill, whose voice transformation is astonishing here. Hamill is a master in representing the character and it’s hard to believe that the cruel Joker is voiced by the same Star Wars actor.