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15 Famous Actors Who Voiced Video Game Characters

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It’s not uncommon to come across a familiar voice while playing a video game—but it's sometimes hard to tell if that’s because you’re listening to a celebrity or if you’re just delusional after six straight hours of Grand Theft Auto. But a number of actors have actually lent their voices to video games; here are a few of them.

1. Elijah Wood

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Elijah Wood provided the voice for his most famous role, Frodo, in multiple video game versions of The Lord of the Rings. In addition to Frodo, he voiced Mumble in the animated film Happy Feet and its accompanying video game alongside many of his castmates.

Wood’s interest in video games makes sense—he’s a gamer himself, and his older brother produces video games. He also enjoys the unique acting challenge that they provide. “You find that the characters are in situations that are not real common and you have to...vocally make the character seem like he’s going through some pretty intense situations,” he said.

The actor also voiced a purple dragon in The Legend of Spyro trilogy. He was in good company: Other celebrities who lent their voices to the games include David Spade, Mae Whitman, Wayne Brady, Christina Ricci, and #2 and #6 on our list...

2. Gary Oldman

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In addition to Harry Potter, Gary Oldman can call himself a mentor to Frodo. Or at least to Elijah Wood’s character in the Spyro trilogy. Oldman voiced the dragon Ignitus, who appeared in all three Spyro games. He also voiced both Sergeant Viktor Reznov and Daniel Clarke in the Call of Duty games World at War and Black Ops, and has lent his voice to a number of other games as well.

In 2012, Oldman went on Conan and talked about his video game voice acting, explaining the difficulty of recording loud “battle chatter.” After hearing him shout a few of these commands, it’s easy to understand his claim that “after about three minutes of it, you have to step outside and walk around, take a Tylenol.”

3. Dennis Hopper

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Hopper recorded for a few video games, probably the most famous of which is Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which also featured the voices of Burt Reynolds and Gary Busey. Hopper’s character, Steve Scott, is a producer-director of pornographic films. Scott is apparently an anger-prone spoof of Steven Spielberg, who screams lines like, “Cut!! Who is this idiot? You! You! Why are you in my space?” If you don’t want to play through Vice City in order to hear Hopper, you can listen to his not-safe-for-work voice acting on YouTube.

4. Christopher Walken

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Walken is probably the least surprising name on this list. He’s known for his seemingly random career choices, from Fatboy Slim music videos to cheesy musicals to the movie The Country Bears, so video game voiceovers aren’t a stretch. But it’s definitely still worth noting that Walken provided his voice for True Crime: Streets of LA, the same game that features Snoop Dogg ... voiced by Snoop Dogg.

As for whether Walken is a gamer himself, it’s unlikely, considering he doesn't own a computer or cell phone. Regardless, you can get a fairly accurate Walken gaming experience on the parody YouTube videos, Christopher Walkenthroughs.

5. Ellen Page

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In Beyond Two Souls, Page plays protagonist Jodie Holmes. The game was creating using motion capture, a process that requires placing almost a hundred little beads on an actor’s face to capture each movement during a scene. The script for the game was 2000 pages long and the crew shot 30 to 40 pages each day.

Page has been a versatile performer throughout her career, but she saw a difference between film acting and game acting: “You’re creating something that could go in so many different directions," she explained to Hero Complex. "You’re acting out elements of a story with an emotional intensity that a lot of people might never see. Every single person who plays this game will have their unique journey.”

6. Mark Hamill

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Mark Hamill has given many, many video game characters their voices—and that's not a surprise, considering his huge career in voice acting. His most famous role (of the non-Skywalker variety) is the Joker, which he voiced in various incarnations of the Batman cartoon and video game series for almost twenty years, from 1992 to 2011.

His final voice work as the Joker can be found in the award-winning video game, Batman: Arkham City. He retired from the role via Twitter the same year as the game's release, but the retirement may not last. During Hamill’s most recent Comic Con appearance, he said he wants to leave the role on a high note, but to “never say never.” It will be hard to let go of the role considering he has become an expert on the character and the trademark laugh. He explained, “His laugh should be like a musical instrument. It should illustrate his mood.” 

7. Samuel L. Jackson

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This one is a no-brainer. Is there anything Samuel L. Jackson can’t do? Though Jackson refers to himself as “not at all” good at gaming, he has fond memories of Pong. He might be acting modest though. Jackson has hosted the Spike TV Video Game Awards four times and has said he enjoys first-person shooter games.

Jackson’s first video game role was as Officer Tenpenny in San Andreas, a character that came in number 87 on IGN Entertainment’s 2010 list of the “Top 100 Videogame Villains.” Jackson’s voice helped place Officer Tenpenny on the list; as the article stated, “his baritone absolutely drips with evil.”

8. George Takei

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George Takei is an activist, former Star Trek star, and king of the Internet. So, a career in video game voiceovers is the perfect fit for him. The Star Trek games are a given for Takei, who starred in the original 1966-69 series as well as six of the films, but the fan favorite also notes similarities between his acting projects and voiceover work, notably on Red Alert 3. “There are echoes of Heroes here and some echoes of Star Trek here [with] time travel,” he said of the game.

As for whether he takes a personal interest in gaming, Takei has a new YouTube channel, which he has said will take on the topic of video games.

9. Liam Neeson

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Neeson hasn’t done many video games, but he was attracted to the “compelling story” of Fallout 3. The creators of the game were hoping that Neeson would take the role from as early as the development stages, writing the character with his voice in mind. Executive producer Todd Howard was happy with the decision, noting that Neeson “provides a dramatic tone for the entire game.”

Neeson has had many action roles over the years, but he actually cited doing “radio plays for the BBC in London and Ireland” as the most helpful precedent to his video game voiceover work: “There’s a shift of focus you do have to make and trying to convey something through your voice and through the rhythm of the words that you wouldn’t have to worry about so much if the camera was on you.”

10. John Goodman

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Though it’s hard to imagine Goodman voicing any character besides Monsters Inc.'s Sulley, he has recorded for a few video games as well. He started video game voiceovers early with the 1996 computer game Pyst, a parody of the best-selling PC game at the time, Myst; he voiced the “King of the Island of Pyst.”

More recently, Goodman voiced Dan Hagar in Rage, the first character that the protagonist meets. But the producers behind the game didn’t choose Goodman because of his prior voiceover work. Rather, the initial sketch of Hagar reminded the game's creators of Goodman’s character in The Big Lebowski, Walter Sobchak, so they asked the star to voice the role.

11. 50 Cent

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Rapper 50 Cent doesn’t just do voiceover work for video games: He produced two games starring himself as the protagonist, and was involved in the creation of the games. Though he let the designers take control, he explained, “I made a few slight changes based on the things that influenced me.”

50 Cent’s video game work makes sense as he’s a gamer himself, and he doesn’t only enjoy shooter games like the ones he produced. He told CNN, “When I went to perform at the Spike TV Video Game Awards, I got a chance to see how they had the older games now on Wii. So I went and got the Wii system so I can play Mario Brothers.

12. Sean Bean

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Though he didn’t record anything for The Lord of the Rings games, Sean Bean started a video game voiceover career in 2006. In Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Bean played the son of #14 on our list. Bean only has one video game on his resumé, but that might not be the case for long. When asked whether he would consider working on an Oblivion sequel, he responded, “It was a good, stylish, and successful piece of work and if a sequel came by, I’d definitely be up for that.”

13. Kiefer Sutherland

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Considering his action-packed work on the television show 24, it isn’t a surprise that Sutherland’s voice is the perfect fit for video games. His latest voice project is the character Snake for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V, which will be released in 2014. In addition to lending his voice to the game, Sutherland also wore facial capture technology to help developers create the character. He has admitted that he’s not a gamer, but still said, “It’s an honor to be able to play this character. This character has an unbelievable legacy, but there’s a real personal quality to the character that I’ve connected to.”

14. Patrick Stewart

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Between George Takei and Patrick Stewart, the Star Trek alums blow the other A-listers out of the water when it comes to video game voice acting. Stewart’s voice seems tailor-made for voiceover work, so it’s no wonder that his career in video games has remained steady since the early nineties. His versatility doesn’t hurt either: After numerous Star Trek and X-Men video games, he went on to record the opening sequence for Lego Universe.

Stewart isn’t a gamer himself, but not because he frowns upon the concept. He told Frontline, “I have an addictive temperament. I have a stack of games, [but] I’ve never taken the covers off them because I feel that if I do, I’m finished.

15. Seth Green

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Green’s voice already provides him with steady work on Family Guy and Robot Chicken, so his foray into video games makes sense. Plus, Green and his wife, Clare Grant, are both gamers, which explains his involvement in the Mass Effect trilogy. In a recent red carpet interview, he gushed, “I thought it was a really revolutionary game when they pitched it to me. And I was excited to be a part of it as it became such a cultural phenomenon. And then every person that I know who has loved playing that game is genuinely affected by it, passionate about it, so that makes it kind of a fun experience for us to share.”

Of course, Green is a well-known comedic actor, so the folks behind Mass Effect were kind enough to release some outtakes from the Austin Powers star.

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© 2017 USPS
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Speedy Delivery: Mister Rogers Will Get His Own Stamp in 2018
© 2017 USPS
© 2017 USPS

USPS 2018 Mister Rogers stamp
© 2017 USPS

After weeks of mailing out this year’s holiday cards, postage might be the last thing you want to think about. But the U.S. Postal Service has just given us a sneak peek at the many iconic people, places, and things that will be commemorated with their own stamps in 2018, and one in particular has us excited to send out a few birthday cards: Mister Rogers.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred Rogers’s groundbreaking PBS series that the USPS says “inspired and educated young viewers with warmth, sensitivity, and honesty,” the mail service shared a mockup of what the final stamp may look like. On it, Rogers—decked out in one of his trademark colorful cardigans (all of which were hand-knitted by his mom, by the way)—smiles for the camera alongside King Friday XIII, ruler of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Though no official release date for Fred’s forever stamp has been given, Mister Rogers is just one of many legendary figures whose visages will grace a piece of postage in 2018. Singer/activist Lena Horne will be the 41st figure to appear as part of the USPS’s Black Heritage series, while former Beatle John Lennon will be the face of the newest Music Icons collection. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, will also be honored.

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15 Surprising Facts About Steve Buscemi
Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival
Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

With his meme-worthy eyes, tireless work schedule, and penchant for playing lovable losers, Steve Buscemi is arguably the king of character actors. Moving seamlessly between big-budget films and shoestring independent projects, he’s appeared in well over 100 movies in the past 30 years. But if you think he’s anything like the oddballs and villains he regularly plays—well, you don’t know Buscemi. In celebration of the Brooklyn native's 60th birthday, here are 15 things you might not have known about the Golden Globe-winning actor.

1. HE WAS BORN ON A FRIDAY THE 13TH.

It only seems appropriate that Buscemi, who dies on screen so frequently, would be born on such a foreboding date. Growing up in Brooklyn and Valley Stream, New York, Buscemi also experienced plenty of real-life misfortune. As a kid, he was hit by a bus and by a car (in separate incidents). On the plus side, he used the money from the legal settlement following the bus accident to attend the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York City.

2. HE WAS A NEW YORK CITY FIREFIGHTER.

As a teenager, Buscemi worked a series of odd jobs: ice cream truck driver, mover, gas station attendant. He even sold newspapers in the toll lane of the Triborough Bridge. When Buscemi turned 18, his father, a sanitation worker, encouraged his son to take the civil service exam and become a New York City firefighter. Four years later, in 1980, the future star became a member of Engine Co. 55, located in New York City's Little Italy district. While he answered emergency calls during the day, at night Buscemi played improv clubs and auditioned for acting roles.

After four years working for the FDNY, Buscemi landed one of the lead roles in Bill Sherwood’s Parting Glances (1986), a drama set during the early days of AIDS in New York. Buscemi took a three-month leave of absence during filming, and afterwards decided not to return.

3. HE FORMED A COMEDY DUO WITH SONS OF ANARCHY’S MARK BOONE, JR.

For a brief while, Buscemi tried his hand at stand-up comedy (he bombed). In 1984, he met fellow aspiring actor Mark Boone, Jr., and the two began performing together. Part improv, part scripted comedy, the two would often carry out power struggles that pitted thin-man Buscemi against the larger Boone. The New York Times called their act “theater in the absurdist vein.”

4. HE DID NOT AUDITION FOR THE ROLE OF GEORGE COSTANZA.

Like any hard-working actor, Buscemi has had his share of failed auditions. His tryout for Alan Parker’s Fame lasted less than 30 seconds. In the late ‘80s, Martin Scorsese brought him in four different times to read for The Last Temptation of Christ. (Buscemi ended up reading every apostle’s part before being turned away.) He also auditioned for the part of Seinfeld’s George Costanza—at least according to numerous sources, including Jason Alexander himself. But it turns out this tidbit—fueled, no doubt, by the thought of a very twitchy, bug-eyed Costanza—isn’t true. On a recent episode of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Buscemi addressed the rumor in his typical good-natured way: “I never did [the audition] and I don’t know how to correct it because I don’t know how the Internet works.”

5. TREES LOUNGE WAS BASICALLY HIS LIFE AT 19.

After gaining momentum with roles in Mystery Train, Reservoir Dogs, Barton Fink, and other films, Buscemi took a turn behind the camera with 1996’s Trees Lounge. The movie, which he also wrote, follows a bumbling layabout named Tommy who spends most of his time at the title bar in the town where he grew up. It’s a classic flick for Buscemi fans and, according to the actor, it was pretty much his life as a teenager living on Long Island. “I was truly directionless, living with my parents,” Buscemi said in an interview. “I was driving an ice-cream truck and working at a gas station… The drinking age was 18 then, so I spent every night hanging out with my friends in bars, drinking.”

6. HE IS FULLY AWARE THAT HIS CHARACTERS OFTEN DIE.

Steve Buscemi in 'Fargo' (1996)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

He’s been shot numerous times, stabbed with an ice pick, riddled with throwing knives, tossed off a balcony, and fed to a wood chipper. Yes, Buscemi’s characters have died a variety of deaths, and the actor isn’t without a sense of humor about the whole matter. He’ll often joke in interviews that he’s living longer and longer as the years go by. Before the 2005 release of The Island, in which the aforementioned balcony-tossing occurs (and into a glass bar no less), Buscemi said he was happy his character lived almost a third of the way through the movie. Buscemi admitted that he will actually read ahead in any script he receives to see when and how he dies.

7. HE HAS A FAVORITE DEATH—AND IT ISN’T FARGO.

For connoisseurs of Buscemi's movie deaths, the demise of Fargo’s Carl Showalter by way of axe then wood chipper is the crème de la crème. But when asked about his own favorite onscreen death, Buscemi references another Coen brothers film: The Big Lebowski. In that movie his character, Donny Kerabatsos, succumbs to a heart attack. It’s a surprise for viewers, and so out-of-the-blue that Buscemi can’t help but be tickled at the randomness of it. “They thought, ‘Well, Buscemi’s in it, so we’ve gotta kill him,'" the actor said in an appearance on The Daily Show.

8. HIS CHARACTER IN CON AIR WAS WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR HIM.

In Con Air, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced action movie filled with muscled-up prisoners, Buscemi played the most dangerous con of them all. His Garland Greene—a serial killer whose exploits “make the Manson family look like the Partridge family,” according to one character—enters the film strapped to a chair, Hannibal Lecter mask affixed to his face. Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg, a friend of Buscemi’s, wrote the part with him in mind, and was tickled when Buscemi accepted the role. To this day, fans will still serenade the actor with “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

9. HIS CHARACTER IN DESPERADO IS NAMED AFTER HIM.

Steve Buscemi in Desperado
Columbia Pictures

Although he inevitably dies (courtesy of Danny Trejo’s throwing knives), Buscemi commands the opening of Desperado, Robert Rodriguez’s stylish revenge movie, regaling bar patrons with the story of the title gunslinger, played by Antonio Banderas. Because his character’s name is never mentioned, Rodriguez decided to have some fun and name him "Buscemi" in the credits.

10. HE WON’T FIX HIS TEETH.

Buscemi’s crooked smile has helped him portray lowlifes and losers throughout his career. Dentists have offered to fix the actor’s teeth, but he always turns them down, knowing how valuable those chompers are to the Buscemi brand. In a guest starring role on The Simpsons, Buscemi poked fun at the matter after a dentist offers to straighten his character’s teeth: “You’re going to kill my livelihood if you do that!”

11. THERE’S SOME CONFUSION OVER HOW TO PRONOUNCE HIS LAST NAME.

Many people pronounce his last name “Boo-shemmy,” but it turns out Buscemi himself pronounces it “Boo-semmy.” In interviews, Buscemi says he’s following his father’s pronunciation, and says he doesn’t begrudge anyone who says it differently. It turns out, though, that his fans have it right—or at least mostly right. On a trip to Sicily to visit family, Buscemi recounted recently on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he noticed everyone saying “Boo-SHAY-me.”

12. HE GOT STABBED IN A BAR FIGHT.

Steve Buscemi in 'Trees Lounge' (1996)
Live Entertainment

On April 12th, 2001, while filming Domestic Disturbance in Wilmington, North Carolina, Buscemi, co-star Vince Vaughn, and screenwriter Scott Rosenberg went out for late night drinks at the Firebelly Lounge. After Vaughn traded insults with another patron (whose girlfriend had apparently been flirting with Vaughn), the two stepped outside, and a brief scuffle ensued before the two were separated. Buscemi, who was among the crowd that had gathered, was then confronted by a man who, after a brief exchange, attacked the actor with a pocketknife. Buscemi suffered stab wounds to his face, throat, and hands, and had to return to New York to recuperate. His attacker, Timothy Fogerty, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. In typical good-guy fashion, Buscemi declined to press additional charges and instead insisted Fogerty enter a substance abuse program.

13. HE REJOINED HIS FIRE ENGINE IN THE WAKE OF 9/11.

After the horrific attack on New York City’s Twin Towers on September 11, Buscemi—like many Americans—was desperate to help. Although it had been nearly 20 years since he had strapped on his fireman’s gear, the actor reunited with his Engine 55 brethren and for days scoured the towers’ debris for survivors. Buscemi didn’t want his actions publicized; when people asked to take his picture, he declined. It took more than 10 years, in fact, before word got out, thanks to a Facebook post from Engine 55. “Brother Steve worked 12-hour shifts alongside other firefighters digging and sifting through the rubble,” the post read. “This guy is a badass!”

14. HE NARRATES THE AUDIO TOUR AT EASTERN STATE PENITENTIARY.

People who take a tour of the historic Philadelphia prison may notice a familiar voice coming through their listening device. So how did Buscemi end up lending his talents to such a seemingly obscure place? It turns out Eastern State is a popular location for film and photo shoots. Scenes from Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys were filmed there, as were album covers for artists like Tina Turner. In 2000, Buscemi scouted the penitentiary for a film project. The location didn’t work out, but the actor fell in love with the history and grand architecture of the 190-year-old prison. When officials asked for his help to celebrate the prison’s tenth year running tours, he agreed.

15. HE DIDN’T BELIEVE TERENCE WINTER WHEN HE OFFERED HIM THE LEAD IN BOARDWALK EMPIRE.


HBO

After years of playing disposable villains and losers on the periphery, Buscemi had grown accustomed to being passed over for leading roles. So when Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter offered him the part of corrupt politician Enoch “Nucky” Thompson in the award-winning HBO series, Buscemi offered his usual reply. “When Terry did call me and he said that he and Marty [Scorsese] wanted me to play this role, my response was, ‘Terry, I know you’re looking at other actors, and I just appreciate that my name is being thrown in,’" Buscemi recalled. "He said, ‘No, Steve, I just said we want you.’ It still didn’t sink in.” Eventually, of course, reality did sink in, and Buscemi went on to win a Golden Globe and Emmy Award across the show’s five seasons.

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