Is this thing on?
My roommate is a voice actress, which is insanely cool because it’s a world I know nothing about. Now I’m surrounded by it all the time, and she gives me all kinds of cool insight into the auditioning, recording, and editing processes. I have a whole new appreciation, because it’s an art form of its own, and it takes a ton of practice and dedication that I didn’t know about besides already having a nice voice to begin with. Plus, it’s fun to have someone around the house who can do a bunch of silly voices. I think so much more about voice acting now than I used to, and I’ve been noticing more conversations online about it, too.
For example, any time I see casting announcements for some new movie, it seems like it’s always some A-list actor who is most likely there for the paycheck. In all fairness, a great actor is a great actor, and it’s not like they couldn’t do a great job when they really care to put their heart and soul into it. The thing that bothers me about it, though, is that a top-of-their-game voice actor knows how to transform a character into something truly extraordinary when they’re behind the mic, and you can tell the difference when an actor has command over a voice role versus when they don’t.
Let’s consider one of the all-time-greats, Nolan North. He’s arguably one of the most famous voice actors in games, and he’s best known for his role as Nathan Drake in Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series. He’s been in the industry since 1997 after starting on TV, and moved to voice acting in 2003. He has dozens of credits in games alone, and has also worked in animation, film, and audiobooks. Why does North keep getting all this work? Because he’s insanely freaking talented, not just in his acting abilities, but in how he’s able to fully transform his voice to be unrecognizable.
Disappearing into the role
I’ve been playing through some of the old Ratchet & Clank games with a friend, and in the middle of playing A Crack in Time, he turned to me when one of the goofy side characters was talking and said, “You know that’s Nolan North, right?” I was shocked, honestly.
I thought I had gotten pretty good at being able to tell it was him, considering I played a ton of games he’s been in, but I underestimated how much he’s able to disappear into the role. Take North’s creepy villain character, David, from The Last of Us. It’s another role you wouldn’t really recognize him in unless you’re looking for it, it’s something different than what he’s known for, and he still crushes it.
For now, it seems that games have been able to avoid the whole “non-voice actors taking voice acting roles” for the most part, which I also love because it means we’re exposed to a whole different group of actors than the already-famous bunch from TV and movies.
The thing about games is that a lot of the time, they require a unique type of performance that better suits the idea that the developers are going for, similar to how anime voice acting has its own style as well. When you have actors who specifically study and hone that type of acting, it means they can produce some magical performances that actors in other media wouldn’t be able to execute in the same way. It’s a specialty like any other.
Some of my personal favorite voice-acting performances that come to mind are Logan Cunningham as Lord Hades, Poseidon, Achilles, and others in Hades, Mikee W. Goodman as the Ancient Reptilian voice in Disco Elysium, Karl Hanover as Atlas in BioShock, and Ellen McLain as GLaDOS in the Portal series, just to name a few.
Of all the great voice acting performances out there, we want to know what your favorite acting performance in a game is. Which game characters have stuck with you long after you’ve finished the game? Let us know in the comments below!