Grand Theft Auto: 9 Famous Actors Who Lent Their Voices to the Game Series
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Created by Rockstar Games, the first two Grand Theft Auto (GTA) games were released on PC and the original PlayStation console, and began to slowly amass a cult following thanks to the unique gameplay putting players in the shoes of the villains, who are able to commit violent crimes and complete perilous (mainly driving) missions and increase their notoriety within their fictional settings.
Things really stepped up, though, when Rockstar utilized the updated compatibilities of the newly introduced PlayStation 2 and Xbox and created a far more immersive gaming experience, now much wider in scope and presented in 3D. Not only was the game a step-up graphically, but the whole experience became more akin to that of being in a movie with more emphasis on storytelling and character development. To coincide with this change in direction, a number of well-known actors were recruited to voice certain characters in the game, including Frank Vincent and Michael Madsen, making GTA an early example of a video game to do this, something that now has almost become a staple of modern gaming.
Following the unprecedented success of GTA IIIboth commercially and critically, the franchise continued to grow and now consists of seven standalone titles and four expansion packs, and has become one of the world’s most successful video game franchises. As it continued to push the boundaries in what is possible in a video game, more and more famous actors can be heard throughout the series. From Samuel L. Jackson to Ricky Gervais, here are ten famous voices you might recognize in the GTA video game series.
With an impressive career spanning over 50 years, including an Oscar win, Gary Busey is a talented actor who has established a reputation for playing eccentric and unhinged characters. So it makes sense for him to appear in a GTA game, a series that is crammed full of weird, whacky and wonderful characters. He voices a heavy drinking and unpredictable arms dealer named Phil Cassidy, in GTA: Vice City and GTA: Vice City Storieswho might be an army veteran or, if the rumors are to be believed, someone who was repeatedly refused for service due to “drunkenness and unsuitable temperament for combat.”
Dennis Hopper began his big screen acting career way back in the 1950s, making small appearances alongside James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. As his profile continued to rise over the subsequent decade, he began to establish himself as an icon of the counterculture movement of the time. This position was solidified with 1969’s drug-fueled motorcycle road movie Easy Rider. Hopper worked consistently until his passing in 2010, including voicing one of GTA: Vice City’s most crucial characters, Stephen Scott, the sleazy pornography director at the fictional InterGlobal Films.
Samuel L. Jackson is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable and successful actors of all time. The prolific star has well over a hundred movie acting credits under his belt, which have collectively grossed over $27 billion. Appearing in everything from political dramas and independent thrillers to huge multi-billion dollar franchises like Star Wars and The AvengersJackson also has done his fair share of voice acting including playing characters in The Incredibles, Afro Samuraiand Turbo. In GTA: San Andreashe lends his instantly recognizable voice to the borderline psychotic corrupt police officer. Expect plenty of uses of his trademark expletives.
Yet another veteran character actor Rockstar Games, placed into the violent world of Grand Theft Auto. James Woods has appeared in a number of classics over the years including Once Upon a Time in America, Casino and Videodrome. When it comes to voice acting, he is probably best known for playing Hades, the sassy and sarcastic antagonist in Disney’s Hercules and as himself in multiple episodes of Family Guy. In GTA: San Andreashe voices Mike Toreno, an undercover agent and a main character.
The infamous comedian, Ricky Gervais is known for his controversial stand-up routines, writing and appearing in numerous sitcoms including the original British The Office series, Extrasand Afterlifeas well as some memorable stints hosting the Golden Globes awards. Players of GTA IV are able to witness an entirely new and exclusive stand-up routine of his as he plays himself at the Split Sides comedy club. Comedians Katt Williams and Frankie Boyle also play themselves in GTA’s Split Sides comedy club.
Danny Trejo is one of Hollywood’s most prolific actors, known for his tough guy image and his imposing demeanor. As an ex-convict, Trejo spent his younger years as a real-life gang member who struggled with substance abuse issues, ultimately ending up behind bars before following a career as an actor. Trejo would have certainly been able to draw from experience when voicing the ruthless gangster Umberto Robina in GTA: Vice City and GTA: Vice City Stories.
Along with Hopper, who also appeared in GTA, Peter Fonda was a prominent figure of the counter-culture movement during the 60s and 70s, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his work with Hopper on Easy Rider. Playing on this reputation, Fonda was cast as The Truth in GTA: San Andreasan aged hippie, known for having his own cannabis farm.
One of the biggest stars in the history of Hollywood, Burt Reynolds has appeared in numerous critical and commercial hits over his impressive career including Deliverance, The Longest Yard, Smokey and the Bandit, The Cannonball Runand Boogie Nights. In GTAhe plays the property tycoon Avery Carrington, a main character in Vice City and a side character in Liberty City Stories. His role in GTA was not his first voice performance, though, having played Charlie the dog in Don Bluth’s 1989 animated feature All Dogs go to Heaven.
After a string of supporting roles and bit parts in the 1980s, Ray Liotta shot to fame in 1990 after playing the lead role in Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece Goodfellaswhich is widely regarded as among the greatest gangster movies ever made. Since then, he worked steadily until his untimely death earlier this year. Returning to his gangster roots, Liotta was cast as Tommy Vercetti, the main protagonist and a playable character in GTA: Vice City. Taking inspiration from famous movie gangsters of the past, especially Scarface’s Tony Montana, Liotta delivers one of the most lauded video games voice performances of all time and his success was instrumental in setting the stage for the future inclusion of celebrities in the gaming world.
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