Forget film and television; today’s celebrities are queuing up to be featured in the latest video game franchise. In 2022, games will be bigger than music and movies combined. According to industry analysts, the gaming industry generated over $180 billion in revenues during 2021 and is on track to smash that figure by 2023.
Celebrities have been making appearances in video games since the early days of the industry in the 1980s. Mike Tyson and Michael Jackson are just two high-profile stars who have lent their considerable talents to the digital realm. More recently, we’ve seen Keanu Reeves add video game character development to his resume thanks to his inclusion in Cyberpunk 2077.
Meanwhile, the open-world sci-fi epic, Squadron 42, has perhaps the starriest cast of all, listing the likes of Gillian Anderson, Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis and Mark Hamil within its ranks.
So, while celeb appearances in gaming are nothing new, you may be surprised to learn that several actors actually had their start narrating or being the basis of popular video game characters. Let’s take a look at the breakout stars of video gaming over the decades.
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Rami Malek – Until Dawn
Prior to stunning the world with that Oscar-winning turn as Freddie Mercury, Rami Malek added his voice and visage to the gaming chiller, Until Dawn. In contrast to his more unique roles on the silver screen, in the game, Malek plays Himbo Josh, one of a group of teens terrorised at an isolated mountain lodge.
As well as voicing the character, Rami leant his dashing looks and even recorded a full range of motion capture to animate Josh’s broad spectrum of emotions and in-game actions.
Until Dawn wasn’t Malek’s only foray into gaming; he also provided voice work for the character of Tahno in The Legend of Korra and appeared as an NPC in Halo 2.
Murtaugh – Stray
A third-person adventure game that follows a nameless stray cat as he journeys through a dystopian walled city, this beautifully-crafted indie game has captivated gamers and critics alike since its release.
Although the protagonist of the game doesn’t have a name, the world now knows the name of the moggie who helped bring the feline character to life. Belonging to BlueTwelve Studio’s co-founders, Murtaugh was the reference model for the character. Like his virtual alter ego, Murtaugh was also a stray who was abandoned on the streets of Montpellier, France.
Don’t worry, The Boss – as he’s often referred to at the game development studio – now leads a very comfortable life and is enjoying his 15 minutes of internet fame.
Cara Delevingne – Grand Theft Auto V
Former Model of the Year Cara Delevingne has one of the most distinctive faces in the biz. Before appearing in major motion pictures like Suicide Squad, she cut her teeth while acting in the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Lending her voice only to Grand Theft Auto V, Delevingne took on the role of DJ Cara, hosting the in-game station Non-Stop Pop FM.
The radio stations featured throughout each instalment of the GTA series have been a popular feature amongst gamers. Delevingne did a marvellous job portraying the bubbly aspiring beatboxer, stacking her playlist with a mix of upbeat Britney classics and more chill bubblegum pop a la Pure Shores by All Saints.
Interestingly, while he was certainly not in need of a breakout role to launch a movie career, the late, legendary father of fashion Karl Lagerfeld even appeared as a DJ in the franchise.
Rhona Mitra – Tomb Raider
Before Angelina Jolie took the starring role in the cinematic version of Tomb Raider, Rhona Mitra was the first real-life Lara Croft.
Now, the actress is known for starring in films including Underwood: Rise of the Lycans, Doomsday, and Game Over, Man! as well as the TV shows Supergirl and The Last Ship. However, her first big break was in bringing the aristocratic archaeologist to life.
Mitra appeared at countless photo shoots and public appearances as Lara, alongside being her reference model. She even released a pop single in her Tomb Raider guise and was widely considered to be the number one choice for the action movie franchise until Jolie pipped her to the post.