In Real Life

The Men And Women Behind Gaming's Most Iconic Characters

They’re some of the most recognisable faces in modern pop culture. But have you ever wondered just who the men and women are providing the voices behind gaming’s biggest characters?

Master Chief (Halo): Steve Downes

What Else Has He Done?

Steve is known to millions around the world as the voice of Master Chief, but he’s known to millions in Chicago as a DJ on 97.1 WDRV’s “The Drive”.

Snake (Metal Gear): David Hayter

What Else Has He Done?

In addition to being the voice of Snake since 1998′s Metal Gear Solid (and countless other characters on cartoons and anime), Hayter is also a successful screenwriter in Hollywood, having penned (or helped pen) movies like X-Men and Watchmen.

Mario (Super Mario Bros.): Charles Martinet

What Else Has He Done?

Charles has been the voice of Mario in every game featuring Nintendo’s mascot since 1996′s Mario 64, but did you know he’s also made appearances in Matlock and Nash Bridges?

Marcus Fenix (Gears of War): John Di Maggio

What Else Has He Done?

Marcus Fenix may be one of video gaming’s most recognisable characters, but he’s not as well-known as Di Maggio’s finest work: providing the voice for Bender, Futurama’s drunken robot star. Di Maggio is also kept busy doing voice work for other games as diverse as Halo 3 & Valkyria Chronicles, while also breathing life into cartoon characters like Kim Possible’s Dr. Drakken and Samurai Jack’s Scotsman.

Nathan Drake (Uncharted): Nolan North

What Else Has He Done?

North is probably the most prolific voice-over man working in the games industry, and is definitely the most recognisable. Aside from Drake, North has done voice work for other big games like Halo Wars, Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed, Fable, Gears of War and Lost Planet. North is also a TV actor, who played Dr. Chris Ramsey on soap opera Port Charles.

John Marston (Red Dead Redemption): Rob Wiethoff

What Else Has He Done?

Not much! Despite handing in one of the best voice-over performances of all time with Red Dead’s John Marston, Wiethoff doesn’t have much else on his resume, only bit roles in 16 Blocks and tiny surfing flick The Outsider. After the success of Red Dead, however, look for that to change.

Lara Croft (Tomb Raider): Keeley Hawes (top left), Jonell Elliott (top right), Judith Gibbins (bottom left) & Shelley Blond (bottom right)

What Else Have They Done?

Having been around since 1996, Lara Croft has been voiced by four different women. Keeley Hawes, who worked on the three most recent games, is a well-known British actress and star of cop/time-travelling drama Ashes to Ashes. Elliot has provided the voices for characters from Overlord and Simon The Sorcerer, Gibbins…well, you’ve neither seen nor heard of her anywhere else, and Shelley Blond, the original Lara Croft from the 1996 original, is equally unknown, which is a bit of a shame considering the popularity of the character.

Niko Bellic (Grand Theft Auto IV): Michael Hollick

What Else Has He Done?

Were it not for Hollick’s work on Grand Theft Auto IV, his resume would make him look like a struggling actor who had only managed some small roles in cop dramas like Law & Order. Voicing the main character of one of the biggest video games of all time, however, adds a certain shine to things.

Guybrush Threepwood (Monkey Island): Dominic Armato

What Else Has He Done?

Video games. Lots and lots of video games. Armato has been the voice of hopeless pirate Guybrush Threepwood since the Monkey Island series began in 1990, but has since gone onto lend his voice to smaller characters in other games like Metal Gear Solid 2, X-Wing Alliance and Crysis.

G-Man (Half-Life): Michael Shapiro

What Else Has He Done?

Shapiro has been the brooding, mysterious G-Man of the Half-Life universe since 1998. And apart from that he’s done little else of note, aside from a semi-regular stint as the narrator on a TV series Interpol Investigates. Lucky for Shapiro, then, that in addition to doing the voice for the G-Man, he’s also the voice of one of Half-Life’s nicer characters, the former security guard Barney.

Kratos (God Of War): Terence Carson

What Else Has He Done?

Carson may be best known to gamers as the voice behind homicidal maniac Kratos, from the God of War series, but he’s best known to Star Wars fans as the voice of Mace Windu in the most recent series of Clone Wars cartoons (as well as its games and film). Carson also had a long stint on TV series Living Single, as Kyle Barker, and was also in U-571 alongside Matthew McConaughey and Jon Bon Jovi.

EA Sports (It’s In The Game!): Andrew Anthony

What Else Has He Done?

Anthony is not an actor, nor is he a professional voice-over man. He’s actually a journalist for Britain’s Guardian newspaper; he was when he recorded the now infamous “It’s in the game!” line that’s been used by EA for nearly 20 years, and is still a journalist now.

Bayonetta (Bayonetta): Hellena Taylor

What Else Has She Done?

Taylor hasn’t had much luck as an actress, the height of her career on-screen being as an extra in 2002′s The Sweetest Thing. She’s had much more luck off camera, though, her role as hairy witch Bayonetta complementing a successful career as a narrator, along with appearances in other games like Dragon Age, where she played a number of roles, including Bann Alfstanna.

Darth Vader (Star Wars): Scott Lawrence (left) & Matt Sloan (right)

What Else Have They Done?

Scott Lawrence has been the voice for Darth Vader in many of Lucasarts’ biggest Star Wars games, from 1994′s Tie Fighter through to the Battlefront series. Alongside other voice work in games like Comand & Conquer, he’s been a regular on JAG, and even had a small role in James Cameron’s Avatar as the Crew Chief on the Venture Star. Sloan, meanwhile, has been the voice for the Sith Lord in more recent games like Force Unleashed, and got the dream role thanks to his popular web parody series Chad Vader.

Commander Shepard (Mass Effect): Jennifer Hale (left) & Mark Meer (right)

What Else Have They Done?

Hale, the lady behind the female Commander Shepard, is a voice-over superstar, and has appeared in almost any video game series or TV show you can think of. And if you can’t think of any, some examples include Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ben 10, Metal Gear Solid 4, Batman, Knights of the Old Republic, Cowboy Bebop, Johnny Bravo, Spider-Man, The Tick and even Mortal Kombat. Meer, on the other hand, is a reasonably successful Canadian comedian, though he’s appeared in other BioWare video games like Dragon Age and Neverwinter Nights.

The Announcer (Team Fortress 2): Ellen McLain

What Else Has She Done?

McLain, the voice of Team Fortress 2′s bossy announcer, is an opera singer by trade. Which is pretty cool. What’s cooler is that her husband, John Patrick Lowrie, also stars in Team Fortress 2, as the Sniper. Fans of TF2 developers Valve should know that McLain has also provided the voice behind Portal’s GLaDOS (and turrets), as well as that of the AI OverWatch in Half:Life 2, so yeah, while her gaming resume is short on quantity, it’s high on iconic quality.


Have you subscribed to Kotaku Australia's email newsletter? You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.