Bungie Is Erasing Peter Dinklage From Destiny

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Bungie Is Erasing Peter Dinklage From Destiny

For a long time now, the world has laughed at Peter Dinklage’s voice acting in Destiny, a video game about the slow, inevitable progression of death. Soon, that voice acting is going to change. One might even say it’s going to become legend.

Bungie is recasting the role of Ghost, replacing current voice actor Dinklage with newcomer Nolan North (best known as the voice of Nathan Drake in Uncharted). Starting with The Taken King this September, North will voice all of the little bugger’s lines. But this isn’t just for future dialogue: Dinklage was so bad, they’re actually going back and recording all of his lines, expunging him from the game entirely. (They will keep the same script.)

This news comes from Game Informer‘s September cover story, which is all about The Taken King. “We wanted Nolan North’s version of the Ghost to wake you up at the start of the journey at level one and follow you all the way to level forty,” Taken King director Luke Smith told the magazine. (Yeah — the new level cap will be 40. Apparently they’re getting rid of the Light system, too. More to come later today.)

I can’t imagine North’s cadences will do much to improve upon vanilla Destiny’s incredible script — “We’ve woken the Hive!” — but after the unanimously poor reception to Dinklage’s performance and his disappearance from Destiny’s two DLC packs, I guess this was inevitable.

Comments

  • That’s… a bit harsh.
    Sure his voice acting was not great but what can you expect given lines like that and presumably told to sound like a robot.

    • My thinking exactly. He’s a fucking robot. Of course he sounds wooden. It wasn’t an award winning performance, but it wasn’t bad either.

      • Agree completely – I thought it worked in that sarcastic way – It wasn’t meant to be fluffy and hilarious like Portal…

    • Yeah, this isn’t erasing Peter Dinklage this is erasing their terrible, terrible script. He did exactly what they wanted. They were beaming with pride right up until laughing at his terrible lines went viral.

      • Dinklage was so bad, they’re actually going back and recording all of his lines, expunging him from the game entirely. (They will keep the same script.)

        Except they are keeping the same script, so it really is just him they’re erasing.

        I think they just realised that they paid a fortune to hire a known actor to play the world’s most boring character and that it wasn’t worth paying him to come back over and over again to voice a character that everyone ignored anyway.

        Dinklage wasn’t good, but what can you do with the dialogue and story when they’re both that boring?

      • Come on, let’s not give him a pass just because we like him on Game of Thrones. Yes, he had to say some unspeakably weird lines, but every sci-fi game has outlandish dialogue; I’ve been playing Xenoblade and some of the lines in that are just… wow. Yet the voice actors in that sound like they’re actually trying, Dinklage’s delivery on the other hand, sounded like he wasliterally phoning it in, or couldn’t be more bored in an air-conditioned recording studio. I like the guy, but this was clearly one of his paycheque roles along with Pixels and Tiptoes.

        • I’m not a Game of Thrones fan. He was fine in Days of Future Past but that’s about the only thing I can remember him from. I just think he did exactly what they wanted him to. I’m not saying there was no room for improvement, but his performance seems to be in line with what they wanted Ghost to be.
          I’m not giving him a free pass to be crap I just feel like he was the first character people heard and it resulted in him copping way more crap than he deserves. I mean none of the characters have good deliveries and it seems to be because someone at Bungie was always off to the side saying ‘no, sound more awestruck, selling random weapons is this huge epic part of the plot’.

          • Sure, Bungie’s voice director deserves blame for not taking advantage of him, or at least doing more takes, because there were some lines during the campaign where I thought ‘there’s no way that delivery was intentional.’ Just perusing the comments here, plenty are blaming it entirely on the script which is unfair, because it’s the same meaningless technobabble of every sci-fi game.

            To be fair, Dinklage also unfairly copped a lot of crap because of that ‘wizard moon’ thing but it’s just one dumb, unintentionally funny line; the rest of them are guilty of just being bored and flat in a way that can’t just be waved away with ‘he’s an AI.’ GLaDOS was an AI, ditto with Guilty Spark; there are plenty of modern games with voiced AI, yet this one was singularly bad.

    • Have to agree with you and especially @dogman, he gave them exactly what they wanted and they were perfectly happy prior to the beta.

      Then their script got skewered so they took out anything ridiculous which left nothing but dry exposition.

      Beyond that they obviously wanted the dry deadpan of Tyrion… But that doesn’t work without the wry underpinning humour of that character.

      Obviously Destiny’s writers should be the face of all its issues, but I really wish someone would rip into the director (Or even, you know name him Mr “Journalist”).

        • Again, people are giving him a pass because they like Tyrion Lannister. Yes, the lines were weird but that’s nothing new in Sci-Fi games. Yes, the direction was crappy, but his delivery was also bored and flat; and not even flat as might be expected of an AI like GLaDOS either, just… bad.

          • Nope, just have experience acting and directing.

            I’ve seen him do amazing, subtle understated performances.

            At worst, he phoned it in. Which a decent director should have caught and done something about.

            But honestly it seems to me that the most obvious situation was he was stunt cast for his name, dropped in a room with a director who had no idea what he was doing with a mandate for a dry “Portal” style voice, with a dry script with no subtext, meat or meaningful character interactions.

            Honestly though I wouldn’t be surprised if Nolan North is in part so popularly used because he can direct himself somewhat and thus won’t necessarily be sunk by a poor voice director.

            It’s a situation I’m familiar with and know is not great as it can lead to it’s own problems, but in a lot of cases it can elevate something from terrible to something better.

          • It’s 100% a case of stunt-casting. Just remember how many posts came out of gaming sites like Kotaku when he was announced. It was a geek PR coup for Bungie. The voice direction must have been lazy or completely hands-off, because he just did not even try. He just phoned it in, and didn’t even bother with the press videos.

            I’ve seen him do amazing, subtle understated performances.

            So have I. But for every Station Agent, Death at a Funeral (first one), or Game of Thrones, he does a paycheque role like Pixels, Tiptoes, or Death at a Funeral (the completely unnecessary remake). The Destiny voice job was clearly the latter, and probably pitched to him as easy money for a few afternoons’ work in a studio.

          • I’m still not buying it as a case of laziness though.

            Sure he takes jobs for the pay… Because that’s what jobs are. It really shouldn’t be held against him, especially if some roles don’t turn out that great.

            Hell if you had pitched me Pixels simply by showing me the original short I probably would have signed a contract before I could ask “Hey why is Adam Sandler attached?”

            Have you ever read a movie script? Preferably one of a movie you haven’t seen. It’s actually really hard to tell just how good it will be, in fact people get paid a lot of money to try and figure that out. It’s possible that he just isn’t very good at that.

            I’ve worked with some amazing actors, seen them struggle when I wasn’t doing my best and eventually find great performances. I’ve also seen them in other pieces and wonder if they’ve been replaced by a pod person.

            It’s actually a shockingly difficult and involved art to do well at all and in perfect circumstances they should have a full team behind them helping them to that goal. Not abandoning them and leaving them to bear the brunt of the criticism.

          • Hell if you had pitched me Pixels simply by showing me the original short I probably would have signed a contract before I could ask “Hey why is Adam Sandler attached?”

            This never actually happens. An actor doesn’t simply sign up based on exposure to source material without meeting people involved (the only record of this happening in recent memory was the Bill Murray Coen/Cohen thing). Even if Dinklage didn’t audition, he still talked to the producers, knew this was a Happy Madison production and at some point, read that ghastly screenplay.

            On the other hand, no one’s begrudging actors the right to work. However, just because you’re reading lines you don’t care about, doesn’t mean you can phone it in like Dinklage clearly did with Destiny. Just look at all the garbage Jeremy Irons or Ben Kingsley have done in their long careers; they work to earn those cheques, even in utterly forgettable trash.

            I’d also disagree that Dinklage is getting the brunt of the criticism. Just look at the comments here; lots of people like Tyrion Lannister, so they’re laying the blame solely on the Destiny script and you’ve already given him a pass for Pixels. Yes, the Destiny script is badly-written, but a voice director and actor who gave a shit can make even meaningless technobabble sound like Shakespeare; just look at Martin Sheen’s consummate professionalism while talking about dumb Reapers, or John Oliver’s “Helen Mirren reading X” comedy bit. This was the perfect storm of unspeakably bad dialogue, and a voice director who didn’t get the best performance out of an actor who did not care.

    • I only kind of agree.

      Yes, it would have been their fault originally. But I think it’s the right decision to redo it. It’s simply awful to listen to the way it is right now.

    • I cant believe how many people would have given his voice acting ‘approval’ before making it into the final game. They are the ones who should be removed from destiny.

  • The dialog in destiny is flat, has no humour and couldn’t be helped by any actor. I think the reason for replacing him would be cost, Nolan North would be a hell of a lot cheaper then Dinklage.

    • But they’ve already payed Dinklage… right?

      Unless there is on-going royalty fees associated with having a voice actor.

      • Nah cost as in coming back to do more content. Dinklage probably wanted more money – probably even more than it cost to get north to do everything again. For consistency sake they just redid the va for everything.

        It’s also possible that or dinklage didnt enjoy the experience and doesn’t want to do anymore va.

        • @joeyjojo – I’m not sure if he’d want to come back and do more after the initial reaction. I kind of get the feeling that Dinklage pulled the plug and not Bungie.

  • Wow!! That is huge! This has to be a first, at least for video games. Recasting an actor, and the one who talks the most throughout, in a game that’s been out for a year?! Wow!

    I guess that shows how dedicated Bungie are to Destiny.

  • Wow. That’s… rough. I didn’t mind Dinklebot at all. Still think the hate was more than a little overblown – in the traditional fashion of the internet. And love or hate him, he is Ghost. Some parts just won’t be the same:

    ‘We’ve woken the hive!’
    ‘He’s in a tank!’
    ‘Maybe that was their failsafe.’

    At least I have my CE Dinklebot sitting on my desk as a memoir.

  • I’m stoked about this. I don’t really care about the voice acting bit, but the (IMO) awful light system was why I stopped playing Destiny (despite buying the initial season pass). I might be able to make use of my $100+ purchase again.

    • The Light system is significantly easier to deal with these days, the game pretty much throws it at you now.

    • I don’t mind the light system now that there are multiple paths to max light via etheric light upgrades instead of having to do the highest-tier endgame content and wear the same armour as everyone else, but I would really prefer a more traditional progression system.

      I’ve been taking an extended break and I’m not sure if I’ll come back for the Taken King with Fallout 4 just around the corner, but I probably will. I’ll still have a few weeks to burn through the content itself – but I think I’m well over my “sit down and play it every night hoping for a Gjallarhorn drop” phase.

    • Me too. Gotta grind and roll the dice for gear just so you can level up? No thanks. I’d rather be rewarded for skill.

  • “One might even say it’s going to become legend.” I laughed so hard at this, but simultaneously whoever wrote should be slapped, by Tyrion.

  • I feel Dinklebot’s tone fit in well with the rest of the game. I never really heard anything that made cringe.

    #savedinklebot

    • I think they should’ve used a text-to-voice synthesizer and been done with it. Now there’s a thought, maybe they could use Vocaloid software. Hatsune Miku now has an English version…

    • Enhhh… I think there may have been some shitty direction in there, as well. His tone was completely off in many places. Flat and boring without any sense of gravity where appropriate, and overly excited or hyped when there was no reason to be.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the sound leads were too awe-inspired by his star power to actually try to direct him in the first place.

    • might also have been the peter dinklage factor for preorders and initial sales cashing in on the favourite character from got. personally I agree with your point but outside of the actual performance I think money, like almost always is the culprit.

  • Whatever the reason, I hope they take this opportunity to record some lines for ghost in The Dark Below and The House of Wolves missions. It was so weird how much he talked in the base game then just went completely quiet.

  • I just think the developers probably saw “pixels” and got him out of the game as quickly as possible…

    Zing-bada-bing. I’m hear all morning.

  • You mean this video game didn’t already have Nolan North in it? How did that happen? I didn’t think it was even legal to make a video game without Nolan North in it.

    • Instead of hiring an experienced and talented voice actor everyone likes they felt it was necessary to hire Nathan Fillion for about three paragraphs of exposition and Claudia Black to stand at a kiosk no one visits.

      • That said, Fillion nails it in his video-game VA pretty much every game.

        He’s also responsible for delivering what I feel is the best line of dialogue in Destiny, where if you walk away from the Hunter trainer Cade, sometimes he whispers, “Hey… take me with you.”

        More ‘character’ in one line than any of the other parts got for their entire performances.

        • I’m not saying Fillion isn’t great, I just feel like he’s underused. Cayde-6 is an excellent character but has so little to do with the story – all the big names they got for their game are in the same boat. Bill Nighy has probably one of the most important roles but the last time we heard from the Speaker was when he gave his speech after you destroy the heart of the black garden.

          Apparently he didn’t feel the need to weigh in on the rise and fall of Crota, for instance. In fact no one but Eris seems to have noticed.

          • Oh, definitely. At least Fillion you can bet he’d agree to do more. Nighy could’ve been a harder sell, but there’s all those persistent rumours that the Speaker was not a good guy and likely had a limited lifespan.

  • I didn’t mind Dinklage’s voice acting, he had to deliver dialogue that simply didn’t fit the situation sometimes so I really don’t blame him for how corny and flat it felt at times.

    I think getting North to redo the dialogue and presumably be available for future VA work is the better solution though. The fact that they couldn’t (or just didn’t want to) bring Dinklage back to record dialogue for the DLC was really irritating.

  • And I bet now Ebay will get flooded with the ghosts people get in the collectors edition come September, saying it’s now a rare item and try to sell it for more than it’s worth. Also why is Nolan North doing it? He is already in a lot of games. Is he the Chris Pratt of voice acting?

    • The collector’s edition ghost was just a shell, it’s already collectible because Bungie hasn’t bothered to make any others available.

      It won’t impact what your ghost sounds like.

      • I’m not saying it will. I was just saying that as Peter’s voice is in the ghosts from the collection edition people will think the ghosts will become even more valuable as come September he will be erased from the game.

        • I didn’t realise you were referring to the physical ghosts, since I don’t think mine has ever spoken – just made sound effects.

      • The Ghost Edition came with a physical ghost ‘figure’ that could motion-activate and speak several lines of dialogue.

  • I think this was really because Nolan North realised there was a video game he wasn’t in. It’s not really an improvement though. North never strikes me as an interesting voice actor and seems to be more the guy you call when you want people to go “Hey, I know that voice! He was in that game I liked so this must be good too.”

  • Makes sense. The writing was some of the worst shit I’ve ever experienced, but Dinklage’s performance was also pretty crap (overly excited and panicked when there was absolutely no reason to be, and vice-versa). Bad direction? Whatever the reason, he got panned hard and he’s too big a deal to have to put up with the shit he’s got over it. More than Bungie can pay for you to have any kind of Ghost presence in any future content.

    Did anyone else think it was a little jarring or weird that for all the DLC content you didn’t hear jack shit from your formerly-talkative little companion? Just me? The character needs to actually be, y’know… a present character (something Destiny is sorely lacking). And if Dinklage doesn’t want to do it or Destiny pay for him, then there’s gotta be a new ghost. And ‘changing ghosts’ seems a little off.

    Re-recording really does seem to be the easiest option.

    • They covered for Dinklebot’s silence in House of Wolves by giving us lots of exposition from Variks and Petra Venj, but there will still moments where you’d think he’d chime in at least a little bit.

      The absence of anything in The Dark Below however was frustrating. I guess we’ll hear more from Ghost when there’s more story progression which I guess the Taken King will deliver… I hope.

    • Yeah it was weird. The way they structured DLC production I assume a voice over was recorded and they simply cut it all out, which makes the silence even more awkward. At the very least I’d say there’s a completed Dark Below script that includes Ghost dialogue. Maybe we’ll get to see some sort of Directors Cut when Nolan goes back and does the rest.

  • I can’t believe this isn’t an actual joke! Voice actors’ work being re-recorded and replaced by a reading from North is an absurd situation that is actually hilarious.

  • Anyone who has ever met mr.Dinklage or read up a little about him knows that he is incredibly unpleasant to work with. He has a short temper and a huge ego and therefore finds it very difficult to follow even the simplest of instructions. I honestly think that they just found a decent enough excuse to finally get rid of the bugger.

  • Give new players a new Ghost skin with North, and give Vanilla players a Dinklebot Ghost skin with Dinkle voicing the original parts.

  • He was awful and the only reason anyone knows or cares about this is because of GoT. If people didn’t blow their loads over GoT this would be a non-issue.

  • I haven’t finished Destiny (finished main campaign, not DLC), but I have no idea what is wrong with Dinklage’s voice acting… He’s meant to sound like a robot with a slight british accent, and I think he nails it. Whatever floats their boat though.

  • doesn’t change the fact that Ghost is about as useful as herpes.

    Hey guys, let’s not spice up the mission variation or anything but instead redub an annoying useless exposition spouting insrument which has no back story and isn’t important to the overall plot one bit!

    The missions will still be the same tedious and repetitive shit. What a waste of time.

  • @strand0410, because the thread filled up.

    This never actually happens. An actor doesn’t simply sign up based on exposure to source material without meeting people involved (the only record of this happening in recent memory was the Bill Murray Coen/Cohen thing).

    Ok first off you give one example that invalidates that point, which was also on the extreme end as an example.

    Have you never taken a job because at first glance it seemed interesting or alright? Only to seem worse after you were committed to it?

    Or what if you had your doubts but a producer or possibly one of your own employees convinced you this was a good step “Oh it won’t be like other Happy Madison productions, look at this fancy short it’s based off!”

    Perhaps he could have done more due diligence, but maybe he just decided that working for his family was more important than turning his nose up at paying work. Maybe he thinks that once GoT ends he won’t ever see this amount of attention again and so will take anything that meets his quote?

    ‘d also disagree that Dinklage is getting the brunt of the criticism. Just look at the comments here; lots of people like Tyrion Lannister, so they’re laying the blame solely on the Destiny script and you’ve already given him a pass for Pixels. Yes, the Destiny script is badly-written, but a voice director and actor who gave a shit can make even meaningless technobabble sound like Shakespeare; just look at Martin Sheen’s consummate professionalism while talking about dumb Reapers, or John Oliver’s “Helen Mirren reading X” comedy bit. This was the perfect storm of unspeakably bad dialogue, and a voice director who didn’t get the best performance out of an actor who did not care.

    This thread is actually strangely pro Dinklage, since beta and release as well as on other sites reporting this have been much harsher on him. Hell it’s not like they’re changing the script and we wouldn’t know if the director has been changed because he isn’t publicly named in any of these articles.

    So the blame is on Dinklage, which is why I’ve been arguing against picking him out.

    Also I’m not giving him a pass on Pixels, I haven’t seen it and can’t comment on his acting in it. Though reviews I’ve read suggest he’s one of the few highlights. I used it as an example where it’s easy for one’s expectations in preproduction to not even slightly match the end example.

    Which is really hard to wrap your head around if you haven’t ever actually been through that process.

    You also bring up Sheen in ME, but that was a hugely deep role with a flawed character living out a distinct set of beliefs. Honestly if it was in a movie it would be a great role for any actor if they had the talent to pull it off, certainly can’t be compared with the void of a character Ghost is.

    • Have you never taken a job because at first glance it seemed interesting or alright? Only to seem worse after you were committed to it?

      This does not happen in the world of politicking and deliberated casting of Hollywod. Actors don’t just jump into multi-million dollar movies with careless abandon only to find out that it’s a shit role on the first day of shooting. Bad performances in bad movies exist, because either the actors don’t care, or through other factors that rear up later. To suggest Dinklage and his agent picked the job because of promise of the Pixels short is implausible.

      This thread is actually strangely pro Dinklage, since beta and release as well as on other sites reporting this have been much harsher on him.

      It’s not just this thread. Check out the apologists in the original Kotaku thread ‘it’s meant to be that way/it’s a placeholder/it’s just the bad dialogue/they haven’t modulated his voice/he’s a robot’ blaming everything but the flat performance. The ‘it’s meant to be a AI’ excuse doesn’t even work anymore, because we now know in hindsight that Ghost emotes quite a bit during the game, but Dinklage doesn’t keep up. Check out the Polygon alpha article (one of the first sources which called out the VA), which was even more divisive (back when people thought Destiny would be the best thing ever and that criticism was clickbait).

      You also bring up Sheen in ME, but that was a hugely deep role with a flawed character living out a distinct set of beliefs.

      You’re conflating two different things: the quality of the material, and the qualify of the performance. Yes, the Illusive Man is a better character than Ghost will ever be, but disregard the actual words and compare a handful of out-of-context line deliveries between Michael Sheen and Dinklage; it’s night and day.

      • Do you work in Hollywood? Or are you just convinced that everyone knows when a movie will be bad as soon as they see a script?

        That’s why I asked earlier if you’d ever seen a script go through every stage to a finished product. There are so many points where it will radically change even if it’s all going well, one fault can sink a good movie.

        My only point is that actors can and do take projects in good faith that don’t turn out great. And for most actors those jobs will outnumber them actively not caring.

        I suggested Kotaku was easier on him than other places. Those Beta threads were something else though, before we realised how little character actually existed. Yes as before Kotaku is on the whole sympathetic because we believe he can do better.

        As for Sheen you brought him up. The quality of the performance is dependent on the quality of the material. Even some throwaway line about video game mechanics will sound better from an actor who knows who he is, why he’s saying what he’s saying and where his character fits in that world.

        Acting is much more holistic than you give it credit for and honestly since we’ll likely never see evidence to suggest it was Dinklage at fault I feel it’s necessary to give him the benefit of the doubt.

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