Movie stars and pop idols can pull in mainstream coverage, so its easy to see why a chunk of a games budget is dedicated to celebrity appearances. Why invest in level design when you can have Snoop Dogg show up in the background? But the point of having a someone famous in your game is to make sure people know about it, so its surprising just how many celebrities have appeared in games no one really knows about.
Unless you've been living under a rock (on the moon) youve seen the likes of Patrick Stewart and Ellen Page appearing in recent games, but what about the writer/director of Pulp Fiction? Or the creator of 30 Rock? Or the guy that wrote Pride (In The Name of Love)? All of them and more were involved in games even if most of us are unaware of it. So Im doing some PR for these folks: whether they want people to remember their games or not! My star search begins with
7. Quentin Tarantino acted in an FMV game
Quentin Tarantino is one of the best screenwriters and directors of his generation, but being a genius behind the camera doesnt seem to be enough for Tarantino. The filmmaker often does side work as a subpar actor, both in his own films and in roles that should be beneath him. The crappy FMV game Steven Spielbergs Director Chair might be the biggest waste of his time to date.
Yes, despite this crummy 1996 PC release seemingly focusing on film direction, QT plays a convict in the movie the player is producing within the game. He and (shockingly) Jennifer Aniston appear in numerous grainy videos in a project that was ambitious, but fell flat, partially thanks to Tarantinos lack of star power. Perhaps technology has caught up to finally make this game as Steven Spielberg envisioned it. If Dreamworks made a new version today, Im sure Quentin would drop whatever hes doing to ham it up in front of the camera once more.
6. Tina Fey played a princess in a pinball machine
Some of the entries on this Top 7 are about big stars that acted in games without anyone noticing, but other appearances happened before they were famous. Thats the case with 30 Rock creator/star Tina Fey. The wickedly funny actress spent years toiling in comedy obscurity in Chicago, taking odd jobs as she gradually built up a career. And one of her weirdest acting gigs was recording dialog for a pinball game released by Chicago-based publisher Williams.
The pinball machine was called Medieval Madness, created in 1997 by one-time industry leader Williams. The game had fancy additions like an animated dragon and silly voice work for the princesses that are being saved via pinball. Tina Fey, then a performer at Chicagos Second City Theater, played the Opera Singer Princess and the Cockney-accented princess. If you want proof of this obscure, pre-Saturday Night Live work of Feys, listen to these audio outtakes.
5. Bono helped finance Mercenaries and Mass Effect
U2 is one of the most famous bands on Earth, and despite appearing on some games soundtracks, their biggest contribution to the world of gaming was behind the scenes. In 2004, U2 lead singer/sunglasses model, Bono, joined Elevation Partners, a media group named after one of his hit songs. By late 2005, the company had invested $300 million into developer BioWare and Pandemic, making Bono slightly responsible for, respectively, Mass Effect and Mercenaries.
BioWare and Pandemic were just part of Elevations massive media machine, but they became a big headache for Bono as Pandemic worked on Mercenaries 2. The campaign featured a military group invading Venezuela, a touchy political topic that didnt sit well with Bonos humanitarian buddies. A group named the Venezuela Solidarity Network publically asked for Bono to cancel the game. While Mercenaries 2 ultimately got published, it might not be a coincidence that Elevation sold off both Pandemic and BioWare by 2008, letting Bono return to music, charity, and looking like a Mass Effect villain.
4. Hayden Panettiere played Kairi in Kingdom Hearts
Hayden Panettiere has been confusing people with the pronunciation of her name almost as long as she has been impressing them with her acting prowess. She was an accomplished child star at the start of the millennium, and parlayed that into a famous role as the cheerleader on Heroes. In between those jobs, Panettiere landed a lead role in Square Enixs Kingdom Hearts series, though she didnt play the role of Kairi consistently.
Hayden did a good job with the conflicted Kairi in both Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, but after the first numbered sequel, Panettiere became the breakout star of Heroes. Perhaps that made her schedule too busy for gaming, because she was replaced in the role of Kairi for two of the spin-offs, only to return in PSP entry Birth By Sleep--right around the same time that Heroes was mercifully cancelled. Hayden returned once more in the 3DS spin-off for the franchise, so it looks likely shell be back again in Kingdom Hearts 3.
3. Michael Fassbender portrayed an evil king in Fable 3
Fable 3 is a game stacked with exceedingly British star power. When a single release can boast the combined acting might of John Cleese, Sir Ben Kingsley, Stephen Fry, and Simon Pegg, its easy for Michael Fassbender to get lost in the shuffle. Released before the man went on to star in blockbusters and Oscar-winning films, Fassbender played the evil King Logan.
Fassbenders role in Fable 3 is a hefty one as Logan, ruler of the realm of Albion and the brother of the main character. Fassbender portrays similar evil qualities that filmgoers saw in the recent X-Men films, and much like Magneto, hes defeated in Fable 3 but lives to see another day. Its crazy that Fassbender is in Fable 3 just one year after his eye-catching appearance in Inglorious Basterds, though his love for the gaming medium looks to continue beyond Fable. The current plan is for Fassbender to both star in and produce an Assassins Creed film in 2015.
2. Henry Rollins wrestled in in Def Jam: Fight for NY
After developer AKI stopped making WWE games in the early 2000s, the team transitioned into crafting slightly different fighting games for Electronic Arts. The Def Jam record label, one of the most famous hip hop organizations in the world, teamed up with the gamemakers to build Def Jam Vendetta and its sequel, Def Jam: Fight for NY. These titles were made to show fans their favorite rappers duking it out. While thats all well and good, Im not totally sure how punk music icon Henry Rollins ended up in Fight for NY.
Fight for NY is stacked with big name rappers like Method Man and Snoop Dogg, but theres somehow room for the ever-intense Henry Rollins to show up as your trainer in the story mode. Admittedly, the former frontman of Black Flag is buff, but he seemingly has even less to do with Def Jam than Fight for NY costars Danny Trejo and Carmen Electra. Its also worth noting that few people realize Rollins played the title character in Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter, but I prefer to write about games that people have heard of.
1. Steve Carell commentated for Outlaw Golf
When playing all ages titles like Mario Golf or Hot Shots Golf, did you ever find yourself wishing for more strippers and rednecks stereotypes? Well, developer Hypnotix crafted the Outlaw Golf series to fill the risque sports game void. And while the humor doesnt always work, the commentary by The Offices Steve Carell does its best to make it as funny as he can.
Back when Carell was a reporter on The Daily Show, he signed off to do voice work for the modestly budgeted game. His voice is the one you hear most during a friendly round of golf, and his performance does a lot to sell even the most eye-rolling of lines. The Outlaw Golf games were always positioned as budget titles, so were it to get a modern reboot, I doubt they could afford Carell. But if you want similar funny commentary, Outlaw Tennis has fellow Daily Show alumni Stephen Colbert filling Carells voiceover shoes.
A star is born
So those are the most unknown famous appearances I could find, but if you know any more obscure ones that I missed, let me know in the comments! Who knows, this could be you big break.