GTA 5 actor reveals that acting in the game was very 'physical', compares capture to theatre

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

Ned Luke, the performer behind GTA 5’s Michael De Santa has opened up about the ‘physical’ nature of performance capture for Rockstar’s open world opus. Speaking to The Gamer, (opens in new tab) Luke reveals that even in the audition for his role, he and Steven Ogg (the voice of Trevor) found themselves coming to blows:

“The chemistry was just stupid. It was so on the money. We basically threw the scripts down and just went,” Luke reveals. “It was cool, man. It was good. We smacked each other because it was a kind of physical scene. There was a shove, a smack, there was a block - all this stuff going on.”

Ned adds that even the camera operators were drawn into the action - and that’s when he knew that they’d both bagged the roles of a lifetime. “When we came out, I said to Steven, ‘I don’t know about me, pal, but you’re booking this thing’,” Luke remembers. “[Steven’s] down there getting on his bike like, ‘Oh, I don’t know’. I’m like, ‘Dude, I’ll see you on the set’.”

Before landing the starring role in GTA V, Luke reveals that he was done with acting. After years of having his dreams crushed by Hollywood, he was ready to move on from that world - until he got his eyes on a mysterious script from a studio called Rockstar. 

At the time he had no idea that he was auditioning for GTA V - just that he was trying out for a role in a major video game. Ironically for a story about a criminal coming out of retirement, it turns out, it was GTA V that reawakened something within him, with the degree of imagination required for the recording performance capture reigniting Luke’s passion for acting.

“The thing I loved about the whole deal was that it was like someone had taken a can opener and opened up my whole imagination. Nothing was there that was real. The mansion was a series of pipes and conduit and ropes and apple crates. You had to imagine everything that was there. It was like hardcore scene study class, almost. Like being a little kid again.”

Of course it’s hard to talk about GTA V without conjuring images of the lovable psychopath, Trevor. According to Luke, the man who brought him to life isn’t as far removed from Trevor as you might expect. “Our set was very loose, pretty crazy, and a lot of fun,” Luke says. “Steven is very free with his farts. After every day we worked, he would strip down to his underwear and run around the stage. He’s a freak show.”

Ever the method actor, Ned even took a foam broom handle to the funny bone while recording a scene where Michael gets smacked with a baseball bat in his Hollywood home. You can’t fault that dedication.

It turns out the pain was more than worth it - as GTA 5 is now the single highest grossing entertainment product of all time. You can read more about Luke’s trials and tribulations in The Gamer’s interview. With the game making its way to its third generation of console with a 2021 PS5 release (opens in new tab), this unstoppable behemoth shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. 

See what other games are on the horizon with our guide to the upcoming games (opens in new tab) of 2020 and beyond.

Tom Regan
Freelance Writer

Tom is a freelance journalist and former PR with over five years worth of experience across copy-writing, on-camera presenting, and journalism.

Named one of the UK games industry’s rising stars by, Tom has been published by world-leading outlets such as: Fandom, The Guardian, NME, Ars Technica, GamesRadar, Engadget, IGN, Techradar, Red Bull, and EDGE.