Voice actors can help make or break a game. And just like the stars you're used to seeing up on the silver screen, a good voice actor can surprise us with their depth and range. Here's a list of some of our favorite voice actors who have taken on vastly different roles that might surprise you.
The cool thing about voice acting is that the artist isn't limited by traditional limitations. The person only needs to sound the part, not look it, so the same person can be plugged into worlds where they play a regal princess or a bog-dwelling, cackling witch. The voice actor still needs to be talented enough to pull off such contrasting roles, which isn't as easy as it sounds.
While many of the biggest names in voice acting are frequently typecasted into similar roles, every now and then the most famous voices in gaming will pop up in unexpected locations. Your favorite everyman might suddenly get to stretch his vocal legs and take on the role of a bellowing monster, for instance.
Here's a rundown of some of our favorite well-known voice actors who surprised us all with roles that didn't fit their traditional cast of characters.
Ashley Burch - Cassie Cage and Tiny TinaWhile more commonly known for pulling off a wide variety of roles in the world of animation, Ashley Burch has lent her voice to quite a few video game characters, too. When popping up in games, Ashley frequently takes on more dramatic roles, like a handful of characters in the episodic Life is Strange. She's perhaps best known at the moment, however, for her role as the tough as nails Cassie Cage in Mortal Kombat.
You might find it surprising, then, that Burch was also the voice actor behind the iconic Tiny Tina from Borderlands 2. This spastic, utterly insane little wasteland dweller was so popular that she got to star in her own DLC for the game, appropriately enough running a street-rat-crazy version of Dungeons & Dragons where the world is constantly shifting around the players based on Tina's spastic decisions.
Nathan Drake and Ghost - Nolan NorthYou can't bring up voice acting in video games without the name Nolan North popping up. Perhaps best known as the wisecracking hero of the Uncharted series, Nathan Drake, North has been in so many roles that he even played a self-aware version of the male protagonist in Saints Row. He's got an everyman voice that lends itself well to standard leading roles, but that's not to say that he won't surprise folks with a character that's vastly different from time to time.
Much news was made over Nolan North taking over the role of Ghost in Destiny recently, with his performance actually being patched in to replace an entire game's worth of work by Peter Dinklage. I don't think anyone expected what they got when North's version of Ghost first uttered a syllable though. It still carried some of the inflections Dinklage had established for the role, but North's Ghost was more lighthearted, adventurous and full of wonder. This almost childlike character is a far cry from what North typically does and, coincidentally, Far Cry might be one of the only game series the guy hasn't actually worked on.
Commander Shepard and Rosalind Lutece - Jennifer HaleNot a lot of voice actors have gained notoriety at this point, mostly because their faces aren't usually tied to any of their characters. That's not the case for Jennifer Hale, the woman who took on the lofty task of breathing life into the role of Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect series. Shepard is actually par for the course for the types of characters Jennifer Hale plays, usually falling into the realm of serious leadership and the like.
She got to take a short vacation from the norm when gamers visited the streets of Liberty City in BioShock Infinite, though stepping into the shoes of the eccentric Rosalind Lutece. Rosalind and her brother's bizarre back-and-forths are some of the moments gamers remember best from Infinite, with Hale adding plenty of charm and wit to the fan-favorite role.
Booker DeWitt and The Joker - Troy BakerSpeaking of BioShock Infinite, Troy Baker was the guy who took on the role of lead Booker DeWitt. Another voice actor who seems to have a role in just about every game on the market, Baker is perhaps best known for becoming the tough and tortured Joel in The Last of Us, as well as Revolver Ocelot in the recently released Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
But it's not always scowls, growls and seriousness for Baker. When it was announced he'd be taking over the role of The Joker for Arkham Origins, the initial fan reaction was less than favorable. The role traditionally went to the legendary Mark Hamill (another good fit for this list), who injected the perfect blend of genius and insanity into the character. Based on Baker's past work, The Joker just seemed an odd character to cast him as. When he first spoke as the Clown Prince of Gotham, though, all doubts were cast aside. Do yourself a favor and look up Baker's reading of the monologue from The Killing Joke. It's pretty rad.
Demon Hunter and Kaz Miller - Robin Atkin DownesRobin Atkin Downs is one of those voice actors who has a voice that's well suited to crooks and thugs. He's played a million such roles, popping up in dozens of games as background criminals and the like. Some of his more noteworthy roles include the male Demon Hunter in Diablo III, as well as Sean in The Saboteur. Again, kind of your typical "dude voice" for the most part.
Robin Atkin Downes' most recent work allowed him to try out something a bit more dramatic, however, breathing life into the role of Kazuhira Miller in Metal Gear Solid V. Having seen much better days, Miller has fallen into something of a pit of despair at the onset of MGSV, solely focused on seeking revenge and keeping his best friend, Snake, safe from a world that's constantly out to get him. It's certainly a departure from the grizzled grunts, Downes typically portrays.