Celebrities have lent their voices to video game characters for many years. Well-known actors like Christopher Walken, Samuel L. Jackson, Ellen Page, and Liam Neeson have all voiced characters in popular video games.
Sometimes, celebrities will lend more than just their voices, and will make a cameo appearance in a game or allow a video game character to be based on their physical appearance. Below are our top 10 favorite celebrity appearances in video games.
Kevin Spacey – 'Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare'
Kevin Spacey's involvement in Activision's most recent Call of Duty game was heavily advertised and touted by the publisher prior to the game's release. Thanks to Spacey's recent success and popularity as Frank Underwood in Netflix's House of Cards reboot, it's no surprise Activision and developer Sledgehammer Games wanted him to take on the role as the game's antagonist.
Unlike the rest of the celebrities on our list, Spacey did not appear in the video game as himself, but rather played a character as he would on a show or movie. However, because the folks at Sledgehammer Games used both his voice and his likeness, we felt it was a good addition to our list.
With the success of Spacey's addition to Advanced Warfare, we imagine more game developers will borrow this tactic and include both the voice and physical likeness of celebrities for their characters.
Source: Call of Duty
Snoop Dogg – 'True Crime: Streets of LA'
When True Crime: Streets of LA was released in early the early 2000s, Snoop Dogg was at the height of his career. The rapper had previously appeared in a handful of movies, including Training Day, which likely opened the door for him to play a role in Streets of LA.
In True Crime: Streets of LA, players could unlock Snoop Dogg as a playable character – complete with his own minigame and quotes – by collecting "Dogg Bones" in the game or by using a cheat code. As the above video shows, Snoop was every bit the character we would expect. It almost makes us want to blow the dust off our PlayStation 2 and hit the mean streets of LA. Almost.
Gary Coleman – 'Postal 2'
In Postal 2, the late Gary Coleman appears as himself, signing autographs for his book at the mall. Players have the opportunity to fight against Coleman, who uses grenades and an assault rifle to rip apart his enemies.
Probably the best part about Coleman's appearance in Postal 2 was its connection to Coleman's most popular role as Arnold Jackson in the TV show Diff'rent Strokes. Coleman's TV character was known for the saying "Whatch you talkin' 'bout, Willis?" In Postal 2, Coleman's book was called 'What I'm Talkin' Bout: The Gary Coleman Story'. Sadly, the book isn't actually available for reading.
Coleman passed away in 2010 at the age of 42.
Bruce Lee - 'EA Sports UFC'
After the closure of THQ, EA Sports took over developing last year’s UFC fighting game. Prior to the game’s release, EA announced that Bruce Lee would be entering the Octagon as a playable character. However, the martial arts master wouldn’t be available for free; instead, players had to unlock him by completing the game on Pro difficulty or higher. Players could get day one access to Bruce Lee by pre-ordering the game.
While Bruce Lee was never actually involved in a no-holds bar fight, we can imagine he would have cleaned house had he participated in UFC fighting. Bruce Lee’s speed, agility, and power were almost certainly enough to help crown him king of the Octagon.
Burt Reynolds - 'Saints Row: The Third'
Burt Reynolds played the mayor of Steelport in the infamous Saints Row: The Third. He first appears in the game requesting help from the player to destroy a zombie outbreak. After the player completes the mission, Burt Reynolds becomes a "Homie" and offers to provide support to the player by sending the Steelport SWAT team.
As the above video shows (warning: it’s Saints Row: The Third, which means it’s NSFW), Reynolds is wearing his iconic cowboy hat and killing it with the ladies. And while his part isn’t big in the game, we’re definitely happy he took the time to make it happen.
Drew Carey - 'The Sims: House Party'
Drew Carey, known best for his role in The Drew Carey Show and as the host of Who’s Line is it Anyway?, joined The Sims as an NPC character. He would appear in a limo after players had completed a successful party that lasted at least 135 minutes and received a score of 55 or higher.
The comedian’s presence in The Sims made sense considering his popularity when the game was released. In fact, The Sims also made two cameo appearances on The Drew Carey Show, including one where Carey and his gang made fun of the way the Sims speak by talking in Simlish themselves.
JFK, Richard Nixon - 'Call of Duty: Black Ops'
When players complete the campaign in Call of Duty: Black Ops, they’re transported to a presidential bunker, where the two presidents, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, must fight against hordes of zombies alongside Fidel Castro and Robert McNamara. All of these characters besides Nixon also make an appearance during the game’s campaign.
The inclusion of two U.S. presidents in the zombie arc is a fun and memorable experience for Call of Duty players. Why play as Alex Mason or any other character, when players can gun down the zombie menace as the President? Turns out, JFK and Nixon are both badass zombie-killers.
Phil Collins - 'Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories'
Phil Collins, the well-known singer and songwriter, was the first celebrity to appear as himself in a Grand Theft Auto game. In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, Collins faces a possible assassination due to some money issues his manager caused, and players are tasked with keeping the would-be assassins from completing their mission. Upon completion of the mission, the player sees Collins singing his popular song “In the Air Tonight” at a concert. Players can also purchase a $6,000 ticket for a private concert by Collins.
Grand Theft Auto has long been known for including era-appropriate music in its games, so introducing Phil Collins into the game was a simple move. Hopefully we’ll see Rockstar Games bring other well-known music artists to their games for players to enjoy.
Fred Durst - 'Fight Club'
The Limp Bizkit lead singer took advantage of his early 2000s fame by appearing in multiple video games, including Fight Club. The game, which followed the same premise as the cult classic movie it was based on, received low scores from reviewers. and low sales among gamers.
Luckily for Durst, the first two rules of Fight Club are that participants cannot talk about Fight Club, so the singer is clear from reliving the shame associated with the failed game.
Keith David - 'Saints Row IV'
Saints Row is known for its outlandish storyline, crude jokes, and celebrity appearances. Keith David, who previously lent his voice to Saints Row and Saints Row II, cameoed as the Protagonist’s Vice President in Saints Row IV.
As would be expected, David was a film star in the game before joining up with the Protagonist. Due to his role, David receives a good amount of screen time in the game, unlike others who have made brief visits to Stilwater and Steelport.
After seeing David in three of the four Saints Row games, we’re sure he’ll visit again in the future.
What are your favorite video game celebrity appearances? Sound off in the comments.