Not their finest moment
A lot of the hullabaloo surrounding Beyond: Two Souls has to do with its Hollywood-caliber leads, Ellen Page and Willem DaFoe. The general populace might primarily know them as Juno and the Green Goblin, but these two have got some serious dramatic chops–just watch movies like Hard Candy or Antichrist, and you’ll get more intense acting than you bargained for. That kind of on-screen experience makes Page and DaFoe great candidates for their roles in Beyond, where their performances will make or break the game’s intensity.
But not every star has had the opportunity to shine in a video game role. Whether through unfortunate casting by a developer or miscalculation by a less-than-stellar agent, some celebrities found themselves in a rather…underwhelming digital form–and we’re not talking cameos, we’re talking full-fledged parts. These actors may have forced themselves to forget said role or embraced their own goofiness, but the fact remains that their embarrassing or awkward performances are now pressed to disc (or cartridge) for all eternity. These are the star-studded roles that nobody in their right mind could take seriously, for better or potentially career-tarnishing worse.
Jeff Goldblum in… Goosebumps: Escape from Horrorland
Make no mistake: Jeff Goldblum is the man. Whether he’s the partial comic relief in a serious thriller (Jurassic Park, The Fly) or a lovable, neurotic weirdo (Independence Day, Buckaroo Banzai), we can’t seem to get enough of his jittery-yet-soothing inflection. But despite Goldblum’s range, nothing–nothing–about him screams “Dracula.” Apparently, the casting director for this Goosebumps PC game disagreed, because good ol’ Jeff found himself playing the infamous bloodsucker in this sometimes-creepy, sometimes-laughable FMV game. Those laughable bits? They pretty much all involve Goldblum, who is seemingly struggling to come to grips with his fake fangs.
You don’t know the meaning of the word “uncomfortable” until you’ve watched Goldblum–in character, mind you–seduce your on-screen ally Lizzy Morris. It bears mentioning that she’s, like, 13. What follows is a bizarre waltz scene, where you must pickpocket items from Dracula as he dances around with Lizzy in his arms. Then she zaps him to death with a laserbeam. It seems the ridiculousness of all this was not lost on Goldblum–we just wish he had done a bit more purring.
Chuck Norris in… Chuck Norris Superkicks
Every time Chuck Norris stars in a video game, it…sucks really bad, apparently. Long before we were all completely sick of Chuck Norris jokes, the C-level martial arts celeb had his very own game on the Atari 2600, Colecovision, and Commodore consoles. The gameplay essentially boils down to steering your blocky Norris sprite through a grassy park, beating up baddies and scoring karate belts along the way. That’s pretty much it.
And don’t you dare try to explore this mundane world–because stepping anywhere off the beaten path will make the timer plummet. When you’re actually engaged in mortal combat with the pixelated thugs in the environment, you’ll have to come to grips with playing a fighting game on a one-button controller. It’s as crappy as it sounds; Norris’ only solace is that the game was renamed Kung Fu Superkicks when Xonox lost the rights to his played-out name.
Gwen Stefani in… Malice
This casting decision is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s. For whatever reason, Argonaut Games decided that it wanted to make a lackluster platformer–one that would be completely indistinguishable from the competition, save for the fact that it featured the voices of rock band No Doubt. Gwen Stefani used her angelic vocal chords to provide the voice of Malice, a goddess who felt compelled to manifest herself as a red-haired, pigtailed girl with a giant hammer.
That was all well and good, and the early prototypes for Malice’s character design actually looked pretty intriguing on the boxart. Then you play the game, and you immediately want to vomit. The in-game render of Malice looks shockingly strange, like the angular offspring of a gray man alien and an adolescent anime character. She also had a knack for standing in the most uncomfortable-looking poses imaginable. Despite a nifty setting and cool supporting characters (like gun-wielding crows and a lava dog god), the game was largely ignored–leaving Malice to languish with the likes of Tak, Blinx, Sphinx, and Voodoo Vince in 3D platformer purgatory.
Gary Coleman in… Postal 2
We want Gary Coleman to rest in peace–he never did understand what Willis was talking about. But we imagine that a lack of grave-rolling is all but impossible after Coleman’s ill-advised appearance in Postal 2. The would-be governor of California starred in a level that defies all logic, though it all starts out simply enough. Theoretically, all you have to do is guide the irritable Postal Dude through a book signing with the child star, with the pacifist option of simply waiting in line behind a bunch of schmucks. Things escalate quickly, however, when Coleman whips out an automatic assault rifle and starts gunning down armed police officers.
Postal is supposed to be a series that revolves around tastelessness–but this scenario simply makes no sense. At what point during the taping of Diff’rent Strokes did Coleman learn how to use a firearm, or decide to carry around frag grenades in his back pocket? It also bears mentioning that there’s a cheat to turn every NPC into an army of Coleman clones. If that’s something you’d be into, far be it from us to judge.
Jean Reno in… Onimusha 3: Demon Siege
The first two games in the Onimusha series scratched all our samurai itches, pitting expert swordsman Samanosuke against hordes of undead horrors in feudal Japan. Then, without warning, Capcom used Onimusha 3 as an opportunity to merge the ancient Japanese world with that of modern-day France. Uhhhhhhhh, hi?! That’s like if Nintendo had made some Super Mario Bros. 3 levels take place in Mortal Kombat’s Netherrealm. In any case, this was the perfect excuse to include actor Jean Reno as Jacques Blanc, a secret agent who swaps timelines with Samanosuke, and who is not, in fact, bandmates with a French doppelganger of Kyle Gass.
If you’re not familiar with Jean Reno, he’s basically the Ben Kingsley of France–he’s been around for ages, and has parts in roughly one billion films. No amount of acting could prepare him for a land overrun by demons, though; luckily, he just happened upon a spiffy elemental armguard that doubles as a tricked-out whip. But no matter how cool his video game role was, there’s something inescapably weird about watching Léon the Professional cavort around ancient Japan.
Everyone in… Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3
The FMV cutscenes in the C&C series are the stuff of legend–they crank up the excitement of the actual missions and give context to your side’s cause, despite any over-the-top hammy acting. Earlier games in the series usually reserved the particularly melodramatic bits for longtime villain Kane. But Red Alert 3 upped the scene-chewing ante to an entirely new level, including three instantly recognizable liaisons: George Takei, Tim Curry, and J.K. Simmons.
Granted, all three of these esteemed actors have done mighty fine work in video games, including memorable performances in Freelancer (Takei), Brütal Legend (Curry) and Portal 2 (Simmons). But actually seeing them on your screen is something else entirely. No matter how much effort Tim Curry puts into making us believe he is Colonel Anatoly Cherdenko of the Soviet Union, all we’re able to hear is “I’m Long John Silver from Muppet Treasure Island!” The same goes for Sulu and J. Jonah Jameson. It’s not that their performances are so bad or anything–there’s just zero believability. And the only character our friends seemed to care about was Jenny McCarthy as Tanya.
Everyone in… Rap Jam: Volume One
When it comes to musicians portraying themselves in games, the results can be hit or miss. We can totally get behind Phil Collins’ role in GTA: Vice City Stories–it’s appropriate to the time period, and by God if we didn’t feel it coming in the air tonight. Snoop Dogg (Lion?) might’ve been an iffy inclusion in True Crime: Streets of LA–then again, he is always boasting about countless 187s and letting his gat pop. But it would take a true lunatic to envision the likes of Coolio, Flavor Flav, and Queen Latifah congregating in the ghetto for a raucous session of street basketball.
Just because it’s neat that the likes of Will Smith and Mike D are hidden in NBA Jam, doesn’t mean you should make a basketball game that exclusively stars ‘90s rappers. Motown Games failed to realize this, and we highly doubt that the returns on this abysmal SNES game covered the costs of getting these wordsmiths’ likenesses. But, if nothing else, the existence of this game allows us to slam jam as Warren G while the members of Public Enemy flagrantly foul LL Cool J. …Was what we just said even English?
Christopher Walken in… anything
Past a certain point, it became impossible to discern the difference between Christopher Walken the actor, and Christopher Walken the personality. In fact, right now, someone you know is doing a Christopher Walken impersonation. Because the man’s speaking cadence has become a basis for comedy worldwide, it is now officially impossible to separate him from the characters he portrays. That makes it a hoot to see or hear him in a video game–of which he’s starred in a whopping four.
Whether he’s Clive Owen’s contact in Privateer 2, a detective in Ripper, or a presence in two True Crime games, there is actually no way to watch his performance without giggling to yourself. With games this serious, we highly doubt that was the intent–but regardless, it adds an immense amount of entertainment value to any scene Walken’s in. It’s almost–almost–as uplifting as watching Walken bust a move.
Out of their element
So, got any other good–and utterly goofy–celebrity roles in games? We’re not talking a quick cameo, either; this is full-blown, “WTF are you doing in this video game?” territory we’re talking about. Y’know, like Dana Plato in NightTrap.
And if you’re looking for more celeb goodness, check out the Worst Celebrity Renders of All Time and Celebrity Xbox Avatars.
By Lucas Sullivan
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