Video games movies have a long history of generally being bad adaptations. However, critical failures haven’t stopped the genre from growing and expanding in recent years. With the increased profitability of this crossover media, with Tomb Raider (2018) grossing over $250 000 USD worldwide, Hollywood is looking to games. In order to guarantee publicity, studios will attach famous actors to these projects, for better or worse. Actors like Michael Fassbender in Assassin’s Creed (2016) or Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia (2010) give these video game adaptations some much needed star power.
Most recently, there was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson starring in Rampage (2018), which grossed over $425 000 USD worldwide. Upcoming films looks to continue this trend with John Cena cast, perfectly, as Duke Nukem and Ryan Reynolds in the upcoming Detective Pikachu movie. However, with a fanbase already attached to a brand name, such as the gaming community and their favourite titles, the casting of gaming’s heroes can make or break the film. While it is good to have some star power, casting someone on name value over their resemblance to a game’s protagonist more often than not leads to poor critical reception. Here’s a short list of some of the best celebrity casting choices for Hollywood.
Uncharted – Nathan Fillion as Nathan Drake
Gaming’s number one dream casting choice is Firefly star Nathan Fillion as Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series. It’s almost too perfect. His loveable charm shown in The Castle and Serenity translates seamlessly to modern day Indiana Jones swagger of Nathan Drake. The best part is that there is a genuine possibility that this might happen. Fillion has been involved in games since the release of Bungie’s Destiny in 2014 as Cayde-6. With an Uncharted movie announced back in 2009, many are seeing this announcement as an inevitability. As of this week, Fillion has started teasing his appearance as Nathan Drake, just in-time for Comic-Con and any announcements. This tweet, featuring rapper Drake, would appear as a harmless reference to a musician if not for this tweet, with an Uncharted style map, teasing a potential casting announcement.
God of War – Josh Brolin as Kratos
While there are many different choices for Kratos, it is the incredible summer as both Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and Cable in Deadpool 2 that puts him in front. While actions stars like Vin Diesel, Jason Momoa or Dwayne Johnson are suitable for the original trilogy Ghost of Sparta, they don’t have the acting capability require to play the new Kratos. The Kratos that Brolin would play is the 2018 version, fit with beard and distant paternal emotion. There is an emotional heaviness in the 2018 version of the character, with the relationship with his son and the burden of his role as a god all being reminiscent of the nuanced performance and depth Brolin gave to Thanos. His time as Cable in Deadpool also shows that he has the action credibility to play the god of war. The deep, gravelly voice of Thanos, with the bulking muscles and stunt work of Cable would combine to make the best Kratos Hollywood can hope to find.
The Last of Us – Millie Bobby Brown as Ellie
The casting of Ellie is tricky, especially as The Last of Us Part 2 has aged her into adulthood. While the obvious choice is Ellen Page, who would be perfect for the adult Ellie, there is also options of Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams or for voice and motion capture actress Ashley Johnson to simply reprise the role. There is also plenty of options to cast characters like Joel, with Hugh Jackman, Gerald Butler or Andrew Lincoln as notable choices, and David, who Adrien Brody could bring to live with a harrowing performance. However, the choice of Ellie is difficult do to the very specific age of the character. Just between childhood and adolescence, Ellie is 13 when the game starts and actually grows a few inches by the end. The best possible option to capture this specific age is Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown. Her time as Eleven shows she has both the emotional depth and the action chops to play a girl, made rabid and feral by her harsh environment.
The Witcher – Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Geralt of Rivia
With casting for the upcoming Netflix series beginning soon, there is no casting choice more important to get right than The Witcher’s Geralt. However, adapting for the Netflix and adapting for a Hollywood film are two different things. With names like Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen, Black Sails’ Zach McGowan and even Lord of the Ring’s Viggo Mortensen being thrown around, the competition is tough. However, if a studio is looking to capitalise on both the brand recognition of a game and the star power of it’s lead actor, no one is more white hot at the moment than Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. His time as Jaime Lannister, and most recently lead role in 2017’s Shot Caller, highlights his incredible acting ability, both on an action and emotional level. Furthermore, his time on Game of Thrones and Danish heritage means he already has a cultural grasp on the Witcher world, based on Germanic fairytales and medieval legends from Poland. Coster-Waldau has begun to steal the spotlight in Game of Thrones with his performance, so it’s time to give him a shot at the lead.
Gears of War – Dave Bautista as Marcus Fenix
Most video game adaptations turn out to be nothing more than generic action blockbusters. As such, there is no game series that embraces generic action tropes like the Gears of War franchise. Big men with huge guns fighting off hordes of bad guys isn’t just the plot to Gears of War, but also the plot to most Hollywood blockbusters since the 80s. While not a particularly difficult role, there is no better option for lead COG Marcus Fenix than the Animal, Dave Bautista. His time as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers shows that Bautista is an action superstar, through and through. While unproven in the lead role, his ever increasing prominence in Hollywood films, as well as his run in the WWE through the 00s, prove that he is more than capable for the role. Furthermore, he looks the part, almost perfectly. Bautista has both the face and the physique of Marcus Fenix, as well as the intimidating voice. The best thing about this casting choice is that Bautista is at the perfect age where, given a Hollywood hair and makeup crew, he can fit in as both Gears 1-3 COG Marcus or Gears 4 and 5 veteran Marcus.
Are there any other actors you think would be perfect for the lead in a video game adaptation? Let us know in the comments below.