If you’ve turned on a big-budget game and heard familiar voices from elsewhere in geekhood, you’re not alone. There’s been a definitive uptake in actors who appear in “genre” fiction moonlighting as videogame voice actors. It’s a savvy career move and business decision – since serious gamers who care about casting will be drawn to big names from sci-fi and fantasy.
The trend is only growing, especially among the fairer sex. Right now, it seems like just about every lady to have graced the silver sci-fi screen is taking a secondary gig as a videogame character – whether in voice or via full-blown performance. From their adventures in space, across dimensions, and fighting the supernatural, here are the women who have broken ground in all sorts of realities.
On Screen: Black is one of the most prolific women on this list. Perhaps best known for her leading role (Aeryn Sun) in cult classic Farscape, she also played prominently as Vala in Stargate: SG-1, and had roles in both the underrated Pitch Black and Queen of the Damned.
In Games: as long as Black’s impressive list of TV/film credits is, nothing can touch the number of high-profile games she’s lent her voice to. She was in God of War (Artemis), Crysis (Helena) and Conan, leading up to the even heavier hitters. In 2009, she pulled double duty as Morrigan in Dragon Age: Origins and Chloe in Uncharted 2, two of the best-written (and most dialogue-heavy) female roles of the year. She also appeared in Mass Effect 2 and Final Fantasy XIV, and she’ll be voicing Sam Bryne in Gears of War 3, due out later this year. She may not be the female Nolan North – but she’s getting close.
On Screen: If you’re into videogame and Internet culture at all, it’s likely that you know Day, the writer/star of gaming series The Guild and star of the goofy Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. But she was also on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the short-lived Dollhouse, as well as the hilarious “Sy Fy Channel Original” Red: Werewolf Hunter.
In Games: Last year, Day was in Rock of the Dead, and the popular Fallout: New Vegas, as Veronica Renata Santangelo, a Brotherhood scribe and companion character. There are also rumors that she's attached to Guild Wars 2, playing the character “Zojja the Asura”.
On Screen: Forbes is like a sci-fi goddess – she’s been in so many good genre series that it’s hard to pinpoint just one highlight. She was ensign Ro on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Admiral Cain in Battlestar Galactica (and the focal point of the BSG: Razor TV movie), and more recently, she played a crazed supernatural creature who took over the town of Bon Temps in True Blood. That’s range, people.
In Games: In one of the longer running recurring roles in gaming, Forbes played Dr. Judith Mossman Half-Life 2 and both of its episodic sequels. She’s also voiced Captain Gail Revas in the 2009 re-release of The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena and “Circe” in DC Universe Online.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
On Screen: As Buffy the Vampire Slayer herself, Gellar was the ultimate late 90s symbol of girl power and an accomplished kicker of supernatural ass. Buffy was always the best of the best – and she was kicking everything from werewolves, zombies and yes, vampires to the curb well before she even finished high school.
In Games: Recently, Gellar played another ass-kicking lady as one of four survivors in Call Of Duty: Black Ops’ Zombies expansion. Alongside other celebrity heavy-hitters like Danny Trejo and George Romero, she played herself and spouted cheesy-action lines whilst kicking, punching and shooting the crap out of the newly undead.
On Screen: As Battlestar Galactica’s sexy Cylon Number Six, Helfer played multiple versions of her “self”. From a vixen/spy to a tortured prisoner, Six/Gina/Caprica was one hell of a complex character.
In Games: Never one to play human, Helfer is probably best known as EDI, the Normandy’s Joker-sparring Artificial Intelligence in Mass Effect 2. In yet more sci-fi appearances, she played Sarah Kerrigan in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and voiced “Dare” in Halo: ODST. Shifting slightly to the superhero genre, she was Black Cat in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows. Finally, she had a major role in Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, playing Kane’s right-hand General Kilian Qatar.
On Screen: Her breakout role was a female boxer in the gritty, realistic Girlfight, but Rodriguez has shown up in plenty of sci-fi as well. From her role in the unfortunate BloodRayne adaptation to her more successful turns in Resident Evil, Battle Los Angeles and Avatar, she usually plays a lady with an attitude, a weapon, and a penchant for kicking ass.
In Games: Aside from the requisite role in Avatar: The Game, Rodriguez has also lent her voice to Halo 2 (playing a marine), True Crime: Streets of LA (Rosie Velasco) and Driv3r (playing Calita).
On Screen: Another Battlestar Galactica alumna, Sackoff played Kara Thrace a.k.a. Starbuck, the ridiculously talented, totally cocky pilot – turned mystical figure. She was also in season eight of 24 and is currently moonlighting in CSI, both of which totally count as sci-fi if you dig the whole “speculative fiction” description.
In Games: Sackoff had a turn in Halo 3, where she voiced a female marine, and played Cassie Aklin in Resistance 2. It’s all gung-ho stuff so far, in keeping with the Starbuck image, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see her in other kinds of gaming roles in the near future.
On Screen: Since the mid eighties, Sirtis has been best known as Counselor Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation, which some die-hards will contend is the best of all Treks.
In Games: After playing her Next Generation character in a couple of earlier games, Sirtis really struck gaming voice-fame as Matriarch Benezia in Mass Effect. Heavily under Sovereign’s influence, Liara’s mom is one crazy lady – the battle with her in the middle of the first game is one of the most intense in the whole series.
There are also rumors that Ms. Sirtis will have a voice credit in the new Star Trek game (the computer of the Enterprise had a very familiar accent in the closed-doors demo at E3), but that hasn’t been confirmed.
On Screen: Like Michelle Forbes up above, Torres is a true sci-fi/fantasy veteran. With recurring roles in Hercules: The Legendary Jouneys, Angel, and 24 – and appearances in both Matrix sequels, she’s still best known as Zoe Washburn in the cult series Firefly and its big-screen adaptation Serenity.
In Games: Torres voiced Niobe (the Jada Pinkett-Smith character from the Matrix sequels) in The Matrix Online, but her bigger claim to fame is in DC Universe Online, where she played Wonder Woman herself.
Danielle is a freelance writer, digital media professor, and nonprofit web ninja from Boston. You should follow her on twitter for all of the relevant links and details: