Why Rockstar Stopped Hiring Celebrity Voice Actors

It turns out there's a good reason why Rockstar stopped hiring so many celebrities to voice Grand Theft Auto games.

Have you ever wondered why modern Rockstar games feature significantly fewer big name celebrity voice actors? Well, it turns out that Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser and others within the company simply got tired of dealing with their egos.

In an interview with Vulture, Houser recalled a time that he and Burt Reynolds argued about the direction of a Grand Theft Auto: Vice City scene. The argument apparently became quite heated and resulted in Reynolds yelling “Get the limey out of here.”

“I don’t want to speak ill of the dead, poor bugger,” says Houser, “but we don’t bring in name actors anymore because of their egos and, most important of all, because we believe we get a better sense of immersion using talented actors whose voices you don’t recognize.”

Houser also referenced the trouble he had working with Public Enemy’s Chuck D during the development of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Houser says that he thinks “rappers really want to do the work right” which may have resulted in he and Chuck D having some creative disputes during the voice acting sessions. In any case, Houser says that such incidents led to Rockstar moving away from focusing on casting celebrity voice actors. Of course, they’ll still bring in outside talent (such as veteran actor Graham Greene who appears in RDR 2) if they think they’re right for the part. 

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“He [Greene] did such a brilliant job of bringing this chief character to life,” says Houser. “The government is coming down on him hard. He’s losing his rights as an independent king, and he’s a gentle soul in that violent world.”

We’d be lying if we told you that there isn’t something appealing about playing a star-studded Rockstar game like GTA: Vice City (which featured performers like Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, Dennis Hopper, and Gary Busey), but we certainly understand how that process can impact Rockstar’s ability to tell the kind of stories they want to tell in an effective and timely manner. 

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Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014