Next time two years of your professional life goes to waste, think about voice actor Elias Toufexis, who recently revealed that Ubisoft pulled him from Far Cry 3 after recording the voice of protagonist Jason Brody for two years. Toufexis (good luck pronouncing that one) voiced Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s protagonist Adam Jensen, and had enough success to make Ubisoft uneasy:
“I played [Jason Brody] for two years, did the voice and when Deus Ex came out [Ubisoft] replaced me because they were nervous that … ‘We don’t want people playing this game and thinking of another game.'”
As with live-action performers, it’s common for voice actors to dabble in different game franchises. What hurt Toufexis in this case was the fact that he bestowed his “normal voice” on both protagonists, thus creating a potential situation where Far Cry 3 players could potentially find Toufexis’ voice jarring, had they played Deus Ex.
I understand Ubisoft’s logic here, but this makes for an odd double-standard in the world of entertainment. I’ve never known anyone who walked into a Batman movie and found Christian Bale’s presence unsettling due to his prior role as the murder-obsessed protagonist of America Psycho. Granted, live-acting and voice acting are two different beasts, but how many times have you watched a Harrison Ford thriller and instantly thought of Han Solo or Indiana Jones? And yet the directors of Air Force One, The Fugitive, etc. didn’t pull the plug on Ford.
Video game voice acting becomes more controversial by the week it seems. Hollywood voices continue to trickle into our digital worlds, and Beyond: Two Souls may end up as a watershed game in terms of determining the fate of “game actors.” This recent news of Toufexis’ firing only throws more on the pile. Can top voice actors survive without modifying their voice for different roles? And what about familiar voices of Hollywood actors–aren’t they every bit as unsettling as the sounds coming from mouths of big-game VAs?