Being one of the most profitable types of media today, most gaming developers now have the budget for celebrity appearances in video games. Over the years, we have seen a mix of awesome, ridiculous, and downright bizarre celebrity cameos in different kinds of games, and there’s a high chance we’ll see even more in the near future.
Here are 15 celebrity appearances in video games that are awesome and weird at the same time.
Danny Trejo – Far Cry 6, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Def Jam: Fight for NY
Danny Trejo is no stranger to video game cameos and roles, having played Umberto Robina in Grand Theft Auto Vice City. However, his latest appearance is in Far Cry 6, where he is on a mission with the main character Dani Rojas to help him get his tacos delivered.
While the mission was accidentally released early (and removed for the time being), we will get to see more of him by December 2021.
Giancarlo Esposito – Far Cry 6
Danny Trejo is only the second celebrity to appear in Far Cry 6, as the star villain of the game is Giancarlo Esposito, who is mostly known for his role as Gus Fring in Breaking Bad, and Moff Gideon in The Mandalorian. In the game, he plays Anton Castillo, the harsh dictator of the fictional Caribbean nation of Yara.
Ashley Tisdale – House of Ashes
The Dark Pictures Anthology series of games have featured a couple of celebrity appearances. The newest addition is Ashley Tisdale, best known for her role as Sharpay Evans in High School Musical. She appears in House of Ashes, the latest game in the series, and plays Rachel King, a CIA agent in charge of investigating a mysterious Sumerian temple during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Will Poulter – Little Hope
Another popular celebrity that has appeared in the Dark Pictures Anthology series is Will Poulter (recently cast as Adam Warlock), best known for his roles in movies like Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, and The Revenant. In Little Hope, he plays a bus driver that enters a mysterious town, where time-bending events occur.
Rami Malek, Hayden Panettiere, Jordan Fisher – Until Dawn
The Dark Pictures Anthology is not the first foray into developer Supermassive Games when it comes to featuring celebrities in their games. In Until Dawn, they feature a solid cast that has Rami Malek (Mr. Robot, No Time to Die), Hayden Panettiere (Heroes, Nashville), and Jordan Fisher (The Flash, Hamilton).
They all play as friends who spend a night in a winter cabin, where the goal is to survive and uncover the mystery behind the events in the game.
Norman Reedus, Guillermo Del Toro, Mads Mikkelsen et al. – Death Stranding
Death Stranding is one of 2019’s biggest games, and it also features arguably the most star-studded cast in any video game yet. The game’s star is Sam Porter Bridges, played by Norman Reedus, a post-apocalyptic delivery man tasked to deliver a series of packages across the United States.
Along with Reedus, the game features appearances from acclaimed director Guillermo Del Toro (Pacific Rim, Shape of Water), Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal), and even late-night show host Conan O’Brien.
Keanu Reeves – Cyberpunk 2077
One of the most hyped games of 2020, Cyberpunk 2077 features Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, John Wick) as Johnny Silverhand, one of the main characters of the game. While the game is still on the verge of being updated after a very buggy release, Keanu Reeves’s presence was surely one of the most popular celebrity appearances around.
Fred Durst – WWF Raw, WWF Smackdown! Just Bring It
Limp Bizkit singer Fred Durst has one of the most iconic wrestling entrance themes around, but he is also one of the playable wrestlers in two WWE video games. He appears in WWF Raw and WWF Smackdown! Just Bring It, one of which has his entrance set to the American Badass Undertaker gimmick, complete with his own bike.
Kit Harington – Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
Call of Duty is another game series that has had a couple of celebrity cameos here and there, and one of them is Infinite Warfare. Kit Harington (Game of Thrones, The Eternals) stars as the game’s main villain Salen Kotch, the leader of the Mars-based Settlement Defense Force.
Slash – Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock
Guitar Hero (and fellow music series Rock Band) is no stranger to famous musicians appearing in their games, with the likes of Aerosmith, Metallica, and Van Halen having their own set of games. However, the first major musician appearance in the game was Saul “Slash” Hudson from the band Guns N’ Roses in the third game.
Having him in the game gave the series some much-needed star power to go along with the great selection of songs available for you to play. Slash’s appearance helped pave the way for more musicians to be featured in the series, along with their wide catalog of great music.
Ariana Grande – Fornite, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius
Singer Ariana Grande has had an interesting pair of video game appearances. The first one is in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius as a playable party member (yes, she can throw hands with Sepiroth). Her second one is in Fornite, where she has her own exclusive in-game skin that players can purchase. This puts her in a game that has featured the likes of Kratos, Master Chief, and even Dune’s Timothy Chalamet.
Terry Crews – Crackdown 3
Crackdown 3 was a game that was delayed a couple of times over the course of development, which caused the hype to gradually cool down. To increase the excitement for the game, Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) was picked to become the game’s main star. While the commercials and promotional material that feature Crews were pretty entertaining, it didn’t save the game from being a massive letdown.
Willem Dafoe – Beyond: Two Souls
Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse, Spider-Man has become quite the video game character himself, as he is one of the stars of Beyond: Two Souls alongside Elliott Page (Juno, Umbrella Academy). The game’s sophisticated motion capture helped bring their likenesses and added some star power to the game’s story. While Beyond: Two Souls had a divisive reception, it was still a great example of how to feature popular celebrities into video games.
Jesse Williams – Detroit: Become Human
Another actor who has featured in a David Cage game is Jesse Williams in Detroit: Become Human. He portrays an android named Markus, who begins to make a series of big decisions that make up for the game’s branching narrative.
Mike Tyson – Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out
Arguably one of the first major celebrity appearances in video games, Mike Tyson was the star of his own NES game, where he is the final boss. This also made him an iconic video game boss, due to this imposing size, and devastating punch power that leaves players floored when hit.
Celebrities in video games have become more commonplace in the past few years, appearing in more big titles recently. With film, television, and video games having a much closer relationship than before, we should see more collaborations in the near future.
About the Author
A former teacher and guitarist, Jude (Twitter, Instagram) is currently a writer that covers video games and is one of the co-hosts of The Geeky Juans. Apart from hosting the podcast, you can also catch him streaming at Dude It’s Jude on Facebook.