Half-Life 2

By Shamus Posted Saturday Jan 14, 2006

Filed under: Movies 17 comments

As I’ve mentioned before, I am not exactly what you would call a “fan” of Steam, the service used to safeguard Half-Life 2 against nefarious piracy. I am, however, partial to the game itself. So let’s take as look at what might happen if the game were to become a movie. Remember, this is just for fun. I am in no way suggesting that this would be a good idea.

So let’s get started…

Gordon Freeman

Deciding who would “play” Dr. Gordon Freeman is a bit strange. In a first-person game, the main character is the one you never see unless you look in a mirror. Gordon has no dialog, no personality, and is defined solely by his actions.

How does he feel about being regarded as a messiah? How does he feel about his role in opening the door to another dimension, or about his place as the puppet of the G-man? How does he feel about Alyx, or his fellow scientists? The answer, of course, is “however you think he feels”, since you play him in the game.

So, we might as well choose the actor to play this role based on looks alone. Ethan Hawke looks like a good match.


The G-man is an enigma in the game. Who’s side is he on, anyway?

His two most notable features are his gaunt appearance and his strange, off-beat speaking cadence. For the gaunt, remorseless look, you can’t go wrong with Christopher Walken. For the odd pauses and menacing delivery, I might suggest Alan Rickman.

Alyx Vance

My favorite thing about Alyx’s character is that she seems real. The obvious thing for video games or movies to do is to take the female lead and whore her up. You know: Hot pants, tube tops, and high kicks. (Or leather and guns.) But no, she doesn’t have a gravity-defying bosom and strut through enemy base in high heels. Alyx is dressed in practical, durable clothing that fits her character and lifestyle as a member of the resistance. She isn’t wearing makeup. This sounds mundane, but video game females wearing freshly applied glossy lipstick into combat is so common that this borders on revolutionary. The rest of her shows the same attention to the authentic. More time was spent animating her eyes and mouth than her boobs and ass. This shows that her creators take her seriously, which lets the rest of us take her seriously.

To play Alyx, we can go with the obvious mainstream choice and use Halle Berry. She’s a great actress and playing the tough yet feminine Alyx is right up her alley.

As an alternate, I might suggest, Gina Torres, who plays Zoe on the ill-fated TV show Firefly. The way she looked when heading into combat reminds me a lot of Alyx.

Eli Vance

Robert Guillaume did the voice for Dr. Vance in the game, and as an added bonus looks like Dr. Vance, so I can’t think of a reason to use anyone else. The only nitpick is that Eli Vance ought to be about 50 or so, and Guillaume is nearly 80. However, he’s a robust 80, could pass for 60, and looks young enough to be Alyx’s father if he started late.

Barney Calhoun

Gary Sinise is the best choice I can come up with, although he’s not a perfect fit. He’s a bit too old and seems a bit too smart for Barney. He does have the right accent and the honest, down-to-earth delivery the part calls for. I keep thinking there has to be a better choice. Heather suggested that a young Matthew Broderick would look closer, but that would seem to sacrifice attitude and delivery for looks.

I’m betting there is a closer match that I haven’t thought of yet.

Dr. Kleiner

At first I thought I could be funny and suggest Bill Nye for this. He’s got that geek vibe the role needs. Hearing Bill Nye the Science Guy explaining the nonsense teleport mumbo-jumbo as if he was talking about real science should be good for a laugh, which is the whole point of Dr. Kleiner anyway.

But for looks I think a closer match is Bill Nighy. (Strange coincidence that the names are similar) I think that once you get the glasses and the lab coat on him he should look just fine. However, his voice is too deep, and he’s a brit. So, the choice: The right voice / vibe with Bill Nye, or the right appearance with Bill Nighy.

Dr. Breen

Like many of the greatest villians, Wallace Breen does not believe himself to be a bad person. He is much like the frenchmen who thought the best they could do in WWII was help their Nazi conquerers and hope they are treated well in return. He’s pragmatic, yet foolish and gutless. He’s a bureaucrat who aids the aliens in their conquest of Earth, in the hopes that someday the ends will justify his grotesque means. The typical Hollywood approach to someone like this would be to simplify the character and make him plain, easy-to-understand evil. You could give such a role to Christopher Lee and turn Breen into a cruel and calculating despot.

However, to stay true to the nature of Dr. Breen, you’d need someone who usually plays heroes. Someone who would otherwise be genuine and likeable. I’m open to suggestions.

Father Grigory

Good luck getting someone like Sean Connery to play a bit part like this. He’s a good fit anyway, and could pull off the odd graveyard humor Grigory uses.


From The Archives:

17 thoughts on “Half-Life 2

  1. Patrick says:

    How about Nick Cage as Gordon…I’d be a fan of anything where Nick didn’t say a fuckin’ word and got shot…alot…maybe even for real…. a few times…. and then pissed on…. by some drunk marines. Yea, Nick would do well as Gordon Freeman I think.

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  3. Tom Woodward says:

    A few strange choices I must say. Firstly if you have ever seen Usual Suspects you will know that the Baldwin brother Stephen with the beard is a dead-ringer for Gordon AND Pete Postelthwaite who plays Mr Kobiashi in the same film is equally fitting (as is his voice) for G-Man. The picture of Sean Connery is far more fitting for Breen or strangely, with the gruffness in his voice, how Burt Reynolds looks in Boogie Nights. Good choice with Bill Nighy, Robert Downey Jnr. for Barney, Robert Guillaume obviously for Eli because it IS him! If he didn’t want to do it the ONLY other choice would be Bill Cosby! Similar slow speaking voice and face, and finally his daughter Alyx could be pulled of perfectly by Shannon Sossamon of Forty Days and Forty Nights fame. The first image on Google Image search shows this. This link is a good shot of a possible Gordon… http://i.timeinc.net/ew/dynamic/imgs/020401/11551__usual_l.jpg

  4. Tim says:

    You got it all wrong with Bill Nighy playing Dr. Kleiner, I think he would be perfect to play the G-Man. Have a look at the G-Mans face then at Bill Nighy’s face (as Slarty Bartfast)! His an the G-Mans face are almost identical in face structure eg. both have receeding hairline, large forehead, sunken cheeks, large upper lip area and their noses are about the same size! I think Bill Nighy with a slightly Deeper voice could pull off the G-Mans off beat speech perfectly! Just listen to any recent movie that Bill Nighy has been in and listen to his voice he has a very unique way he structures his sentences and I think with a bit of hair dye and some bushier eyebrows he could pull off playing the G-Man easy as pie!

  5. Morrinn says:

    The other day I was watching Greys Anatomy (Episode 16 from Season 2 (It’s the End of the world…) Barney Calhoun himself walked into the show parading as a Bomb technitian.
    I litterally jumped from my chair.
    The actor is called Kyle Chandler, And what I suppose to be his biggest role so far was playing ‘Bruce Baxter’ on Steve Jacksons remake of King Kong.
    In this show however he had the same hairstyle, same voice, same rugged 5 o’clock shade and heck, even the Bomb Tech outfit he was wearing reminded me of the CP-outfit Barney donned in the game.

    Look at the guy in King Kong and you’ll laugh at me, but check this out and tell me I’m wrong:


  6. Morrinn says:

    ^^ Shoot, The damn url is too long to fit into a single line…
    Just copy the entire column and paste it in the address bar to see the pics.

  7. Hudson says:

    Totally agree with Morrinn about Kyle Chandler (in the Greys Anatomy episode) being the splitting image of Barney. Just saw the end of that episode and was totally convinced that Valve must have modeled Barney on Kyle…..but after doing a bit of googling I found this site and realised it’s just a freaky coincidence.

  8. crlacey says:

    Hugh Laurie from the television series “House” seems like a good match for Gordon. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0491402/

  9. Big McLargehuge says:

    Hey, Morrinn?
    Steve Jackson (US) is the GURPS creator (or the British Steve Jackson, who is a gamebook and video game writer).
    PETER Jackson is the director of the King Kong remake… not that it matters.

  10. john says:

    im glad people out there saw the uncanny resemblence between kyle chandler and barney. Personally I think for alyx it should be rosario dawson or kirsten kruik. For g-man there is a resemblence between him and christopher walken. As for gordo, edward norton is the go for me.

  11. God of Awesome says:

    No, Father Gregory should not be played by Sean Connery. Dr. Breen should. They look alike and Mr. Connery is experienced enough to play the part of a “I’m-not-evil” villain.

    Fathery Gregory shall be played by Carlos Mencia’s brother.

  12. Stu says:

    When I see the G-Man I see Tommy Lee Jones.

  13. Corsair says:

    Connery doesn’t have the feel of Breen, though. His voice, for on thing, tends to be too gruff and harsh, not like Breen’s smooth but ultimately meaningless reassurances. You frankly need a Snake Oil Salesman for Breen.

    On the other hand, Bald Connery would be excellent for Grigori. I agree. But he’s retired, so no can do on that front.

  14. Joshua says:

    Why not just use the actual voice actors for Dr. Kleiner and Alyx? They look close enough to the part. Merle Dandridge(Alyx) actually has some decent live performance experience. As far as Dr. Breen, I’m seeing someone like Dennis Hopper, actually.

    Or, you could just go with a bunch of talented no-name actors to avoid named famous actors tramping over existent characters.

    For a radical thought, it may be best to have the movie NOT be about Gordon Freeman. Although he’s the main protagonist, he’s not the only one trying to get things done. There is also virtually now way to have any actor play Freeman without upsetting some portion of the fans, as everyone has slightly different ideas about what he’s supposed to be like.

  15. Decius says:

    Sean Connery is a dead ringer for Dr. Breen, but I favor going with open auditions. Don’t even include Freeman; set the movie during the Six Hour War.

  16. Joe says:

    Speaking as someone who has never played any Half-Life game, but has read through the whole run of Concerned, Sean Connery’s voice is actually a lot like what I pictured grigori sounding like…

  17. Steve says:

    Personally I’d want Ross Scott to be Gordon if they make a movie. He looks like him and you could say his voice might not match…Wait gordons mute :D. Plus they could use his hilarious jokes.

    EDIT: Oh and hopefully G-Man will have a bigger part if they do make a movie…If…

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