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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Quakecon 2011 Keynote Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
Project Button Masher
I teach myself music composition by imitating the style of various videogame soundtracks. How did it turn out? Listen for yourself.
Crysis 2 has basically the same plot as Half-Life 2. So why is one a classic and the other simply obnoxious and tiresome?
Batman: Arkham City
A look back at one of my favorite games. The gameplay was stellar, but the underlying story was clumsy and oddly constructed.
Dear Hollywood: Do a Mash Reboot
Since we're rebooting everything, MASH will probably come up eventually. Here are some casting suggestions.