The relationship between video games and celebrities is getting more comfortable, with swelling development budgets allowing giants like Kevin Spacey to play roles in them. But as well as high profile casting like this, the history of PC games is littered with bizarre cameo appearances from some of the world’s most famous people.
Did they think being on the forefront of technology would help them stay relevant? Or did they just need a new coat of gold paint on their yachts? Whatever their motivation was, here are some of the weirdest, worst, and most unlikely A-list (and not-so-A-list) celebrity appearances in PC gaming history.
Dennis Hopper, Black Dahlia (1998)
Inspired by the infamous murder of Elizabeth Short, this FMV adventure stars late Hollywood hellraiser Dennis Hopper. It’s hardly a career highlight for the Easy Rider star, but he’s miles better than the rest of the straight-to-video cast.
Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair (1996)
Edit low-res FMV clips together to make a movie in this not-really-a-game from the legendary director. The clips feature hammy acting from Friends star Jennifer Aniston and, strangest of all, motormouth director Quentin Tarantino.
Debbie Harry, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002)
There are a lot of A-list stars in GTA: Vice City including Dennis Hopper (again), Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, and, er, Danny Dyer, but the most unusual casting has to be Blondie singer Debbie Harry as Kaufman Cabs dispatcher Delores.
John Hurt, Tender Loving Care (1998)
In this steamy FMV thriller you are the patient of a psychiatrist played by Alien and V For Vendetta star John Hurt, and how you answer his probing questions alters the course the story takes. Possibly the most ‘90s game ever made.
Michael York, Scarface: The World Is Yours (2006)
Distinguished English actor Michael York is best known for playing the lead role in Logan’s Run and as Basil Exposition in the Austin Powers films. He also played ‘Jerry the Banker’ in this actually pretty good Scarface game.
Tia Carrere, The Daedalus Encounter (1995)
Yeah, it’s another FMV game. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing Hollywood that CD-ROM games were the future. This corny sci-fi stars Tia Carrere, better known as Cassandra from the Wayne’s World films.
Christopher Walken, Ripper (1996)
Set in New York City in 2040, this point-and-click murder mystery sees you hunting a killer inspired by Jack the Ripper. Walken plays a hard-boiled detective called Vince Magnotta, and his acting has to be seen to be believed.
Michael Jackson, Space Channel 5: Part 2 (2002)
The second Space Channel 5 game recently appeared on Steam along with Crazy Taxi and Sonic Adventure. Both star the late king of pop, but ‘Space Michael’ gets a lot more to do in the sequel. Namely dancing and going ‘eee-hee’ a lot.
Christopher Lloyd, Toonstruck (1996)
A point-and-click adventure in which cartoonist Drew Blanc, played by the Back to the Future star, is mysteriously transported into his own cartoon world. By no means a great adventure game, but an interesting curio nonetheless.
Charlie Brooker, Sniper Elite III (2014)
The writer, presenter, and former games journalist is one of only a few mainstream media personalities who take gaming seriously, and his love of the medium earned him a cameo appearance as a Nazi in this World War II snipe-’em-up.
Steve Carell, Outlaw Golf (2002)
The Oscar-nominated actor and star of the American version of The Office played the role of the commentator in this idiotic comedy golf game. He was too busy/successful for the sequel, though, and was replaced by comedian Dave Attell.
William Shatner, William Shatner’s TekWar (1995)
TekWar is a science fiction series by William ‘Captain Kirk’ Shatner, ghost-written by sci-fi scribe Ron Goulart. There were a bunch of spin-offs including this first-person shooter, which features FMV of Shat himself.
Ricky Gervais, Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)
The English comedian, writer, and director played himself in Grand Theft Auto IV, along with Katt Williams, as a comedian at the Split Sides comedy club. Gervais also plays a random street dealer in Scarface: The World Is Yours.
Aerosmith, Revolution X (1994)
You can’t compile a ‘weird celebrity cameos’ feature without mentioning this on-rails shooter, in which you have to rescue rock giants Aerosmith from the clutches of a corrupt government—by shooting compact discs at them.
Danica Patrick, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (2012)
Danica Patrick is the most successful woman in the history of open-wheel racing. But that doesn’t explain her appearance in this Sega kart racer, in which she races alongside a hedgehog and a monkey encased in a ball.
Justin Bieber, NBA 2K13 (2012)
Law-breaking pop sensation and wearer of saggy trousers Bieber is part of NBA 2K13’s celebrity team, alongside ‘Pauly D’ from Jersey Shore. Bieber’s stats are actually pretty good, just like his brilliant music, which I love.
Snoop Dogg, True Crime: Streets of LA (2003)
Collecting 30 ‘Dogg bones’ in this open world crime caper unlocks veteran rapper and card-carrying O.G. Snoop Dogg as a playable character. Dogg was later seen starring in those godawful ‘MoneySupermarket’ adverts.
Thomas F. Wilson, Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger (1994)
Hello? Anybody home? Think, McFly! Think! Thomas F. Wilson is best known as playing the Tannen lineage of bullies in the Back to the Future films, and was also in the third Wing Commander. His best work, though, is this song.
John Goodman, Pyst (1996)
In the wake of Myst’s massive success on PC, someone decided a parody would be a good idea, and Pyst was, sadly, born—and they managed to somehow snag longtime Coen brothers collaborator John Goodman to play the king.
Jeff Goldblum, Goosebumps: Escape From Horrorland (1996)
The mighty Jeff Goldblum starred alongside Blue Velvet star Isabella Rossellini in this game based on the hit range of kid-friendly horror books by R.L. Stine. Steven Spielberg was also involved. That dude sure loved bad FMV.