The Masters of Doom television series casts Carmack and Romero

Guess which character each one is playing. Go on, guess. (Image credit: USA Network)

When USA Network announced in June that it had ordered a pilot for a series based on Masters of Doom, the non-fiction account of the creation of the groundbreaking FPS and the people who made it, Brenda Romero had one simple question: Who will play John's hair? Today we have our answer: The roles of the Johns will be filled by Eduardo Franco, who as far as I can tell is not related to James and Dave, and Patrick Gibson, star of the recently canceled Netflix series The OA.

"Franco will star as John Romero, a brilliant young programmer and designer determined to become the videogame industry's first rock star," USA Network said in a press release (via Variety). "Gibson will star as John Carmack, a self-taught genius whose unparalleled programming skill allows him to help create the first-person-shooter genre—and lay the groundwork for the rise of virtual reality.

(And yes, for the record, she did actually ask about the hair thing.)

The actors certainly look the part. Gibson perhaps has a little more going on in the way of raw, smoldering sex appeal than his real-life counterpart (sorry John), but Franco's hair game is spot on. In fact, according to this Remezcla report, he hasn't had a cut since he was 16.

Franco and Gibson are the headliners, but they're not the only actors to be announced.

  • John Karna, who recently portrayed Netscape founder Marc Andreessen in Valley of the Boom, will appear as Tom Hall, "a tragically lovable young game designer who becomes the heart and soul of the two Johns' groundbreaking company."
  • Jane Ackermann will portray Hannah Romero, "a young wife and mother whose support for her husband, John Romero, is pushed to its breaking point by his unrelenting focus on games." (This, as far as I can tell, is a fictionalized character; Romero was married to Elizabeth Ann McCall during the development of Doom.)
  • Siobhan Williams will play Stevie Case, "a brash and charismatic young woman who becomes one of the first female professional gamers—and John Romero's girlfriend." (Which really makes me wonder about that whole "unrelenting focus on games" business).
  • Peter Friedman will have a recurring role as Al Vekovuis, the co-founder of Softdisk, where the founding members of id Software met and worked together prior to launching the studio.

"Masters of Doom, based on award-winning journalist and author David Kushner's landmark nonfiction book of the same name, is a story based on real events of two computer geniuses in an obscure corner of America who, along with a group of rebellious misfits, created one of the biggest franchise hits of the 90s, the videogame Doom," USA Network said. "John Carmack and John Romero were best friends who became bitter rivals, as they created a videogame empire and transformed pop culture forever."

That's a little overwrought, maybe, but the book was good and hopefully the series won't give up too much fact in favor of lurid drama.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.