Over the past few years, there have been many famous actors who have stepped into the gaming world by providing voiceovers. Mark Hamill has been very popular as The Joker in the Batman: Arkham game series and even Keanu Reeves is stepping into a role in the new Cyberpunk 2077 as Johnny Silverhand. The online gaming community has long embraced famous faces playing video game characters, with Margaret Qualley, Lea Seydoux, and even writer-director Guillermo Del Toro all lending their vocal talents to Death Stranding’s cast list of voices. Protagonist Sam is voiced by Norman Reedus, with Sam’s arch-rival and principal antagonist played by the enigmatic Mads Mikkelsen.
Mads Mikkelsen is one of Hollywood’s go-to actors when it comes to playing antagonists and creepily believable and complex characters. One of his performances a few years ago that he was praised for was the role of Hannibal Lecter. He was no stranger to fandom life after starring in the popular Hannibal (2013-2015) developed by Bryan Fuller. However years before his antagonist role as the charming cannibal, Mikkelsen starred opposite Daniel Craig in 2006 in Casino Royale. He played the villainous Le Chiffre who Bond comes up against in a high-stakes Texas hold ‘em tournament at the Casino Royale in Montenegro. For players wanting to gamble on a table game themselves, blackjack, roulette, and plenty of other LeoVegas online casino games are available to play online.
Released in 2019, Death Stranding is a game set in the USA of the near future and sees delivery man character Sam Porter (Norman Reedus) make his way across this new world landscape to try and save humanity. Due to a series of unexplained explosions, supernatural creatures have begun wreaking havoc, causing devastating events called the Death Stranding. Trying to carry his cargo across this dangerous environment, Sam is met by a host of other characters who act as allies and antagonists along the way. Created by Hideo Kojima, the man behind Metal Gear Solid, it is perhaps no surprise that Death Stranding explores similar themes of where human entity ends and scientific interference begins.
Even if you don’t instantly know his name, you will definitely recognize his face as the character Cliff. Mikkelsen provides not only the voice of Cliff but also provides the motion capture for the character as well. Not surprising really when you consider the Danish actor is also a professionally trained dancer and gymnast. Professional mocap performer Noshir Dalal talked about his experience training and working with Mads Mikkelsen on the game. He said that it was “…really fun to watch Mads’ process because he really gave it 110%”(Game Reactor).
Cliff – full name Captain Clifford Unger – is a complex character with a heroic yet tragic backstory and benefits greatly from being portrayed by an actor of such skill, with his detailed and nuanced performance adding pathos and real human emotion to a game of this genre. Mikkelsen himself has said he found the game to be labyrinthine in structure, and that he embraces Hideo Kojima’s message that no character is entirely good or bad, but rather walking a grey line somewhere in between. According to The Ringer, the actor effectively “…collapses the distance between the interactive mode of gameplay and the cinematic mode of a character contributing to an expansive and complicated world”.
Cliff is a war veteran and was a decorated war hero prior to the Death Stranding. A man of valor and integrity, Cliff was known for bringing his unit home safely after every tour, be it Iraq, Afghanistan, or otherwise. He married his sweetheart, Lisa Bridges, and together had a son, who Cliff refers to as BB. However, after leaving the army to become a family man, Cliff and Lisa are involved in a terrible accident, leaving Lisa braindead. The Bridges keeps her alive and their unborn son. As time goes on, Cliff begins to accept that there is nothing he can do to save his wife or relieve his son of the Bridges’ experiments. An old army friend, John Blake McClane, gives him the opportunity to escape. The escape attempt goes wrong, however, leaving Cliff a BTs or Beached Thing, a soul trapped between the world of the living and the Death Stranding. In his deranged state, Cliff often attacks Sam and mistakes BB-28, the infant Sam is caring for and affectionately names Lou, as his own BB who was lost. Cliff’s final redemption comes when he is able to metaphysically meet his adult son, and it is at this moment that Cliff understands Sam is his link to both the past and future, as it is Sam who is indeed his son, with both Cliff and Sam having the same scar on their abdomen from the same bullet.
The characters of Death Stranding are extremely complex, set against a start post-apocalyptic background. Whilst the game has not been wildly successful, there are still well-crafted performances to enjoy from this stellar cast list of actors. Mads Mikkelsen’s character is a classic video game boss and the actor has proven, yet again, that he can play the perfect antagonist. The game also bagged a few awards along the way too as it received awards ranging from Best Narrative Design to Best Score/Music and from Outstanding Technical Achievement to Best Action-Adventure Game. His role in Death Stranding also earned Mads Mikkelsen a number of award nominations and wins. For his role as Clifford Unger, he received Best Supporting Performance in a Drama (NAVGTR Awards) and Best Performance (The Game Awards 2019).