There are plenty of famous actors who have taken roles as heroes of video games where they get to be badass and spit out one-liners while saving the day. Vin Diesel, Bruce Willis, Eliza Dushku, and even 50-Cent have all starred in their own games.
But sometimes celebrities show up in bit parts, and in those roles things tend to get a bit more playful, experimental, and downright weird. Here are 10 of the strangest.
10. MICHAEL JACKSON
‘Space Channel 5’, 'Space Channel 5: Part 2’
Michael Jackson was such a fan of video games he asked to be squeezed into sci-fi dance-off game Space Channel 5 where he was given a cameo as a futuristic version of himself simply named 'Space Michael’. He was even brought back for the sequel, where Space Michael has to be rescued from aliens via the medium of dance.
9. KEITH DAVID
'Saints Row IV’
Keith David may be known for cult movies like They Live but he’s also done a lot of voice-acting in games like Mass Effect and Saints Row. He reappeared in Saints Row IV in two roles, as a character named Julius he’d played in the earlier games and also as himself. The moment where he recreates the fight with wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper from They Live is a highlight.
8. SNOOP DOGG
'True Crime: Streets of LA’, 'Tekken Tag Tournament 2’
Snoop Dogg appears as himself in True Crime: Streets of LA and can be unlocked so you can steal cars and get in shoot-outs while pretending to be the Dee Oh Double Gee. He’s also in fighting game Tekken Tag Tournament 2 as himself, though only in the background. He contributed a song to the soundtrack as well, with memorable lyrics about it “tekken a second for me to blow your mind”.
7. OZZY OSBOURNE
A fantasy game that looks like a heavy metal album cover brought to life, Brütal Legend features a who’s who of metal masters including Lemmy from Motörhead, Lita Ford from The Runaways, and Rob Halford from Judas Priest. Ozzy Osbourne’s cameo is the role he was born to play: a keeper of Satanic secrets called the Guardian of Metal who says “wanker” a lot.
6. TINA FEY
'Medieval Madness’, 'Deer Avenger 2: Deer In The City’
Before Saturday Night Live Tina Fey was a member of comedy troupe The Second City who were hired to provide voices for 1997 pinball game Medieval Madness. Fey appears as a Valley Girl princess and an old woman who offers to bet four chickens on the outcome of your pinball battle in this set of out-takes from the recording sessions.
Fey also appeared with co-star Amy Poehler in Deer Avenger 2: Deer In The City, a game about a farting deer who shoots up the suburbs. It’s as bad as it sounds.
5. TIM CURRY
'Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3’
In the alternate World War II of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 the Allies go to war against the Soviets using weapons like shrink rays, flying submarines, and giant robots. The actors in its live-action cutscenes, including George Takei, Jenny McCarthy, and David Hasselhoff, are given some pretty hammy dialogue but nobody takes to munching it with as much glee as Tim Curry does playing the Soviet commander. He’s glorious.
4. SUSAN SARANDON
There are plenty of celebrities in Dishonored–Chloë Grace Moretz voices the Empress’s daughter and Lena Headey her nanny, for instance–but Susan Sarandon’s role is something special. As Granny Rags she appears to be a mad blind woman who thinks the rats in her hovel are pet birds, but as Dishonored goes on she’s revealed to be a powerful witch. Sarandon’s maternal muttering as she insists you help her make stew out of her enemies is a particularly eerie thing to hear.
3. JOHN CLEESE
'Jade Empire’, 'Starship Titanic’
Jade Empire is set in a fantasy version of China with its own rules about honor you learn as you play. Halfway through John Cleese arrives as Sir Roderick Ponce Von Fontlebottom, a visitor from a fantasy version of England more familiar to western players. He shouts about your barbaric way of life because shouting is what John Cleese is best at, and you have to defend the culture you’ve spent several hours exploring as if it’s your own. Fontlebottom is as silly as any Monty Python character but it’s actually a perfect way of making you feel like Jade Empire’s world is yours.
Cleese also had a cameo in Starship Titanic as a talking bomb who could be distracted from its countdown by being tapped with a stick. Even more shouting was involved.
2. DREW CAREY
'The Sims: House Party’
The Sims games have a history of selling add-on packs that squeeze popstars into them so you can follow a Sim Christina Aguilera around asking for her autograph or become BFFs with Katy Perry. Back in 2001 they didn’t have the clout to attract such big names and in The Sims: House Party you’re informed your party is the talk of the town when comedian Drew Carey shows up to crash it.
1. FRED DURST
If making a video game out of Fight Club that ignored its entire message and instead celebrated testosterone-poisoned dudes getting their punch on doesn’t already seem like a terrible idea, it will when you learn that said game had Fred Durst in it. Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit, as an unlockable fighter, in a Fight Club game. Yeah.
Jody Macgregor lives in Melbourne, Australia. He writes about games for PC Gamer, ZAM, and Rock Paper Shotgun, and writes about music for The Big Issue, FasterLouder, and inthemix. He’s on Twitter at @jodymacgregor.