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Nolan North: Beyond Nathan Drake

Nolan North is a busy man, perhaps the busiest voice actor in the world. For the past several years, the actor has slowly been building up his resume and establishing himself as one of the most recognizable voices in not just games, but all of entertainment.

After getting his first big break in 1997 playing Dr. Chris Ramsey on the General Hospital spin-off Port Charles, North began dabbling in voice acting for the occasional video game on the side. However, it was his role in 2007’s Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune playing eponymous hero Nathan Drake that skyrocketed his voice-acting career.

While some of you may recognize North from his work playing Peter Hastings on Pretty Little Liars, almost everyone has heard his voice at one time or another in game, TV, and movie adaptations of some of our favorite entertainment properties. His credits include parts in franchises such as Metal Gear Solid, Crash Bandicoot, Prince of Persia, Gears of War, Halo, Final Fantasy, Call of Duty, Skylanders, Star Wars, Terminator, The Lord of the Rings, Power Rangers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Spongebob Squarepants, Evil Dead, Predator, God of War, James Bond, Scooby Doo, G.I. Joe, and Rick and Morty.

North is such a staple of video game voice acting in particular that developer Volition decided to honor him by casting him as himself in Saints Row IV, where he plays President Nolan North of The United States of America.

However, his most recognizable character remains Nathan Drake. North’s vocal stylings and witty delivery are such an integral part of the Nathan Drake character, PlayStation recently created a marketing campaign for Uncharted 4 about how closely the two are tied together.

To coincide with the release of Uncharted 4 this week, we decided to take a look back at the career of the man who plays Nathan Drake. In doing so, we made some surprising discoveries about his involvement with some of our favorite franchises.

Assassin’s Creed

While North had acted in several games prior to 2007, that was the year it became clear that getting Nolan North in your game was officially a thing. Drake’s Fortune wasn’t the only major AAA game featuring North as the main protagonist that year. In fact, just one week prior to Uncharted‘s release, North appeared as the voice of Desmond Miles, the modern-day descendant of several members of the Assassin order that was forced to relive his ancestral memories using the Animus. North can be heard in the series through Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, when the Miles storyline was seeemingly abandoned.

Destiny


In what is perhaps his most talked-about casting, Nolan North was brought in to replace Peter Dinklage of the voice of the player’s Ghost in Destiny. Dinklage’s readings for the character were initially received poorly by early Destiny players in the alpha and beta, and eventually by the public at large upon the game’s release.

Regardless of whether it was some of the dialogue itself, Dinklage’s interpretation of the lines, or just that he was phoning it in, the delivery often came across as flat. One line from the “Dinklebot” in particular became notorious, and “That Wizard came from the Moon!” will live in infamy alongside other video game memes like “All Your Base Are Belong to Us” and “The Master of Unlocking.”

North replaced Dinklage as part of The Taken King mega-expansion, and he knocked it out of the park. His sharp, witty delivery breathes new life into the character, and shows a humorous side of Ghost that wasn’t there before — at least intentionally.

Marvel

Nolan North has played more characters in the Marvel Universe than most actors have total credits on their resumes. He has fought on both sides of the law, portraying some of the most recognizable heroes and villains in the MU, including Ghost Rider, Ant-Man and Giant-Man, Spider-Slayer, Green Goblin, Tombstone, Thor, Werewolf by Night, War Machine, Maximus, Iron Man, Gorgon, Rocket Raccoon, Balder, Cyclops, Chemistro, Hawkeye, Piledriver, and Wolverine.

Despite already having such a prolific Marvel career, the character he has portrayed more than any other is everyone’s favorite Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool. With the recent success of the Deadpool movie, Ryan Reynolds will forever be associated with the character on the Silver Screen. However, when it comes to games, TV, and direct-to-video animated movies, nobody does Deadpool better than North.

DC

As if cornering the market on Marvel VO work wasn’t enough, North has also voiced several DC heroes and villains. These include five different Batman adversaries (The Penguin, Hush, Scarecrow, Atomic Joker, and KGBeast), as well as his trusty butler Alfred, Superman and his fellow Kryptonian adversary General Zod, Bizarro, Superboy, Captain Boomerang, Green Lantern and Atomic Green Lantern, Beast Boy, Condiment King, and Firestorm.

After gaining such notoriety in the industry, and voicing so many characters, one of the knocks against North was that his performances all sounded the same. He was basically playing himself. Perhaps he took this criticism to heart when portraying Oswald Cobblepot, a.k.a. The Penguin. He is nearly unrecognizable in the role, faux cockney accent and all.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Things have come full circle for North in his portrayal of characters from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe. He originally played Raphael in both the 2007 TMNT feature film and its video game tie-in. He then took a detour to the Turtles equivalent of the Dark Side, portraying The Kraang in the 2012 animated TV series and several video games. Now, he is pulling triple duty in the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan game, playing Leonardo, Splinter, and the Shredder. So we can all look forward to several cutscenes with North talking to himself.


With over 325 actor credits and counting on his IMDB profile, North doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. While it’s certain he will continue to be one of the most prolific voice actors in games, he will always be Nathan Drake to us.


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