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Actress Explains Why Some Major Film Actors are Moving to Video Games

In a Game Rant interview, film/TV and video game actress Anna Rust discusses a trend that sees major film actors taking roles in video games.

Game Rant recently sat down with Anna Rust do discuss her work in games, film, and TV. Rust has been in several major video games like Star Wars Battlefront 2, Nioh 2, Battlefield V, Final Fantasy XIV, and Cyberpunk 2077, but she also has experience in film and TV work, recently acting as Fleury in Amazon’s Carnival Row series. We had endless questions for Rust about her work in so many popular games, but also wanted to learn about her perspective in working across such different mediums. As the quality of acting in games continues to improve, insight from people like Rust may shed light on how the games industry is changing.

New improvements in face-capture animation make it possible to capture an actor’s expressions and port them quite realistically into a game, while at the same time, traditional animation and voice acting are only improving as budgets soar and the medium continues to mature. Recently, even major screen actors have found themselves doing extensive work in video games, not just making cameos, like Keanu Reeves in Cyberpunk 2077 and Giancarlo Esposito in Far Cry 6. Rust had plenty to say about what is drawing acting talent over to games, and how video games are becoming more like film and TV, but first we asked her what the major differences are between screen acting and video game acting.

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I think there are more differences than similarities, at least for me as an actor. For me, when I’m working on a game, I’m in a booth somewhere, and nine times out of ten, you’re gonna be alone in that booth. In film acting, you have the luxury of being able to bounce off of someone else’s energy and tone. But, when you’re alone, you get more individual feedback on what you’re doing.

Rust then transitioned into describing what brings actors over to video games.

It is rare, but it’s becoming more common for people to do video game work. I think you’ll agree that the quality of video games is becoming really astounding these days, and I personally will always gravitate towards quality material. People are finally waking up to how great games can be, and actors can get really fully fleshed out characters in games now. Just because you’re not physically on screen doesn’t mean you can’t get one of the most captivating performances out there.

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Performances like Norman Reedus in Death Stranding, Keanu Reeves’ Johnny Silverhand in Cyberpunk 2077, and Breaking Bad actor Giancarlo Esposito’s role as a menacing dictator in the upcoming Far Cry 6 may soon not be as surprising as they were when first announced. While it hasn’t been uncommon for film and TV celebrities to make minor appearances in games, actors like Reedus, Reeves, and Esposito are taking major roles with hours of presence in their respective games’ stories. To draw a conclusion from what Rust pointed out, these are likely not isolated incidents but may represent a growing trend in the industry.

Storytelling in video games is becoming ever more nuanced, and as Rust said, actors can now find very appealing roles in video games. She also expressed the hope that, as more prominent actors take roles in games, it may remove some of the stigma that the medium occasionally garners. “It will help show people that [games] really can be art.” As face tracking technology improves as well, some actors may see the appeal in having themselves represented digitally. When asked if face tracking is helping to bridge the gap between film and video games, Rust had this to say:

It really is. The more we get things like The Last of Us 2, or even The Last of Us 1, we’re going to see that gap between film or TV and video games narrow massively. If you play more recent games, even down to Spider Man Miles Morales, it’s basically an interactive film…. I recently played Alien: Isolation and it really gripped me. It was such a captivating experience. Obviously, it is based on a series of films so it’s easy to draw the parallel to motion picture, but I felt like I was playing a horror film. It became cinematic in a terrifying way.

Games are certainly becoming more cinematic as every year the standards for storytelling, visuals, and art direction are raised. That cinematic feel may be less a result of games aping film, and more an effect of video game development studios achieving the high production value that film and TV often enjoy. Hopefully, Rust is spot on that an increasing number of people with acting talent also want to contribute to the world of video games, which will only serve to improve the medium as more catch on.

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