Rockstar Games: Here’s Why We Don’t Work With Big-Name Actors Anymore

At one point in time, Rockstar Games was working with a number of popular actors on their projects, like Samuel L. Jackson in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and anyone from Ray Liotta to James Woods for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. But lately? It’s been sticking less towards big names and more towards those that focus on performance.

Red Dead 2

So why is this the case? There’s actually an interesting explanation. While speaking with Vulture, co-founder Dan Houser explained that the developers were working more towards player immersion, requiring actors that were more about performance than ego.

Houser explained, “We don’t bring in name actors anymore because of their egos and, most important of all, because we believe we get a better sense of immersion using talented actors whose voices you don’t recognize.”

There were a couple of examples that helped Rockstar make this shift. The late Burt Reynolds, who worked with the team on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, apparently shouted at one point “get the limey out of here” following a disagreement with staff. And then there was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, in which another director was called in after the original one had disagreements with Chuck D. from Public Enemy.

But there are situations in which the publisher will still call upon dedicated actors that people recognize. For instance, Graham Greene, who’s appeared in such films as Dances With Wolves and Maverick, is in Red Dead Redemption 2. He’s only in a small role, but Houser still noted that he’s “brilliant,” portraying a Native American chief character who is “losing his rights as an independent king, and he’s a gentle soul in that violent world.”

Other than that, though, Rockstar keeps an eye open for actors that can truly make the roles shine, although their hiring process can be interesting at times. For example, in Grand Theft Auto V, Jimmy de Santa is played by Danny Tamberelli, who some folks may remember from The Adventures of Pete and Pete.

So if you’re wondering why Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn’t feature any super-famous “cowboy actors” as it were, and instead relies more on a cast of unknowns, now you’ve got a pretty good idea why.


Red Dead Redemption 2 releases on October 26 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

(Hat tip to Vulture for the scoop!)