What do Dota 2, Naruto, Pulp Fiction, Star Trek, WWE, and Sons of Anarchy all have in common? The answer is their actors and actresses.
Anyone that has played a lot of video games or watched a lot of anime has undoubtedly noticed two unrelated characters sharing a voice actor or actress. But while most video games and anime draw from the same well of talent, Dota 2 and other Valve titles cast a wider net and pull in an interesting mix of names. This had led to a surprising number of famous characters have made their way into Dota 2 over the years. Here are some of the highlights.
Steve Blum is one of the most prolific voice actors in the business and has played leading roles in a very long list of video games and anime series. He’s the go-to voice of Wolverine in most of the recent Marvel Comics animated movies and series, he has been the voice of Mortal Kombat’s Sub-Zero since 2015’s Mortal Kombat X, and more.
For many, his most iconic roles came in the early 2000s through his work in dubbed anime broadcasted during Cartoon Network blocks Toonami and Adult Swim. His breakout role was playing Cowboy Bebop lead Spike Spiegel, which was followed by voicing Rurouni Kenshin’s villain, Makoto Shishio. His most enduring role has been Naruto villain Orochimaru, who he has voiced since 2005.
He held the Guinness World Record for voice acting work in video games as well with an incredibly long list of roles both big and small. Blum is a relatively recent addition to Dota 2, playing Grimstroke. That isn’t the only work he’s done in major esports titles either, as he also voices Valorant’s Brimstone.
This isn’t much of a secret to Dota 2 esports fans, but others may not have realized it. Valve loves to tap the same crew of voice actors for most every game it releases, something that has been flaunted at The International in years past. But even Dota 2 esports fans, who have seen segments and interviews where the talent bounce between these characters, may not know how much crossover there is.
John Patrick Lowrie, who voices a slew of Dota 2 heroes including Pudge and Earthshaker, is also the Sniper in Team Fortress 2. His wife Ellen McLain is Death Prophet, Broodmother, GLaDOS from Portal, and the Administrator from TF2. Merle Dandridge has juggled an abundance of television roles, but found the time to voice Legion Commander, Winter Wyvern, and Half-Life 2’s Alyx Vance. The voice of Lina, Puck, Windranger, Medusa, and Zoey from Left 4 Dead are all done by Jen Taylor.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Phil LaMarr has possibly the broadest range of any voice actor out there. His most iconic role is likely Hermes Conrad in Futurama, but he’s also played the titular characters in Samurai Jack and Static Shock.
Those characters all sound very different, and LaMarr continued to add new sounds in Dota 2. He plays Pangolier, a character that isn’t at all similar to the soft-spoken Samurai Jack or the plucky Static Shock. Still, his most famous appearance was likely as the Marvin character in classic film Pulp Fiction.
Tony Todd has one of the most distinct voices in all of Hollywood. The deep raspiness lends itself well to all sorts of roles, which has been seen throughout his entire career.
When it comes to movies, the role of the hook-wielding monster known as the Candyman in the 1990s horror film franchise fit him perfectly. In television, he’s had a long list of appearances including recurring roles as Zoom in The Flash and Commander Kurn in Star Trek. In Dota 2, he plays Dragon Knight, Viper, and Night Stalker.
Todd also has the distinction of being the only Dota 2 voice actor to reprise their role in the DOTA: Dragon’s Blood animated series. Though Davion is played by Yuri Lowenthal, Todd returns as Slyrak and does a great job of it.
The International 10 Battle Pass went in a unique direction with its limited-time game mode, Aghanim’s Labyrinth. The boss of the labyrinth is Aghanim himself, a character that has long been a part of Dota 2 mythos as the creator of Aghanim’s Scepter and father of Rubick.
Bringing a character like Aghanim to life carried high expectations and Valve needed to make sure they had a strong vocal performance. They got exactly that from Rich Sommer.
Sommer is best known for his lead role in period drama Mad Men where he played Harry Crane. He has more limited experience as a voice actor. Though the recipe of “celebrity does one-off voice over work” has led to a long list of duds in both video games and animation, Sommer absolutely nailed it as Aghanim. Despite playing a conniving character in Mad Men, Sommer flexed his comedic muscles through Aghanim’s wacky banter.
Sony has built up a large stable of AAA video game franchises that are exclusive to the PlayStation brand. Movie and video game hybrid Uncharted is one of Sony’s biggest names, but Horizon: Zero Dawn is positioned to be huge in its own right. Interestingly, the lead characters of both games contributed to Dota 2.
Nolan North is Dota 2’s most prolific voice actor, bringing 11 different characters to life including Troll Warlord, Ogre Magi, and Lycan. Possibly his most iconic role is Nathan Drake, who North has voiced in each installment of the Uncharted series. That’s just a tiny sample of his work in video games, as he has also played Assassin’s Creed main character Desmond Miles for the entire series and a slew of other notable characters in prominent games.
While Nolan North has been around since the start of Dota 2, Ashly Burch is a newer addition. The voice of Aloy in Horizon: Zero Dawn and Chloe in Life is Strange is also the woman behind Dark Willow.