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Death and the Voice Actor
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on April 10, 2006   |   Episode 101 (Show Archive)  

   

Sadly there is just not enough Marlon Brando in EA's version of the Godfather!
After the 2004 death of Marlon Brando some wondered if Electronic Arts would actually use him in their upcoming game based on The Godfather. Reports in the New York Times seemed to question the actor's strength in his final days and whether the world's largest game publisher was able to capture enough to be used. But here we are two years later and gamers around the world finally have a chance to uncover the secrets of the Corleone family.

Right or wrong, Electronic Arts decided to use the famed actor's voice talents to add credibility to their 1940s crime epic. But is this a fitting homage to one of the most talented actors of the 20th century, a man who not only won an Oscar but also turned one down? Marlon Brando has been featured in some of the greatest

The in-game graphics don't even come close to looking like this!
movies of all time, so is it respectful or just plain morbid that EA has decided to make money off of the work he did for The Godfather?

No matter where you come down on this debate one thing is clear, the video game industry has never shied away from featuring actors after they've passed away. The Godfather is not the first game to offer a posthumous performance from a famous Hollywood actor, and I doubt it will be the last.

Long before Electronic Arts had even considered purchasing the rights to The Godfather, Sony was dealing with their own ethical dilemma. The early hype surrounding Blasto was good; Next Generation had featured it on their cover and called it one

If the PlayStation's next generation is Blasto, then Microsoft doesn't have a thing to worry about!
of the games to keep an eye on. It featured a Looney Toons-inspired art style, a cool new character and the voice talents of Phil Hartman, a long-time cast member of NBC's popular Saturday Night Live. On paper Blasto felt like the next big thing.

But tragedy struck on May 28, 1998. Phil Hartman was gunned down by his wife mere moments before she took her own life. It was a shocking end to one of most likable faces on television. Not only had Phil Hartman been cast in movies (Small Soldiers) and television (NewsRadio), but he had quickly become one of the most consistent guest voices on The Simpsons. While everybody mourned the loss of the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, Sony had a real dilemma. Do they go ahead with the original release or do they delay the product (or even re-dub it)? Sony decided to release the game as is ... three days later, on May 31, 1998.

Only a few years earlier Capcom was having a similar problem, only this time in involved both a game and a movie. When Raul Julia died it shocked movie critics around the world. This was an actor that had spent most of his adult life playing in award winning movies, constantly being nominated in features like

Okay, so not every picture of Phil Hartman is going to be a laugh riot!
Kiss of the Spider Woman, Tempest, The Burning Season, and Moon Over Parador. It was only before his passing on October 24, 1994, that Raul achieved Hollywood notoriety, featured in the successful movie adaptation of The Addams Family, as well as the sequel, The Addams Family Values.

At the age of 54 Raul Julia was about to do something find himself in a big budget Hollywood action movie, one directed by Steven E. de Souza, the man who wrote Die Hard, 48 Hours, The Running Man and about a dozen other movies you probably went to see as a kid. But only two months before Street Fighter (based on the popular Capcom arcade franchise) was released, Raul Julia passed away due to a cancer-related stroke.

But Capcom had more to think about then Raul's

Raul doesn't look a thing like the M. Bison I remember from Street Fighter II!
impact on the Street Fighter movie; they had already cast him in the completely unnecessary game based on the completely unnecessary movie. Unlike previous Street Fighter titles that featured hand drawn artwork and animation, Street Fighter: The Movie was created from capturing video and images of those actors suckered into making the action film. Unfortunately for Raul not only was the movie bad (still considered one of the worst video game movies of all time), but the game he starred in was even worse. For a man who had spent his life working on such high-quality projects, Street Fighter was not the way to go out.

Capcom would have to live with the idea of keeping Raul Julia in the game for just under a year, as it took them until August 10, 1995, to finally release Street Fighter: The Movie on the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn. Electronic Arts had a similar window to mull this over, waiting almost two years before unloading The Godfather: The Game. Whether this was enough time is completely up to the player, but it seems pretty clear that if you're a famous star and you die between now and the game's release, chances are you're not going to be replaced. I wonder what Marlon Brando, Phil Hartman, and Raul Julia have to say about that?
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