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Celebrities in VR: Videogames, Movies & Investment

Virtual reality (VR) is a pervasive new medium. While it’s currently being lead by videogames – as was expected by many over the past three years of gestation – there are plenty of other areas in which VR will in time become a dominating presence. Hollywood is one of these, and many celebrities have already begun vocalising their support. Some have in fact gone even further however, lending their talents or finance to videogames and short movie productions.

Katee Sackhoff

Katee Sackhoff in EVE Valkyrie

Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Riddick actor Katee Sackhoff is famed for her science-fiction adventures, so who better to star in VR’s first sci-fi blockbuster? EVE Valkyrie casts Sackhoff as Rán Kavik, stalwart leader of the Valkyrie pilots. Sackhoff is presented as your comrade during story-driven moments and a commentator on the action during multiplayer gameplay. She is suspiciously aware of your successes and failures, and is quick to condemn a poor performance.

Henry Oculus screenshot

Elijah Wood in Henry

Henry is a short film from Oculus Story Studio, currently available for free to all Oculus Rift early adopters. It depicts a loveable cartoon hedgehog that’s having a bit of a rough time. See, Henry loves hugs, but his spiky exterior is not all too welcoming for his friends. As such, he finds himself in a very lonely situation at his birthday party.

In a rather odd turn of events, Oculus Story Studio decided not to make a big deal out of the fact that Elijah Wood, who shot to fame in his role of Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, is the sole voice viewers will hear throughout the film. Wood acts as the narrator, guiding the player through Henry’s misery and into an unsurprisingly smile-inducing resolution.

Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth

Nick Frost, Lara Pulver & Sean Pertwee in Esper 2

The first Esper videogame, originally developed for Samsung Gear VR, featured some rather humorous voice-acting courtesy of Norm MacDonald (My Name is Earl, Mike Tyson Mysteries, Family Guy), but it was the sequel that really upped-the-ante. Coatsink rallied the talents of Nick Frost (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead), Lara Pulver (True Blood, Sherlock) and regular videogame voice talent Sean Pertwee (Event Horizon, Gotham) to lend their voices to Esper 2, offering the biggest celebrity cast of any VR videogame to date.

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John Rhys-Davies in Firebird: La Peri

The recent Steam Early Access release of Firebird: La Peri saw John Rhys-Davies, actor famed for playing the character of Sallah in two Indiana Jones movies and Gimli in the big screen adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, deliver a narrative for Innerspace VR’s recreation of the classical piece, La Peri.

“When working on the Firebird franchise, it was evident that we wanted a strong voice and John Rhys-Davies was the obvious choice. His legacy in gaming and entertainment is unparalleled,” said Balthazar Auxietre, CCO and co-founder of Innerspace VR.

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Kevin Spacey Investing in VR

Although Kevin Spacey is yet to appear in any VR productions himself, the actor made a bold early move investing in the technology. Woofbert VR, a content production company specialising in short film, is the benefactor of Spacey’s enthusiasm. Having stated that it was the Oculus Rift that ‘opened his eyes’ to the possibilities of VR in theatre, Spacey recognises that: “A lot of the early problems with the technology have been solved, it’s time for the content creators to produce.”