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What these video game characters look like in real life

If you're someone who watches TV shows or movies on the regular, you likely have a favorite actor or actress. They're responsible for bringing your favorite characters to life, and helping you become even more immersed in the universe that character resides in. And when they show up in something, you can't miss it — because you know they're going to knock it out of the park.

Video game actors and actresses can have that same effect.

What's unfortunate, though, is that a lot of the people who voice — and even provide the motion work for — your favorite game characters aren't as well known. They're just as good at drawing you in and making you feel something for a character comprised of polygons and textures, but they don't always find the spotlight the same way.

That ends today. For every Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep in Hollywood, there's a Nolan North or Ashly Burch in video games working tirelessly to tell incredible stories. And it's time you meet them.

These are some of gaming's most well-known characters — and what the people who play them look like.

Melina Juergens as Senua in Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Melina Juergens turned the gaming world on its ear with her stunning performance in Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, so much so that she ended up taking home an award for it at the 2017 Game Awards. But even more surprising than her powerful portrayal of the game's lead character, Senua, was the fact that Melina hadn't had any acting experience prior to playing the part. In fact, she didn't even audition for it. She worked with the Hellblade team at Ninja Theory as its video editor, and she only donned a motion capture helmet to help the studio test out some tech.

As soon as the team saw her in action, they knew they had the right woman for the role.

"I think there's a lot of myself in Senua, because I've never acted before, and I don't know how to act," Juergens said in an interview with PCGamesN. "I basically just used method acting — I used experiences from my own life, like traumas or my anxiety, and connected that with the scenes from Hellblade."

Juergens still works at Ninja Theory, though she says she's now more comfortable with the idea of taking other acting jobs. And she'd love to follow up her performance as Senua if the opportunity presents itself.

Let's hope it does.

Stefanie Joosten as Quiet in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

A few years ago, Stefanie Joosten was a Dutch girl who found herself fascinated with Japanese culture and gaming. So much so, in fact, that she studied Japanese at the University of Leiden and received her master's degree in Tokyo. It was there that she was approached by a modeling agency that specialized in finding Western models, and it led to her becoming one of the most recognizable characters in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

According to Joosten, she received a call one day about a video game audition. The name of the game was a secret, but once she arrived to try out and saw Hideo Kojima, she knew something was up.

She talked about the audition with Dutch newspaper Het Parool: "There was a crate with gun replicas. 'Take one, and pretend like you're infiltrating an army base,' they said. Kind of awkward, because I had no idea how to hold this thing. Fortunately, I could draw inspiration from the games I play, the other girls didn't have a clue at all."

Since her appearance in The Phantom Pain, Joosten has worked on several films and television shows, as well as another game called ICEY

Ashly Burch as Aloy in Horizon: Zero Dawn

Prior to becoming Aloy in Horizon: Zero Dawn, Burch had already made her mark in video games by playing Tiny Tina in Borderlands 2, as well as Chloe in Life is Strange. But what made her turn as Aloy so different was the massive scale of the role, and the game itself: it's a 30-plus hour jaunt, and Burch was there to record every single line, every step of the way.

She took particular pride in making Aloy feel like a fully realized character.

"When we create female characters, I think often there is a tendency to kind of make female characters emotionally bulletproof," Burch told Engadget in an interview. "You've heard people talk about the 'capital-S Strong Female Character' who's sort of humorless and doesn't really have a spark and is sort of flawless in their execution. They just don't feel like fully fleshed out, real characters. And I really didn't want Aloy to feel that way."

Burch's work in Horizon helped cement what would become an all-around great video game experience. And Burch hasn't let up since then, either, helping write an episode of the cartoon Adventure Time that earned her an Emmy, and continuing to voice characters in games like FortniteMarvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, and Life is Strange: Before the Storm.

Based on the reception Horizon received, there's a good chance we'll see her as Aloy again in the future.

Christopher Judge as Kratos in God of War

Christopher Judge has acting experience, too, but his isn't primarily based in the world of video games. Instead, Judge — who played Kratos in the God of War reboot — was able to lean on his past work in dozens of television shows and films, such as The Dark Knight RisesStargate SG-1, and The Mentalist. In fact, after voicing Jericho in 2008's Turok reboot, Judge had basically sworn off doing video game voice work for a while.

But one day, he showed up for an audition and read a script he couldn't put down. "The material was so good though I didn't care," Judge told the BBC. "And after a further call back I was told it was for a game but I was fine with it because it didn't seem to be written like that."

It doesn't look like Judge has worked on anything since appearing in God of War, but it seems his feelings on doing video game work have changed. It's a safe bet he'll voice another video game character someday. "Games are not just about the gameplay anymore, but about the stories. There are wonderful tales to be told in this medium, and it truly is just another form to exercise your craft."

James McCaffery as Max Payne in Max Payne 3

James McCaffery's relationship with the Max Payne franchise is an interesting one. He's always voiced the character, starting with the original Max Payne in 2001. And he's done so despite the fact that the character model has changed three different times. Max was first based on Remedy co-founder Sam Lake, but for Max Payne 2, the team behind the game used actor Timothy Gibbs. Finally, in Max Payne 3, McCaffery was able to finally able to be the face as well as the voice.

And that's not all he did. McCaffery worked with Rockstar Games to provide the motion capture work for Max, suiting up in the appropriate gear to act out scenes and — in some cases — perform many of the game's stunts. According to Rockstar, he did not do any of the "Shootdodging" stunts — those were left to professional stuntmen. Otherwise, much of what you see Max doing in action-related sequences is actually James McCaffery's movement, captured and recreated in the game.

So what's McCaffery been up to since Max Payne 3? He appeared in a few episodes of TV's Revenge, and also showed up in two episodes of the Netflix series Jessica Jones. And he's acted in a few movies, as well, including Compliance and Blind

But will we ever see him act as Max Payne again? The odds aren't good. But there's always a chance.

Camilla Luddington as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider

The name Camilla Luddington might not ring a bell for you, but she's shown up on quite a bit of TV in the past decade or so. She nabbed the role of Kate Middleton in William & Kate: The Movie, and has also appeared on shows like Californication and Grey's Anatomy. But even though she's a legit television actress, Luddington didn't bat an eye at portraying Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider reboot series.

She talked a bit about the difference between television acting and video game work in an interview with Hollywood Life. "I think the biggest difference is — I do motion capture for the character — and the biggest difference is that we film in this giant room. And there's no real set on Grey's Anatomy," she said. "Obviously, it looks like a hospital, but it takes a lot of imagination to actually feel like you're in an OR. But for Tomb Raider, they can't build a forest of a cliff or something like that. They actually just have blocks and kind of tell you what they symbolize. You're really forced to use your imagination to create that world around you. And that actually makes it super fun because your imagination can be really strong and powerful."

Luddington is set to reprise her role as Lara Croft in Fall 2018's Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Valorie Curry as Kara in Detroit: Become Human

Valorie Curry is an actress that you've likely seen in a TV show or movie, but could never put a name to. Her characters are usually off to the side — there strictly for support. She worked alongside Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, and Shawn Ashmore in The Following, and shared the screen with Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell in House of Lies.

But more recently, Curry managed to land herself a starring role. And though it may seem like one that is completely out of her wheelhouse, it's not all that new to her. Because it's essentially the same role she played all the way back in 2012.

Curry is the star of the new PlayStation 4-exclusive title Detroit: Become Human, in which she lends both her voice and her body to the role of Kara, an android servant. Interestingly enough, though, Curry had experience with this character that preceded Detroit. She had worked with Quantic Dreams, the developer of the game, on a tech demo called Kara that eventually served as the foundation for Detroit.

And it sounds like she enjoyed the part. "The really beautiful the thing that I've had the gift to be able to do is to essentially build a person from the ground up, because that's what she's doing throughout the game," Curry said in a Sony vidoc.

Troy Baker as Joel in The Last of Us

There may be no busier man in video game acting than Troy Baker. Baker has voiced countless characters in games and has provided motion capture work on several, as well. He was the voice of Booker DeWitt in BioShock Infinite. He was the Joker in Batman: Arkham Origins. And he's done voice work in games like Mass Effect 3, Halo 4, and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. But one of his biggest roles came in 2013's The Last of Us. And in that title, he not only provided the voice for Joel — one of the two main characters — he also did motion capture for it.

Baker, alongside actress Ashley Johnson (who played Ellie), made the post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world of The Last of Us feel real. And the two had quite a bond, as evidenced in an interview between the two that released shortly before The Last of Us Remastered in 2014.

"When I walked in and I saw you, all I knew is that I wanted to take care of you," Baker told Johnson.

The emotional connection certainly came through in the role, which Baker is stepping into again. The Last of Us Part II is currently in development with no firm release date as of yet. Aside from that, Baker continues to keep busy, with a part in the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion and a rumored role in Death Stranding.

Nolan North as Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series

Over twenty years ago, North started his run on the late-'90s/early-2000s soap opera Port Charles. It was right around that time he started to dabble in video game work, providing voices in Interstate '82 and EverQuest II. His voice work in games continued, even as he kept showing up on various TV programs. While he was recording lines for games like Call of Duty 2 and Final Fantasy XII, he still managed to fit in appearances on Malcolm in the MiddleNCIS, and Modern Family.

His biggest role by far, though, has to be that of Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series. A video game.

In Uncharted, which has spanned four games over the course of nine years, North both provided the voice acting for Nathan Drake, as well as the motion capture work. In an interview with Tech Radar, North spoke about how similar acting in Uncharted was to his past work: "For a lot of games, you're in a booth. You're alone," he said. "Uncharted is more like doing live action than it is doing any of the other games."

And North, somehow, someway, has found more time to do it all. He recently wrapped up seven seasons of the TV series Pretty Little Liars. And he'll soon play the part of Edward Richtofen in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.