If you’re an avid gamer, then you definitely know the name and voice of Solid Snake. In all the modern Metal Gear Solid games, that distinct voice has always been provided by actor/screenwriter/director David Hayter, but recently Konami studios have controversially decided to not have Hayter return for the upcoming latest installment, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.
His replacement? None other than Kiefer Sutherland, who will also be providing the motion capture for the character.
Now all of that is concrete fact, but here’s where I start heading off into the realm of conjecture. Hayter has been the voice of this brand for 15 years now, and his departure is a very odd choice, especially when the franchise’s director, Hideo Kojima, explains the decision to cut him.
“I wanted Snake to have a more subdued performance expressed through subtle facial movements and tone of voice rather than words. Furthermore, the game takes place in 1984 when Snake is 49 years old. Therefore, we needed someone who could genuinely convey both the facial and vocal qualities of a man in his late 40s. It’s different from anything we’ve done before.”
David Hayter is 44. I think he knows how to pull off those facial and vocal qualities. Unless that 5 year gap between his age and Sutherland’s 49 is some kind of magical thespian barrier?
So then why replace him with Sutherland? Well, Sutherland was apparently recommended to Kojima by film producer Avi Arad. The very same Avi Arad who is also producing the long in development Metal Gear Solid live action feature film adaptation.
The adaptation was first announced by Kojima back in 2006, but since then the only developments were to tell us that yes, they were still making it. Then close to the end of last year, it was announced that the film was now in pre-production, with Arad in the producer’s seat, looking for scripts, directors and actors.
Hayter, who starred in cult classic Guyver as well as a number of TV shows, and was the guy who penned the screenplays for X-Men, X-2, Watchmen, The Scorpion King and is writing and directing the upcoming Wolves, pitched his screenplay idea as well as made himself available to act in the movie. He was promptly denied all around.
Now he finds himself being surprisingly evicted out of his most well known voice-acting gig by Kiefer Sutherland, a recommendation of the man putting the movie together. So could it be that Arad and Kojima made this decision so as to get us warmed up to the idea of Sutherland actually portraying the famous character on the big screen?
Anybody who’s ever seen a single minute of acclaimed TV series 24, knows that Sutherland certainly has the badass credentials to pull off the iconic videogame character. And he’s certainly a big enough (and talented enough) name to lend the production the legitimacy it needs, since most people don’t exactly have the best expectations of videogame adaptations. In fact, give Sutherland a scruffy beard, some wild hair and an eye patch, and I actually think he’s not a bad choice.
Now all of this could of course just be Kojima and co riding the coattails of Sutherland’s mainstream popularity to get non-gamers interested in the new title. Non-gamers like say, Kiefer Sutherland, who admits that he’s never played a Metal Gear Solid game in his life, but is familiar with the character.
“It’s an honor to be able to play this character. This character has an unbelievable legacy. There’s a real personal quality to the character that I’ve connected to. I’m not a gamer, and I even knew about this game. I was certainly keenly aware of the legacy of these games, the unbelievable success of these games.”
While I personally don’t approve of the way Konami seems to be discarding Hayter after all these years, the potential (even though it currently just exists in my imagination) to have Jack f@#$king Bauer starring as Solid Snake in a Metal Gear Solid movie is one that gets my geek heart a-pumping!
Last Updated: June 7, 2013