On a Sunday morning in the spring of 2011, the only decision Bill Sproat had left to make was where he was going to kill himself. Would it be easier for people to find him in his living room, he wondered, or the backyard?
When casting what would become one of the most iconic video game heroes of all time, Naughty Dog studios picked Nolan North exactly because he didn’t sound heroic. The game’s developers planned to introduce a new kind of protagonist into a mid-2000s landscape dominated by square-jawed tough guys, and North auditioned for the part “on his heels,” vulnerable, as if falling into this grand adventure by mistake. It was exactly what they were looking for. Eventually it would be the calling card for the Nathan Drake character, whose catchphrase across four hugely successful “Uncharted” games was, “Oh, crap!”
North’s natural speaking voice soon became one of the most coveted assets in the entire industry. He’s embodied heroes from “Uncharted” to “Assassin’s Creed,” “Call of Duty” to “Halo,” the universes of Star Wars to Marvel and seemingly everything in between. Considering the ever-increasing influence of video games over the last 20 years, it’s difficult to imagine anyone has done more to define the voice of the modern hero than North.
“I don’t know why,” North says now, in the same familiar tone. “Maybe my voice became popular because it was somewhat unremarkable.”