Maybe you’ve heard his name before, maybe not. You’ve certainly heard his voice though, that’s for sure. Liam O’Brien is an amazing voice actor and today happens to be his birthday, so let’s take a look at his work.
Liam O’Brien Is Everywhere
It goes without saying that as a voice actor, Liam O’Brien could appear (sort of) in a variety of places. When you really look into it though. He. Is. Everywhere. It was only when I started looking into him as an actor and, as a result, the army of voices he has been behind, that I realised I’d been listening to him since my very early teens.
When I hit my teen years, I started to get really heavily into gaming. However, you don’t tend to notice similarities between voices at that age. After all, they’re different characters. They’re different people. But when you listen, and I mean really listen, you can hear it. That voice hiding under the surface, it could be only on a few words now and again but it’s there and every so often it shines through. So when I started looking at Liam O’Brien’s work in more detail, I realised just how many times I’d heard his voice before.
Army of One
As I said previously, Liam O’Brien has been responsible for an army of voices. Whilst it’s possible to detect his voice, it’s tough if you aren’t listening out for it. The variety in his work is astounding and if you were to listen to two voices from different ends of the spectrum you wouldn’t believe that they were the same person. That’s the beauty of it. His voice is so well hidden, you don’t notice it, making every voice fully immersive. Perhaps that subconscious familiarity to his voice puts you at ease right from the start.
You Are Not Prepared
I first heard Liam O’Brien’s voice in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. He provides the wonderful voice of Illidan Stormrage and honestly, those words are still with me to this day. Every time I think of that scene, it gives me shivers. “You are not prepared”. Goosebumps. He’s also voiced other characters in the game which you may have recognised. For example, Talon King Ikiss in Burning Crusade, Marwyn in Wrath of the Lich King, and Sha of Violence in Mists of Pandaria.
I also started playing Darksiders a few years ago. Whose voice did I hear? Yep, Liam O’Brien, voicing War, the main character. I also sank a lot of hours in to Dragon Age: Origins. The game itself really does feel endless at times but even in such an expansive world, who did I run into when I got stuck in the Fade? Yep, Liam O’Brien. I even bumped into him while wandering the post-apocalyptic wastes of New Vegas.
Liam O’Brien has also voiced characters in some of the games set in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. He voices Elladan and Elrohir in LOTR: War in the North, alongside fellow VO Laura Bailey, who shares a birthday with Liam! More recently, I’ve had the pleasant company of his voice in the form of Gollum. You can find him skulking around in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (as well as the previous game Shadow of Mordor).
The Long Haul
One of Liam O’Brien’s longest serving voice roles is as Gaara in Naruto. Liam has voiced Gaara for many years (since 2005) and started his anime voice-over career back in 2001. If you’re a fan of comics (or their animated equivalent) then you can find Liam O’Brien there too. He does the voice of Nightcrawler in Wolverine and the X-Men, as well as Red Skull in Avengers Assemble. My son has recently discovered a love for all things Star Wars. It might be set in a galaxy far, far away, but Liam O’Brien is there too, providing quite a few voices for the Star Wars Rebels animated series.
On a Role
If you’re a tabletop RPG gamer then chances are you’ve seen Liam O’Brien on the show Critical Role. If you haven’t seen it then I highly recommend it, it’s a great stream/channel, with loads of content and some really amazing adventures. In a nutshell, Liam teams up with some fellow Voice Actors and, guided by DM Matthew Mercer, travels through the lands of Tal’Dorei (campaign 1) and Wildemount (campaign 2) having a whole lot of fun along the way. They save people, defeat bad guys, and sometimes things even go to plan. Sometimes.
Starting in 2015, the show was only one of many on the Geek & Sundry channel. Since then it has grown in popularity to such an extent that Critical Role has become a stand-alone channel. The show has helped to introduce a swathe of new players to tabletop gaming and has given Dungeons & Dragons a huge popularity boost. Before the show was aired, the group played their games at home, without any cameras pointed their way. However, back then, they used the Pathfinder system instead. Another great TTRPG worth checking out. If you’re curious, the cast consists of Laura Bailey, Travis Willingham, Ashley Johnson, Marisha Ray, Sam Riegel, Taliesin Jaffe, the Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer, and of course, Liam O’Brien.
You’ll soon look forward to seeing Liam as Vax’ildan, the strong, stealthy rogue each time. Or if you jump straight in to campaign 2 you’ll find Caleb Widogast, the intelligent, introvert wizard with a troubled past. No matter which campaign you watch, you’ll fall in love with the characters (every single one of them). Liam O’Brien makes both Vax and Caleb people in their own right, giving them both such contrasting but convincing personalities that really add to the group dynamic.
Still Not Prepared
I haven’t even begun to cover all the places that Liam O’Brien’s voice has appeared but these are the ones that have had the biggest impact on me personally. I’m sure his voice will be appearing in games and shows for many years to come and I look forward to hearing it. That said, it always catches me off guard, so I’m still not prepared.
Thank you Liam O’Brien for your incredible contributions to gaming and animation. Happy Birthday!
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