For years, a few websites have had an unsourced rumor, saying that Robin Williams was to have been the original voice for the Vortigaunts in Half-Life 2.
In our curiosity, we got in touch with Marc Laidlaw, the series writer for Half-Life, who previously mentioned Williams’ involvement with Valve on Twitter, to see if he could shed any more light on this rumor:
I looked into this after tweeting to someone about it, since I wasn’t directly involved and I don’t trust my memory.
Williams came to the HL2 demo at E3, watched the demo and told Gabe he was a big fan of our games. Gabe thought there might be an opportunity to cast him in HL2, so we reached out to his agent. Clearly it never went further than that. I need to clear up my initial tweet! It makes a nice bit of lore but the changes in details are typical of my fuzzy, lore-inclined memory.
– Marc Laidlaw
Edit: Bill Van Buren, Half-Life 2’s producer further clarified Williams’ role regarding the Vortigaunts in an email to community member and site friend Barnz (with help from Erozbey):
We did talk with Robin Williams about voicing the vortigaunts – we thought he’d be a great choice, given his amazing voice characterization talents, and especially since he played our games and even showed up at our E3 booth for our first reveal of HL2 – but he wasn’t able to do it at that time.
– Bill Van Buren
As well as his potential involvement with the game, he claimed in an interview he did for Zap2it.com that Half-Life as well as Blizzard’s Warcraft III were amongst his favorite games. He also talked about his interest for community-made Half-Life content, such as Day of Defeat (back when it was a mod):
“There are a million games and there are mods with these games, the mods are taking these games and basically redesigning it and doing it on their own thing. There’s a game called Half-Life and these guys made up a total different take on it using the engine to make a World War II engine called Day of Defeat with Germans and Americans doing kind of like a Normandy beach type thing. But these guys made it on their own and the company basically kind of gave them their blessing.”
– Robin Williams
So there you have it, it seems Robin Williams, as well being one of the world’s greatest comedians and actors also appeared to be a lover of all things headcrab.
R.I.P Robin Williams 1951-2014
Thanks to Marc Laidlaw for his response
EngineerDogIta for the Zap2it interview tip
Barnz and Erozbey for sharing Bill Van Buren’s clarification
Co-edited by Alex, Feature image created by Jeff