Nolan North on what Nathan Drake and Tony Stark Have in Common

Lon Harris
Games Marvel
Games Marvel

For voice actor Nolan North, taking on the role of Tony Stark in Marvel’s Avengers was something of a Han Solo moment. That sounds complicated, but it makes sense when you unpack it.

“If Indiana Jones was Harrison Ford’s Nathan Drake, this is my Han Solo, I think,” North explained during a recent episode of our interview series, Hey, Fandom! “Nathan Drake was such a great character to play, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get my Han Solo moment; to play another iconic character like that. It’s a lot of fun.”

But of course, there was excitement about taking on such an iconic role, beyond just a chance to compare himself to The Talented Mr. Ford. North was also eager to put his own unique stamp on Stark and his alter-ego, Iron Man, while also paying homage to that other huge movie star who’s already intimately associated with the role.

“I’m a huge fan of what Robert Downey Jr. did with the films, and I think one of the biggest challenges was to separate the performance enough that you honor the character,” North explained. “Sometimes certain phrases would be a little bit Robert Downey Jr. A little RDJ in there, just as an homage to what he did, without doing an impression. I had to make the character as much my own as possible. That was a challenge, to toe that line. He looks different, and it’s his own universe, it’s own different world.”

The epic new game from Square Enix, which hits stores on September 4, puts players in control of a full Avengers squad, in a deadly clash against the villainous global mega-corporation, Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.) For North, part of the fun of the assignment was a chance to collaboratively fill in an entirely new Avengers team.

“I think it would’ve been harder to do my own Iron Man game and have to carry a game as Iron Man, initially,” North offered. “But to be part of the Avengers, we had a great cast, with Troy [Baker as Hulk], and Laura [Bailey as Black Widow], and Travis [Willingham as Thor]. Jeff [Schine as Captain America]. Everybody. It was so cool to be in there and living these characters and playing it out.”

Beyond just the new story and a fresh take on the ultimate Marvel team-up, North also expects fans to get a kick out of taking control of the characters and navigating through the world of the game.

“It’s some of the best gameplay I think I’ve ever seen or been part of,” North said. “What they did with this game, it’s amazing. It’s really going to appeal to people who like narrative story, but they really like great gameplay. There’s something so satisfying about being the Hulk, and picking up a bad guy and smashing other bad guys with a bad guy. Black Widow, Thor’s hammer… The game is so cool.”

He was a bit less forthcoming when it came to other Marvel characters he’d one day like to play. When pressed, though, North did have a few thoughts.

Doctor Strange has a cool cape,” he offered. “I kinda like that. That’d be cool to mo-cap. I don’t really think about things like that, usually… Hawkeye! But he’s just bow and arrow. I don’t know.”

UNCHARTED BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

North was also able to draw some parallels between his new role as Tony Stark and undoubtedly his most iconic video game character to date: Uncharted hero Nathan Drake.

“What makes a good character is his vulnerability and his flaws,” North told us. “Tony [Stark]’s flawed, majorly, but he’s always trying to do the best he can. He has a lot in common with Nathan Drake. Nathan Drake’s not going out and looking to destroy the lost city of Shambhala. He’s not looking to go out and kill a bunch of soldiers. It’s a game and you’ve got to get through that level. He’s the everyman who’s just doing his best.”

Though he’s very happy with where we last left Nathan Drake at the close of Uncharted 4, North’s not entirely closed to the idea of revisiting the character… someday.

“If they wanted to ever do it again, I’m in,” North assured us. “It’s such a part of my life. So much of me is in Nathan Drake, and that was, at the beginning, part of [Uncharted writer] Amy Hennig’s plan. She invited me, first of all, to put as much of myself into the character as possible. She knew me so well, that she would start writing to my kind of sensibilities, and who I was. So the characters kind of merged. I always joke that, other than the fact that I can’t climb a ladder as well as Nathan Drake can climb a cliff… that character’s a part of me.”

DRAKE HOT TAKES

He may not be actively starring as Drake in any new games, but North has a lot of thoughts about casting for the upcoming Uncharted film adaptation. He’s particularly excited to see Tom Holland explore a time in the character’s life that hasn’t been featured in any of the games to date.

“Where was Nathan Drake in his 20s?” North asked. “We never see that. We introduce him when he’s in his early 30s and then, there’s a flashback in Cartagena when he’s about 14, 15 years old. Where was he in his 20s? What did he and Sully do before they got to the original Uncharted? That’s a great idea. I’m interested. It’s part of the whole Uncharted lore that we don’t know about. I’m all for it.”

He famously had some initial hesitations about Mark Wahlberg as Sully, but got over them soon enough.

“I like Mark Wahlberg,” North said. “He’s a New England guy like me. When they announced him as Sully, I was like ‘That’s interesting.’ I wasn’t sure. I don’t really see that. But when you look at it in the context of what they’re going to do with the movie, I think it’s a good choice.”

All that said, North did have his own personal preference for the cinematic Drake, based on a minor role that allowed him to spend some time on the set of Star Trek Into Darkness.

“If they were going to do a 1-to-1 type thing, Chris Pine,” Nolan said. “I think he’s got the everyman quality, the charm, humor. I really liked working with him. He’s a good solid actor and a good guy.”

BACK IN THE POOL

North has voiced Marvel’s mouthy merc, Deadpool, in a variety of projects ar this point, including the animated Hulk vs. Wolverine and the 2013 Deadpool video game. But one of his great regrets in that he missed out on playing the role on the short-lived animated series Wolverine and the X-Men.

“They were supposed to have a Season 2 and there was something going on,” North explained. “Disney had bought Marvel and the show was on a different network, and it literally was just a business decision and technicalities. Unfortunately, in Season 2, Deadpool was going to become a new character on that show.”

He’d be open to playing Deadpool again, though, in just about any format or platform, particularly if the big-screen Mr. Pool — Ryan Reynolds — were also involved.

“First of all, a Deadpool 2 game, I think, would be a great thing to do,” North said. “And then an animated series, which may have to be on Netflix. I think it’d be fun if I did Deadpool, but it’d be great to incorporate Ryan Reynolds as Ryan, and Deadpool. Because he’s had quite a bit of success in that arena. I’d love to work with him in any aspect of the business, but the idea of teaming up with those characters could be a lot of fun.”

Check out our full Hey, Fandom! chat with Nolan North below!

Lon Harris
Lon writes for Screen Junkies and "Honest Trailers," Rotten Tomatoes, Inside Streaming and elsewhere. He still can't believe critics didn't like "Three Amigos" when it came out.