Earlier this year, Electronic Arts appeared to have landed a posthumous casting coup. A February article in the The Hollywood Reporter said the publisher had not only secured Marlon Brando's likeness rights for its Godfather game, but it had also recorded dialogue with the actor before his death in July 2004.
However, an article this week in the New York Times (registration required) says that gamers will not hear Brando's distinctive rasp--merely an imitator's. In a piece titled "How to Be Your Own Godfather," reporter Seth Schiessel says that Brando's "actual voice will not appear in the game...rather, his recordings are guiding a professional voice mimic." Apparently the actor's medical condition during the single February 2004 session was so grave he could only breathe with the assistance of an oxygen tank. The noise of Brando breathing through a tube connected to the tank made a direct recording impossible, according to the article.
When asked for clarification, EA spokespersons said the company had "recorded multiple sessions with a sound-alike to capture the entire performance of the Don Vito character, something we were not able to do with Mr. Brando." However, they said some of the actor's voice may end up in the final game. "It's still to be determined how the development team will choose to use what was recorded with Mr. Brando," said a rep.
Brando won an Academy Award for best actor for his role in the Godfather film (although he refused to accept it as part of a political protest). He portrayed Don Vito Corleone, the head of a New York City crime syndicate during the late 1940s and 1950s. Eventually, the empire was taken over by Vito's son, Michael, who was played by Al Pacino. Unlike his castmates Robert Duvall and James Caan, Pacino declined to lend his voice or likeness to the game, meaning the character of Michael in the game will not look or sound like the actor. However, Pacino's likeness will be featured in another movie adaptation, VU Games' Scarface: The World Is Yours.
The film and the Mario Puzo novel that inspired it serve as the basis for the Godfather game, which will focus on a low-level gangster working his way up the lawless ladder of the Corleone organization. The game will be released for PC, PSP, Xbox, Xbox 360, GameCube, and PlayStation 2 later this year.