For over a decade, David Hayter was the voice of Metal Gear Solid protagonists Solid Snake and Big Boss. Hayter and Snake were, and still are for many gamers,inextricably linked. It was a huge blow to fans and to Hayter himself when he lost the role to Keifer Sutherland in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain.
It turns out, though, that we were almost having this conversation 12 years ago. In an interview with Game Informer, Hayter talked in-depth about his history with the role.
“I had to re-audition to for [Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater] to play Naked Snake,” he said. “They made me re-audition to play Old Snake [in Metal Gear Solid 4] and the whole time they were trying to find someone else to do it. I heard that Kojima asked one of the producers on Metal Gear 3 to ask Kurt Russell if he would take over for that game. He didn’t want to do it.”
Hayter says he hasn’t played either of the most recent games in the series as that would be “60 hours of humiliation that I can’t get to… it’s just too painful.”
Hayter doesn’t bear any ill will toward Sutherland for the change, but said he feels like “the whole thing could have been handled better and more respectfully.”
Series director Hideo Kojima has always had a big love for American cinema, and Snake himself was based on heroes like Russell’s Snake Plissken, so neither the change to Sutherland nor the revelation that Russell was approached are surprising, but it’s still sad, as a long time fan of the series, to see one of the voices that made it so popular pushed out so thoughtlessly.