Uncharted lives and breathes because its protagonist, Nathan Drake, is so likeable. Thank goodness Naughty Dog didn’t go with its first idea.
When Uncharted was first pitched, Naughty Dog had quite a different look in mind for its leading man.
The Verge has a fascinating feature detailing the earliest development of what was then known as Project Big, including a pitch video showing off an early version of Drake “based partially on Johnny Knoxville, with a comically emotive face like something in a Dreamworks film”.
This makes a lot of sense when you remember Naughty Dog had, up till Uncharted, worked exclusively with cartoon styles. But wow: doesn’t it look skeezy now? Go check out the GIF of proto-Drake’s facial animations and you’ll see what I mean.
Naughty Dog ultimate elected to go for “the more traditionally handsome look” we ended up with, and after auditioning 20 to 30 actors, found Nolan North – the talented voice and motion performance actor whose work is so intrinsic to the series’s identity.
The full feature and video are well worth a visit if you have even a passing interest in Uncharted or development; it’s pretty cool to see the things Naughty Dog dropped and to learn that such a polished-seeming project was actually kind of scrappy.