When you're a man who stands over 6'4" but weighs well under 200 pounds, has different-colored eyes and has been known to sprout breasts and lose all visible traces of genitalia, landing the role of an alien is kind of a shoo-in.
For Marilyn Manson, who has been cast in the upcoming video game "Area-51," the job was even easier than that. No makeup was required — other than the ghastly white foundation he wears on the average day — when Manson hit Midway Games' studios earlier this month to lend his voice to the character Edgar, an ambivalent narrator of sorts who guides players through a conspiracy theorist's dream game.
"The thing about 'Area-51' that was interesting to me was that I'd be portraying an alien who shares a lot of similar feelings that I do," Manson said, "such as a distaste for mankind in general. It's a game for people who don't necessarily trust the government, who don't trust everything they're told or taught in school."
Manson, who portrayed an alien on the cover of 1998's Mechanical Animals and in the video for its single "The Dope Show," accepted the role because he likes the way Edgar derives pleasure from watching humans scurry to repair the damage they brought onto themselves.
"Edgar is only helping the player along out of spite or his own convenience," Manson said. "It's like a game to him. You don't really know if he's good or bad, he kind of represents both sides of the spectrum."
Due in early 2005, the first-person shooter takes place in the government's Area 51, the supposed alien-research facility in Nevada that's become the subject of so many extraterrestrial theories. When a viral outbreak threatens the scientific and military personnel inside, Specialist Ethan Cole is sent in to quell the disturbance. As Cole, players explore five levels of the complex while confronting the truth behind such well-known conspiracies as the alien crash at Roswell, New Mexico, the faked lunar landing and the alien autopsy. And with more than 10 types of human and alien weaponry at his disposal, Cole takes on a barrage of extraterrestrial attackers designed by Stan Winston Studios, the company that created monsters for the films "Aliens," "Jurassic Park" and "Predator."
Besides Manson's, "Area-51" also features the voices of actors David Duchovny ("X-Files") and Powers Boothe ("Frailty"). As games become increasing more like interactive cinema than hand-eye-coordination tests, Manson said the actors and celebrities who star in them help the players immerse themselves in the game and suspend disbelief in much the same way as they do in theaters.
"It adds a lot of relevance to a video game when you get a lot of strong character-actor voices involved," he explained. "Having David Duchovny and Powers Boothe alongside my voice, it really gives people a lot more visuals to add to it. It fuels their imagination."