7 Actors We Want to Star in a ‘Grand Theft Auto’ Movie

Published 1 year ago by , Updated September 20th, 2013 at 8:50 am, This is a list post.

7 Actors We Want to Star in a 'Grand Theft Auto' Movie

Grand Theft Auto Movie Actors After years of waiting, Rockstar Games has officially released Grand Theft Auto 5 to video game fans around the world - marking one of the biggest entertainment launches in history. Which has us wondering: how long will it be until Hollywood announces a movie set in the Grand Theft Auto world? Nearly three years back, Rockstar's VP of creative, Dan Houser, stated that any reason to take GTA from the small screen to the big screen would have to be "more than financial" - and weeks ago he reaffirmed this position. However, several video game publishers are preparing film adaptations from their biggest franchises (Assassin's Creed, Splinter Cell, among others), retaining creative control to ensure that the next generation of interactive gameplay-turned-fixed big screen viewing overcomes the stigma of less-uninspired attempts that came before. For that reason, it might not be too long before Rockstar Games sees a clearer path for adapting a Grand Theft Auto story - or telling an entirely new misadventure full of the same debauchery, violence, and social commentary that has made GTA one of the most popular brands in gaming. As a result, we're taking a look back at the various anti-heroes from Grand Theft Auto's past (limited to primary console protagonists) in order to present actors that we'd love see go from rags to riches (and cause mass pandemonium) in a live-action Grand Theft Auto movie. Of course the list is not all-inclusive, so once you've had a chance to read our picks, share your ideas in the comments.

Jai Courtney as Claude

Grand Theft Auto Movie Actors Claude Jai Courtney Character appearances: Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Actor seen in: Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Jack Reacher, and A Good Day to Die Hard. When Grand Theft Auto made the jump to open-world sandbox mayhem (from its top-down roots), players landed in the blue sneakers of Claude "Speed" - a silent protagonist, recently double-crossed by his lover, and left for dead. A feature film based on Grand Theft Auto 3 would, undoubtedly, require Claude to have a voice this round - though the character's brutal fisticuffs and expert weapons training would still do a lot of the talking. A Good Day to Die Hard was, ultimately, bogged down in too much father-and-son drama to make it a satisfying Die Hard franchise entry, but it's hard to blame Jai Courtney - who still delivered some of the film's most exciting (and humorous) moments. That said, Courtney's role as ruthless assassin Charlie in Jack Reacher (also a man of few words) provides the best reason to think the actor could offer a believable but savage take on Claude - a mysterious man capable of racking-up a 5-star wanted level only to escape in a heart-pounding car chase.

Jon Bernthal as Tommy Vercetti

Grand Theft Auto Movie Actors Tommy Jon Bernthal

Character appearances: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (off-hand reference) Actor seen in: The Walking Dead, Snitch, and The Wolf of Wall Street. Known best for his role as the duplicitous Shane Walsh on The Walking Dead, Bernthal would be no stranger to the brutality and violence depicted in a Grand Theft Auto property. Unlike the silent Claude, Vercetti was brought to life by foul-mouthed dialogue along with an (at times) abrasive personality - making him one of the least empathetic Grand Theft Auto protagonists. However, Bernthals's supporting part in Snitch serves as a good example of how casting the actor as Tommy Vercetti in a big screen Vice City adaptation could help ground the gangster caricature in a relatable story (capable of appealing to a broad moviegoing audience) - since the success of the Snitch character, Daniel James, managed to navigate a very fine line between violent actions and an empathetic human arc. Playing up the events behind Vercetti's betrayal would allow Bernthal plenty of room to be a one-man killing machine - couched motivations that audiences could get behind.

Michael B. Jordan as Carl Johnson

Grand Theft Auto Movie Actors CJ Michael Jordan Character appearances: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Actor seen in: Friday Night LightsChronicle, and Fruitvale Station. Considering that Carl "CJ" Johnson is the most customizable Grand Theft Auto character to date, as players were given the ability to alter his physique by working out along with other elements of his physical appearance through tattoos and clothing options, it's possible that actor Michael B. Jordan might not be the mirror image of each individual CJ version. However, the actor has proven himself in a number of strong performances - meaning that Jordan shouldn't have a problem making CJ's complicated personality, a hardened but comparatively reserved (by GTA standards) protagonist, believable and even empathetic in a feature film. Portraying CJ who, despite his good intentions is still a capable killer, would definitely demand that Jordan be more of an aggressor (and outright violent) than many of his past roles but, as a veteran of The Wire, the actor is no stranger to gritty stories of inner-city violence, drug dealers, turf wars, crooked cops, as well as personal tragedy, and retaliation.

Jason Statham as Niko Bellic

Grand Theft Auto Movie Actors Niko Jason Statham Character appearances: Grand Theft Auto 4 Actor seen in: The Transporter, Crank, and The Expendables. While Niko Bellic was punctuated by a number of goofy and over-the-top traits in his GTA installment, but any big screen version of the character would need to be slightly more grounded - albeit still with a healthy dose of humor and hijinks. Jason Statham might not be Eastern European but the actor has played non-British characters in the past - characters who successfully balance ruthless killing with tongue-in-cheek banter. There's no doubt that Statham can be a convincing one-man-army, capable of clearing out an entire warehouse full of entrenched thugs, but roles like Chev Chelios in Crank along with Lee Christmas in The Expendables show the actor can also serve up social satire and off-the-wall comedy beats that would be necessary in translating the world of Grand Theft Auto to movies. Most importantly, Statham is well-adept at conquering the biggest hurdle facing any film set in the violent and crude world of GTA - making the audience root for (and maybe even care about) a savage and cold-hearted assassin.

Ray Liotta as Michael De Santa

Grand Theft Auto Movie Actors Michael Ray Liotta Character appearances: Grand Theft Auto 5 Actor seen in: Goodfellas, Killing them Softly, and Cop Land. Ray Liotta is already a Grand Theft Auto veteran, voicing Tommy Vercetti in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. However, in the live-action world, Liotta is a better fit for the first of the three Grand Theft Auto 5 protagonists, Michael De Santa. The senior member of the GTAV anti-hero team, Michael is a former bank robber now living a suburban life with his wife and children. However, in order to maintain his accustomed quality of life, he returns to a life of crime. After Goodfellas put Liotta in the spotlight, the actor has become a staple among gangster movie fantasy casters and for good reason: Liotta captures the delicate balance between charm and malevolence that makes for a memorable mobster. Still, his work in comedy, specifically films like Date Night, should help him capture the duality of Michael - a man that is ruthless, cunning, but still a doormat for his wife and kids. Of course, Liotta wouldn't be alone in a GTA5-inspired movie, and it'd be especially fun to watch the veteran actor interact with younger and crazier partners in crime.

Colin Farrell as Trevor Phillips

Grand Theft Auto Movie Actors Trevor Colin Farrell Character appearances: Grand Theft Auto 5 Actor seen in: Fright NightSeven Psychopaths, and Horrible Bosses. Possibly the zaniest main character in Grand Theft Auto franchise history, Trevor Philips is the instigator of several over-the-top sequences in the latest Rockstar Games title. As a result, Hollywood would need to find an actor that could "play crazy" convincingly - without resorting to parody or caricature. Fortunately, Colin Farrell has a filmography full of madcap but believable performances - and the Irish-born actor has managed to bring something new to each sociopath in his collection. Moviegoers will, no doubt, remember the actor's performances as Jerry (Fright Night) and Bullseye (Daredevil) but it is actually his 2011 turn as one of the Horrible Bosses, Bobby Pellitt, that got us thinking about how much fun it would be to see Farrell running around the world of GTA in the role of Trevor. Additionally, Farrell is no stranger to starring opposite other idiosyncratic personalities - meaning he'd likely heighten the performances of his Michael and Franklin co-stars as well as any demented antagonists the GTA 5 trio would undoubtedly face.

Anthony Mackie as Franklin Clinton

Grand Theft Auto Movie Actors Franklin Anthony Mackie Character appearances: Grand Theft Auto 5 Actor seen in: Pain and GainGangster Squad, and 8 Mile. Set to make his comic book movie debut as Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Anthony Mackie has been acting on the big screen for over a decade - racking up a solid resume of powerful performances (including more than a few morally ambiguous types with charming but deadly personalities). The actor was a stand-out in Michael Bay's dark comedy, Pain and Gain, delivering some of the film's most engaging scenes. Still, Mackie's ability to slip into an ensemble and play-off other quirky performers (such as Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson) make him an especially smart choice for Franklin - who is one-third of the core Grand Theft Auto protagonist team. Mackie has the talent to help ground the cooky antics of the GTA world with compelling character moments both sincere and felonious - be it the father-son-like relationship depicted between Franklin and Michael or over-the-top antics with his other partner-in-crime, the wacky Trevor.

Conclusion & Honorable Mentions

Grand Theft Auto Movie Bruce Willis As mentioned, we only cover the main GTA console protagonists in our list of Actors We Want to Star in a Grand Theft Auto Movie but there were two character/actor pairings that we couldn't help but mention - both from Grand Theft Auto 4. Check out our honorable mentions below (along with a quick matchup image on the left): Ray Winstone as Roman Bellic: Winstone  is an inspired fit for the world of Grand Theft Auto - even if the majority of his screen time would simply be spent bowling with Jason Statham. Bruce Willis as Brucie Kibbutz: Willis is definitely older than Brucie but who wouldn't want to see the veteran action star spout-off lines like "Stay Alpha, bro!"? Given Rockstar Games' fear of diluting the integrity of their fan-favorite video game series, it could be a very long time before we see an actual Grand Theft Auto film adaptation. Still, with quality video game films becoming an increasing focus for studio executives, it's easy to get excited about the possibilities. In the meantime, we'll keep you updated on any potential Grand Theft Auto movies here at Screen Rant - and make sure to check out our Grand Theft Auto 5 coverage over at Game Rant. ___ Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future updates on Grand Theft Auto as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.
TAGS: grand theft auto


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  1. How about Michael Shannon as Trevor Phillips?

  2. Jai Courtney was never in “Spartacus: War of the Damned” he was in “Spartacus: Blood and Sand”

    • Cheers. Thanks. I’ll update that.

  3. YESS ! make this happen

  4. A Grand Theft Auto movie wouldn’t be different than any other crime movie, though. A lot of the fun in Grand Theft Auto comes from the large open world and little misadventures that you get into between points A and B. None of that would really be able to translate into a movie. I’m not saying the movie couldn’t be GOOD. There have been plenty of good crime movies. But there wouldn’t be anything special about it. The title would just be a gimmick.

  5. The only way I could see a GTA movie working would be if the film had it’s own characters and stories set in the fictional world of GTA (so basically taking things like Weasel News, Burger Shot and the fictional city names). The film would also need to retain the social satire of the games.

    Overall though I don’t want to see a GTA movie because the people making it would just copy it directly and what works for a game what necessarily work for a movie, the stories in GTA work because there set in an open world sandbox game and Rockstar has more time to devote to character backstory and developing the world of GTA. You can’t just take this fully developed world (any singular game of the franchise) and reduce it to two or so hours. No, a GTA movie needs to be in it’s own story in the world of GTA.

  6. Having played the game for several days and got through quite a few Trevor missions, I honestly pictured Jim Carrey playing him.

  7. Jason Statham as Niko Bellic? What have you been smoking? I like Jason in his silly action movies but in what way, shape or form does he have anywhere near the chops required to pull off the emotional depth of Niko Bellic? Such a horrible choice.

  8. Walton Goggins as Trevor. Watch The Shield if you don’t know how good he can act, and he can do crazy. Perfect Trevor.

  9. Well, hate to burst your bubble both fans of the games and Ben.
    Rockstar themselves, even Sam and Dan Houser claim the series being made into a movie-adaptation will NEVER happen as they believe it’s untranslatable into a 1/2 hour, 2-hour film.

    “We’ve been offered, many times, and it’s never appealed. The money’s never been close to be worth risking one’s crown jewels. Our small dabblings with Hollywood have always left us running back to games. The freedom we have to do what we want creatively is of enormous value. The second you go near Hollywood, people seem willing, or have been forced, to lose a lot of that control. That sort of amorphous ‘that won’t test well’ attitude is exactly how we don’t work. We’ve always tried to think of stuff that’s innovative and new, and to go into a world where that’s not encouraged would be horrible.”

    I for one would have to agree with them, and honestly, if you ask me the cutscenes they direct and write are as close as we’ll ever get to seeing a live-action drama from them, I mean look at the voice-actors and their on-screen counterparts, I’m sure as a loving-tribute and dedication to their hard-work they intentionally make the protagonists look like their voice-actors, which is awesome.

  10. Steven Ogg as Trevor

  11. Umm, Brucie was pretty much based off of Steve-O and so should be played by him (not Knoxville)…

  12. Nicolas cage as Trevor Phillips. Ha

  13. The voice actor of Trevor should play Trevor!

  14. Does no one know who Michael Madsen is?? Ray Liotta isn’t a bad choice for Michael, but DeSanta IS Michael Madsen! The voice, the look, the actions. Watch any Tarantino flick with him (or almost any of his movies) and you will see it. I had to look up who the voice actors were to see if Madsen played DeSanta. It’s spot on.

  15. There should never be a film adaptation of GTA since GTA is essentially a movie on steroids to begin with.

  16. Shouldn’t the people who played Michael, Trevor and Franklin star in it since rhe characters are based on their appearance?

  17. Chadwick Boesman as franklin clinton. Kevin Spacey as micheal, and christian bale as trevor phillips. He’s played a drugee role before. in the fighter

  18. Either John Malkovich or Jack Nicholson should play Trevor. They have played insane characters (Jack Torrance: The shining/Marvin Boggs: Red

    Also Denzel Washington should Play Luis Lopez and Hugh Jackman should play Johnny Klebitz

  19. The voice actors for GTA 5 are real actors. The animated characters are based off the voice actors, so why dont they use them?

  20. How about Steven Ogg as Trevor Philips since he is actually Trevor’s look and voice …and an actor!!! Seriously…look it up.

  21. Steven Ogg. Please please please seriously. HE IS TREVOR. looks liketrevor. sounds like trevor. VOICED trevor. they even acted out many of the scenes in the game so. PLEASE.


  23. Dwayne Johnson as Franklin Clinton
    Ray Liotta as Michael De Santa
    Jason Statham as Niko Bellic
    Clint Eastwood as Trevor Phillips
    Michael J. Fox as Tommy Vercetti
    Kavin Costner as Claude

    Conclusion & Honorable Mentions

  24. Anthony Hopkins as Brucie Kibbutz
    Richard Gere as Roman Bellic

  25. Make it PG 13
    Directed. By Quentin Tarantino

  26. Trevor has to Michael Keaton, he has that madness in his acting range and would do the rile justice. Just has to lose some pounds. Otherwise, why does it have to be real life, just use the computer graphics from the game and make a 2 hour movie that way, using the real voices for the roles??

  27. Was this merely made up?
    Ray Liotta actually did the voice for Tommy Vercetti so he should play the character. Also Colin Ferrell is funny enough to play Trevor but Trevor is not exactly a good looking guy. He is kinda creepy and disgusting.
    As for the rest, well, there pretty good. Niko would definitely fit Jason.

    • They need to keep the voice actors. They resemble the characters in the game Steven, solo, and ned look just like the characters the play, don’t you think? It would make it that much better to see familiar faces…

      • TOTALLY agree! I’d actually be very disappointed if anyone played the three GTA V characters other than the actors who voiced them!

  28. Heck no….if anyone is going to play Michael De Santa in the big screen, it needs to be Ned Luke….the actor that the character was modeled after physically and was the voice. I think your first four suggestions are spot on, especially Jason Statham, but I think all three of the GTA V guys would need to play their own characters. For sure Michael and Trevor anyway. I think a tv series that followed the lives of these three would be fantastic as well.