After thirty years and fifteen highly popular games, it’s a wonder that The Legend of Zelda hasn’t already been adapted into a live-action movie or TV series. Though there were whispers of Netflix developing a live-action series a few years ago, there has still been no official announcement that The Legend of Zelda is going into production.
Adapting the iconic video game series would not be without its share of obstacles. Much like the Seven Kingdom in Game of Thrones, the world of Hyrule is vast and complex, and many of the characters and creatures would need to be created with special effects. But whereas Game of Thrones may alienate some viewers with its graphic nudity and violence, The Legend of Zelda would be able to draw in a broader demographic -- as long as it's done right.
One of the first true signs that a series or movie is on the right track is when the cast is finally revealed. Nothing lets fans breath a sigh of relief like knowing their favorite characters are in good hands. So for this list we’re picking out the actors and actresses that we think would best bring these iconic video game characters to life. Here is our Dreamcast For A Live-Action Legend Of Zelda Series.
15 Great Fairy - Lady Gaga
Great Fairies have appeared in nearly every Legend of Zelda game, from the original 1987 release all the way to this year’s Breath of the Wild. This recurring character is the leader of the fairy race, and can often be located in an underground fountain usually nearby the games dungeons. The Great Fairies are quick to enhance health and magic in anyone that opposes Ganondorf’s forces, and the characters are so compassionate and soft-spoken that they almost come off a bit creepy at times.
To play a character that is so elaborately designed and eccentric, you need a performer who is equally out of this world. Lady Gaga is certainly no stranger to outlandish custom design and over-the-top performances. She’s also no novice when it comes to impressive wirework (as seen during her Superbowl halftime performance), which would come in handy while playing a character that’s constantly levitating. Lady Gaga’s recent turn playing the the Countess in American Horror Story has also proven that the successful singer/ songwriter is a more than capable actress.
14 Linebeck - Giovanni Ribisi
Though Linebeck only appears in Phantom Hourglass — the direct sequel to The Wind Waker — the character’s personality and transformation really lends itself to live-action adaptation. Linebeck is a primary character in Hourglass, where he aids Link in traveling to the World of the Ocean King on his steamboat, the S.S. Linebeck. While the captain hides under a guise of a brave seafarer, he is actually a coward, motivated solely by the discovery of riches.
Aside from some physical similarities, we think Giovanni Ribisi is the perfect actor to encapsulate the shifty captain of the S.S. Linebeck. Ribisi is known for playing shady and often two-faced characters. In the Amazon series Sneaky Pete, the actor plays a con man who assumes the identity of a former cell mate to ellude his enemies. And in Ted, Ribisi plays Donny, an obsessive stalker who kidnaps the eponymous teddy bear to give to his son. But much like Linebeck, these characters are more damaged than downright evil. Ribisi could no doubt handle the character’s transformation when Linebeck finally redeems himself by rescuing Link, overcoming his insatiable greed for treasure.
13 Saria - Willow Shields
Saria is a childhood friend of Link’s who is featured solely in Ocarina of Time. She is a Kokiri who lives in the forest village, where she is well regarded by the other members of her race. She has bright blue eyes and unusual green hair, which perfectly match her traditional Kokiri garb. She is later revealed to be the Sage of the Forest, which helps explain why she befriends Link when he is considered an outcast by many of the other villagers.
To play Saria, we need an actress who is both strong-willed, yet small in stature -- as Kokiris are a childlike race who never seem to age. 16-year-old actress Willow Shields would be a perfect fit for this Zelda character, as she has already portrayed a somewhat similar character.
In The Hunger Games series, Shields played Primrose Everdeen, a gentle young woman with an affinity for healing others. Shields’ down-to-earth persona and experience playing nurturing characters makes her a good fit to play Saria, the Sage of the Forest.
12 Old Man - Ian McShane
The Old Man (also known as the Wise Man or the Lost Old Man) is a recurring character in a handful of Zelda games. Each incarnation of the Old Man is slightly different than the next, and overall the Old Man is a fairly vague character within the series. But in more than a few instances, the Old Man provides Link with some much needed advice during the hero’s quest, making him a must-have character for a live-action adaptation... after all, what’s a fantasy epic without a wise old man?
Since the character is pretty open to interpretation, we’re casting Ian McShane as our ideal choice to portray the Old Man. The actor is probably best known for playing the foul-mouthed saloon owner, Al Swerengen, in the HBO series Deadwood, and McShane has a worldliness about him that makes it easy for the actor to drift seamlessly from one genre and time period to the next.
More recently, the actor made a guest appearance on Game of Thrones, where he played Brother Ray; a wise and kind-hearted man whose mission is to bring good back into the world. McShane has the distinct talent of making everyone of his lines sound like fact, and it’s not hard to imagine a slightly altered version of Brother Ray aiding Link on his quest to save Princess Zelda.
11 Zant - Benedict Cumberbatch
Of course, if The Legend of Zelda is ever given a live-action treatment, Ganondorf should be the primary villain of the story, but there are still a number of other Zelda antagonist that we’d like to see on the big (or small) screen. Zant first appeared in Twilight Princess, acting as the Usurper King of the Twilight Realm, before he invaded the lands of Hyrule using powers granted to him by the Dark Lord.
Few actors working today have the astounding range exhibited by Benedict Cumberbatch; and if he had to, Cumberbatch could probably find a way to play half of the characters on this list. What makes the actor a perfect match for Zant is the impressive vocal work that the actor has displayed in the past.
For most of Twilight Princess, Zant has a cold and sinister voice. When his plans begin to unravel, Zant becomes unhinged, erratic, and shrill. Cumberbatch’s performances and impeccable vocal work playing Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness and Smaug in The Hobbit trilogy prove that the actor would have no problem portraying the Shadow King.
10 Darunia - Nick Offerman
Ever since Ocarina of Time, the Gorons have become one of the most popular races featured in the Zelda series. While there are many notable members of the Goron Village, we believe the headstrong leader Darunia should get the spotlight in a live-action adaptation. At first, Darunia is unwillingly to accept assistance from Link, and he comes off as an extremely rude and short-sighted leader. However, Darunia eventually lightens up and accepts the boy as family, all while becoming a bit of a comic relief character.
While the Gorons would no doubt be created largely using special effects, Darunia would still need an actor to draw his likeness from, and in that regard Nick Offerman is a master of playing serious characters who are unintentionally funny. On Parks and Rec, Offerman played Ron Swanson, a character who was the epitome of deadpan comedy. Darunia is a bit of a deadpan character as well, as he spends the majority of time brooding and denying help from others.
Darunia would undoubtedly be a difficult character to pull off, but Offerman’s baritone voice and poker-faced disposition would suit this Goron ruler perfectly.
9 Tingle - Martin Short
Unlike Darunia, Tingle is less of a comic relief character and more of an annoyance. Despite Western audiences largely finding the character a nuisance, Tingle has shown up in a whopping eight Zelda games, making his first appearance back in Majora’s Mask. Tingle is a grown man obsessed with becoming a forest fairy, which results in him strapping a red balloon to his back so he can float through the air. Despite his obnoxious persona, Tingle does indeed help Link on his quest, usually by selling the hero maps that help him navigate Hyrule.
An annoying character can certainly have its place in a live-action adaptation as long as it’s done right, and Martin Short is a master of making annoying characters entertaining. The comedic actor has the distinct talent of making over-the-top characters somehow seem grounded in reality, which is exactly what the character of Tingle would need in a Zelda series.
Admittedly, Tingle is much younger in the games, but the idea of a man who dreams of becoming a forest fairy only gets funnier the older the character is.
8 Impa - Olga Kurylenko
Impa is one of the few known members of the Sheikah, an ancient clan of warriors that are sworn to protect Hyrule’s royal family. Impa appears in numerous games where she acts as Princess Zelda’s caretaker and bodyguard. Instead of being defensive against Link, Impa actually offers him guidance, sensing that he can also help protect Zelda against the evils that plague Hyrule. She even teaches Link “Zelda’s Lullaby” and is also thought to have trained Zelda in the ways of the Sheikah.
To play one of the most eclectic and formidable female characters, we need an actress with some serious action chops, and Olga Kurylenko definitely fits that bill. In her fifteen year career, the Ukrainian-born actress has starred in an impressive number of action flicks, including Hitman, Centurion, and Oblivion. Not to mention that Kurylenko has even risen to the status of “Bond girl” after starring opposite Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace. The actress has played no shortage of headstrong characters, and with some white hair dye and a little makeup, we think Kurylenko would perfectly match the character from the game.
7 Groose - Ray Fisher
Groose may be an entertaining adversary within the video game, but if this character was simply copied and pasted into a live-action adaptation he would be downright ridiculous. Therefore, Groose is one of the characters that would have to undergo some significant tweaking before he's ever written into live-action Zelda series.
Groose is a student at the Knight Academy who is constantly trying to best Link in order to gain Zelda’s approval. He's followed around by his two flunkies, Strick and Cawlin, who are either massaging Groose’s muscles or stroking his ego.
While we could do without the character’s ridiculous red pompadour, Groose still proves to be an interesting adversary to Link, which keeps the story moving forward in the early stages of the adventure. Actor Ray Fisher played Victor Stone/ Cyborg in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and will reprise the role in the upcoming Justice League. We think Fisher's confidence and muscular build would make him an ideal casting choice for the adversary, who also goes onto become one of Link's trusted allies.
6 Ghirahim - Tom Felton
Though Ghirahim is a fairly new character — first appearing in 2011’s Skyward Sword — the Demon Lord is already one of the more memorable antagonists in the series. Unlike Ganondorf, who uses sheer brute force to defeat his foes, Ghirahim is a more pretentious villain who seems to believe that getting rid of Link is as easy as swatting a fly. The Demon Lord is constantly in pursuit of Princess Zelda, only to grow more and more aggravated when Link continuous to thwart his plans at every turn.
Tom Felton feels like a no brainer to portray this Zelda villain, simply because of how much Ghirahim reminds us of Draco Malfoy. Both characters are extremely arrogant and have a tendency to underestimate their opponent, and the narcissism of Ghirahim and Draco is what eventually leads to each characters’ downfall.
Of course, Felton has starred in a number of movies and TV shows since he completed his work in the Harry Potter movies, where the actor has subsequently proven that he can play more than just an obnoxious villain. But Ghirahim seems like the perfect character for Felton to re-embrace his villainous roots.
5 Happy Mask Salesman - Cameron Monaghan
In a series full of bizarre characters, the Happy Mask Salesman is by far one of the strangest in any Zelda game. The salesman is a collector of rare masks, which he travels around and sells to the inhabitants of Hyrule. His motives are largely unknown and his behavior is totally unpredictable, ranging anywhere from happy salesman (as his name implies) to deranged lunatic. His appearance is equally unsettling — from his jester-like outfit, to his sharply pointed ears, to his traveling pack which displays the various masks that he’s collected.
A live-action incarnation of this character would be a must-have for any Zelda series, so long as the actor is up to the task. Even at just 23-years-old, actor Cameron Monaghan has already played the sadistic Jerome Valeska in Gotham. Monaghan’s physically similarities are just a bonus, as we can’t imagine anyone else who could do a better job portraying the unsettling Happy Mask Salesman.
4 Midna - Zoe Saldana
Despite being critically acclaimed upon its release, Twilight Princess has received some flak from Zelda fans in the subsequent ten years (mostly due to its many similarities with Ocarina of Time). But one aspect that everyone agrees upon is the character of Midna.
She has only appeared in one game, but many consider Midna one of the greatest supporting characters of the series. Aside from her distinguished character design, Midna is also Link's most intriguing sidekick to date. By the end of Twilight Princess it’s actually quite devastating to watch the character return to her own realm with no sign that Link will ever see her again.
When Midna is stuck in her imp-form she would no doubt be the creation of CGI. Zoe Saldana is no stranger to using performance capture, as she appeared as Neytiri in James Cameron’s Avatar. The actress is also known for playing Nyota Uhura in the Star Trek movies, and will reprise her role as Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Saldana's tendency to appear in sci-fi and fantasy roles makes her an ideal fit for this character. Not to mention that she’d work especially well as Midna when she finally assumes her true form as the Twilight Princess.
3 Ganondorf - Brian Lee
Ganondorf has appeared as the primary antagonist in most Zelda games, making him the must-have villain for a live-action adaptation. Unlike many of the secondary antagonists, Ganondorf relies less on cunning and more on brute force during his quest to destroy Hyrule. The Dark Lord usually possesses the Triforce of Power, which allows him to assume various other forms, including Ganon and Calamity Ganon, as seen in Breath of the Wild.
To portray the powerful villain, you definitely need a physically imposing actor — someone who looks as though an adolescent boy wouldn’t stand a chance. Japanese-born actor Brian Tee has already played his fair share of intimidating characters, including Noburo Mori in 2013’s The Wolverine. Tee also took over the role of Shredder in last year’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, where he proved to be a much-needed improvement on the previous incarnation, making him an ideal candidate for this all-powerful antagonist.
2 Princess Zelda - Elle Fanning
The Legend of Zelda series has introduced us to a number of incarnations of the eponymous character. But with the exception of Tetra, Zelda is almost always portrayed as a regal and benevolent princess. Despite being roughly the same age as Link, Zelda is wise beyond her years, as she is usually revealed to be the holder of the Triforce of Wisdom.
Even at the age of 18, Elle Fanning already has a timelessness about her, which explains why the young actress has starred in a number of period pieces, including Live by Night, 20th Century Women, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. In fact, Fanning even played a princess when she starred as Aurora in Disney’s Maleficent. Since Princess Zelda only appears sparingly in many of the games, we need an actress who can make a lasting impression fast, and in that regard, Elle Fanning seems like an ideal choice to play the Princess of Hyrule.
1 Link - Thomas Brodie-Sangster
When the character of Link was originally conceived, he was meant to be a bit of a blank slate to better allow the player to picture themselves as the hero. In the last thirty years, Link has no doubt become one of the most beloved and most iconic video game characters of all time, meaning that any actor cast in the role is bound to experience their fair share of backlash. But all things considered, we believe that Thomas Brodie-Sangster is best equipped to slide into the role of the Hylian hero.
Brodie-Sangster is probably best known for his supporting role of Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones. Here, the actor played another immensely brave character who is faced with traveling through the wilderness on a quest that he believes will bring peace to the world he inhabits.
Since Link is usually portrayed as a young adult, Brodie-Sangster definitely has the appearance to portray the iconic character -- so it may comes as a surprise that the actor is currently 26-years-old! However, actors that appear younger are ideal for casting adolescent characters, and Brodie-Sangster’s true age would only help convey the depth and wisdom of the Hero of Hyrule.
So who would you like to see cast in a live-action Zelda series? Let us know in the comments!