Peppy Hare might not be one of gaming’s most famous characters, but May’s line in 1997’s Star Fox 64 where he played Fox McCloud’s mentor is one of the most iconic lines in gaming history – so much so that even Google got in on the beloved meme. Go ahead, Google “Do a barrel roll” and see what happens.
May was primarily a theater actor. He served as artistic director of Renton Civic Theatre and Civic Light Opera in Washington state, where he also worked as a freelance actor and director. Throughout his career, he portrayed famous characters such as Tevye in Fiddler On the Roof, Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, and Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. May also played historic figures like Ben Franklin, King Henry II, Julius Caesar, and Theodore Roosevelt in a one-man play Bully! Whether it was Shakespearean leaders or down-on-their-luck salesmen, May seemed most comfortable exploring the range of masculine roles.
In 1997, May began voice acting, and he brought the range he showcased on stage to video games. Although he’s only credited with six video game roles, his most famous characters are instantly recognizable: Peppy Hare and Andross in Star Fox 64, and Soldier in Team Fortress 2 (and its famous animated shorts) – a broad showcase for May’s talents as an actor.
Following his appearance in Star Fox 64, May appeared in the games Pajama Sam 2 as Wingnut, Freddi Fish 5 as Dadfish, Age of Empires 2 as Genghis Khan, and Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves as the nefarious Dr. M. All of the developers – from Sucker Punch and Humungous Entertainment to Nintendo – were fixtures of the Washington state game scene where May called home.
In 2007 May once again starred in a game that dominated internet culture for years when he voiced the Team Fortress 2 Soldier for another Washington-based game company, Valve. His roles as Soldier for various Valve shorts were the most recent listed on May’s IMDB page. But the role is a surprising showcase that combines expert comedic timing with gruff charisma. A fitting role for an actor who played a variety of charismatic soldiers on stage.
Matt Kim is a reporter for IGN.