R.I.P. Robert Culp

By Kieron Gillen on March 25th, 2010 at 11:31 am.


Here’s a sad start today’s posting. Kotaku report Robert Culp has died, aged 79. Despite his long history in television, he’ll be best known to UK PC Gamers as the voice of Dr. Wallace Breen in Half Life 2. For full details, I’ll direct you at CNN.

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55 Comments »

  1. Dileep says:

    FIrst the Oracle. And now Dr. Breen…. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  2. int says:

    How bizzarre, I was just watching Everybody Loves Raymond and he was on playing Debra’s dad.

    Rest, Robert.

  3. Navagon says:

    RIP, dude.
    You’ve got to admit though, it really sums it up that he died of old age before Episode 3′s release.

  4. LimeWarrior says:

    That’s a shame. His voice is so iconic in HL2, for me at least. On the positive side, it’s a good thing the character died in HL2. Now you don’t get the awkward: “let’s get another actor to play this character, when the first actor was the best possible option.”

    • Rich says:

      It’s never quite right when that happens. It’s be a real shame for the HL series to jump the shark.

    • Ricc says:

      I would dispute the fact that Breen is dead.

    • Gorgeras says:

      Yeah in one of those blink and you’ll miss it moments, Breen was having a conversation with a Combine before Freeman interrupted it, discussing Breen being given a new(possibly Combine) body so he can survive in the Xen dimension. We never actually saw Breen die, he could have passed over to Xen at the moment of the explosion.

      Given the advanced age of Robert Culp even when HL2 came out, I say Valve knew it was possible the actor wouldn’t be around for any possible return and ensured there was a sufficient excuse for a voice change.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Not with how fast I scaled the tower, Gorgeras. He’s dead.

      Go back and play it again as fast as you can. He won’t even be halfway up.

  5. Rich says:

    The HL series has some of the best dialogue, voice acting and generally believable characters of the whole medium; no cheese in sight. Breen was one of the best.

    Shame I haven’t seen any of his performances outside of Half-Life 2.

  6. GT3000 says:

    Sad story, could’ve used a vampire.

  7. Saucy says:

    Oh no…

  8. The Hammer says:

    Culp was the pinnacle of an excellent cast of Half Life 2. He really set the tone of the game. Very sad to hear the news.

    • MJS says:

      Quite, the introduction walking through the train station and city would be nothing with the announcements. This with and his input in other areas really made the game.

      I cant imagine that any person who eagerly awaited HL2 release, didnt feel a little tingle up their spine as they stepped out of the train for the first time and heard the ‘Welcome, welcome to city 17′ speech.

      Sad news

  9. zzzzzzz says:

    Muahahahaha!

  10. Monchberter says:

    Let me read a letter I recently received. ‘Dear Dr. Breen. Why has the Combine seen fit to suppress our reproductive cycle? Sincerely, A Concerned Citizen.’ Thank you for writing, Concerned. Of course your question touches on one of the basic biological impulses, with all its associated hopes and fears for the future of the species. I also detect some unspoken questions. Do our benefactors really know what’s best for us? What gives them the right to make this kind of decision for mankind? Will they ever deactivate the suppression field and let us breed again? Allow me to address the anxieties underlying your concerns, rather than try to answer every possible question you might have left unvoiced. First, let us consider the fact that for the first time ever, as a species, immortality is in our reach. This simple fact has far-reaching implications. It requires radical rethinking and revision of our genetic imperatives. It also requires planning and forethought that run in direct opposition to our neural pre-sets. I find it helpful at times like these to remind myself that our true enemy is Instinct. Instinct was our mother when we were an infant species. Instinct cuddled us and kept us safe in those hardscrabble years when we hardened our sticks and cooked our first meals above a meager fire and started at the shadows that leapt upon the cavern’s walls. But inseparable from Instinct is its dark twin, Superstition. Instinct is inextricably bound to unreasoning impulses, and today we clearly see its true nature. Instinct has just become aware of its irrelevance, and like a cornered beast, it will not go down without a bloody fight. Instinct would inflict a fatal injury on our species. Instinct creates its own oppressors, and bids us rise up against them. Instinct tells us that the unknown is a threat, rather than an opportunity. Instinct slyly and covertly compels us away from change and progress. Instinct, therefore, must be expunged. It must be fought tooth and nail, beginning with the basest of human urges: The urge to reproduce. We should thank our benefactors for giving us respite from this overpowering force. They have thrown a switch and exorcised our demons in a single stroke. They have given us the strength we never could have summoned to overcome this compulsion. They have given us purpose. They have turned our eyes toward the stars. Let me assure you that the suppressing field will be shut off on the day that we have mastered ourselves… the day we can prove we no longer need it. And that day of transformation, I have it on good authority, is close at hand.

    Brilliant delivery

    • Lilliput King says:

      What was brilliant about Breen as a villain was that those speeches were never just rhetoric – he genuinely believed siding with the combine was the best possible option available to humanity. We could imagine being put in his shoes, and coming to his decision. But on top of that he was human, subject to fear and anger, twisted by watching Freeman cut a bloody streak through the broken city he was desperately trying to repair.
      Always felt like Culp got that.

    • ThePinkNinja says:

      I wondered if Breen was genuine and when you go after him at the end and he is questioning you I was actually questioning myself…

      But then he does something cowardly and bullshit

      I forget what though

    • Mr_Day says:

      His line asking “You have destroyed so much, what exactly have you created? Can you name even one thing?” gave me a significant pause for thought when I heard it. Not just because of the line, I am well aware that whilst we have been in Gordon’s shoes the most we have contributed to scientific endeavor is to test imact physics on a variety of targets.

    • Nick says:

      Now now Mr Day, we also pushed a crystal into a sparkly thing.

    • Mr_Day says:

      “Gee, Gordon, that MIT education must pay for itself.”

    • RedFred says:

      Haha brilliant.

  11. Lack_26 says:

    He was definitely one of my favourite characters from HL2, such a shame to hear of his death. As Monchberter has quoted, he did some truly excellent work with Breen.

  12. Frenz0rz says:

    God damn, that is a massive shame. I had no idea he was that old.

    Rest in peace.

  13. Quasar says:

    It’s always the cool ones that die…

    Might have to replay HL2, I did love Breen…

  14. Wulf says:

    That’s a shame, it really is. He voiced a great villain in Breen and he had quite a few acting accomplishments under his belt, too. It’s always a sad thing when a creative soul leaves the world, because all of their individuality, their approaches, and everything they had to share is now set in stone, it can’t grow any further, and we’ll never know how far that potential could have gone.

    Bloody shame, really is.

    RIP.

  15. Beavis says:

    oh well, its a shame.

    cant say the performance particularity stood out though

  16. bill says:

    For me he’s best known as the guy who was always guilty in Columbo…

  17. PHeMoX says:

    @Ricc: While I agree story-wise, it’s not like Valve have much of a choice NOW though.

    No doubt he did a great job at voice acting, a shame.

  18. frymaster says:

    also, the later speech where it’s made clear that the alternative to his collaborative puppet government was the extinction of homo sapiens

    brilliant, talented man. will be missed

  19. DMJ says:

    No well written villain considers himself to be a villain. Except, of course, the Joker. Breen was a villain due to his weakness and inability to sacrifice for what matters. Life as a slave-drone is no life, and he sold us to the Combine to exchange living as humans for survival as Combine “clients”.

    The fact that I think these things about a character means that I was sold on the character by the voice performance. Sad to see talent go.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      The thing is, DMJ, he made his choices and extrapolated them to the whole of humanity, just as you did.

      SO WHO’S THE REAL VILLAIN, EH?

      ;-)

  20. wokjraslnfsa says:

    Good night, sweet prince.

  21. wokjraslnfsa says:

    The first casualty of old age waiting for Half Life Episode 3. Anyone else think this is funny? Because I do.

  22. Vitamin Powered says:

    My condolences to his family.

    His Breen character was, as has been put so well by previous posts, part of what made Halflife 2 Halflife 2.

  23. Stupoider says:

    His voice is one of the main reminders of why HL2 was so awesome. Stepping off that train and hearing that.. wow. Rest in peace!

  24. laughoutlord says:

    *pours out 40 of Dr>Breens Private Reserve on the curb*

  25. Uhm says:

    I think Valve have gone too far in their marketing strategy this time.

    (Did they find the encrypted note in his personal possessions yet?)

  26. Joe z says:

    A true gentleman and great actor. Will be missed dearly.

  27. Mr. Versipellis says:

    Awww, what a shame, he was a great voice actor. RIP. Now I’ll feel guilty dropping cars on breen in the GMOD.

  28. Psychopomp says:

    :<

  29. Nox says:

    He was my favorite part of Greatest American Hero. And I, Spy. And HL2.

    I’m actually upset by this. Not surprising, since he’s entertained me so much over the years, I guess. It’s just the realization that I’ll never get to hear or see him perform anything that I haven’t already gotten to enjoy. On one hand, I should consider myself fortunate. On the other, sadness.

    Rest in peace, Mr. Culp. I’m going to name my next pet Agent Bill Maxwell.

  30. Shadow Wulf says:

    Poor Mr. Culp, he was the best cast in HL2, did a fantastic job on acting out as the evil tyrant in City 17. A shame he has to die before HL3, I was expecting for Valve to have him make some sort triumphant return.

    RIP Robert Culp

  31. Soobe says:

    His unappreciated (and as far as I know, uncredited) work in this video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reetTTq3zKc @ :12

    Was a pinnacle of entertainment. I miss him already.

  32. Anthony says:

    A damn fine actor who totally owned the role we gamers best know him for.

    I’ll raise a glass of Breen’s Private Reserve in his honour.

  33. VanHero says:

    Bwahaahahaa! Almost warms the cockles of my black heart. Almost; I’ll still need to throw another kitten in the furnace.

    Literally LOL’d there, thanks.

    Oh, and, this is sad news. He really brought something special to HL2; I loved how Breen would pop up on the monitors to taunt me as I made my way through the Citadel. My memory of Culp goes back to “The Greatest American Hero”, which I loved as a kid.

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