Death Stranding is a star-studded game that culls from the seemingly never-ending talent pools from some of the industry's best actors: Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, Lea Seydoux, Troy Baker...the list goes on. But there's one name you may not recognize that belongs to be lauded as much, if not more, than the aforementioned actors: Tommie Earl Jenkins.
Take a look at Tommie's IMDB page. You may recognize a few roles scattered around here and there. He's made a name for himself by collecting a few smaller roles and has even bagged some recurring spots as well as video game performances. But for the most part, he's lead a quiet film career beyond his love for theater, singing, and dancing, or so it would seem. It's this I simply cannot fathom, as this man should be an Academy Award-holding, card-carrying member of the Hollywood elite.
As much as I love the Hollywood talent in Death Stranding, Tommie Earl Jenkins eclipsed every single one of his compatriots with a single scene near the end of the game that may very well be one of the most convincing, beautifully-acted scenes in the history of gaming. It comes out of nowhere. Most of the game, Tommie's role as Die-Hardman requires him to quietly lecture Sam Porter Bridges about his next orders, reminding him of what certain elements of the game's menus and various equipment actually does. He's often a contentious voice of reason – and he's clad in a strange skull-like mask. It's easy to write him as well as his character off, because he seems like a one-off part of the story, an "instruction-giver" with little more to do in the overarching story than offer direction as to where to go next.
But that's before you get to know Die-Hardman and the man behind the mask: John Blake McClane. Near the end of the game, there's a massive revelation with Die-Hardman that explains just about everything you may still have been wondering about him over the course of the story. And it's then that he proves himself an incredibly capable actor, perhaps the best in the entire game. He exhibits some of the most raw emotion, pain, and heartbreak I've ever seen from an actor, even beyond the real of gaming. By the end of his monologue, his heartrending confession, I was wiping my own tears away. I can't go into the subject, or how things got this way throughout the game, but you'll know exactly what you're looking for when it happens.
You can watch the masterful scene that Tommie absolutely knocked out of the park below, but be forewarned: heavy spoilers abound. Do not watch this scene if you don't want to spoil a major Death Stranding plot point for yourself. If you're even remotely concerned about seeing something you're not sure you want to, then skip over the video and come back once you're comfortable with learning more.
This scene is powerful. Perfect. Masterful. It transcends the limits of what I've come to expect from video game voiceovers, and it all came from an actor who deserves to shine much brighter than he has in the past. Don't be surprised if this role ends up catapulting Tommie Earl Jenkins into super-stardom in the future – or if it becomes the precursor to the high-profile roles he apparently was born for.