Since the release of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) in 2003 and its sequel, KOTOR II, in 2004, the game characters have gained a significant following. Remembered for their unique personalities and iconic voices, KOTOR’s characters are held in high esteem by fans of Bioware’s RPG classic.
Impeccably written and voiced, the player’s NPC companions contributed to the success of Bioware’s golden age of RPGs, paving the way to Mass Effect and Dragon Age.
KOTOR could not have hit the high strides of success if not for the game’s legendary voice acting performances. Incredible voice actors help make memorable and provocative characters – so let’s explore the top 5 characters of the KOTOR series and the voices who brought them to life.
Devout to the Jedi Order, which raised her, Bastila Shan is a powerful Jedi Knight who champions the religion’s ideals with pride. Despite thousands of her fellow Knights rebelling against the Jedi, Bastila remained consistently loyal to the Order.
Bastila is a unique Jedi who can conjure an exceptional force ability— the power of Battle Meditation. This ability empowers her allies in battle whilst sowing misfortune for her enemies. Such power is heavily sought after and can determine the winner and loser of any crucial conflict. In many ways, she is a prodigy, destined for greatness – and she knows it.
Shan comes across as a little arrogant and brash in conversations. While she is doubtlessly powerful, her attitude can sometimes oversell her abilities. As the player engages with Bastila throughout the adventure, her motivations become more explicit. Her seemingly arrogant attitude is formed by her constant need to meet the expectations put on her shoulders.
Bastila is a multifaceted character, and it always feels like there is something to learn, with a lot laying beneath the surface. Each element of her personality is demonstrated perfectly by her voice actor, Jennifer Hale. Hale is an industry titan with one of the most prolific portfolios in the business.
She manages to capture Bastila’s stuck up condescension whilst also having the range to open up the character’s more expressive, insecure side. She also works to express Bastila’s inner dark traits. Which is clearly present in Bastila’s struggles in contending with the lure to the Dark Side of the Force.
Hunter-Killer Series – Model 47. An assassin droid who specialises in the assassination of Jedi. In the service of his Master, Darth Revan, HK-47 is a proficient hunter.
On the surface, HK-47 is a relatively straightforward character. He only cares about his job, killing “meatbags”, a name he lovingly ascribed to organic beings. He provides comic relief in the group as he is hilariously literal and nonchalant about his murder methodology.
He is not the most traditional character. He is a primary objective droid, so his lacking subjectivity means he doesn’t go through any character growth.
HK-47 offers a unique perspective on the Star Wars universe, and his lack of character growth doesn’t hold him back. His commentary on the similarly extremist ideologies of both Jedi and Sith provides some of the most nuanced conversations in the franchise. It is no wonder that this character shows up as a companion in both KOTOR games.
Kristoffer Tabori provides the voice for HK-47, giving him his signature attitude. While he may be a droid of objectivity, he is not above dry wit, irony, sarcasm, or outright mockery. The delivery by Tabori is excellent at driving home the degree to which HK-47 views meatbags with utter contempt. The clear, calculated superiority of droids is something that HK-47 emphasises in every discussion.
Besides the excellent writing, Kristoffer Tabori’s voice work is a driving force that frequently places him at the top of many Top characters of all time lists.
Jolee Bindo is a favourite fan character who toes the line on what it means to be a Jedi. Star Wars has classically had a cut-and-dry approach to good and evil motivations. The light side – the good guys, and the Dark side – the baddies. Jolee shakes up this traditional approach to morality.
Jolee’s alignment fell somewhere between the light and dark sides of the Force – a Grey Jedi. Jolee’s interpretation of the Grey Jedi was to be good, selfless, and righteous while working autonomously of the Jedi Order doctrine.
He has an unyielding will, resisting the dark side at every turn—proven in his tragic backstory when he is forced to fight against his wife, who turned to the Sith. He did not have the strength to slay his beloved, a failure that would haunt him as she went on to slaughter many innocents as a result of him staying his blade.
Kevin Michael Richardson is the voice actor for Jolee. Richardson is a very busy voice actor and has performed in countless animations, games, and films. I can guarantee that he has been in at least something you have played or watched. He also has a long list of roles in the Star Wars universe, including Mace Windu and Jabba the Hutt.
Richardson brought an eccentric attitude to the role of Jolee. An older man, his cranky, demanding, and demeaning nature frequently swinging to wisdom and guidance. Richardson captures Jolee’s duality perfectly and helps direct the player on the path of good.
The wisdom that Richardson endows in Jolee helps challenge the pre-existing view that players may have on what it means to be a Jedi. This performance is tremendously thoughtful and reflective of the established concepts of light and dark—a brilliant character.
Canderous Ordo, later known as Mandalore the Preserver, was a Mandalorian warrior who aimed to rebuild the Mandalorian Order. A rough, rugged, and untamed fighter, Canderous was not a man who shied away from warfare.
During the Mandalorian wars, set before the first game, Canderous fought the Jedi in a ruthless conflict. They lost and were devastated by the Jedi forces’ combined might – with the leader of the Mandalorians, the Mandalore, dethroned.
After this, Canderous travelled the galaxy as a mercenary, moving from battle to battle until he teamed up with the player in KOTOR and set himself the goal of reclaiming the title of Mandalore.
Canderous is one of the few characters in KOTOR that doesn’t push the player to act virtuously. He has a selfish mentality that puts his desires ahead of the greater good and delights in players taking similar actions. Canderous is a nice counterbalance to the Jedi characters that join the team, providing a welcome opposing opinion on the galaxy.
Although, he does respect honour and bravery. For someone to fight well in battle, they earn the right to be considered worthy, regardless of whether they are friend or foe.
The late John Cygan provided the voice for Canderous Ordo in KOTOR and KOTOR II. Cygan has lent his voice to various well-known game franchises, such as Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption and Metal Gear Solid.
John Cygan’s performance endows Canderous with a soldier’s attitude—stern, strong, and collected. His vocal delivery reinforces the role of Ordo as someone with whom not to trifle. However, Cygan also provided Canderous with an element of wisdom to his character. His mantra on war borders religious, as does his keen appreciation for the purity of combat, wonderfully reflected in Cygan’s voice acting.
Kreia’s relationship with the Force is as complex as it is intimate. Kreia was once a Jedi scholar, a Master who sought to understand the Force’s grand mysteries and its function in the galaxy. Her devotion to uncovering the puzzles of existence run so deep that she was willing to let go of her eyesight, leaving her blinded.
Her wisdom was renowned by the Jedi, with many of her younger students becoming infatuated with her conundrums. She was the master of the Jedi Knight who would go on to become Revan, the Dark Lord of the Sith.
During the wars, Many in Kreia’s pupillage joined the rebel Jedi in fighting the Mandalorian invaders. These students would then either leave the Jedi Order or join the Dark Side of the Force—considered failings of Kreia’s “freethinking” teachings. Kreia was betrayed and cast out from the Jedi.
She later fell to the Dark Side, only to be, once more, betrayed by her apprentices. In KOTOR II, she sought out the player to follow her path and realise her vision to destroy the Force entirely.
Sara Kestelman provided Kreia’s voice. Kestelman is not a voice actor by trade, building her career in theatre and television, and KOTOR II was her first video game role. Her exceptional performance is cherished by fans, every word truly embodying Kreia’s great wisdom and mystique.
Every conversation with Kreia evokes imagery to help comprehend the philosophy that she offers. Kestelman’s voice guides the player through these ideas in a way that makes players want to explore her unique concepts about the Force.
Beneath her learned and scholarly expressions is a weary individual whose faith has been tested and revised at every step of her life. This tiredness is captured flawlessly by Kestelman’s performance. Her wise tone evoking a touch of frustration when she is not fully understood.
All these elements fuse to make Kreia one of Star Wars’ most legendary characters.
That is my list of the top 5 characters and voice actors in the Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic game series. Seriously great games that you should play, or replay, whenever the chance arises.
Who would you include in your list? Did I miss anyone? Let me know in the comments.