Al Pacino and Kratos actor Chris Judge went filibuster mode at The Game Awards, and it was amazing

Al Pacino and Chris Judge at the Game Awards
(Image credit: The Game Awards)

Short of wardrobe malfunctions, stars assaulting one another, and erroneously-given awards like the 2017 La La Land fiasco at The Oscars, every award show director's worst nightmare is the meandering, unscripted award acceptance filibuster. This year's edition of The Game Awards was barely five minutes into its runtime before it went spectacularly off the rails.

In a moment that was simultaneously sincere and the kind of self-indulgent that only Hollywood can deliver, God of War's voice of Kratos, Christopher Judge, and Hollywood legend Al Pacino, for a brief moment, formed a powerful Voltron of the awkward and endearing.

Pacino was the award show's first envelope carrier, a surprise appearance from a bonafide A-lister. He began by saying that he probably shouldn't be there and didn't know his lines: "This is uh, an experience to me, one I didn't expect, but here I am, as usual, doing my surprising thing to myself. But anyway, it may come as a shock to you... but it's hard for me to see the teleprompter!"

"In truth, I don't play a whole lotta videogames," continued the Oscar winner, not entirely promisingly, "but, I have however spent a lot of time watching my kids play them."

It's probably not what you want to hear in a show dedicated to videogames, but Pacino's delivery was at least genuine and warm. As a veteran of countless shows like this one, he salvaged the moment as best he could, coming off as a grandpa reluctantly appearing at his nephew's talent show. 

Pausing spontaneously before reading off the winner, Pacino then began to lift the award like a dumbbell. "I'm working out now. You don't mind, do you?" Pacino asked as he raised the winged trophy overhead. As Hollywood-gaming stunt appearances go, it was harmless and cute, and certainly doesn't come close to director Michael Bay's 2014 tantrum at tech show CES.

The Best Performance nominees were Charlotte McBurney (A Plague Tale: Requiem), Manon Gage (Immortality), Sunny Suljic (God of War Ragnarok), and Chrisopher Judge, also for Ragnarok. Judge won. The voice of Kratos hugged his young co-star beside him and took the stage in a luminous black-and-gold getup. 

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As Pacino performs the award handoff (I'm reminded that he was in a very good football movie), Judge admires the award for a moment, but then, seeing Pacino slip away from the mic, strides away from his mark to tap one of the most influential actors of the 20th century on the shoulder, tracking him down like Kratos might pursue a Hel-Walker. Luckily, Pacino was into it. Their hug was simultaneously sweet and uncomfortable: gaming's best actor using a moment about him to embrace an actual best actor winner.

With the winds not at his back at this point, Judge then began his acceptance. His first move: throwing minor shade on The Game Awards organizers. "Now I see why I couldn't get more than a plus-one." 

Then it got more conventional. "I'd like to thank my momma, whose belief that I would amount to something good would never waver." The whole thing, honestly, seemed incredibly heartfelt, and Judge is a longtime working actor getting a well-deserved moment of recognition. He hit the audience with a heartfelt acknowledgement of his brother and his children, before moving on to everyone who worked on God of War: Ragnarok.

And I do mean everyone.

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Director Cory Barlog came first, then product development director Yumi Yang ("for the first time ever the trickle down theory actually worked!"), then Rich, Dory, Bruno, Erica, the entire sound team, and you know what? Just the whole dev team.

Judge then launched into a lengthy anecdote about how he came to the role: "Cory didn't think I'd actually do it," Judge recalled, "If I'd have known it was a videogame back then, I might not have!"

Judge pays special attention to Eric Williams, who's credited with "additional design" in the first God of War. "Eric Williams is a motherfucking beast," the actor put it plainly before sharing a story of Williams' encouragement when recording the game's dialogues under tight time constraints.

"There's a time frame that cinematics have to fit into," Judge explained before turning and grinning at Pacino and Keighley. "Hopefully not speeches!" By this time the 'get off the stage' music, presumably sealed in a secure vault that required two simultaneous keycard inputs during the previous five minutes, had begun to play and nudge Judge toward completion.

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Judge finished by thanking his co-star and fellow best performance nominee, Sunny Suljic, who played Atreus. "Sonny, I wasn't lying, I voted for you!" The actor declared, before transitioning to an important reminder. "Never forget the two things I hopefully gave you: 'hire me, don't be a douchebag!'"

The full moment, from Pacino to Judge, ran 12 minutes. In a show where the marketing fates of games are born and die in the span of 90-second trailers and 30-second teasers, it was beyond an eternity. 

Geoff Keighley, in his usual Canadian good humor, smiled it away in the segue. "I think he [Judge] was trying to give a few extra Steam Decks away," said Keighley, referring to one of the show's promotional incentives.

And you know what? It ruled. What's the point of live entertainment if something can't go a little bit awry, a little bit funky? Pacino's sleepy introduction followed by Judge's monologue just came out of nowhere, it was spontaneous, surprising, more than slightly cringe, and straight from the heart. I also have to admit a bit of impish glee at seeing something as carefully crafted and buttoned up as an award show go off-script, like Will Smith smacking Chris Rock but no one had to get hurt!

Besides, Chris Judge deserved ten minutes of all our time, the cavalcade of awards and announcements can wait. Forget God of War, have you seen him in Stargate SG-1?

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Evan Lahti
Global Editor-in-Chief

Evan's a hardcore FPS enthusiast who joined PC Gamer in 2008. After an era spent publishing reviews, news, and cover features, he now oversees editorial operations for PC Gamer worldwide, including setting policy, training, and editing stories written by the wider team. His most-played FPSes are CS:GO, Team Fortress 2, Team Fortress Classic, Rainbow Six Siege, and Arma 2. His first multiplayer FPS was Quake 2, played on serial LAN in his uncle's basement, the ideal conditions for instilling a lifelong fondness for fragging. Evan also leads production of the PC Gaming Show, the annual E3 showcase event dedicated to PC gaming.

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