Fantasy Cop Cullen Rutherford

This ‘Hogwarts Legacy’ Voice Actor Used To Be a Major ‘Dragon Age’ Player—Until He Was Pretty Much Fired

Once upon a time, in another franchise very far removed from this current discourse, we had a character named Cullen Stanton Rutherford. Cullen is a Templar in the Dragon Age universe: a sort of religious knight whose job is to “protect” people from magic. Players first met Cullen in the Ferelden Circle of Magi, a place where mages were essentially locked up to keep them from potentially unleashing magical atrocities elsewhere. Yes, the ethics of this are sketchy, it’s a whole thing in the actual franchise—for this article, we’re gonna table that conversation for another time. Most likely when the next game comes out. Which will hopefully be soon.

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Cullen gained a great deal of attention because, if players created a female mage in the first game, a young Cullen would make his crush on her very known. Though his role was small, it was memorable, because we basically got two Cullens: the Cullen who was very obviously infatuated with his charge (again, sketchy ethics, tabled), and the Cullen who was so traumatized by the terrible things that ended up happening in the Circle, he went fully anti-mage.

From then on, Cullen occupied an awkward role in the franchise. On the one hand, he was fanservice bait: people who fell for his dweeby personality loved getting to see him in future games, and they were especially thrilled to finally romance him in the third game, Inquisition. On the other hand, the aforementioned sketchy ethics of the Mage-Templar conflict (and his unsavory role in it) made some people loathe the man entirely, essentially labeling him as a “fascist fantasy cop.”

Now, what does all of this have to do with Hogwarts Legacy? Cullen’s voice actor, Greg Ellis, is one of the most prominent voice actors in Hogwarts Legacy. And Ellis himself has been very vocal about…many things:

I know people are sick to death of hearing about this stupid wizard game. But this particular revelation is kind of funny to me, in a cosmically bewildering sort of way. I don’t really care to indulge in any curiosity regarding the Dragon Age fandom because it can get pretty heated, especially when it comes to Cullen. The levels of love and hate people have for the guy are pretty extreme. While I can’t really knock anyone’s opinion of him, I simply don’t find this kind of fandom engagement enjoyable. So I don’t engage, and for the most part, I haven’t heard about anything Cullen or Ellis for years…yet now, we have a new set of video game discourse, and who’s toeing the line but Greg Ellis himself. You have to admit, there’s comedy there.

Ellis has had a very frenetic career in this last decade. He’s said and done some things that are baffling at best, and actually dangerous at worst (see: restraining orders). It’s difficult for me to definitively lambast people who struggle with their mental health to such severe degrees, but Ellis’ behavior has proven to be inexcusable, to the point where Bioware—the company that makes Dragon Age—cut ties with him completely, three years ago.

Now, even if Ellis didn’t have such a wild background, it would still be vastly inappropriate to publicly shame a person who’d been laid off in such a manner. The thing is, we haven’t even scratched the surface of his contextual background. This reddit thread compiles such details in a fairly concise manner:

…Yes, the video is real. No, I am not reposting it, I could barely get through it the first time. Don’t even know what to say about it. It’s a lot.

Now, unfortunately, the world of voice acting is no stranger to drama, and I think in many cases it just isn’t a priority for employers to give a shit about their employees’ personal code of ethics. But Darrah raised a great point in appearances and how important it is to ensure that, at the very least, the public-facing people who work for you have inoffensive reputations. By the time Ellis was hired by Portkey Games, a lot of his history was available to the public. We knew he had a MRA podcast, that he had a handful of legal battles against him, that he’d told fans things like “get off your meds, they’re a sickness.” So, you know, it begs the question…is a silky voice really that worth it? When creating a product like this, one must wonder: was this hiring choice made innocently for the sake of the job, or was it because he and Rowling have a history of shared beliefs?

I just still can’t believe that, so many years later, Cullen Rutherford keeps knockin’ at my door. What a world, what a world.

(Featured Image: Bioware)


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Author
Madeline Carpou
Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).

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