Adam Howden Biography

English actor

Adam Howden (/ˈhaʊdən/; born 1 July) is an English actor who has worked in video games, television, theatre, film, and audiobooks.

In video games, Howden's most notable roles are as Shulk in the Xenoblade Chronicles series, Anders in Dragon Age II, Tintin in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, Pipin in Final Fantasy XIV, and Fenton Paddock in Lost Horizon. In television, he has most notably portrayed Steven Lilwall on the BBC One series New Tricks. Howden has also appeared in, written, and produced short films.

In theatre, Howden has most notably played Stu for a revival of Anthony Neilson's play S*ching at the House of Wolf, and Dickie Greenleaf for the play adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley at New Diorama Theatre, for which Howden received a Best Supporting Male nomination at the 2016 Off West End Theatre Awards.

Early life and education

Howden was fond of acting since his early school years. He chose the subject for his GCSE studies, then his A Levels at the Strode College in 1999. He studied Drama, Film Studies, and English Literature until his 2001 graduation.

Howden went on to audition at drama schools for further experience. Eventually, he was accepted at the Drama Centre, a location he appreciated for its welcoming atmosphere and its rich acting pedigree (e.g. Colin Firth, Michael F*bender). He studied alongside other alumni such as Ryan Gage, Rolan Bell, Gwendoline Christie, Jodie McNee, and Joseph MacNab. Howden studied multiple acting techniques, including some involving his voice. He stated, "Working on your voice is very important in all areas of acting, not just voice-overs."


Following his 2005 graduation, Howden's first TV role was as a student during "Slow Bomb", the finale of the action series Ultimate Force. For that role, Howden took his breaks inside a trailer with Simon Lenagan, another guest-star. There, he discussed with Lenagan how he wanted to do voice-over, and Lenagan encouraged him to present his voice reel at Just Voices, a voice-over agency he had co-founded. Howden did so, which started his career in voice-overs, first doing commercials and corporate voice-overs. He moved on to video games, with additional voices in Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, then as Fenton Paddock in Lost Horizon, a main role which Howden says he still has "a soft spot for".

BioWare games

His first roles in the video game industry were as a part of BioWare's Dragon Age franchise. He auditioned for Dragon Age: Origins at the voice studio Side UK, reading and obtaining a couple of roles. Directed by Caroline Livingstone, he recorded various voices such as the Ostagar prisoner, which Howden has said he was "quite fond of" and "the first time I'd ever seen myself as a computer sprite." For the Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening add-on, he voiced the Constable Aidan.

Howden's breakthrough came in 2011's Dragon Age 2 as Anders. Originally played by Greg Ellis in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, BioWare offered Howden the part when Ellis couldn't return for unspecified reasons. Howden recorded with the guidance of Caroline Livingstone, who advised him on Anders's progression, as voice actors do not receive a complete script for secrecy reasons, and checked over his voice tone. Howden listened to Greg Ellis's performance but "followed his instincts" and didn't copy it entirely, claiming that, due to narrative progression, the character "is written quite differently. He maintains a sense of humor but you learn so much more about him in DA2 and you see a much darker side to him."

Howden has stated that he is very proud to have been involved in those projects, praising their diverse storytelling opportunities and branching narration. He credits his role as Anders as a major factor in his rise in popularity, and has mentioned that it was the most frequent character fans asked him to pull out when meeting him. Concerning the controversy over Anders's actions in the game, Howden expressed his entire support for him, explaining that he was his actor and, as he learned at his acting lessons, actors must not judge their characters and must deal with their actions. On an episode of the MCMBuzz Podcast, Howden denounced the *phobia some fans exhibited over a gay romance storyline between Anders and Garrett Hawke, the hero of the game. Howden defended the storyline and denied the idea that playing a gay character was difficult for him, citing the fact that he has voiced gay characters before (e.g. Hanschen Rilow in Frank Wedekind's Spring Awakening).

Shulk (Xenoblade Chronicles and Super Smash Bros)

After a successful November 2010 audition for an unidentified Nintendo role-playing game, Howden was offered the role of the protagonist, Shulk, in the English dub of Xenoblade Chronicles. Thus, his recording, helmed by Justin Villier at Side UK, happened over four straight weeks—as opposed to the Dragon Age and Tintin recordings, which occurred in separate stages set according to their productions' situations.

Howden's performance had to correspond to the character's design and the casting director's desires: a bold and intelligent young adult who slowly becomes more mature during his quest, with, as Howden was told, "a neutral English voice, not posh sounding, but should sound educated." So Howden applied a tone which, as he says, "is not completely different from my own voice, it's a variation of my own voice. How I was when I was 19, probably!" To ensure his acting corresponded well to Tetsuya Takahashi's intentions, he listened to the *anese voice track to match the emotion for each scene.The recording team worked with a translator and Nintendo producer to create a faithful localization of the storyline, adjusting the translation as issues arose. For instance, if a character's mouth animation didn't match with the voice actor's performance, the crew would either shorten or lengthen the dialogue while keeping fidelity with the original's intent. And if the crew had questions over certain lines or terms, the translator would help them.

Howden described it as "a philosophical game. It explores our place in the universe, do we really exist, God, do we make our own fate or are we on a set course, as well as love, revenge, and friendship." He stated that he was proud of Xenoblade and wished the game had gotten more recognition for its merits. His performance was applauded and the entire voice cast earned a "Best Vocal Ensemble in a Video Game" nomination in 2013 at the BTVA Video Game Voice Acting Award.

Howden has reprised his role as Shulk for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U (2014), the Challenge Battle downloadable content (DLC) for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (2017), Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018), Xenoblade Chronicles: Future Connected (2020), and Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed (2023). He has also voiced other characters in the Xenoblade Chronicles series, including the "Cl*ic" Male Avatar in Xenoblade Chronicles X (2015), the Architect and Tantalese Knights in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (2017), and the Nopon Archsage in the Challenge Battle DLC for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 (2022).

Tintin (The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn)

When Side UK p*ed video game auditions for the hero's voice, Howden was excited at the idea of performing as Tintin, claiming to have been a fan of the comics from a young age. Although one audition employee expressed doubts that Howden would obtain the role, as the character is sixteen years old and Howden was in his late twenties, Howden obtained the role. This was his third time working with Phil Evans, who had voice-directed him on Lost Horizon and Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Howden described the game as a platformer inspired by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's production, stating that "they've taken two of the Tintin books and combined them for the film, and the game sort of follows that story of the film, but will also go on other adventures as well, so that you can do other things." Unlike Xenoblade Chronicles and Dragon Age where he recorded alone in the booth, Howden performed alongside other actors this time. Among them was Lewis MacLeod, who Howden described as "just so confident and he can just do it. He just turns it on, he can change his voice, turn on a sixpence, and it's brilliant."

Writing interests

Howden has expressed a love for writing stories, stating it's "a good way to stay sharp when I'm not acting." Among those projects came "Bin Men" and "Dogging", two 2011 comedic shorts he shot with Jamie Baughan, a Drama Centre colleague, and the director Sankar Jayaraman, who filmed him in 2010 on "Bubble Burst".

Howden has stated that he wishes to someday make a biographical film about his mother's family life in 1960s East Africa and play his grandfather. As he explains, "I've been told so many amazing stories of their time there and having visited there myself I want others to see what a beautiful place it is. It's all in my head, I just need to write the bugger."

Stage work




Video games



    External links

    • Adam Howden on Twitter
    • Adam Howden at IMDb
    • MCM Buzz Podcast 21 (Adam's interview starts at 29:20 and finishes at 1:20:00)
    • Adam Howden Nintendo Interview
    • Adam Howden General Interview