It might surprise some of the game's fans to know that many celebrities play as well, openly discussing how it helps them in their careers or simply how much fun it can be. While some of these celebrities are well known for their connection to the game, hosting campaigns for charity and writing articles for the company, others may come as a surprise.
Stephen Colbert is incredibly open about his nerdy side, and it has even become part of his show when he challenges guests to Tolkien Showdowns. Because of that, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that he plays D&D. He got into it in high school and still has a lot of love for the game, even after around 30 years of hiatus.
According to NPR, he credits the game for helping him find his way to storytelling and comedy: "I found out I could tell stories in an improvisational way. I started hanging out with a couple of the cooler kids who liked having me around because I told jokes and was silly."
Vin Diesel is famous for his role as Dominic Toretto in the Fast and Furious franchise, but a lesser known part of his personality is his love for D&D. He began playing in the 80s and explained that "playing D&D was a training ground for our imaginations and an opportunity to explore our own identities."
His love for the game didn't die out as he found other sources of creative expression, though. He has spoken on multiple occasions about playing with cast mates after a day's shooting finished, and his favorite character even inspired the creation of The Last Witch Hunter.
Ashley Johnson became famous for her voice acting roles on some of the best animated television shows of all time, but she really became a name in the nerd community through D&D. Although she admits to D&D Beyond that she had never played before she became a part of Critical Role, there's no denying that she is an icon for it now.
When asked what keeps her coming back, Ashley said, "it's a game that you are continually evolving in your character and learning how to play in that character. And it's just never ending in the best way." Since starting on the show, she has gone on to play several games with family, friends, and colleagues, even trying her hand at DMing in 2021.
Better known for her roles as Jessica Hamby in True Blood and Karen Page in The Defender's Saga, Deborah Ann Woll is a known figure in the D&D world. Though she didn't begin playing until her 20s, she quickly found her place as an expert Dungeon Master.
Woll has since put together shows like Relics and Rarities and Dungeons & Dragons Live 2019: The Descent, which have given her the opportunity to work with some of the best D&D-loving celebrities out there. In a conversation with Forbes, Woll explains, "it’s allowed me to gain confidence in my ability to improvise on the spot, my ability to not be literal and to keep the subtext."
For anyone wondering how Jon Favreau has managed to balance his many creative sides well enough to consistently put out good movies, Dungeons & Dragons may be the answer. Though he likes to joke about how unpopular the game made him in high school, he does credit it with making him a better filmmaker.
Especially as movies rely more on CGI, he finds his experiences with D&D vital to his work. In his words to The Telegraph, “D&D gave me a really strong background in imagination, storytelling, and understanding how to create tone and a sense of balance.” Had he not looked at the game as a training ground for his creativity, the entire film landscape, and certainly the MCU, might look very different today.
Felicia Day made a name for herself in fandom communities through her roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and Supernatural, but one of the major reasons that she has so many fans is that she proudly represents herself as part of the nerdy, geeky communities who watch her projects.
Unlike the celebrities who put on masks to play nerds in The Big Bang Theory, Felicia Day is the real deal—and of course that includes playing D&D. Though it took her until she was in her 20s to start playing, she quickly dove in headfirst. Speaking to those who see it as too nerdy for their tastes, she says, "Whatever the preconception, when you’re working with 8 others to formulate a plan in order to avoid magic-seeing dogs and retrieve a deadly shard weapon to save a city, you’ll forget about what other people think and just have fun."
Patton Oswalt began his career as a comedian, and that can definitely be seen in how he talks about his time playing Dungeons & Dragons. He started playing in his early teens and still plays today, and though he jokes that his wife hates the hobby, he proudly shows off old pictures from his school days in the Dungeons & Dragons Club.
Oswalt recently took part in D&D Live 2021, along with other cast members from A.P. Bio, where they played "The Palace of the Vampire Queen." Though he hasn't spoken much about his specific campaigns, his friends have shared that his characters would often be musical and boisterous, perhaps serving as a testing ground for his best new bits.
Ta-Nehisi Coates may not be a name all fans know immediately, but they've definitely heard of his work. In addition to his many successful fiction and non-fiction books, he wrote Black Panther from 2016-2021 and Captain America from 2018 to 2021—which influenced the way Black Panther was introduced in the MCU.
The best-selling author and journalist ties his success with writing back to hip hop and Dungeons & Dragons. On the latter, he said to The Atlantic: "I can remember just sitting back and flipping through and looking at the words and the descriptions and it will come alive for me. And that was a beautiful thing. That was the first lesson for me about how words can take you somewhere else."
Depending on their childhood, most people either know Matthew Lillard best as Stu from Scream or the ever-meme-able Shaggy from Scooby Doo. But he has a pretty significant role in the D&D community as well, creating Beadle & Grimm’s Pandemonium Warehouse alongside his friends and roommates from college.
Since finding a love for the game in college and working to create new game worlds, Lilliard has been outspoken about the wide appeal D&D can have for different audiences. He told Syfy, "if you come into D&D as a 48-year-old man or an 8-year-old kid, you're gonna find an element of the game that'll be for whoever you are at that part of your life."
Those who know anything about the Dungeons & Dragons landscape in Hollywood have probably heard of Joe Manganiello's famous sessions, which include a cornucopia of famous actors and writers. What began as a group of six or seven quickly became the place to be for elite D&D experiences.
In many ways, Manganiello has become a prophet for Dungeons & Dragons, bringing in new players every now and then to form real bonds in Hollywood and keep the creativity flowing. As he told Variety, "in a town that can be a little bit fake at times, let’s just be fair — this game has cut through so much of that social noise."