‘Uncharted’ is a treasure hunting action-adventure film that follows Nathan Drake (Tom Holland), a young fortune-hunter who embarks on the search for the fabled treasure of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Helping him is Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg), an older bounty hunter who previously tried to find the treasure with Nathan’s brother Sam until the latter’s disappearance. On their way, they encounter several other parties looking for the same booty, including Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali), a fellow fortune-hunter with a dubious sense of loyalty, and an antagonistic group led by Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), a fortune-hunter with a familiar connection to the treasure, and mercenary Jo Braddock (Tati Gabrielle).
Nathan Drake is a remarkable protagonist — a perfect balance of relatability and extraordinariness. If you are wondering whether he is based on a real person, this is what you need to know. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Is Nathan Drake Based on a Real Person?
No, Nathan Drake is not based on any particular real person. ‘Uncharted’ is the cinematic adaptation of the namesake video game series that Amy Hennig created, Naughty Dog developed, and Sony Interactive Entertainment published for PlayStation consoles. However, while developing Nathan as a character, the Naughty Dog staff borrowed certain traits from real-world celebrities and how they carry themselves on screen. For instance, his physical appearance and magnetism are based on Johnny Knoxville, the daredevil and actor best known for the ‘Jackass’ projects.
According to game designer Richard Lemarchand, Knoxville possesses certain “coolness and goodness” that they wanted to emulate in Nathan. Lemarchand also cited characters such as John McClane (from ‘Die Hard’ films), Tintin, and Dr. Savage as inspirations for Nathan.
Hennig stated in an interview that they drew Nathan’s grittiness and charisma from actors like Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford and then added the romantic and action-adventurer charm of actors such as Cary Grant. They mined the “irreverent, roguish sense of humor” and personality of heroes from the 1930s, 1950s, and 1980s cinema. They even used films like ‘National Treasure’ as sources of inspiration.
While the traits mentioned above make Nathan an extraordinary individual, Hennig and her collaborators wanted him to be an ordinary, relatable person. “When we set out to do Uncharted, we decided we wanted to tackle one of these beloved action-adventure games in the spirit of this whole tradition,” Hennig said. “We knew that in order to pull it off, we had to have a hero who was completely relatable, just a regular guy. So when people saw him and said, ‘Why do I want to play a guy in t-shirt and jeans’ that was a deliberate move on our part, to say look, he’s just a guy. He’s just like you and me.”
Both in the film and the video game series, Nathan and Sam are supposedly the descendants of Sir Francis Drake, a real 16th-century English explorer. Like the part about the treasure from the Magellan, this connects the narrative with history and strengthens its foundation. So, while Nathan Drake is a fictional character, the developers and writers of the original game series were influenced by various real-life factors while creating him.
Read More: Where Was Uncharted Filmed?