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Baldur’s Gate 3 star doesn’t care if you think he’s “woke”

Neil Newbon, the man behind Astarion in BG3, cares deeply about connection and representation, and he doesn’t care if that makes him “woke”.

Baldur's Gate 3 character Astarion, played by Neil Newbon

Baldur’s Gate 3 has received plenty of praise for its LGBTQ+ representation, and Neil Newbon happily champions the title’s inclusivity. Newbon has one clear message for potential critics: “If you think I’m woke, it doesn’t make a difference to me.”

His comment is inspired by our discussion of sexuality in the world of Baldur’s Gate 3. Newbon plays one of the CRPG’s romanceable companions, the roguish vampire Astarion. Whatever their gender identity, player-characters can smooch their favorite Baldur’s Gate 3 companions, and Newbon explains that Astarion is pansexual in the actual canon.

Newbon speaks highly of the game’s LGBTQ+ representation. “Games like Baldur’s Gate 3 – which is niche but mainstream at the same time – normalize sexuality and gender in a way that we maybe haven’t seen quite so openly”, he tells Wargamer. “Lots of games have done this, but the level of openness Baldur’s Gate 3 has expertly crafted hasn’t been seen before on this level.”

In the seven months since the game’s blockbusting launch, many people have told Newbon about the positive effect Astarion – and other Baldur’s Gate 3 characters – have had on them. “A lot of people found connection through this game, and they didn’t feel so alone”, he tells Wargamer. “That’s one of the most beautiful experiences of my career – to have been a small part in a game that allowed so many to find strength and solace.”

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But, as with all things, Astarion and what he represents has some naysayers. Newbon says this doesn’t phase him personally. “The thing about the negative comments is, I don’t really give a shit”, he tells Wargamer.

“I’ve had cyber-bullying and trolling, but I don’t really care. I play a character, and I play him as truthfully as possible in a fictional circumstance.” “People don’t like him, and that’s entirely their prerogative”, he adds. “If you don’t like what you see, don’t play the game. I think it’s strange when people platform negatively – especially if it’s homophobic rants.”

“I’ve been called woke and all sorts of stuff, but I don’t really care. I’m anti-racist, and I’m anti-homophobia. If you think I’m woke, it doesn’t make a difference to me.”

Newbon’s support for a diverse gaming community has continued beyond Baldur’s Gate 3, too. “I do Twitch [streams] with the amazing writer Tom Deville; we’ve been friends for decades”, he tells Wargamer. “We present this as a comedy show and a safe, inclusive space where everyone, regardless of background, is welcome.”

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“We entertain people and educate people about acting”, he explains. “We spread inclusivity and try to be allies to the trans community, the LGBTQIA community, and people from different ethnic backgrounds.” “We’re also just trying to give people a good time in a safe space”, Newbon adds.

The internet means it’s possible to feel more connected to your favorite creators than ever before. But Neil Newbon is a professional actor who knows how to protect his peace. He explains that he keeps his personal life offline for his own well-being.

“I keep details about my life private – primarily because I think it’s boring to share what I eat in the mornings, but also because I think it’s the only way that you look after yourself as an actor”, Newbon says. “My private life is not for sale.”

Our full Q&A with Neil Newbon isn’t far away, so keep those eyes peeled. Until then, here are some of the best CRPGs to try once you’ve finished exploring Baldur’s Gate. We can even help you choose DnD classes and DnD races for your next 5e character.