Grand Theft Auto V is an absolute classic to no end, and it is due in big part to the masterfully acted class of main characters that provide its colorful story that translated as one of the best fleshed-out sets of playable characters.
Of course, a few years later it would seem like the online component of GTA V is the main selling point of the game but when the very first breadcrumbs of developer Rockstar’s marketing campaign were released, the character of Michael De Santa was instantly well-received worldwide by fans.
At first, eager fans were quick to assume that he was the iconic Tommy Vercetti from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City but he has since been characterized as one of the most unique characters in the franchise in his own right.
We have covered interesting facts about fellow GTA V protagonist Franklin before, and this will be a similar outing that uncovers some of the least-known factoids about his in-game mentor that will paint him in a different light.
While Michael might not have the star power of the aforementioned Vice City resident, the admiration of the dedicated GTA fan base like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’ Carl Johnson, or the silent Claude from Grand Theft Auto III but he still stands as a unique hero in series.
From traits that distinguish him from the other heroes in the series to small information about his character that might change the way that players look at the character, these are fifteen of the most intriguing facts about Michael De Santa.
Michael De Santa’s age is actually difficult to pinpoint due to his numerous aliases to avoid being caught as a criminal but he is believed to be either 46 or 48. Either way, he still eclipses any of the other Grand Theft Auto series protagonists as the oldest playable character. This says volumes about how Michael is in a mature position and the sharp contrasts in culture between he and Franklin are good examples of this. Some skeptics of his might say that this, in fact, makes him one of the less spontaneous characters but seeing as there is so much chaos in the world of GTA as there is, he is a breath of fresh air. As the saying goes, Michael De Santa is like a fine wine, aging gracefully as he heads into his career as a producer in Vinewood.
Although small, a very telling quirk of Michael De Santa is how he aims his one-handed firearms when running. While the other two protagonists in the game shoot with one hand, Michael does the skilled thing and holds it properly with two hands. This is, of course, the standard professional procedure to fire a pistol and it is a testament to the meticulous planning and plotting of his robbery ways. Sure, he might be a ruthless criminal that has killed innocent people but at least he knows how to fire a gun the right way! This also suggests that despite the fact that Trevor is seen killing so many policemen in the opening, Michael is still the finest shooter on the squad. Although it seems like his special marksmen ability would provide enough evidence of that if this did not.
Another testament to his weathered past that has had its toll on his body, Michael De Santa has the slowest walk cycle of all three protagonists in Grand Theft Auto V. Sure, Franklin is younger but there is no excuse for him to be slower than Trevor other than it seems like Trevor might have some other *cough* substances in his system that keeps him perky when he is not sleeping (we will get into that). Michael has certainly taken his fair share of wounds in his past exploits as a bank robber but it really should not be any different from other characters like Niko Bellic, but some could say that his age is a factor here. There is a second side to this coin, however, as Michael may be walking slowly so he can properly assess the situation when it comes to checking his surroundings.
Ned Luke is the very talented actor that portrays Michael De Santa in Grand Theft Auto V and he is somewhat of an enigma when it comes to how unique he is in comparison to the other actors that played protagonists in GTA games. One of the most ironic quirks about his personal life is that he is actually married to a yoga instructor, which is highly coincidental as much of Michael’s family problems stem from his wife’s infidelity with their yoga instructor. Add in the fact that Michael despises yoga in convincing fashion throughout the entirety of the yoga mini-games in the main story and it would appear as though Mr. Luke is an extremely talented actor that can completely morph into a character.
The way each character sleeps in Grand Theft Auto V is actually very telling of their own personality traits and Rockstar made sure to use the growing issue in America of sleep deprivation as the basis towards this quirk. Michael De Santa sleeps 6 in-game hours, which is under the recommended amount for a middle-aged man (especially one with a strenuous workload such as his). It makes Michael somewhat of an insomniac, as his character is seen aimlessly walking by himself around the city when switching to him from the other protagonists. It might seem like a seemingly useless piece of trivia, but seeing as there are another 18 hours in the day that Michael is around, it can only mean trouble for any other resident of Los Santos looking to get in this ex-con’s way.
Another small factoid about Michael De Santa is the minor inclusion of another family member that unfortunately died before the events of the main game occur. Littered throughout the De Santa residence are framed photographs of a small dog. The dog is never mentioned through in-game dialogue or even given a name but it is clear that the animal meant enough to the family to have his likeness immortalized on a photo that hangs on their mantle. Since this is a relatively unimportant little detail in the grand scheme of the main story, Rockstar will probably not be giving us an explanation or backstory towards this character, leaving us to sit and ponder about what Michael’s furry little friend was like in his lifetime.
Most people who play Grand Theft Auto games seem to have no problem switching to the similar third-person games in Rockstar’s library of phenomenal titles and this connection to the Red Dead Redemption universe is certainly an example of this. Vincente De Santa was an antagonist in the epic western title, and was seemingly the inspiration behind the name and why it was used. Of course, seeing as De Santa is the fake last name given to Michael Townley after he cuts a deal with the federal government to get out of the criminal life, he IS NOT directly related with the character. Funny enough, in the online multiplayer section of the game, the created characters can be given lineage tracing to the Red Dead Redemption protagonist John Marston.
Through one of the strangest sets of side missions to ever exist in any Grand Theft Auto game, Michael De Santa is also the only main character to join a cult. The set of missions sees Michael run a series of frustratingly dubious tasks that require little brain power and a lot of time just to impress the leader of a cult that promises riches and a powerful afterlife. It seems as though Michael does it to try and get a piece of the action, and depending on how the player runs the missions he can walk away with quite a bit of cash. CJ from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas might have done a few missions for a conspiracy theorist, but to join a full-on Scientology-based religious cult is an entirely different animal of its own.
As mentioned earlier in the list, the house of the De Santa family can be very telling of the people that live within the boundaries of the mini-mansion. Littered around the house is the tasteless in-home décor of the modernist Hollywood era but tucked within in the blandly colored bookshelves are a few artsy books on architecture and art that suggest a certain resident at the house is a little more cultured than meets the eye. It is clear that Jimmy does not exit his room for anything outside of a smoke or to pick up a new game, and Amanda is busy being as unfaithful as possible. Tracy is nowhere near that kind of intelligence, leaving Michael to be the main culprit behind being the brainiest in the house.
There are a few real-life and fictitious people that Michael De Santa is based on, as confirmed by a lot of the developers at Rockstar and by the very not-so-subtle hints and references to other pieces of pop culture. One of the most notable ones here is the inclusion of the creative basis of some of Michael De Santa on Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini from the popular HBO television series The Sopranos. The show follows a similar theme in which the characters are a family that is rooted in the dark sub-culture of the criminal underworld, and Tony Soprano shares a lot of traits with Michael such as their brutal temper and intense loyalty to their family. Fortunately for Grand Theft Auto V fans, the game ended a lot better for Michael than it did for Tony Sopra-
While there are a few similarities between Michael De Santa and Tony Soprano, there are a LOT of similarities between Michael and the fictitious take on the heist man (albeit reality grounded and semi-accurate) Neil McCauley from director Michael Mann’s 1995 crime-drama Heat. The film itself is a huge deal in the movie-world, as it is the basis for the biggest comic book film The Dark Knight but it also found itself influencing one of the biggest video games. Neil McCauley is a bank robber that is known for being meticulous and selective, and just like Michael De Santa, gets involved in a major gun-fight during a robbery. He also has impeccable aim and the exact same style of open shirt-suits to match with Michael, making him almost a mirror image of the iconic character played by Robert De Niro.
Michael De Santa is one of the most seasoned veterans of the criminal underworld and has more years on him doing crimes than the entire Grand Theft Auto set of protagonists. Ironically enough, however, Michael De Santa started off his life wanting to be a policeman as a child. It is actually never confirmed by Michael himself at any point, but during a mission in the main story where Michael has to dress up as a cop with Trevor, Trevor mentions that Michael can finally fulfill his dream to be a cop. It might be a small jab or joke at Michael, but it could be a call back to their early days as it is said that they really bonded over their friendship and really opened up to each other while on the run.
Seeing as the young Michael De Santa wanted to be a policeman, some could say his turn into the world of crime is part tragic, part irony but it is not as interesting as this small tidbit. Michael did not pull his first robbery until his early 20s. Seeing as characters like CJ from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Niko Bellic from Grand Theft Auto IV have started their lives as gangsters as children, it actually puts Michael in a unique position as the late bloomer that blossomed into one of the finest criminals in the world. Depending on the ending that the player picks (which, let us be honest, the Deathwish ending is the true ending), Michael lives on to rob another bank another day, proving that it is not about who did it first it is about who did it best.
Possibly one of the most unprecedented things to ever occur in the history of Grand Theft Auto games is the inclusion of a new feature that no one saw coming: the ability to take your wife on a date. Yes, Michael De Santa is the only GTA protagonist to ever have a wife. Their marriage is far from perfect and it honestly serves as a one-sided depiction to relationships in modern-day Hollywood but it is still a groundbreaking change for a main character in a game that has such a notorious reputation for being a crime-simulator. Michael having a wife is a progressive step and is a perfect way of combatting those brainless suggestions that GTA is all about killing women and stealing cars. This proves that GTA is at the head of satirical video games and superior storytelling in a media that was once doubted for its artistic merits.
If the inclusion of the marriage in Grand Theft Auto V was not enough to change the minds of the detractors of the most popular video game franchise of all-time, then actor Ned Luke (who plays Michael) will be. As mentioned in the first entry on this list, Michael De Santa is the literal poster boy for GTA V and is seen in almost every piece of promotional material holding a gun. In an amazing distinction between art and reality, Ned Luke actually took part of an anti-gun rights demonstration/social experiment by opening a fake gun shop and selling guns used in mass shootings throughout America to would-be gun owners. The stunt changed a lot of the potential buyer’s minds as they held weapons that were used to end real lives, and is a hauntingly sobering take on a controversial topic that GTA has and forever will be a part of.